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Bill Gates REALLY Wants NY Parents to Believe in Tests

January 4, 2019

I’ve written several posts about Bill Gates, often giving him the benefit of the doubt because I believe in his heart he wants to do what he believes is best for children and the world. His biggest problem is that what he believes is best for children is not what I believe is best… but more important it is not what a vast majority of parents, educators, and researchers believe is best for children.

A case in point is Bill Gates insistence on the use of standardized tests as an accountability tool. Mr. Gates sees standardized tests as the best means to hold students accountable for their learning and schools accountable for their students. To that end, he recently decided to fund a $225,000 grant to the NYS Board of Regents that would provide:

Consistent and targeted communication regarding learning standards, accountability indicators, and other Department policies is key to maintaining transparency and promoting common understanding. In addition, a portion of the grant funding will advance the ability of SED to discern and respond to advocacy and communication needs as we explore opportunities to connect early childhood, K-12, and postsecondary student information. Specifically, both City University of New York (CUNY) and State University of New York (SUNY) are partners in the project.

Reading through the obfuscatory grantspeak, it seems that Mr. Gates has the sense that the parents, teachers, and researchers misunderstand the purpose for “…learning standards, accountability indicators, and other Department policies” that he and his reformer friends favor and that he and his reformer friends can help those of us who fail to comprehend the benefits of said “…learning standards, accountability indicators, and other Department policies” to gain a deep appreciation for their purpose and value. The Board of Regents agreed to accept the grant by a 14-2 vote… presumably hoping that Mr. Gates is correct in his assumption that better communication will change the minds of those who reject the notion that testing is the best way forward and implicitly endorsing his ideas about accountability.

Diane Ravitch flagged this “grant opportunity” in her post yesterday, reprinting an action alert from the New York State Allies of Parents and Education urging NYS residents to correspond with the Board of Regents to have them reconsider and reject the grant. The New York State Allies of Parents and Education’s basis for rejecting the grant was that it provided yet another means of collecting data on students despite the fact that the Regents have yet to develop a coherent policy on data collection that has been taking place for years.

Data collection is a problematic by-product of testing, one that arguably benefits software magnates like Bill Gates. But standardized testing itself is a bigger problem in my opinion for it reinforces all that is wrong with public school education and reinforces the notion that all children learn the same way and at the same rate. It manufactures failure and imposes conformity. Promoting standardized testing is bad… continuing the practice is worse.

 

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