Accountability Education Reform Equity Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) NCLB (No Child Left Behind) Standardized Testing Students

Mercedes Schneider: States Should Ask for Waivers for Spring Testing

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Mercedes Schneider urges states to follow Montana’s example and ask for a waiver from the federally mandated standardized tests.

She writes:

This is a school year fraught with quarantine disruption, turnstile attendance, distancing and sanitizing burdens, and spotty internet capabilities.

The very idea of conducting tests in the midst of this chaos is “bureaucratic lunacy,” she says.

Lovers of standardized testing say it’s important to find out whether children have “fallen behind.”

It’s important to know how useless the annual tests are. I’ll say this again and again. The teacher is not allowed to seethe test questions or, if she does, to discuss them, even after the tests. The questions are proprietary materials that belong to the testing company. The teacher is not allowed to know how individual students did on specific questions. They learn nothing about what their students know or don’t know.

The scores are returned 4-6 months after the testis given. The students no longer have the same teacher. The new teacher finds out which students are “advanced, proficient, basic, or below basic.” These are subjective terms, subjectively defined. The students are ranked from best to worst. The scores are highly correlated with family income and education.

Some defenders of the tests say they are needed for “equity” or to “close the achievement gap.” This is nonsense. Tests measure gaps, they don’t close them.

Imagine going to a doctor with a severe pain in your stomach. The doctor gives you a series of tests and says he will get back to you in 4-6 months. When he does, you are either dead or cured. What he tells you is not what ailed you, but how you compared to other people with the same symptoms of your age and weight.


Useless! Absolutely useless.

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