It appears I was premature.
Exactly one year ago, in an article for the SmartBlog on Education, I asked: “Are we witnessing the early signs of a sea change in how we think about the best ways to measure student learning and growth?”
What a difference a year makes.
In yesterday’s Washington Post, there were three different articles about the growing anti-testing movement, and the looming fight here in Washington over what role testing should play in the next iteration of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which was most recently rechristened No Child Left Behind (NCLB).
On the Opinion page, NPR education correspondent Anya Kamenetz reported on the growing opt-out movement across the country — and outlined how other parents can join the fight.
In the front section, education reporter Lyndsey Layton spoke about a speech U.S. education secretary Arne Duncan will give this morning, at an elementary school in D.C. Tops on the agenda? Preparing us for the looming battle over ESEA’s future in Congress — and steeling us to recalibrate how we use tests, as opposed to discarding their use altogether.
And then, in the Metro section, Moriah Balingit and T. Rees Shapiro shared the story of an elementary school in Virginia that has experienced dramatic test score gains for its third graders — and is left to wonder if the ends have justified the means. “I just knew it’s a part of the game,” said teacher Carissa Krane. “There has to be a way to be accountable, and this is the way that our country’s decided we’re going to hold kids accountable and the teachers accountable.”
Later in the article, University of Virginia education professor Tanya Moon sounded a similar note. Moon, who specializes in assessment, thinks the testing movement has gone too far. “I believe that everybody should be held accountable for their jobs,” she said, “but there are lots of things that kids bring into schools that schools can’t do anything about and yet the schools are held accountable.”
So, I repeat, one year later: has testing reached a tipping point? And is there a way to maintain the original spirit of accountability — to one another, for another, in the service of a greater, more legitimate quest for equity and equal opportunity — while also repairing the ways in which our efforts to build accountability have narrowed our view on what matters most?
Stay tuned for what promises to be an eventful, significant year.