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Thomas Ralston, superintendent of the Avonworth School District in western Pennsylvania, was thrilled to be invited to the White House with other superintendents, where they met President Obama and Secretary Duncan and mutually pledged to be “future-ready.” He was pleased when Secretary Duncan declared that testing was sucking the oxygen out of classrooms.
Thus, he was stunned and disappointed when Duncan endorsed the status quo of annual testing in the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind. How could he?
Ralston knows that standardized testing is an artifact of the past, not the wave of the future.
“The age of standardized testing has de-emphasized creativity and innovation by overly relying on test performance as a criterion of school and student success. This emphasis has resulted in limiting school curricula, robbing students of experience with the arts and other non-tested subjects….
“Standardized tests do not acknowledge the developmental differences in children. When we endorse them we subscribe to the belief that all children learn the same way and at the same rate.
“Likewise, standardized tests fail to measure the skills that employers have identified as essential for success now and in the future: communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity….
“With the overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act on the horizon, education in America is at a critical crossroads. Rather than continue with an iteration of the act that brought us No Child Left Behind in 2000, I hope it is reauthorized in a way that captures the essence of the Future Ready Pledge.
“It is time for our government officials to display courage and do what is best for children. The rest of us must make sure our voices are heard as we demand that all children receive creative and engaging learning experiences that will best prepare them for the opportunities of the future.”
I am happy to name Superintendent Thomas Ralston to the honor roll for speaking with courage and clarity on behalf of children to those in power.