Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Do Standardized Tests Measure Anything that Matters?

As the legislative sessions begin across the country and in Washington, standardized testing as related to NCLB and PARCC will be on the minds and on the debate floor. There is much debate about decreasing the burden - and signficance - of state and national standardized tests, and even Chief Educator (who has never actually taught) Arne Duncan is talking about lessening the mandated testing regimen.

In Colorado, the State Board of Education took the unique step of offering waivers to district to opt out, or not administer, part of the PARCC test. This news was great relief to many schools and students, as PARCC will take days rather than hours. Alas, the waiver is too good to be true, as, strangely, critics have argued that the State Board has "no authority" to grant such waivers. This, of course, poses the question - What exactly can the Board do, and why does Colorado have one without any authority?

Testing proponents immediately jumped to the defense of PARCC - especially as a state task force recommended less testing and clear rules on how parents can "opt out." In response, one of PARCC's and test-based reform's biggest advocates, the Denver Post editorial board, touted the value of PARCC, as it dissed the vote by the State Board to lessen testing. Writer Alicia Caldwell argued that Common Core and PARCC will "expose deficiencies" in the education system.

Well, that's one opinion.

Of course, veteran educator and education writer, Marion Brady has this to say:

"Even if standardized tests didn’t cost billions, even if they yielded something that teachers didn’t already know, even if they hadn’t narrowed the curriculum down to joke level, even if they weren’t the main generators of educational drivel, even if they weren’t driving the best teachers out of the profession, they should be abandoned because they measure the wrong thing." - Marion Brady

Standardized tests can't measure creativity, imagination, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, collaboration, charisma, insight, wisdom, maturity, tolerance, ... or really anything else that matters.

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