Tested to Despair

Stop high-stakes testing from destroying public education.

The National Anti-Testing Movement

From Diane Ravitch:

Anti-Testing Movement Gains Momentum

The movement to slow down or stop or reverse high-stakes testing is moving forward at a rapid pace. This past week, the Houston Independent School Board endorsed a resolution opposing the overuse and misuse of standardized tests . The resolution has now been endorsed by about 450 school boards in Texas, representing nearly half the state’s students.

The Texas resolution picked up steam after Robert Scott, the state commissioner of education, blasted the misuse of tests earlier this year. He said that testing had grown into the “be-all, end-all” of education and had become “the heart of the vampire.”

Scott stepped down recently but it turns out that he spoke for vast numbers of Texans who are sick and tired of the tests that now control education and children’s lives.

Parents in Florida are now on board the anti-testing train, as are parents in New York.

New parent organizations opposed to high-stakes testing seem to be forming in many cities and states.

I recently posed a question on Twitter that is relevant to this development. I asked, what happens in your district if children vomit while taking the test? I got many answers from teachers about the policy in their district. In some, the test must be placed in a plastic baggie and preserved. In others, the child must immediately retake the test. There were all sorts of variations on what to do when test anxiety causes a child to lose his or her breakfast.

Test anxiety is only part of the problem. Pineapplegate opened a national discussion about the quality of the tests and why they  are used to decide the fate of children and their teachers.

National Resolution on High-Stakes Testing

We call on our federal, state and local governments to reduce the use of high-stakes standardized tests.

Resolutions opposing the overuse of standardized testing have been adopted by almost 600 school districts in Texas, 60% of Florida’s districts, and has support of national groups such as the National PTA, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Parents Across America, the NEA and more. 

WHEREAS, our nation’s future well-being relies on a high-quality public education system that prepares all students for college, careers, citizenship and lifelong learning, and strengthens the nation’s social and economic well-being; and

WHEREAS, our nation’s school systems have been spending growing amounts of time, money and energy on high-stakes standardized testing, in which student performance on standardized tests is used to make major decisions affecting individual students, educators and schools; and

WHEREAS, the over-reliance on high-stakes standardized testing in state and federal accountability systems is undermining educational quality and equity in U.S. public schools by hampering educators’ efforts to focus on the broad range of learning experiences that promote the innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication, critical thinking and deep subject-matter knowledge that will allow students to thrive in a democracy and an increasingly global society and economy; and

WHEREAS, it is widely recognized that standardized testing is an inadequate and often unreliable measure of both student learning and educator effectiveness; and

WHEREAS, the over-emphasis on standardized testing has caused considerable collateral damage in too many schools, including narrowing the curriculum, teaching to the test, reducing love of learning, pushing students out of school, driving excellent teachers out of the profession, and undermining school climate; and

WHEREAS, high-stakes standardized testing has negative effects for students from all backgrounds, and especially for low-income students, English language learners, children of color, and those with disabilities; and

WHEREAS, the culture and structure of the systems in which students learn must change in order to foster engaging school experiences that promote joy in learning, depth of thought and breadth of knowledge for students; therefore be it

RESOLVED, that we call on elected officials to develop public school accountability systems that are based on multiple forms and do not require extensive standardized testing.


3 thoughts on “The National Anti-Testing Movement

  1. I’m interested in learning more. I intuitively agree with the resolution, specifically regarding how testing “narrow[s] the curriculum, [leads to] teaching to the test, reduc[es the] love of learning,” but I’d like to see some citations or references for many of the claims in the resolution. I want to be able to better speak to why standardized testing can not be the be-all end-all educational solution – turning education into a machine to produce economic benefits.

    But to do so, I’ll need data and references to back me up. Looking forward to seeing some! And thanks for posting all this!

  2. For myself, I will just answer this anecdotally, to say that at my school, since we started pushing harder to improve test scores, our kids are more stressed, spend less time in meaningful activities,and way more time learning how to take tests. I encourage you to search out Alfie Kohn’s blog, http://www.alfiekohn.org/index.php as well as Diane Ravitch. Also, I encourage anyone else who would like to address ES.

  3. Read anything from John Taylor Gatto.

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