Let’s Flunk School Testing and Save Our Kids’ Futures

THE RUBRIC for the very first standardized test that Todd Farley scored seemed simple: one or zero. If the fourth-grade student provided just one example of bicycle safety in a drawing—wearing a helmet, both hands on the handlebars or stopping at a red light—he’d get a one. No examples—zero.

But for Farley, author of Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry, it wasn’t that simple. The student had indeed included one example: the rider in the drawing was wearing a helmet. He was also doing an Evel Knievel-like leap over a chasm spewing flames. Baffled, Farley consulted his supervisor; he was told that the rider was wearing a helmet and that that was enough to indicate that the child understood the basics of bicycle safety. Score: One.

Farley encountered many answers that did not quite fit the rigid set of rubrics in his 15-year career. One high school girl who wrote a beautifully moving and well-constructed essay about “A Special Place” could only rate a three out of four because her piece did not include the words “a special place.” Farley also cites a number of questionable practices by the testing company, including hiring scorers not fluent in English, requiring workers to mark one essay every two minutes for eight hours a day and little cross-checking of scores. . . .

This is an excerpt from Lisa Haver’s commentary in today’s Daily News, “Let’s flunk school testing and save our kids’ futures.”  It is an excellent analysis of the limitations of No Child Left Behind and standardized testing, and is an apropos rebuttal to Dom Giordano’s recent article “Let’s start grading teachers.”

Giordano asked for a debate, and he got one.  I hope you’re listening Dom!  You can respond or provide feedback by clicking on the comment button below.

Thanks for reading.

3 thoughts on “Let’s Flunk School Testing and Save Our Kids’ Futures

  1. We lost instructional time to administer the predictive exam #1 ( the predictor of future success on the real PSSA), then more instructional time on predictive #2, then had a pre-PSSA meeting, then spent all afternoon (1/2cday prof dev) going over the directions for implementation of the PSSA, then lost more time having a Friday dry run of administrating the PSSA, including having all the students report to their proctors for nearly 2 hours (teachers were directed to have ice-breakers, call home and introduce proctor team to parents ) and finally this week….a whole week of exams! An outrageous number of hours for an exam that doesn’t directly impact the STUDENT! The student doesn’t care….HELLO…it doesn’t directly affect them!!! And by the way….who do you know, who has ever…taken a 5 day exam! Welcome to Pennsylvania, where scoring advanced proficient on the exam earns the same rewards as just showing up and bubbling any answer choice…

  2. Anywhere, ANYWHERE where there are high stakes there WILL BE CHEATING. It has NOTHING to do with moral fiber or integrity, and EVERYTHING to do with survival and justice.

    What is going on in classrooms in the NAME of education reform is plainly and simply WRONG. We’re turning out children who have learned so much less than the generation before them, and making it seem as though they’ve learned so much more.

    The tests are nothing more than a morass of mediocrity, designed to ensnare those who are already underserved and disenfranchised by UNREASONABLE AND RIDICULOUS expectations.

    And parents and teachers, sadly, are being blamed for things that are completely out of their control.

    Teachers, we need to TRULY UNITE. IT’S NOT ABOUT US, IT’S ABOUT THE CHILDREN WE SERVE AND THE FUTURE WE KNOW IS RIGHT. If I sound like a raving, radical, socialist, communist lunatic, so be it… right is right. I’m mad as hell… and look for others who are, too, and are not willing to take it anymore!

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