Pro & Con Quotes: Do Standardized Tests Improve Education in America?
Lane Wright, Director of Policy Analysis at Education Post, wrote in a May 25, 2018 article titled “Does Standardized Testing Help Students,” available at EducationPost.com:
“Standardized tests are a spotlight that helps education leaders see what effect schools are having on students. With that information they can make changes to address students’ needs…
Standardized tests help principals and other school leaders figure out which groups of students are struggling and gives them the evidence they need to push for changes.
Before we had standardized tests, some might have been able to intuitively sense which students were falling behind, but they didn’t have much in the way of hard evidence to back it up. Without evidence, it’s hard to justify the sometimes uncomfortable changes needed to help students.”May 25, 2018 - Lane Wright
Mark Dynarski, PhD, Founder and President of Pemberton Research, wrote in a Nov. 14, 2018 piece titled “When Done Right, Standardized Tests Really Do Reflect What a Student Knows,” available at the74million.com:
“What exams test reflects what states want their students to learn — the standards. Comparing average scores between schools and districts is possible only because the same test is done. In measuring what students know, tests are a tremendous asset, providing important and reliable information that cannot be learned in other ways…
To parents who are not educators, the process of creating standardized tests might seem like a big black box. In fact, it’s a rigorous and highly scientific process, one that has been developed over 100 years and reflects research by generations of esteemed scholars. It has its own subfield, psychometrics, and every year universities graduate new Ph.D.s in that subfield.”Nov. 14, 2018 - Mark Dynarski, PhD
Aaron Churchill, MA, MSPPM, Ohio Research Director for the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, stated the following in his Mar. 18, 2015 article titled “Bless the Tests: Three Reasons for Standardized Testing,” available at edexcellence.net:
“[W]e should remember why standardized tests are essential. The key reasons, as I see them, are objectivity, comparability, and accountability.
At their core, standardized exams are designed to be objective measures. They assess students based on a similar set of questions, are given under nearly identical testing conditions, and are graded by a machine or blind reviewer. They are intended to provide an accurate, unfiltered measure of what a student knows…
Outside of standardized test results, no objective method exists for policymakers to identify either poor-performing schools needing intervention or high-performing schools deserving rewards. Consider the alternative: Who would want policymakers to intervene in a school based on their ‘gut feeling’ or reward a school based on anecdotes? Statewide standardized exams are essential for upholding a fair and objective accountability system.”Mar. 18, 2015 - Aaron Churchill, MA, MSPPM
Latasha Gandy, Executive Director of Students for Education Reform, stated the following in her Jan. 11, 2016 article titled “Don’t Believe the Hype: Standardized Tests Are Good for Children, Families and Schools,” available at educationpost.org:
“Year after year, standardized test results have exposed glaring racial biases in our education system. Teachers and schools are no longer able to hide behind school averages in performance, and are now having to answer for the low academic performance of students of color and low-income students…
Many teachers embrace standardized test data. They use it to celebrate success and pinpoint areas for improvement. My own children attend schools that use testing to set goals and measure progress rather than consider it a punishment. The school regularly shares test data with me, has a clear plan for helping my daughters in areas they’re struggling in, and gives me tips I can use at home.”Jan. 11, 2016 - Latasha Gandy
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board wrote the following in an Aug. 26, 2016 article titled “Editorial: California’s New Standardized Tests Are Flawed, but Still Important,” available at latimes.com:
“The [standardized] tests remain an important part of holding schools accountable and shouldn’t be minimized or dismissed as just a bunch of data. (Are you listening, Gov. Jerry Brown?) The concrete results from the tests force us to see truths we could otherwise avoid — especially now, as other mechanisms of accountability fall by the wayside…
The new tests, based on the Common Core curriculum standards, are designed to measure critical thinking in a nuanced way. They might fall short in some ways. But they do measure skills learned and material understood, if not comprehensively. They can’t be hidden underneath social promotion or grade inflation or meaningless diplomas. In today’s tangle of upbeat school talk and colored charts, annual test scores provide a badly needed measure of objective clarity.”Aug. 26, 2016 - Los Angeles Times
