Test students sparingly but carefully

Test mania does not translate into quality education — just the opposite.

Nobody is against testing as a measure of learning. Tests are used to provide evidence of success or failure in every endeavor and experiment. That is logical and fair.

We can debate what kinds of tests students should take and what the emphasis should be, but can’t we agree that the experience of learning should take priority over sitting for a test that most experts have expressed strong doubts about?

In the name of accountability, a lot of injustice is being committed against students, parents and educators. Educators know testing has usurped instruction as the mandated activity of record in classrooms. It is used to target the bugaboo of so-called educational malpractice.

Teachers have no quarrel with being answerable for their performance, but the supremacy of a single test without checks and balances, and especially one that has no connection to reality, is a fraud and a danger to us all. Teacher-made tests are far more accurate for mapping progress and lesson planning.

Tests are valid tools when they are the right test given the right way for the right reason. It is a shame to sacrifice precious teaching on the altar of tests that either fail to measure what is relevant or measure what is not.

And tests should not be created by independent contractors who have nothing to lose if the results do not produce false positives to sweeten the smell of the city schools chancellor’s initiatives.

Is it a surprise that the opt-out of standardized tests is gaining steam?

Ron Isaac


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