Home > Uncategorized > Diane Ravitch’s Critique of American Psychological Association to Speak Up Misses the Point

Diane Ravitch’s Critique of American Psychological Association to Speak Up Misses the Point

March 30, 2017

In a blog post yesterday, Diane Ravitch quoted from a comment left by testing expert Fred Smith whose comments echoed these questions:

Why isn’t the American Psychological Association speaking out about the misuse of standardized testing? Where are the professors who teach about testing? Why are they silent when children as young as 8 are subjected to hours of testing? Why are they silent when children in middle school are compelled to sit through tests that last longer than college admission tests? Why are they not defending their own standards for the appropriate use of tests? Is their silence a sign of complicity or indifference?

My comment to this post was this:

The psychologists here are analogous to the economists in the lead up to the calamitous Wall Street crash and, as others have noted, the various researchers who give cover to Big Pharma…There are a few renegades who will speak out against the testing, but the corporate line is that testing and measurement are a good thing because it helps feed the paradigm that schools-are-a-business-whose-bottom-line-is-test-scores… And the best tests are those that can be done quickly and cheaply and yield a number that can be put onto a spread sheet and used to establish a rank order… As long as educators use tests in any way to sort and select, standardized tests will be with us.

In the end, we need to change the implicit paradigm of the factory school where students are batched by age cohorts and measured against their age peers and move to a completely individualized and personalized form of instruction where time is the variable and mastery is constant. Such a system would require no more personnel that we use today but would require everyone working the children to do so in a coordinated fashion. It CAN be done… but only if we shed our current framework of how to educate children effectively.

  1. Elyssa Gersen-Thurman
    March 30, 2017 at 10:52 am

    I agree the problem goes beyond the APA and I cringe when all psychologists are lumped together as Big Pharma supporters. I’m also concerned about extreme anti-medication stances that add to the stigma for those who need medication, e.g. individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depressive disorder. Milder forms of mental illness can likely be addressed with talk therapy, but if you’ve ever been with someone who is showing symptoms of untreated major mental illness (psychosis or mania) or is suicidal, opinions about Big Pharma become less important and you realize that it is not an all or nothing scenario. I think the focus should ultimately be placed on the toxicity of the “American Dream”, which emphasizes happiness through meaningless pursuits of wealth and status at the expense of deeper human relationships and cooperation (rather than competition). This messaging usually begins in the public school system.

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