Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog


In Defense of Standardized Testing

A few decades ago, the argument was that teachers could not be held accountable for their students performance because there were no objective measurements of that performance. The same argument was made regarding school funding. There was no real way to measure whether policies and programs were beneficial enough to justify their expense because there were no objective measures to use. Grades were inadequate because different school systems had different grading standards and criteria; an 'A' in one system might only rate a 'B+' in another. Passing in one district might be failing in another. Different curricula at different schools could not be compared across the board.

In short, there were no tools for managers to use to evaluate performance in our schools.

So the education profession got together to establish performance based standards and assigned them to certain grade levels. For example, mastering the ability to recite the letters of the alphabet was assigned to kindergarten; the ability to add and subtract two digit numbers to 2nd grade, and so on. This was important for two different reasons. First, the skills identified are all foundational, which is to say they form the basis for more advanced skills, like spelling, or multiplication. Second, mastery of these foundational skills can be easily assessed through objective testing.

And that, in a nutshell, is the origin of the standardized tests. There is nothing discriminatory about an objective test that assesses mastery of an ability. There can't be. Either the student has mastered the skill well enough to meet the standard, or they haven't. No bias, no politics, no subjectivity.

Basically, teachers are protesting to being held to objectively measured tests demonstrating mastery of fundamental skills as an unfair reflection of their teaching ability. They say it is unfair to hold them accountable for the performance of their students

Remember that the next time the teachers' union demands a raise because teachers are the most important element in a child's education.

Can't have it both ways folks.
Posted by Rich
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