This was a great conversation I had on Facebook with an old friend. I really appreciate her perspective and I think you will too.

//start informed commentary

 

Now, for my professional experience. My job for many years was to evaluate students for special services. A good evaluation (comprehensive) as a school psychologist would include IQ testing (standardized), review of records and informatio…n, anectdotal information from teachers, parents, and the student, assessments of social/emotional functioning (standardized, and informal), amongst other things.
 
Theoretically, we, as a team of professionals, would review all of the testing and data contributed from all of us, the standardized data within that context, to determine if a student met state-mandated criteria for special services. Often times, when bogged down with way too many evaluations of struggling students, it often came down to the numbers. So in this case, standardized definitely has its place, but it MUST be viewed within a context.
 
Unfortunately, in today’s data driven accountability mentality, government is placing all of its eggs in the data basket. Learning, and effective teaching for that matter, simply cannot be adequately described with a single set of numbers. Anyone who has ever been exposed to psychological or education research will tell you that the challenge in measuring these things is that there are so many variables that can affect those numbers.
 
The result is that true, effective learning and teaching is negated because of the focus on these tests- some of which contain irrelevance and ridiculousness, as in the pineapple story.
 
(she came back with more and I stress some points)
 
 

Standardized testing does have a place and a value in education, but it needs to be viewed responsibly, or the results can be devastating for both students and teachers.
 
When laws like NCLB are put in place by people so completely disconnected from implementation and resulting ramifications, we reach a sort of critical mass.
 
No one is benefiting anymore. Unfortunately, in New Jersey, politicians have done a good job of maligning educational professionals and finding fault in a system which historically has ranked top in the nation. People, voters, are buying into it for reasons that have NOTHING to do with sound educational practices.
 
And just like the new Anti-bullying laws, politicians stand firm on their “feel good ” legislation and refuse to change the laws for the betterment of those its supposed to serve because doing so would be political suicide. The bottom line is, high level politics have no place in the micro-level of education (the classroom) simply because they have no idea what the hell they are doing.
 
****My Reply****
 
Now imagine if you are a 12 year old with no ability or incentive to grasp the significance of the results, multiply that by 30 and try and teach them.
 
****Her Closing Argument****
 
Exactly Terry. Teachers have the ability, as trained and taught, to use multiple creative strategies to reach all different types of learners. Testing stifles that to the point of failing so many students.
 
//End informed opinion
 
I am constantly impressed by the brilliance of my friends. (and the patience of my wife, but that goes without saying)
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