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

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Masking the Muck-ups

Oversight of the testing industry? Unnecessary and costly, say Bush family friends, McGraw-Hill and Harcourt.

Jim Popham is quoted in the following clip about the potential benefits of more exposure to the screw-ups of the testocrats. One benefit he doesn't talk about is the likelihood that if we knew, or even had a good estimate, of the extent of this problem, we would jettison this policy to get back to the basics of learning and teaching. What Popham does not say in this NY Times piece, he often says at conferences--and that is that 90% of these tests are pure, or impure, crap.
One suggestion would require that testing problems be reported publicly. W. James Popham, an emeritus professor at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that more exposure might help. "Frankly, because it is in the best public-relations interest of both the scoring service and the state officials who hire them, many scoring muck-ups are masked," Dr. Popham said.

Assuming that government oversight could be put into place, which is highly unlikely at this time, what would happen if offenses occur. Would a fine be levied?

Here is a clip from an AP story today about corporations simply refusing to pay up when fines are issued:
When a gasoline spill and fiery explosion killed three young people in Washington state, officials announced a record penalty against a gas pipeline company: $3 million to send the message that such tragedies "must never happen again."

When nuclear labs around the country were found exposing workers to radiation and breaking other safety rules, assessments totaling $2.5 million were quickly ordered.

When coal firms' violations were blamed for deaths, injuries and risks to miners from Alabama to West Virginia, they were slapped with more than $1.3 million in penalties.

What happened next with these no-nonsense enforcement efforts? Not much. The pipeline tab was eventually reduced by 92 percent, the labs' assessments were waived as soon as they were issued, and the mine penalties largely went unpaid.
Imagine that.

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