Gregory J. Cizek, PhD, Professor of Educational Measurement and Evaluation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education, stated in a Mar. 30, 2010 interview for The Economist titled “Eight Questions for Gregory Cizek”:
“It is difficult to conceive of any meaningful accountability system in which rigorous, objective information about student achievement—that is, standardised test data—would not be a necessary component…
There is simply no assessment in existence today, nor has there ever been any test that simply measures whether students can fill in a bubble. As a starting point, we need to recognise both the limitations of current tests, but also their strengths. The typical statewide NCLB tests administered today in every American state are far and away the most accurate, free-of-bias, dependable, and efficient tests that a student will encounter in his or her schooling. They routinely measure whether students have learned important knowledge and skills, and they provide high-quality, useful information to students, parents, educators, and policymakers about achievement in core subjects.”Mar. 30, 2010 - Gregory J. Cizek, PhD
George W. Bush, MBA, 43rd President of the United States, stated during a Jan. 8, 2004 discussion at West View Elementary School in Knoxville, TN, reproduced in Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: George W. Bush, 2004, Volume 1, published in 2007:
“You don’t know unless you measure. Listen, I’ve heard every excuse in the book about measurement. You know, ‘You’re testing too much.’ ‘You’re teaching the test.’ And, you know, ‘Don’t test.’ If you don’t test, you have a system that just shuffles the kids through, and that’s unacceptable. It’s unacceptable to quit on a kid early and just say, ‘Move through, and hope you learn.’ What you’ve got to do is measure to determine where they are, and then you can compare districts and compare States. And as a result of strong accountability measures and good teachers and more funding, the results are positive. The fourth grade math test scores around the Nation are up 9 points since 2000. In other words, we’re beginning to achieve—meet national objectives, which is a more literate group of students. The reading—eighth grade math scores are up 5 points. Fourth graders are now testing above—reading tests are increasing for fourth graders. We’re making a difference.”Jan. 8, 2004 - George W. Bush, MBA
Bill Clinton, JD, 42nd President of the United States, stated in his June 10, 1997 speech on national education standards, transcribed by the White House and available on the US National Archives’ website:
“[Test results] give us a road map to higher performance. In no other country in the world did performance in math drop from above average in 4th grade to below average in 8th grade… We know we’ll have to hold all of our students to higher standards as they grow older and measure the schools and the students against the standards…
This ought to be a clear challenge to every single state that has not yet come forward to agree to participate in the national standards movement and the test in 1999 that they ought to do it. We don’t have to hide anymore, we don’t have to be afraid of the results anymore. We’re not trying to punish anybody; we’re trying to lift the children of this country up.”June 10, 1997 - Bill Clinton, JD
Margaret Spellings, US Secretary of Education from 2005-2009, wrote in her Oct. 14, 2005 op-ed for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, titled “Is Standardized Testing the Correct Answer? YES,” archived at Ed.gov:
“Testing has been a valuable part of the educational process since the days of Socrates. There is nothing new or scary about it. It lets teachers and parents know how kids are doing and lets students see the rewards of hard work.
That’s why assessments are part of the No Child Left Behind Act. The law’s emphasis on high standards and accountability has led to a sharp focus on results.
Students are no longer overlooked and shuffled from grade to grade, whether they have learned the material or not. The achievement gap between rich and poor and black and white is no longer treated as a sad fact of life, but rather as a problem to be solved. As President Bush likes to say, what gets measured gets done.”Oct. 14, 2005 - Margaret Spellings
Richard P. Phelps, PhD, testing scholar and economist, wrote in his 2007 book Standardized Testing Primer:
“Standardized tests do not, and cannot, produce perfect measures, and no one claims that they can…
The measures are used, despite their imperfections, because in most situations in science as well as in life some information for making decisions is better than none. Useful measures provide information whose benefits outweigh any cost and imprecision, and whose positive net benefits exceed those of any practical alternative.
