When it comes to the whip, one side is definitely better than the other.
Everyone wants to hold it by the stock. No one wants to get hit by the lash.
That’s why politicians as diverse as Donald Trump and Joe Biden have struggled so desperately to defend standardized testing.
They want to keep control of the torture device they’ve inherited from their predecessors without feeling its sting, themselves.
Take the current Covid crisis in our public schools.
Educators are scrambling to teach safely and most lawmakers stand aside unsure how to help.
We can’t figure out which students to assist, they say, without first giving them all a batch of standardized tests.
It’s absurd, like paramedics arriving at a car crash, finding one person in a pool of blood and another completely unscathed – but before they know which person needs first aid, they have to take everyone’s blood pressure.
I mean come on! We’re living through a global pandemic.
Nearly every single class has been majorly disrupted by it.
So just about every single student needs help – BUT SOMEHOW WE NEED DATA TO NARROW THAT DOWN!?
Our duly-elected decision-makers seem to be saying they can only make decisions based on a bunch of numbers.
The fact that they have so little imagination that they can’t visualize the problem without a bar graph is truly disturbing.
But this isn’t rocket science. They don’t HAVE TO be creative thinkers.
Just use class attendance to see which students have received consistent instruction and which have been absent all year.
Look at classroom grades, which outline students’ academic performance from day to day.
Those are numbers. And they clearly show which kids have been impacted the most by Covid-19.
But for some reason actually using the data we already have is just crazy talk!
Scores on a standardized test are the ONLY data that counts.
Then I have a suggestion for these legislators.
Why don’t you practice what you preach?
If the only logical way to make decisions is based on test scores, you should provide those scores to the greatest decision-making body in the country: voters.
Every lawmaker who CHAMPIONS standardized tests should have to TAKE standardized tests.
I don’t mean the same tests as the students.
That would be silly.
After all, student tests are designed to favor answers from privileged white people. Most of these lawmakers are the target demographic already. They passed a standardized test (or paid someone to pass the test for them) as a smokescreen getting into whichever prep school or ivy league college where they were legacy enrollments, anyway.
I’m talking about a new series of standardized tests designed to show how much these lawmakers adhere to the principles of their respective political parties.
So there’d be two versions – one for Republicans and one for Democrats.
A high score means the test taker is a bona fide example of their party’s ideals. A low score means they should probably be booted out on their butts.
For example, a question for Democrats might be:
Which policy is progressive?
A) School privatization
B) Fracking on native lands
C) Drone strikes
D) Universal healthcare
And an example for Republicans:
Which policy is fiscally responsible?
A) School privatization
B) Tax cuts for billionaires
C) More unnecessary wars
D) Investing in infrastructure
The answers are both D and that’s because this test would be in high De-mand! Get it?
Think of what we could do with these scores!
Lawmakers could tout their assessment achievements as they campaign.
They could say, “Vote for Sam Smith. He got an Advanced Score on the Democratic System of Statesperson Assessments (DSSA).”
Or “Don’t vote for Megan Mission. She only scored a Satisfactory on the Partnership for Assessment of Republicanism for Congress or Klan (PARCK).”
What an improvement that would be!
Finally, we wouldn’t have to rely on a politician’s voting record or campaign contributions or platform…. We could just look at the score and vote accordingly.
But who would we get to make and grade the tests?
It couldn’t be the politicians, themselves, or even their respective political parties. That wouldn’t be standardized somehow.
If we can’t let teachers create tests for their own students, we certainly can’t trust politicians to do the same for their fellow campaigners.
I guess we could task the testing corporations with making these assessments, but that’s a conflict of interests. We should instead rely on the educational experts, people with the credentials and the most experience actually giving standardized tests.
And that would be…. Classroom teachers!
So these tests should be written by the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT).
But, of course, this isn’t free. We’ll have to pay these test-creators, and pay them handsomely.
That’s billions more dollars spent on assessment. What an expense! What a waste of tax dollars!
Still, can we really afford not to?
I’m sure would-be lawmakers would like a leg up on the competition, so the teachers’ unions could make workbooks and software packages and apps and teach remedial courses to help folks pass the tests. That would probably bring in more money than the tests, themselves.
And since the teachers would get to grade the assessments, they could make sure the scores are curved so only a very limited number pass each year. We can’t have grade inflation, after all.
What would the teachers do with this money, I wonder?
Well, they could reinvest it in our schools.
See? We’ve just solved two problems at once.
No more under-resourced schools. No more educational inequality. Every school in the country could be like the Taj Mahal!
And all of this just because of standardized testing!
Maybe the lawmakers have the right idea in prioritizing high stakes testing!
Or maybe they understand the value of benefiting from the testing industrial complex and not being subjected to it.
Like this post? You might want to consider becoming a Patreon subscriber. This helps me continue to keep the blog going and get on with this difficult and challenging work.
Plus you get subscriber only extras!
Just CLICK HERE.
I’ve also written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!