Academic Freedom Accountability Testing

Laura Chapman on the “COVID Slide”

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We have been warned! Students are”losing ground,” “falling behind,” and in desperate need of remediation.

Laura Chapman captures the debate:


The big promotion for this Covid-19 era is how to mitigate a “slide in learning.”

The so-called COVID-slide is made up by bean counters who think that the be-all and end-all of education is captured in test scores for reading and math.

Among these high profile bean counters is the Rand Corporation. I have linked you to the following article for their solutions to the slide problem. They think it is fine to just “recruit top teachers, with grade-level experience, and equip them with rigorous academic curriculums. They will operate for five or six weeks of the summer, with three or four hours of academics every day, as well as time for enrichment activities.” In addition they “they will establish a clear attendance policy.” https://www.rand.org/blog/rand-review/2020/07/the-covid-slide-how-to-help-students-recover-learning.html

Then there is the Brookings Institution, and like all test-centered promoters of a “Covid Slide” their experts rely on test scores in reading and math to make graphs and dire predictions about ” the slide,” as if the whole of education depends on test scores in two subjects. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/05/27/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-student-achievement-and-what-it-may-mean-for-educators/

One more example is a widely cited “white paper” from Illuminate Education. The white paper is nothing more than a sales pitch for FastBridge, which claims to be “the only assessment system to combine Computer-Adaptive Tests (CAT) and Curriculum-Based Measures (CBM) for screening and progress monitoring across reading, math and social-emotional behavior (SEB) so you get data surrounding the whole child.”

You can sign up to receive Illuminate Education’s playbook prepared by experts who “offer actionable advice for supporting students’ social-emotional and behavioral (SEB) functioning. Implement these tips to prepare students, mentally and emotionally, to learn after a spring and summer spent social distancing.” The white paper

In other words, if there were no test scores, especially in reading and math, the slide metaphor would not exist and the experts in test-centric instruction would have to be more thorough in thinking about the unfolding complexities of teaching and learning. They would have to think about the support students, teachers, and parents/caregivers really need. Those supports have nothing to do with testing.

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