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Listen to the Children

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

My 9-year-old came home a few Fridays ago exhausted from school.  This just never happens, she consumes education as one consumes chocolate.  The PARCC (The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) entered her world.  A “high-stakes” pilot test in math and reading for 1-1/2 hours each day for five days in March and three days in May.  “Mom, I can’t remember anything I did this week at school, the test took everything out of me.”  

Who profits from the PARCC besides Pearson, the company that designed it and who will likely sell its manuals to our schools for profit?  Testing begets hours of idiosyncratic test preparation, not education, in our classrooms.  

My daughter questioned the need for testing offering the following:  “why don’t the test makers just ask my teacher about my learning?”  Good idea!  Education and learning is an art, not a science, and therefore a testing model that subscribes to the idea that one test will gauge the readiness of students and the effectiveness of teachers is bound to fail.  

Are we in the business of education or testing?  Notice I am clear not to confuse assessment with testing. Assessment occurs on multiple levels and is integral to educating as an ongoing process of discovery, mastery and ownership.  Testing, is much more sinister, it begets ranking, labeling and authoritarianism.  Our daughter feels betrayed by all concerned.  One negative effect is she now believes that she doesn’t own her education or it’s former wonder (not a stake holder).  She is being tested for someone else’s needs.  “I bet the test givers never took  a test like this when they were young, why should we?”  

This is a very good question leading to another, what is more important for the future of our children excellent assessment or “high stake” testing?