"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Fear-Based Education on the Run

The Editor' Cut has a good commentary on the current bubble-bursting of the testing industry. Here' a clip to enjoy with coffee:

Looks like the $2.3 billion standardized testing industry forgot to devise a much needed self-examination.

Two weeks ago, after two students paid fees to have their SATs rescored by hand, it was discovered that 4,000 students had received scores that were incorrectly low. A week later, the College Board announced that another batch of 1,600 exams had to be rescanned. The Washington Post now reports that another 27,000 exams still need to be rechecked.

Also two weeks ago, CTB/McGraw-Hill acknowledged that questions from sample tests were mistakenly placed on the actual exam used by the NCLB regime to assess schools and students for 400,000 7th & 8th graders in New York.

And the banner month for the industry ended with the Educational Testing Service reaching an $11 million settlement with 27,000 people who were wrongly scored on their teacher certification exams, including 4,100 who were failed incorrectly.

As Robert Schaeffer, Public Education Director of the National Centerfor Fair & Open Testing (FairTest) puts it: "If you're waiting for the other shoe to drop – this is more like a centipede."

The rest, here.

And then there is this editorial from the red state, Indiana, in the Ft. Wayne Joural-Gazette this morning. Is that Spring in the air or the heat rising from Margaret Spelllings' compound :

Suellen Reed, Indiana’s superintendent of public instruction, supports efforts to consider development of an assessment system, rather than a one-time test. Rhode Island, for example, requires students to spend 15 hours working with an adult in the community. The goal is to ensure that the curriculum isn’t narrowed to focus on test-taking subjects at the expense of skills such as time management and real-world problem-solving.

It’s a goal Indiana should adopt as well. Combining standardized tests with performance assessments gives a fuller picture of an individual’s abilities and decreases dependence on error-prone tests. When lives and careers hang in the balance, students deserve no less.

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