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The RIGHT Way To Test

September 29, 2013

Diane Ravitch’s recent New Republic article, written in response to Penn Provost Ezekial Emanuel’s assertion that testing is good and more testing is better, probably stunned her critics because in the article she agrees that more testing is needed: more testing by teachers instead of the standardized tests Dr. Emanuel and his fellow “reformers” advocate.

Ravitch’s opponents have done a good job of persuading the mass media that she is anti-testing, but she points out that her issue is not with having teachers test children regularly and systematically. She is a firm advocate of regular testing using tests written by the teacher because those tests provide both parties with fast feedback on how well a lesson was taught and learned. She is opposed to using standardized assessments written by contractors as the primary means of measuring student, teacher, and school performance. She wants the responsibility for testing to rest with the teacher… because the teachers will then “…(know) by the end of the day or over the weekend which students were keeping up and which ones were falling behind. (They) could act on that knowledge immediately to make sure that students understood what (the teacher) thought he had taught and to explain it again to those who did not.” 

This is the RIGHT way to test… with standardized tests used in a limited fashion to measure the learning of large groups of students and school-based administrators and/or department heads periodically reviewing the tests teachers use to see if they are helping them gain insights into student learning.

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