Top Pro & Con Arguments
Standardized tests offer meaningful data to help students in marginalized groups.
Keri Rodrigues, Co-founder of the National Parents Union, explained, “If I don’t have testing data to make sure my child’s on the right track, I’m not able to intervene and say there is a problem and my child needs more. And the community can’t say this school is doing well, this teacher needs help to improve, or this system needs new leadership… It’s really important to have a statewide test because of the income disparity that exists in our society. Black and Brown excellence is real, but just because a kid lives in Dorchester [Massachusetts] does not make his or her life is less valuable than a child that lives in Wellesley [Massachusetts]. And it is unfair to say that just by luck of birth that a child born in Wellesley is somehow entitled to a higher-quality education… Testing is a tool for us to hold the system accountable to make sure our kids have what they need. ”
Sheryl Lazarus, PhD, Director of the National Center on Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota, stated, “a real plus of these assessments is that they’ve really shone a light on the differences across sub-groups. And they have led to improvements in access to instruction for students with disabilities and English learners… Inclusion of students with disabilities and English learners in summative tests used for accountability allows us to measure how well the system is doing for these students, and then it is possible to fill in gaps in instructional opportunity.”
Advocates for marginalized groups of students, whether by race, learning disability, or other difference, can use testing data to prove a problem exists and to help solve the problem via more funding, development of programs, or other solutions. Civil rights education lawsuits wherein a group is suing a local or state government for better education almost always use testing data.
Chris Stewart, CEO of brightbeam, summarizes, “We only know that there’s a difference between White students and Black students and other students of color because we have the data. We only know about that because we have assessments.”
A letter signed by 12 civil rights organizations including the NAACP and the American Association of University Women, explained, “Data obtained through some standardized tests are particularly important to the civil rights community because they are the only available, consistent, and objective source of data about disparities in educational outcomes, even while vigilance is always required to ensure tests are not misused. These data are used to advocate for greater resource equity in schools and more fair treatment for students of color, low-income students, students with disabilities, and English learners… [W]e cannot fix what we cannot measure. And abolishing the tests or sabotaging the validity of their results only makes it harder to identify and fix the deep-seated problems in our schools.”Read More