Home > Uncategorized > Biden’s Biggest Blunder and Biggest Broken Promise: Refusing to Abandon Mandated State Standardized Tests

Biden’s Biggest Blunder and Biggest Broken Promise: Refusing to Abandon Mandated State Standardized Tests

February 24, 2021

I was dismayed but not all that surprised that Joe Biden’s administration has decided to proceed with the State standardized tests mandated by ESSA. I was dismayed because I was hoping that despite his dedication to bipartisanship he would keep his promise to teachers that he would dismantle the test-and-punish regimen that has been in place now for nearly two decades at the national level and countless more at the state level. The rationale for giving the tests was particularly lame:

…a letter sent Monday by acting Assistant Education Secretary Ian Rosenblum to state school superintendents (informed) them that the department will not invite state requests for “blanket waivers of assessments” required by the Every Student Succeeds Act, even though such waivers were granted last year due to the pandemic.

It is urgent to understand the impact of Covid-19 on learning,” the letter states. “We know… that some schools and school districts may face circumstances in which they are not able to safely administer statewide summative assessments this spring using their standard practices.”

It is clear that the pandemic requires significant flexibility for the 2020-2021 school year so that states can respond to the unique circumstances they are facing; keep students, staff, and their families safe; and maintain their immediate focus on supporting students’ social, emotional, and academic development,” the letter continues.

Wait? What? If it is clear that “…the pandemic requires significant flexibility for the 2020-21 school year” why mandate an INFLEXIBLE mandate that all states give all students whatever standardized assessments they’ve designed as a metric for “student learning”. And no one needs to give a test to every child in America to “…understand the impact of COVID-19 on learning“… especially since no standardized test EVER showed anything other than what we all know: children from homes in districts or schools with highly educated and engaged parents “outperform” children raised in poverty. Standardized tests have shown us this for decades! Why do we need to show it again? And it doesn’t require the administration of a universal standardized test to “prove” that children who had no access to the internet learned less on Zoom than children with fiber connections. Moreover, what will result from this “finding”? Will schools serving children raised in poverty get more money? Will funds be made available to upgrade internet connectivity in poor neighborhoods and remote communities? We know the answer.

Mercedes Schneider, an insightful blogger who has over 30 years of experience in the classroom, offered these insights:

“…surveying district and state superintendents about what they need in order to provide equitable education opportunities for their students would be a much better use of U.S. Department of Education time and money than spending multiple millions on standardized tests.”

I have been teaching the better part of three decades, and I have yet for any parent to ask me for standardized test scores so that the parent can know how their children are doing,” stressed Schneider. “They ask about grades on class assignments; they discuss specific skill areas that are challenging and ask for help with addressing the specific challenges arising from completing classroom assignments; they discuss supports needed when the children or other family members are facing health issues or other crises at home; they ask for assistance addressing behavior issues, but they never ask for standardized test scores out of a need to know how their children are doing.”

The only good news for teachers is that Betsy DeVos is no longer around at the Federal level. The bad news is that once these results are made public, the 20+ states who have adopted DeVos-ian voucher plans will use the “evidence” to convert more schools to charters… and the Venture Capitalists whose contributions seemingly had some influence on Biden will be very happy. Teachers, on the other hand, will not be so happy.

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