Without high-stakes standardized testing, we would increase our reliance on teacher grading and testing. Are teacher evaluations free of standardized testing’s alleged failings? No. Individual teachers can narrow the curriculum to that which they prefer. Grades are susceptible to inflation with ordinary teachers, as students get to know a teacher better and learn his idiosyncrasies. A teacher’s (or school’s) grades and test scores are far more likely to be idiosyncratic and non-generalizable than any standardized tests.'”
[Editor’s Note: In June 7, 2012 email to ProCon.org, Richard P. Phelps confirmed that he remains “Pro” to our core question.]2007 - Richard P. Phelps, PhD
James Marshall Crotty, MA, Forbes education blogger, stated in his Feb. 15, 2012 post on Forbes.com titled “Obama’s New Waiver Policy: Some Children Left Behind?”:
“[A]nnual NCLB testing has enabled school administrators to better identify and serve at-risk students, and has given low-income parents a critical tool in determining high-performing public schools…
As for teaching to the test, there is nothing in NCLB that necessitates ‘teaching to the test,’ anymore than there is anything on the SAT, ACT [college admission tests], or PISA [Programme for International Student Assessment] that requires teaching to those tests. My experience working in a South Bronx school, and my own education at a Catholic kindergarten, grade school and high school, suggests that when teachers teach holistically, with a well-rounded emphasis on critical thinking, deep reading, active listening, regular writing, robust physical education, and a full appreciation of all the humanities (including art and music), as well as hard and soft sciences, students perform well on any exam, let alone the yearly NCLB tests…
While even NCLB’s strongest proponents claim that terminating a teacher and principal solely on standardized test scores is unfair, objective national testing should still form the bedrock of any compliance system.”Feb. 15, 2012 - James Marshall Crotty, MA
Justin Baeder, Education Week blogger, stated in his July 19, 2011 post titled “Why We Still Need Standardized Testing Post-Scandal,” available at EdWeek.org:
“First, we need standardized tests to provide basic information about how our schools are performing relative to each other. In the current environment of testing- and accountability-mania, it’s easy to forget that this is actually very useful information for improvement purposes. The fact that we have used this information for other purposes, centering on punitive accountability measures, has taken our eyes off of this benefit to standardized testing. There are dozens of non-punitive ways to use this information, such as resource allocation, professional development planning, and identifying school goals for improvement.
Second, we need standardized testing to identify inequities and achievement gaps. When we have no solid way to measure learning outcomes, it’s easy for inequities to hide behind our good intentions and best efforts.”
[Editor’s Note: In a June 7, 2012 email to ProCon.org, Justin Baeder confirmed that he remains “Pro” to our core question.]July 19, 2011 - Justin Baeder, MEd
Raj Chetty, PhD, John N. Friedman, PhD, and Jonah E. Rockoff, PhD, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research, stated in the executive summary of their Dec. 2011 working paper “The Long-Term Impacts of Teachers: Teacher Value-Added and Student Outcomes in Adulthood,” available at Harvard University’s Research Computing Group website:
“One method [of measuring teacher quality] is to evaluate teachers based on their impacts on students’ test scores, commonly termed the ‘value-added’ (VA) approach. A teacher’s value-added is defined as the average test-score gain for his or her students, adjusted for differences across classrooms in student characteristics such as prior scores. School districts from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles have begun to use VA to evaluate teachers. Proponents argue that using VA can improve student achievement… while critics argue that test score gains are poor proxies for a teacher’s true quality…
We find that students assigned to higher VA teachers are more successful in many dimensions. They are more likely to attend college, earn higher salaries, live in better neighborhoods, and save more for retirement. They are also less likely to have children as teenagers…”Dec. 2011 - John N. Friedman, PhD
Jonah E. Rockoff, PhD
Raj Chetty, PhD
Pearson, publisher of standardized tests and educational textbooks, stated in a Dec. 2003 report titled “Fundamentals of Standardized Testing,” written for Pearson by Sasha Zucker and made available at the Pearson website:
“Standardized tests provide a clear solution to the challenges posed by NCLB. A standardized test, such as the Stanford Achievement Test Series, Tenth Edition [published by Pearson], is carefully designed for consistency of format, content, and administration procedure. The reliability of a standardized test is verified by statistical evidence gathered by the test publisher during national studies in which representative groups of students take the test under standardized conditions…
Despite the substantial amount of development effort required, a well-designed standardized test offers a relatively affordable and efficient way of measuring the achievement of a large number of students. When a high-stakes test must be selected to inform decisions that affect the future of a single student or an entire school district, standardized tests that are proven to be reliable, valid, and fair offer the best option for measuring levels of student achievement.”Dec. 2003 - Pearson
Michelle Rhee, MPP, former DC Schools Chancellor, and Richard Nyankori, PhD, former DC Deputy Chancellor for Special Education, wrote in their May 5, 2011 Huffington Post blog entry titled “Accommodate Don’t Discriminate”:
“[T]here are a lot of people out there who think we’re too focused on standardized tests. But, really, how can you diagnose learning problems, move kids to the next level or hold teachers accountable if you don’t measure student progress in an objective, standardized way? Advocating for standardized tests doesn’t mean killing creativity in classrooms or supporting a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. The tests are simply measurement tools.
