Education Reform

Peter Greene: Phooey to Resuming the Big Standardized Tests

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The “reform” lobby, never content without testing and data, has argued in a host of opinion pieces that children really need to be tested this spring. The reformers believe that school is unthinkable and teachers won’t know what to do without annual standardized testing. They have completely imbibed the Texas Miracle That Wasn’t, the “miracle” that justified No Child Left Behind’s testing mandate. The achievement gaps remain large, with no sign of closing, but facts never got in the way of datamania.

Peter Greene wrote in Forbes in response to the reform clamor for more tests. He specifically responded to Aaron Churchill of the Thomas Fordham Institute, who wrote in the Columbus Dispatch about the importance of giving the annual tests this spring.

How can children possibly be educated if they aren’t taking tests and we don’t have data? If you can’t get enough of Peter Greene on the BS Test, here is more.

Greene rebuts each of six points.

The tests do not collect valuable information. They are not even useful, since teachers are not allowed to see the questions or the answers of individual students.

The results (scores) are reported 4-6 months after the tests. How is this information useful to teachers? (Hint: it is not.)

The data are used not to help students but to harm their teachers and their schools. Based on this useless data, states have closed schools and seized control of entire districts, to facilitate privatization of public funds.

The biggest beneficiaries of testing are the testing corporations, which pull in hundreds of millions each year for useless data.

The best response to the reformers’ urgent appeal for more testing came from Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers. Unlike anyone at the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, Melissa is a teacher who represents teachers. She and her colleagues deal every day with the real life problems of real life students and families. They do not live in a well-funded bubble inside the Beltway, where every education issue is theoretical.

Melissa Cropper wrote:

This isn’t the time for high-stakes testing

I’m writing in response to Aaron Churchill’s Thursday column, “Don’t cancel K-12 testing when we need data more than ever,” and his contention that testing is needed to “effectively target resources in recovery efforts.”

Our students are going through a school year like no other in history. They are adapting to remote learning and plowing through obstacles at every turn. They are doing remarkable work, but they are not receiving the support they need and they are not receiving the resources they are entitled to under Ohio’s constitution.

The Ohio House voted 87-9 recently to adopt the Fair School Funding Plan, a bipartisan 90% majority vote. However the Senate refused to even bring that bill up for a vote. That is the path forward for advocates who truly care about getting needed resources to Ohio students, not high-stakes testing during a pandemic that has interrupted the academic year in countless ways.

If you want to know how students are doing, ask their teachers. If you want to secure funding for students who need it most, support a school funding plan that meets our constitutional requirement to provide an adequate and equitable education for all Ohio students. If you want to be able to direct charitable organizations to support the students who need it, hire resource coordinators in every school district

We should not mandate testing until we can provide a stable and safe school environment for all students.

Melissa Cropper, President, Ohio Federation of Teachers

If I may, I would like to amend Melissa’s response. The best time to resume NCLB-style annual standardized testing is never. It is expensive and useless.

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