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Nation MORE At Risk…

May 2, 2018

I began my career as a public school superintendent in 1981 and retired 30 years later. It is difficult to understate the impact of “A Nation at Risk”. The verbiage in the report put public schools on the defense for decades and the “failing public schools” meme was picked up by presidents and governors ever since. The “failing schools” mantra was not the worst consequence of “A Nation at Risk”. Instead it was the implicit and unquestioned acceptance that “success” was determined by standardized testing. As many commenters noted, the only thing that standardized testing proves is that affluent students are better at taking these tests than students raised in poverty. Anyone who works in education knows there is more to schooling than mastering content… but the under-emphasized soft skills cannot be measured with standardized tests and so states continue to test-and-punish schools based on scores derived from cheap, relatively easy to administer, and seemingly precise standardized tests.

And the saddest element of what has transpired since Nation at Risk was published is this: the majority of teachers working today do not remember what it was like to prepare lesson plans that are not linked to some kind of standardized test metric, be it an AP test, a state competency test, or some other test designed to measure “quality”.

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