…We all have to get on the scale when we go to the doctor for a checkup. No one expects each and everyone one [sic] of us to weigh the same, and no one expects us to follow the same diet or exercise regimen. But just because our prescription for good health may vary, that doesn’t mean we don’t have to get on that scale.”May 5, 2011 - Richard Nyankori, PhD
Michelle Rhee, MPP
Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida from 1999-2007, and Founder of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, wrote in his Oct. 22, 2008 Washington Times op-ed titled “Global Knowledge Is Power”:
“[W]e need to measure the effectiveness of teachers in the classroom. If we don’t measure, we don’t really care about the outcome. An annual standardized test is the most objective way to determine whether a student is learning a year’s worth of knowledge in a year’s time. If a classroom of students demonstrates progress from one year to the next on a standardized test, the teacher deserves credit.”Oct. 22, 2008 - Jeb Bush
Bill Evers, PhD, US Assistant Secretary of Education for Policy from 2007-2009, stated during a standardized testing debate on Class Action, a program aired on NBC Bay Area (KNTV 11) on Nov. 8, 2009:
“[Y]ou have to have information like this testing data, these test scores, in order to know where the problems are. Are there principals who are weak? Are there teachers who could use some additional tips on how to be an effective teacher? Are there students who aren’t prepared to be in this grade? All these things have to be addressed on the basis of knowledge, and this is a primary source of knowledge. This is what we need, is information in order to improve things.
…[I]t’s important that children do their best [on tests]. There are rivalrous situations in the world; there are competitive situations in the world… You’re never going to learn how to cope with them by never having one.”Nov. 8, 2009 - Bill Evers, PhD
Joel Klein, JD, former New York City Schools Chancellor, stated in his May 28, 2008 talk titled “What is the proper role of state student assessment?,” posted at BigThink.com:
“[I]f you don’t test whether people are getting it, then you can live under the illusion that they got it without the proof that they’re getting it. And so to me the challenge is to make sure the tests are rigorous, that they test the full range of things, but don’t walk away from assessment.
When I went to public school, every Friday we got tested on vocabulary. And you know what? It was a way to make sure you know what assiduous meant, and that’s very important. And we got tested on math and if I got things wrong, then I went back to try to learn them and my teacher went back to try to help me understand them.
