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Reader Arthur Camins offered this comment about the renewed debate about testing:
I am cautiously optimistic that the Obama Administration has taken tentative steps to reduce over-testing. However, I don’t see evidence that there is a fundamental shift the values and goals that frame their education policies. Over-testing is certainly a huge problem. But, the type and role of testing is a bigger problem than the number of assessments.
As I argued here (https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2014/05/01/what-if-we-approached-testing-this-way/), if we expect learning improvement, we need to shift the focus of assessment from consequential summative assessment to daily examination of student work that informs both students and teachers. In addition, we need to abandon the evidenceless idea that judging teaching effectiveness based on value-added measures of student performance can be a lever for improvement.
Further, the Administration’s continued support for the expansion of charter schools is a fundamental threat to equitable democratically governed public education and the value of community responsibility (http://www.arthurcamins.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Education-reform-and-the-corrosion-of-community-responsibility-_-The-Answer-Sheet.pdf). Finally, while there is certainly a range between Democrats and Republicans, no one in the Obama Administration, nor any of the presidential candidates have challenged the winners and losers philosophy that has dominated education policy for the last several decades.
It is time to say, “Haven’t We Done Enough! Must We Have Winners and Losers Even in Education,” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arthur-camins/havent-we-done-enough-mus_b_8292806.html) The Administration’s announcement on limiting testing is evidence of power of organized citizens, such as the Opt Out movement. It’s time to expand that influence to demand changes that will actually make a difference in the lives of our children. Our only hope for a different course of action in informed voters who demand different policies.