Friday, August 19, 2011

Standardized Tests: Are They Helping or Hindering?

This week in EducationNews, Julie Steiny compared punitive testing models to educational bullying. While she isn't directly blaming the tests, she says, “We’ve crossed a none-too-fine line between accountability—which we all want, without question—to bullying, plain and simple.”

She affirms, “Tests are not the problem. Achievement results are just information. Reliable data is great. It shows us where successful innovation might be underway. It raises red flags, confirms good work, and anchors hunches that our latest strategies are working, or not. We’ll never improve education without hard information, and plenty of it.”

“No, the problem is the bullying. Bullying has become a unique characteristic of America’s education culture. Comply or be punished. Get your students to meet federal and state proficiency standards — or else. Failure can bring public humiliation, wholesale staff dismissals, or schools being closed down entirely. States lean on districts; districts on their administrators. The public and pundits snarl at teachers. Teachers try hard not to take it out on their students.”

Tests are more than measurements for teacher effectiveness. Tests provide large amounts of valuable data, but it’s what we do with the data that makes a difference, how we better help the students understand the curriculum. As Steiny puts it, “The tests are a red flag, not a diagnosis. Test scores are just measurements until digested and interpreted by human judgment.

To read the full article from Julie Steiny, click here.

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