Now if all you do at the end of a block is move onto the next block, what happens is what happens in many public schools, people move through the system without acquiring the knowledge and the skills they need. And when they get to the end, they drop out or fail out or don’t succeed, and so assessment is an absolutely essential—it’s not the only part—but it’s an absolutely essential part of the educational equation.”May 28, 2008 - Joel Klein, JD
Tom Vander Ark, MBA, CEO of Getting Smart, wrote in an Apr. 14, 2019 article titled “How to Get Rid of Standardized Testing,” available at linkedin.com:
“Good schools know how every student is doing in every subject every day. They don’t need a week of testing in the spring to tell them what they already know…
One problem with state-mandated tests is that they don’t take advantage of everything teachers know about their students…
It’s time to end a century of standardized testing and focus instead on helping young people do work that matters. We no longer need to interrupt learning and test kids to find out what they know. A couple of brave state policy leaders could trigger what would be a quick change because everyone hates the tests.”Apr. 14, 2019 - Tom Vander Ark, MBA
Zach Dawes Jr., MA, Managing Editor for EthicsDaily.com, wrote in a Mar. 11, 2019 article titled “Do Standardized Tests Accurately Measure Student Achievement?,” available at ethicsdaily.com:
“We currently have a system in which teachers and schools are assessed by student performance on tests that many (most?) likely disdain, might not care about how they perform and have little-to-no understanding of the negative consequences for their school or teachers if they don’t perform well…
For students who give their full effort, receiving a lower-than-expected score (particularly when their teachers have assessed them as being at grade level) could dampen spirits and lower motivation on future tests.”Mar. 11, 2019 - Zach Dawes, Jr., MDiv
Diane Ravitch, PhD, Research Professor of Education at New York University and US Assistant Secretary of Education from 1991-1993, stated in her Apr. 11, 2016 article titled “Why Every Child Should Opt out of the Standardized Tests,” available at huffingtonpost.com:
“Want to end the obsession with standardized testing? Opt your children out of the state tests.
Ignore the threats from state and federal officials. The tests today have taken over too much of the school year. Teachers should prepare and give tests that cover what they taught…
The tests are meaningless because the results are returned months after the test, when the student has a different teacher. The tests are meaningless because the scores provide no information about what the students learned and didn’t learn. The teacher is not allowed to find out what students got wrong…
Schools have cut back on the arts, civics, science, history, and physical education because they are not on the test…
The testing regime is destroying education. It is driven by politicians who think that tests make students smarter and by educrats who fear to think an independent thought.”Apr. 11, 2016 - Diane Ravitch, PhD
Greg Jouriles, Social Science Teacher at Hillsdale High School, stated the following in his July 8, 2014 article titled “Here’s Why We Don’t Need Standardized Tests,” available at edweek.org:
“There are two main arguments against using standardized tests to guarantee that students reach at least a basic level of academic competency. The first is radical: These tests are not necessary. The second—less radical and more familiar—is that, even if standardized testing were an efficient benchmark of basic skills, the costs associated with it are too high.
[W]e don’t learn much from standardized testing, and we have lost a great deal by giving it so much prominence. The common core is at risk for failure, not because the standards are bad per se, but because with standardized accountability, as in so many partial reforms, we again won’t get a real picture of achievement, people will be disappointed, and the standards and testing will run their course.”July 8, 2014 - Greg Jouriles
Bruce H. Lederman, JD, Partner at D’Agostino, Levine, Landesman & Lederman, LLP, stated the following in his Apr. 15, 2016 article titled “A Misguided Obsession with Computerized Teacher Evaluations,” available at newsobserver.com:
“[I]t’s worth pausing and considering why political obsession with computerized teacher ratings based upon student [standardized test] scores is bad policy and bad for students…
Issues influencing how children score on a single test on a single day are so complicated that undue and inflexible reliance upon growth scores does a real disservice to our children…
The success of the opt-out movement in New York and elsewhere demonstrates that parents are realizing that increased reliance on testing for the purpose of rating and firing teachers is bad for children. Anxiety over testing is replacing love of learning. The opt-out movement is growing because the goal of good educational practices is being abandoned by politicians in favor of a witch hunt to find and fire allegedly bad teachers.”Apr. 15, 2016 - Bruce H. Lederman, JD
Tim Walker, Editor of NEA Today, stated the following in his Feb. 18, 2016 article titled “Survey: 70 Percent of Educators Say State Assessments Not Developmentally Appropriate,” available at neatoday.org:
“Results from a 2015 survey of more than 1500 NEA members teaching the grades and subjects required to be tested under No Child Left Behind (grades 3-8 and 10-12 in ELA and math) indicate that a vast majority of these educators – 70 percent – do not believe their primary state assessment is developmentally appropriate for their students. Only 13 percent agreed that the NCLB-required state standardized test their students took met that standard…
Unfortunately, standardized tests based on a narrowly prescribed curriculum and linked to specific grade levels are not a good way to judge student or teacher success.”Feb. 18, 2016 - Tim Walker
Dennis Van Roekel, MA, President of the National Education Association (NEA), stated in the Jan. 7, 2011 article “NEA President Shares Thoughts on NCLB with Washington Post,” posted at NEAToday.org:
“Students as young as 6 or 7 years old are now subjected to weeks of preparation for high stakes tests. Because math, reading, and to a lesser extent, science are the only subjects regularly tested, students are drilled in those topics. Meanwhile, subjects such as history, civics, music and art – which help develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills–are squeezed out of the school day. When we teach only what will appear on multiple choice tests–and when we ask teachers to read from a prepared script and spend no more and no less time on prescribed subject matter–we cheat our children.
