Late yesterday Diane Ravitch provided an update on the opt out movement in her post titled “Thousands of Students in Long Island Opt Out of State Tests”. The post describes the reality of these State assessments used for accountability purposes: the results are not shared until months later when the students are assigned to a different teacher; an item response is not provided to the school or the teacher; the parents cannot see the results of their child’s test; yet the results must be used as the basis for teacher evaluation and are often used as the basis for student placement and/or promotion. In the penultimate paragraph of the post she wrote:
Fact: the tests are an expensive waste of time. They won’t make students smarter. The only beneficiaries are the testing corporations, the vendors of software and hardware, whose equipment is required for the federally-funded tests. Why must all testing be online? Does it implications data mining ?
I begged to differ in a comment I posted. The testing companies are NOT the only beneficiaries… The advocates for privatization will use the precise but inaccurate data as evidence that “schools are failing“: teachers are failing to teach; administrators are failing to lead; and school boards are failing to govern. None of this is true, but it will add fuel to the “failing school” fire and give the politicians who support privatization cover.
The test results don’t help teachers adjust their instruction to meet the needs of individual students. They don’t provide a means for administrators to improve teacher performance. They don’t give school boards meaningful data on school performance. Yet the myth of their use to make “data-driven decisions” persists…. as does the myth of “failing schools”… If the only way to stop the testing is to opt out and this year’s round of opting out doesn’t send a message that legislators receive loud and clear, then the opt out movement needs to expand… EVERYWHERE…
Diane Ravitch has had several blog posts offering frightening examples of the misapplication of VAM and the misuse of the term “standards” as it appears in the Common Core State Standards. (you can get to many of these posts by going here). In reading these in succession after being away from email for a couple of days I came to the following conclusion, which I posted as a comment:
The public generally perceives standards as unyielding and inflexible, and the “reformers” who marketed the common core state standards know that… they also know that the public generally perceives “standardized test scores” as a valid measure of student and school performance… this whole CCSS is a marketing tool, selling “privately operated” schools as the solution to “government run” schools
But there is a need for national standards if we hope to avoid the embarrassment of having STATE standards that incorporate creationism, which would be a good workaround in those states where there is pushback to NATIONAL standards as you noted in an earlier post (http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/education-creationism-104934.html). If those “reformers” promoting the CCSS are truly interested in academic advancement for our country they should be leading the charge to have states promote real science like evolution instead of jun science like VAM…. but I don’t expect the “reform” crowd to be speaking up for science any time soon.
Some bloggers, most notably Bill Duncan here in NH, seem to believe the motives behind the CCSS are innocuous in terms of their intent… and I thought as much until a couple of months ago when the Tea Party and fundamentalists pushback began. Since then I have read no editorials from, say, Bill Gates or David Coleman on the need for rigorous standards in science, literature, or social studies. I have read no editorials from anyone associated with the development of the standards suggesting they were subject to revision or editing. Absent the advocacy for teaching proven science and/or written assurances that the standards are, in fact, flexible and capable of being edited, I can only conclude that their primary purpose is to facilitate the development of standardized tests that can be used to measure teacher performance via the unproven science of value added measure. If anyone knows of any article pushing states to abandon “creation science” or underscoring the ability to revise and improve the standards, please disabuse me of my beliefs.