More Tests on the Way in DC?

In yesterday’s Washington Post, reporter Bill Turque wrote that Michelle Rhee is seeking an outside contractor to help dramatically expand DCPS’ use of standardized tests, so that every grade from K through 12 will have some form of assessment to measure student progress and teacher effectiveness.

Is this what happens when we pray too long at the altar of “data-driven decision making?”

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all for what that concept actually means — using information to guide all decisions about how to help children learn more effectively — but the faulty logic here is that adding more standardized tests at the end of every school year will achieve that worthy goal. Wouldn’t it be better to start exploring how to strategically bundle other existing measures that tell us a lot about a school’s overall health (such as attendance, graduation rates, faculty absenteeism, and, yes, attitudinal surveys of the students themselves)? Wouldn’t it be better to start experimenting with ways to have other schools in the District implement student portfolio assessments as effectively as the good people at Thurgood Marshall Academyrecently profiled on CBS News — have done?And wouldn’t it be better to stop pretending that systemic reform, and the impact those changes will have on individual students, can be as easily monitored and measured as these tests suggest?

Bring on the information revolution, I say — and this ain’t it.

Categories: Assessment, Leadership, Learning

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One Comment

  1. Posted June 30, 2010 at 2:33 am | Permalink

    After doing a large sum of reading on testing, I don’t think I have a problem with testing as a means of being an assessment, but I do have a problem with it being the focus.

    I think we all can agree that there needs to be some form of standardization so that we can understand how we compare to others on the same guidelines, but this should perhaps be only done during the start of a term to the end of a term.

    We should also work on becoming more focused on fostering people’s passions and not look down upon a poor test score—-as everyone has their own strengths and weakness. In this book I recently read,

    you’ll find that the most successful people aren’t the smartest, good looking or richest—they are just in their “Element” (as Sir Ken Robinson would say).

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