Students’ questions and approaches to learning are as unique as each of them. The current standardized multiple choice tests are a crude instrument for assessing student achievement.”Jan. 7, 2011 - Dennis Van Roekel, MA
Alfie Kohn, MA, Author of The Case Against Standardized Testing and other books, stated in his 2002 article “Standardized Testing: Separating Wheat Children from Chaff Children,” posted on AlfieKohn.org:
“You deprive kids of recess, eliminate music and the arts, cut back the class meetings and discussions of current events, offer less time to read books for pleasure, squeeze out the field trips and interdisciplinary projects and high-quality electives, spend enough time teaching test-taking tricks, and, you bet, it’s possible to raise [test] scores. But that result is meaningless at best. When a school or district reports better test results this year than last, knowledgeable parents and other observers respond by saying, ‘So what?’ (because higher test scores do not necessarily reflect higher quality teaching and learning) – or even, ‘Uh oh’ (because higher test scores may indicate lower quality teaching and learning).
And once you realize that the tests are unreliable indicators of quality, then what possible reason would there be to subject kids – usually African American and Latino kids – to those mind-numbing, spirit-killing, regimented instructional programs that were designed principally to raise test scores? If your only argument in favor of such a program is that it improves results on deeply flawed tests, you haven’t offered any real argument at all.”
[Editor’s Note: In a June 8, 2012 email to ProCon.org, Alfie Kohn confirmed that he remains “Con” to our core question.]2002 - Alfie Kohn, MA
Jonathan Kozol, education writer and activist, wrote in his Sep. 10, 2007 Huffington Post article “Why I Am Fasting: An Explanation to My Friends”:
“The poisonous essence of this law [NCLB] lies in the mania of obsessive testing it has forced upon our nation’s schools and, in the case of underfunded, overcrowded inner-city schools, the miserable drill-and-kill curriculum of robotic ‘teaching to the test’ it has imposed on teachers, the best of whom are fleeing from these schools because they know that this debased curriculum would never have been tolerated in the good suburban schools that they, themselves, attended.
