Instead, the college admissions scandal should draw attention to a different problem: That the companies that develop and administer standardized tests have no empirical basis for placing such an emphasis on speed. Yet these companies do put a terrible premium on speed, even though the notion that faster is better has been debunked: In fact, a student’s scores on such exams correlate in a perfect linear relationship with socio-economic status rather than with a student’s ability to solve difficult problems.
Stringently timed, high-stake tests have an adverse impact against racial minorities, women, those with low socio-economic status, non-native speakers of English, older applicants, and people with disabilities. Of course, that adverse impact is further exacerbated when the ultra-wealthy cheat to inflate their children’s scores.
“The more focused you are on measurable outcomes, the more trivial your teaching tends to become.”
“Measurable outcomes may be the least significant results of learning.”
In 1955, Erich Fromm, the then widely respected anti-authoritarian leftist psychoanalyst, wrote, “Today the function of psychiatry, psychology and psychoanalysis threatens to become the tool in the manipulation of man.” Fromm died in 1980, the same year that an increasingly authoritarian America elected Ronald Reagan president, and an increasingly authoritarian American Psychiatric Association added to their diagnostic bible (then the DSM-III) disruptive mental disorders for children and teenagers such as the increasingly popular “oppositional defiant disorder” (ODD). The official symptoms of ODD include “often actively defies or refuses to comply with adult requests or rules,” “often argues with adults,” and “often deliberately does things to annoy other people.”
Kozol explains how our schools teach us a kind of “inert concern” in which “caring”—in and of itself and without risking the consequences of actual action—is considered “ethical.” School teaches us that we are “moral and mature” if we politely assert our concerns, but the essence of school—its demand for compliance—teaches us not to act in a friction-causing manner.
The corporatocracy has figured out a way to make our already authoritarian schools even more authoritarian. Democrat-Republican bipartisanship has resulted in wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, NAFTA, the PATRIOT Act, the War on Drugs, the Wall Street bailout, and educational policies such as ”No Child Left Behind“ and ”Race to the Top.” These policies are essentially standardized-testing tyranny that creates fear, which is antithetical to education for a democratic society. Fear forces students and teachers to constantly focus on the demands of test creators; it crushes curiosity, critical thinking, questioning authority, and challenging and resisting illegitimate authority. In a more democratic and less authoritarian society, one would evaluate the effectiveness of a teacher not by corporatocracy-sanctioned standardized tests but by asking students, parents, and a community if a teacher is inspiring students to be more curious, to read more, to learn independently, to enjoy thinking critically, to question authorities, and to challenge illegitimate authorities.
American culture offers young Americans the “choices” of fundamentalist religion and fundamentalist consumerism. All varieties of fundamentalism narrow one’s focus and inhibit critical thinking. While some progressives are fond of calling fundamentalist religion the “opiate of the masses,” they too often neglect the pacifying nature of America’s other major fundamentalism. Fundamentalist consumerism pacifies young Americans in a variety of ways. Fundamentalist consumerism destroys self-reliance, creating people who feel completely dependent on others and who are thus more likely to turn over decision-making power to authorities, the precise mind-set that the ruling elite loves to see. A fundamentalist consumer culture legitimizes advertising, propaganda, and all kinds of manipulations, including lies; and when a society gives legitimacy to lies and manipulativeness, it destroys the capacity of people to trust one another and form democratic movements. Fundamentalist consumerism also promotes self-absorption, which makes it difficult for the solidarity necessary for democratic movements.
If we’re not careful, the very meaning of the verb “to teach” will be completely shifted until it no longer refers to guiding, coaching, helping ignite a flame, sharing mastery of material, passing on and adding to the collective understanding, helping understand how the world works, encouraging students to find their best selves, grasping what it means to be fully human in the world. None of that– it will just mean “get students ready for the test.”
Speak up. Mind the pipeline. Guard the future.
much education research takes the form of collecting data on people’s ability to learn nonsense.
where scientific theory conflicts strongly with the basic empathic responses of ordinary people, history (and Jane Goodall) would suggest that it’s a good idea to pay attention to those conflicts.
There’s an Orwellian quality to the spectacle of cognitive scientists reasoning from their own inability to meaningfully address the differences in our children to a finding that our children don’t have meaningful differences after all.
What needs to be noted here is how the claim that LEARNING STYLES DON’T EXIST has morphed directly and explicitly into a claim about lower intelligence in certain children.
The question, then, is this: is there a scientific reason we should assume every difference is a deficit until proven otherwise?
Or is there a historical reason that difference was framed as deficit from the beginning, intentionally, to perpetuate and justify a hierarchical society of winners and losers?
So before we uncritically accept the debunkers’ claim that the scientific research supports a One-Style-Fits-All approach to instruction, we should stop and ask ourselves: “Who invented that One Style? Who succeeds by it, and who fails? What historical power structures does it emanate from, and whose power does it perpetuate and reproduce?
The logic goes like this:
What “works?” Direct instruction. How do we know? Tests. Who designs the tests? The same people who have always designed the tests.
Source: Science / Fiction — Carol Black
The most salient feature of the United States Public School System – both yesterday and today – is naked, unapologetic segregation.
Whether it be in 1954 when the Supreme Court with Brown v. Boardmade it illegal in word or today when our schools have continued to practice it in deed. In many places, our schools at this very moment are more segregated than they were before the Civil Rights movement.
That’s just a fact.
But what’s worse is that we don’t seem to care.
And what’s worse than that is we just finished two terms under our first African American President – and HE didn’t care. Barack Obama didn’t make desegregation a priority. In fact, he supported legislation to make it worse.
Charter schools, voucher schools, high stakes standardized testing, strategic disinvestment – all go hand-in-hand to keep America Separate and Unequal.
If there is one unstated axiom of our American Public School System it is this: the worst thing in the world would be black and white children learning together side-by-side.
“Bottom line: Every teacher should be in favor of the Opt Out movement.”
“Every educator should opt out their own children from the tests.”
“Imagine if every teachers union in the country routinely sent open letters to all parents asking them to opt their kids out! What an impact that would make!”
Competency Based Education is a real problem that threatens to make everyday test day – I’ll go with you there. In fact, schemes like Personalized Learning could transform every app into an opportunity to test kids without them even knowing it.
Yet standardized tests do all of these things! They dishonestly give higher scores to rich kids and lower scores to poor kids.
We serve the parents and children of the community. If they say they don’t want their children tested in this way, we should listen to them.
why are you defending these tests? They are used by charter and voucher schools as “proof” that the public schools are failing.
These tests are used to justify unfairly evaluating YOUR work, narrowing YOUR curriculum, repealing YOUR union protections, reducing YOUR autonomy, cutting YOUR funding, and ultimately laying YOU off.
Why are you standing up for THAT?
Most teachers are rule followers at heart. When we were in school, we were the obedient students. We were the people-pleasers. We got good grades, kept our heads down and didn’t make waves.
But the qualities that often make for the highest grades don’t often translate into action. That, alone, should tell you something about the limits of assessment which are only exacerbated by standardized test scores. When it comes to complex concepts, it’s hard to assess and even harder to determine if success on assessments is a predictor of future success.
The tech moguls and the testing giants are salivating over the prospect of replacing us with apps and low-skilled, low paid babysitters to oversee students hunched over computers and tablets. (See? Told you Personalized Learning was poison.)
“The FTA goes further to urge parents to opt their children out of the tests because it is the only way to force the state to change to a more useful form of assessment.”
“Parents, you and you alone have the power to compel change. Use it!”