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Are we testing our children too much?

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High-stakes testing cheats children out of a quality education

crcted.0920 (Medium)The folks at FairTest have been raising the alarm about excessive testing and its impact on education long before most people.

Here is a response to the AJC investigation into nationwide disparities in test results from Robert Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest: the National Center for Fair & Open Testing

By Robert Schaeffer

Across the U.S., the politically mandated misuse of standardized tests is damaging public schools and the children they serve. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s investigation of suspicious test scores around the nation is just the latest example. Experts may debate the methodology, but there is no question that cheating on standardized exams is widespread. In just the past three academic years, FairTest has documented confirmed cases of test score manipulation in 33 states plus the District of Columbia.

These scandals are the predictable result of over-reliance on test scores. As the renowned social scientist Donald Campbell concluded more than 30 years ago, “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” Campbell continued, “[W]hen test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they both lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process in undesirable ways.”

Testing experts have long recognized this problem. Their professional standards for educational assessment warn against relying on tests as the sole or primary factor to make high-stakes decisions.

Enhanced test security may reduce the number of reported problems. A real solution, however, requires a comprehensive overhaul of federal, state and local testing requirements. President Obama, Secretary Duncan and many governors regularly issue high-sounding statements about assessment reform. At the same time, the federal government is adding incentives for cheating by ratcheting up the emphasis on standardized exam scores. Many state officials are going along to win federal funds. Initiatives such as “Race to the Top” and the criteria for waivers from “No Child Left Behind” escalate the role of annual high-stakes annual testing. New requirements to assess teachers based on their students’ scores, in particular, virtually guarantee even more cheating will take place.

These policies contradict the findings and recommendations of Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, released last year by the National Research Council of the National Academies of Science. That study’s distinguished panel of experts concluded that high-stakes testing has not improved educational quality

Cracking down on cheating is necessary but far from sufficient. The reports by the Georgia Office of Special Investigators should be a national model of “best practices” for detecting and responding to testing irregularities. Unfortunately, educational bureaucrats may have vested interests in protecting current policies and personnel. Comprehensive reviews by independent law enforcement professionals are often necessary. Combined with the full range of forensic detection tools – including analyses for high numbers of erasures, unusual score gains, and patterns of similar responses – this approach has proven most likely to root out the truth.

More policing and better after-the-fact investigations will not, however, solve the many problems caused by the misuse of standardized exam scores. Instead, high-stakes testing requirements must end. They cheat students out of a high-quality education and cheat the public out of accurate information about school quality.

How much testing do you do with your children?  Do you think testing should be limited? 

by on Apr. 2, 2012 at 7:10 PM
Replies (11-14):
oredeb
by on Apr. 3, 2012 at 11:25 AM

 not very much i can tell what they know just by talking to them or listening to them talk to others,

just because someone knows an answer to something doesnt mean they are better person or can do a better job, some people just cant take tests and they know the answer also! so maybe there should be differnt ways of testing people. but in the ps i dont know how that'd work!

lucsch
by on Apr. 3, 2012 at 1:17 PM
1 mom liked this

No testing here. My dd does narrations and recitations. She does her math and we go over any she missed, but we skip the quizzes and tests. As her tutor-mom, I know what she knows. Testing and grading is not necessary.


kirbymom
by Sonja on Apr. 3, 2012 at 2:02 PM

 

Quoting oredeb:

 not very much i can tell what they know just by talking to them or listening to them talk to others,

just because someone knows an answer to something doesnt mean they are better person or can do a better job, some people just cant take tests and they know the answer also! so maybe there should be differnt ways of testing people. ~~ I am one of those that do not do well on tests at all. 

but in the ps i dont know how that'd work!  ~~  They would have to start from the ground up. 

 

gacgbaker
by on Apr. 3, 2012 at 2:37 PM
1 mom liked this

I think we rely on tests to verify what they know too much- there is a balance between testing and seeing them take into action what they have learned- but waiting for them to act on what they know takes a lot longer then "here fill this test out" so we rely on tests alone- it's not an accurate representation of what they know always.  

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