…There are some mediocre teachers in our schools (there are mediocre lawyers, mediocre senators, and mediocre presidents as well), but hopelessly dull and unimaginative teachers do not suddenly turn into classroom wizards under a regimen that transforms their classrooms into test-prep factories.”Sep. 10, 2007 - Jonathan Kozol
Carolyn J. Heinrich, PhD, the Sid Richardson Professor of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin’s Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, stated in her Mar. 10, 2012 op-ed for the Austin American-Statesman titled “Standardized Tests with High Stakes Are Bad for Learning, Studies Show”:
“There are little to no positive effects of these [test-based accountability] systems overall on student learning and educational progress, and there is widespread teaching to the test and gaming of the systems that reflects a wasteful use of resources and leads to inaccurate or inflated measures of performance…
Studies published in the best economics and education journals have shown unequivocal evidence of excessive teaching to the test and drilling that produces inflated measures of students’ growth in learning; cheating on tests that includes erasing incorrect answers or filling in missing responses; shifting of students out of classrooms or other efforts to exclude anticipated poor performers from testing, or alternatively, concentrating classroom teaching efforts on those students most likely to increase their test scores above a particular target, and other even more subtle strategies for increasing testing averages…”Mar. 10, 2012 - Carolyn J. Heinrich, PhD
Christopher Paslay, author of the 2011 book The Village Proposal: Education as a Shared Responsibility, wrote in his Feb. 21, 2012 article “The Mighty Testing Juggernaut,” posted on the Philadelphia Inquirer / Philadelphia Daily News website:
“Standardized tests may be lucrative for educational publishers and useful for politicians who want to control school resources, but they seldom improve learning. No Child Left Behind has promoted empty lessons geared toward such tests. As a result, teacher spontaneity is compromised, leaving students uninspired.”Feb. 21, 2012 - Christopher Paslay
Hillary Rodham Clinton, JD, US Secretary of State, stated while US Senator (D-NY) during her address to the National Education Association (NEA) June-July 2007 Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, available at YouTube.com:
“You all know what’s happening with No Child Left Behind; the test is becoming the curriculum, when it should be the other way around. And the curriculum is being narrowed. I hear story after story about music, and art, or physical education, or field trips being cut out of the school day to make more time for drilling and routine work to prepare for the test. I don’t know about you but I remember those field trips. I learned a lot on things that took me out of the classroom with my teacher’s guidance and gave me a view of a wider world. How much learning is exactly going on? Our children are getting good at filling in those little bubbles, but how much creativity is being left behind? How much passion for learning is being left behind? And what about those children who we know are bright and successful in the classroom but simply don’t perform well on tests? And we know these children; I know these children. They have tremendous talents, maybe musical or artistic talents. They’re made to feel like failures because the curriculum doesn’t reward what it is they are good at.”June-July 2007 - Hillary Rodham Clinton, JD
Matt Damon, actor and education activist, stated during his address to the July 30, 2011 Save Our Schools rally in Washington, DC, available at YouTube.com:
“I shudder to think that these [standardized] tests are being used today to control where funding goes.
I don’t know where I would be today if my teachers’ job security was based on how I performed on some standardized test. If their very survival as teachers was based not on whether I actually fell in love with the process of learning but rather if I could fill in the right bubble on a test. If they had to spend most of their time desperately drilling us and less time encouraging creativity and original ideas; less time knowing who we were, seeing our strengths and helping us realize our talents.”July 30, 2011 - Matt Damon
The National Center for Fair & Open Testing (also known as FairTest), stated in its Jan. 2012 report titled NCLB’s Lost Decade for Educational Progress: What Can We Learn from this Policy Failure?, written for FairTest by Lisa Guisbond with Monty Neill and Bob Schaeffer, and posted on FairTest.org:
“Beyond its basic testing mandates, NCLB begot a seemingly endless proliferation of tests and ways to use them: standardized tests in more subjects, interim and benchmark tests. It spawned so-called ‘formative’ tests, which are supposed to help improve instruction but mostly take more time away from it. NCLB also fed the growth of a hugely profitable testing industry, increasing its bottom line while student achievement on NAEP [National Assessment of Educational Progress] leveled off and achievement gaps stagnated.”Jan. 2012 - National Center for Fair & Open Testing (FairTest)
Newt Gingrich, PhD, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), stated during a Sep. 30, 2011 presidential campaign event in Iowa, as quoted by the Des Moines Register‘s Jason Clayworth in his Sep. 30, 2011 article “Eliminate Educational Curriculums, Gingrich Tells Iowans”:
“I think the whole concept of a state or federal curriculum is profoundly wrong. If you bureaucratize the process, you bureaucratize the teacher, you make it all boring and it all becomes a matter of cheating. Because when you’re studying for the test, you’re not studying to learn, you’re studying to get through some test and everybody knows it. So you gradually take life out of the system.”Sep. 30, 2011 - Newt Gingrich, PhD
Wendy Lecker, JD, former president of the Stamford [Connecticut] Parent Teacher Council, wrote in her Mar. 9, 2012 op-ed for the Stamford Advocate, titled “Evaluation System Will Compound Problems”:
“With the standardized tests we have now, our children’s education is being narrowed. All over this state, art, music, social studies and foreign language courses are being squeezed out to prep for CMTs [Connecticut Mastery Tests] and CAPTs [Connecticut Academic Performance Tests].
