Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Complaining About Testing -- Can You Guess in What Year This Complaint Was Made?

"[T]oday's schools are driven by assessment to a degree that surprised us....[T]ests [are being] used as ends in themselves, rather than as one means to assist in intellectual development of the individual student, or even as a reasonable method of public accountability.

"Tests -- usually standardized tests, but even including tests that teachers devise to monitor and judge week-to-week progress -- are omnipresent and constantly on everyone's minds. Teachers, administrators and students are preoccupied with scores and grades -- often against their better judgment, and often against the values that parents, students and they themselves say that the schools should reflect....

"More than one researcher returned from the school sites with stories about how schools elsewhere had boosted their scores by encouraging low-performing students not to attend school on the day of the [state-developed] examinations.

"In another unnamed school, according to another rumor, twelfth-graders took revenge on the school's administrators, who had cancelled the traditional Senior Skip Day, by deliberately scoring poorly on the tests....

"[T]hese [standardized] tests have encroached powerfully on the schools and on teaching....

"Many teachers and school administrators agree that the emphasis on and uses of testing reflect an educational practice out of control. Points, credits and scores are pursued and accumulated as if they represented the core values of the high school....

"[T]eachers have articulate, idealistic educational goals for their students, but amidst the pressures they face, they proceed to test in predictable ways, often modeling their approaches on the externally developed examinations they see most often, the standardized achievement test....

"In many cases, review for a test meant the teacher coaching the youngsters about the specific pieces of information to be included on the exam, along with the appropriate answer."

[Source: Inside Schools: A Collaborative Approach, by J. Myron Atkin, Donald Kennedy, and Cynthia L. Patrick (Falmer Press) -- published 20 years ago, in 1989.]


  1. There is a discussion going on at http://www.tinyurl.com/Op2LearnFB regarding Brown vs. Board of Education’s 55th Anniversary. How far have we really come in providing equity and quality in education for every child?

  2. If I read the citation correctly, the 'date' when this complaint was first made was 20 years ago, making it 1989; however, I dispute that date as being far too recent since I was the district testing coordinator in the first year of state mandated testing in a small district in Texas...Texas began testing in the school year 1979-1980. Not only did everyone complain back then, they also felt this new state assessment project would 'never last'. Wish I had purchased assessment company stock back then.....

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