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Create a New Paradigm

May 11, 2014

Diane Ravitch’s blog post this afternoon describes a standardized test OECD developed that enables individual schools to compare their results to those of nations in the world. This idea, funded by several foundations, is a variation of what MA and several other States did with other international tests. In the PISA tests, MA identified itself as a “nation” and which enabled them to compare their STATE results with those of NATIONS. In doing so, MA demonstrated that the reported “failure” of U.S. schools as measured by standardized tests did NOT apply to MA schools. It was great PR for MA— for those who pay attention to the PR or even learned about the PR.

In the comment section of Diane Ravitch’s blog I wrote:

I understand why it is hard to resist the temptation to give tests to your district to show the skeptical public that NATIONAL test scores have nothing to do with your LOCAL schools…. but after working for over 30 years as an administrator in public schools in several different states and districts I can attest to the fact that no amount of PR concerning LOCAL schools can offset the repetitious message from the main stream media that ALL U.S. public schools are “failing”… and having Presidents from Reagan onward and Education Secretaries from Bell onward echoing the message (that US schools are failing) has only made matters worse…

Here’s a conundrum that has surfaced from reading your blog: if we push back against standardized testing the message from politicians is that we don’t want accountability… and if we use standardized testing results to disprove the meme that ALL schools are NOT failing we are feeding the notion that standardized tests are a valid means of measuring school performance.

The only way out of this vicious circle is to develop some metric for measuring school quality that is more valid than the standardized testing, a method that has three BIG advantages: it’s cheap, relatively easy to administer, and issues data that is seemingly precise. Maybe you could use your blog to crowd source a better way to measure school performance— because if those of us who value public eduction can’t come up with one we will continue to be governed by the rules of the new society you outlined in this post…

I doubt that the blog will be used for this purpose… but someone somewhere needs to find a way to come up with a better way to measure accountability. To repeat one of my favorite quotes from Buckminster Fuller:

The best way to change the existing reality is to

create a new reality that makes the old one obsolete

It’s time to make the existing standardized testing reality obsolete!

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