Not only is our curriculum being narrowed, but so is the way our children learn. They are being trained how to give canned answers to prepackaged questions, rather than learning how to think for themselves. Both teachers and students are increasingly suffering through mind-numbing scripted lessons.
Students, especially those in the neediest districts, are being denied the opportunity for a rich and varied education because of the pressure put upon districts to increase test scores in just a few subjects. Imagine what will happen when high-stakes tests are implemented in every subject. Instead of a piece of clay or a paintbrush, a 6-year-old will now be handed a worksheet. Far-fetched? It is already happening in Colorado…”Mar. 9, 2012 - Wendy Lecker, JD
Barack Obama, JD, 44th President of the United States, stated during a Mar. 28, 2011 Univision town hall meeting on education, transcribed at the whitehouse website:
“[W]e have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids…
Too often what we’ve been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools.
…[O]ne thing I never want to see happen is schools that are just teaching to the test. Because then you’re not learning about the world; you’re not learning about different cultures, you’re not learning about science, you’re not learning about math. All you’re learning about is how to fill out a little bubble on an exam and the little tricks that you need to do in order to take a test. And that’s not going to make education interesting to you. And young people do well in stuff that they’re interested in. They’re not going to do as well if it’s boring.”Mar. 28, 2011 - Barack Obama, JD
Randi Weingarten, JD, President of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), wrote in her Feb. 21, 2012 article “Fixing the Fixation on Testing,” posted at the Huffington Post website:
“I [recall] times as a teacher when I thought my students learned the most. It wasn’t when we were intensely preparing for the Regents exams or any other standardized tests. My students were most engaged during project-based learning, when they worked in teams and wrestled with complex topics, such as the decision to drop the atomic bomb during World War II…
Those are the kinds of educational experiences that excite students and teachers alike. Teachers don’t want to spend valuable time endlessly preparing for ‘the test.’ They want to guide their students to ask insightful questions, offer well-reasoned opinions, and work diligently until they master content. Those are the types of classroom experiences that unleash students’ ingenuity and reveal their understanding of the material.
And that’s the kind of learning that is being stamped out by the current pervasive fixation on testing.”Feb. 21, 2012 - Randi Weingarten, JD
Michael Matsuda, MPA, Co-Chair of the California Coalition Partnership for 21st Century Education (P21), stated in his Feb. 10, 2012 op-ed titled “Will America Produce Another Steve Jobs?,” published on the Voice of OC (Orange County, CA) website:
“In a multiple-choice, test-driven world, kids are taught that there is always a right answer and moreover that the answer is always given to them.
Kids learn early on that they don’t have to think outside the box, they don’t have to be creative, collaborative or be critical thinkers. They just have to be good at memorizing rote facts and eliminating the wrong answers. Of course if they get stuck, just follow the advice my eighth grade son’s principal gives and choose the letter ‘C’…
The irony is stultifying. While the Chinese are moving to an education system that innovates, we have transformed ours into a bureaucratic, centralized Politburo that rewards test takers and stifles out-of-the-box thinkers.”Feb. 10, 2012 - Michael Matsuda, MPA
Valerie Strauss, Education Blogger for the Washington Post’s “The Answer Sheet,” wrote in her July 21, 2011 post titled “Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel Chooses Private School for Kids”:
“Obama and now [Chicago Mayor Rahm] Emanuel opted for schools that do not require teachers to spend hours a week drilling kids to pass standardized tests, and they don’t evaluate teachers by how well their students do on those assessments. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and his wife send their children to Arlington public schools in Virginia. Neither the Arlington Public School system, nor Sidwell [attended by Obama’s children], nor The Lab Schools [attended by Emanuel’s children], assess teachers by student standardized test grades, which is a bad idea sweeping the country, encouraged by the Obama administration.”July 21, 2011 - Valerie Strauss
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