Standardized tests are now the fashion for holding a struggling public education system “accountable” for the work being done in the nation’s classrooms, but when veteran teacher Marion Brady spoke with graduates of the class of ’61 last fall, particularly those who had happily spent their careers teaching, they uniformly said they would never recommend the profession today because of one thing: standardized testing.
We generally don’t look back to the days when these people would have been teaching and consider them the dark days of public education, so it can be assumed they weren’t trying to hide their incompetence or duck oversight; why, then, the opposition to this now publicly popular measuring stick?
Teachers (at least the ones the public should hope their taxes are supporting) oppose the tests because they focus so narrowly on reading and math that the young are learning to hate reading, math, and school; because they measure only “low level” thinking processes; because they put the wrong people — test manufacturers — in charge of American education; because they allow pass-fail rates to be manipulated by officials for political purposes; because test items simplify and trivialize learning.
Teachers oppose the tests because they provide minimal to no useful feedback; are keyed to a deeply flawed curriculum adopted in 1893; lead to neglect of physical conditioning, music, art, and other, non-verbal ways of learning; unfairly advantage those who can afford test prep; hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring; penalize test-takers who think in non-standard ways.
Teachers oppose the tests because they radically limit their ability to adapt to learner differences; encourage use of threats, bribes, and other extrinsic motivators; wrongly assume that what the young will need to know in the future is already known; emphasize minimum achievement to the neglect of maximum performance; create unreasonable pressures to cheat.
What’s wrong with education.
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