More voices question Obama’s “better tests”

An article published in today’s online Education Week goes over some of the same concerns I raised in my two-part series on Obama’s “better tests” last week: “expectations for the tests may outpace states’ technology and budgets….making sure the tests will serve their intended accountability use has become trickier in the wake of high-profile, test-based teacher evaluations.”

Friday, Anthony Cody published a thoughtful article on the same issue by testing critics Steven Krashen and Susan Ohanion, prefacing it with the comment that, in the wake of his interchange with the USDE’s PR department, “it became clear that there is a vast expansion of testing on the horizon. Few reports have emerged that describe this, and I fear that the public may be unaware of the resources that soon will be diverted from our already decimated classrooms.”

Krashen and Ohanion suggest that the costs involved in first making sure that every US student is connected to the internet, and then paying for the technology to accomplish the new assessment programs, will be astronomical. They urge, “Before unleashing these ‘improved’ tests on the country…there should be rigorous investigation, rigorous studies to show that these measures are worth the investment. Right now, the corporations and politicians insist that we take on faith the claim that these tests are good for students. Such claims exhibit a profound lack of accountability.”

Finally, today’s Washington Post Answer Sheet guest essayist, Todd Farley, writes:

Still, the United States seems to be heading towards taking the decisions about American education out of the hands of American educators and instead placing that sacred trust in the welcoming arms of an industry run entirely without oversight and populated completely with for-profit companies chasing billions of dollars in business. When next some standardized test scores are found to be incorrect or fraudulent (because they will), or some standardized testing company commits or tries to cover up another egregious error (because they will), perhaps then we can admit large-scale assessment isn’t the panacea it’s often been touted to be. Perhaps then we can concede that an educational philosophy based on a system of national standardized tests isn’t any Brave New World of American education; it’s just a bad idea that even the Chinese are already turning away from as being too inefficient and antiquated.

Caveat emptor, America. Buyer beware.

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About the PURE Thoughts blogger
Julie Woestehoff is PURE's executive director. Julie's work has earned her a Ford Foundation award and recognition as one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in Chicago.