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"For a decade, the Bush-era federal law called No Child Left Behind has required the nation’s public schools to test every student in grades 3-8 in reading and mathematics. Now, the Obama administration is pressuring the states to test every grade and every subject. No student will be left untested. Every teacher will be judged by his or her students’ scores. Cheating scandals will proliferate. Many teachers will be fired. Many will leave teaching, discouraged by the loss of their professional autonomy. Who will take their place? Will we ever break free of our national addiction to data? Will we ever stop to wonder if the data mean anything important? Will education survive school reform?"
Asgar Mahmoudi's profile photoJoe Lyons's profile photoGrafter Graftington's profile photoJessica Mata's profile photo
It is not clear to me that education is meant to survive school reform.
The NCLB waivers will be forthcoming, because the benchmarks are impossible to meet for even affluent suburban districts. What Ravitch is talking about are requirements in the Race to the Top legislation that 'encourage' more frequent and broader standardized testing to qualify for the money.
+Joe Lyons -- thanks for the qualification! Since the post mentioned NCLB, I thought I'd mention that.

BRB after I read the review!
And the review focuses upon the NY agreement (and it does sound punitive), not on the Obama administration. +Espen Helgesen -- do you have some other source for your claims regarding the Obama administration? This review jumps from NY to DC rather abruptly!
+Chris Pitchford - The claims were made by Diane Ravitch in the linked article. I think the important point here is that in the United States, as in Scandinavia, more and more people buy into a very narrow definition of learning based on what can be assessed. For instance, several schools in Norway have recently adopted a program designed to increase children's reading speed. In my opinion the money would be much better spent on teaching children how to enjoy reading, rather than teaching them how to finish the text quickly. Alas, the contemporary concern with accountability leaves little room for issues like motivation and enjoyment, as these are difficult to quantify. It reminds me of the man who lost his car keys in the bushes, yet searched for them on the sidewalk because it was better lit.
TESTING is good. Evaluating teachers based on the tests is the problem. AND - there must be methods in place to mitigate "teaching to the test". It's hard - but only a Luddite would advocate ignorance (no testing) as a way to avoid the pitfalls.
Actually....I'm in favor of testing with no consequences. We shouldn't put teachers in fear of tests (it does bad things to their teaching) - and, by the same token, we shouldn't put STUDENTS in fear of tests. As with teaching pigs to sing..."it doesn't work, and it only annoys the pigs".
i think judging teachers by their students' performance is a very shortsighted approach. teachers are not the only determining factor in their students' success. parents, intelligence, motivation, educational history, socioeconomic status, and many other factors are involved in a student's success or failure. how can a teacher control for all of these factors. at the same time, current theories of education emphasize training autonomous students, i.e. students who are not very much dependent on teachers. i think it would be enough to test teachers and see if they qualify for the level they are teaching. some control on their commitment to their teaching will also be constructive.
I would have much less of a problem with using tests this way if they were actually tied to mastery of objective standards. They are not. As far as I know all the tests used for evaluating schools and teachers are norm-referenced. Essentially they are graded on a curve. Within a given state, therefore, you will have winners and losers. It is a zero sum game.
The analogy I like to use is having the teacher reach out a hand when they are teaching a subject, it is up to the student to extend theirs and complete the handshake. At a university level the difference is quite astounding, it is possible to pass a class by being a passive agent within that classroom, however those who engage the content and the professor get so much more out of the experience, in summation I think we put too much pressure upon the teachers, their parents, etc and not enough on the individual themselves - if they are apathetic towards learning that is something they need to fix within themselves.
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