Tested to Despair

Stop high-stakes testing from destroying public education.

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MCAS for all!

Merkoline reports from Massachusetts

My typical students are teenagers with “challenging behavior” including autism. Most have other neurological or psychiatric diagnoses as well. For example, C is a non-verbal 12-year old, diagnosed with  Pervasive Developmental Disability (PDD) and anxiety disorder. During a bad spell, which might last for several weeks, without redirection he would spend most of his day pacing in circles, biting his own arms, or pounding the back of his neck. He can’t sit more than 30 seconds Continue reading

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What testing can’t measure

Xavatar(3)Immigrants Rights Activist Ada from Chicago writes

As a 4th grader and coming from a family where English is a second language, taking a standardized test in English was already enough to send me into panic mode.  Then there was that weird little pie chart to show you how much you sucked and that you were in the “not proficient” category of math or English. Every two years we’d drop everything for testing boot camps. I felt robbed of time I could be spending learning instead of testing or getting ready to take the test.  But how else could my teachers measure whether I knew about the earth being round and what year Columbus discovered America? Continue reading

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Tested every ten days!

Ann B. from Illinois writes

Right now in my school we have one big standardized test: the Illinois Standard Achievement Test.  We pore over the data and make instructional decisions based on any score deficits each school year.  We make adjustments to the curriculum as far down as at the Kindergarten level.  Our school has excellent test scores and has received several awards.  In addition to this big standardized test, we give the AIMSweb Benchmark Test in reading and math three times per year.  Students identified with deficits as a result of this test are worked with in small groups and are tested every ten days to monitor progress.
Now enter the despair.   Continue reading

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Lisa’s letter of apology to her students

Lisa M shared this letter of apology to her students:

Dear Kids,
I am sorry.
I am sorry that, yet again, I am placing another test (or assessment if you like using big words) on your desk. I  am sorry that I am, again, forcing you to take another test.
Yes, I know this is the 3rd test in a week, but you don’t understand.
In order to meet your needs, I have to collect data. Lots and lots of data. So much data in fact that I will never be able to Continue reading

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An opt-out letter to the school board

RL writes

Here is my letter to my local school board. Parents, feel free to copy it for your own children.


I do not want my child,____________, to take the ELA and Math state tests this spring. I have not come to this decision lightly. In fact, I have conducted a great deal of research and have come to the conclusion that high stakes testing does nothing to benefit our public schools; but it has everything to do with lining the pockets of private corporations who are, unfortunately, driving our current educational policy.

The tests do not benefit my child. Continue reading

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What is this thing they call the Roman Empire?

Bill writes

I teach U.S. History in high school. At least, I am a certified History/Social Studies teacher in Connecticut. My district, Hartford, is so very enamored of the testing craze under the guise of “reform” that history is the last thing that I have been teaching. The Hartford Board of Ed has taken seriously Governor Dannel Malloy’s statement that he doesn’t care that we teach to the test as long as student scores go up. Therefore, we do not teach content anymore; we teach CAPT. We teach NWEA MAP testing. We teach a new district assessment that is given to the students three or four times yearly. None of these tests have anything to do with either history or the social sciences. This is MADNESS! Continue reading

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We call them the educapitalists!

Little Rhody says

In our state grades 4, 8, and 11 get hit with the majority of high-stakes tests. In grade 8 our students waste three half days on state ELA Reading assessments, then three half days on state mathematics testing, then two half days on state writing assessments. In addition another day is spent on the state technology test, even though many of our schools do not have enough technology to use to administer the technology test! Later in the spring our eighth graders take yet another state assessment in science that takes up another three half days that would have been better spent on teaching and learning. Continue reading