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The GDP and Standardized Tests

December 16, 2019

Today’s NYTimes features an op ed article by David Leonard titled Why You Shouldn’t Believe Those GDP Numbers. In the article Mr. Leonard questioning the validity of the GDP as a metric for the well-being of workers and the quality of our economy. He writes:

Americans are dissatisfied, and have been for years, largely because the economy as most people experience it has not been booming. G.D.P. — or gross domestic product, the economy’s total output — keeps on rising, but it no longer tracks the well-being of most Americans. Instead, an outsize share of economic growth flows to the wealthy. And yet G.D.P. is treated as a totemic measure of the country’s prosperity.

The economy is not the only area that is mis-measured. For years we have decried our “failing public schools” using standardized test scores as the primary metric. Since the advent of “high stakes testing” schools have increased their time and energy to boosting test scores. As a result more and more schools have eliminated the arts in favor of “academics”, which is really test-preparation. The result: public schools whose soulless rote study of “academics” mirrors the menial low wage jobs.

What gets measured gets done… and if the total spending is measured without regard for who is doing the spending, it does more reflect the well-being of all citizens any more than test scores measure the well-being of all students.

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