Standardized Testing

Why Progressives Should Care About the Backlash of Standardized Testing

Jeff Bryant, Nation of Change Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 20 January 2013

Nate SilverLast week, celebrated statistics guru Nate Silver laid a bugger on advocates for test-driven education, the current policy fad that enamors Republicans and Democrats alike who fancy themselves as “education reformers.”

In an online conversation at the aggregator site Reddit, the man known for being the “Lord and God of Algorithms” was asked, “What are your thoughts on data-driven metrics for teacher evaluation? Do you think a system that accurately reflects teacher value could ever be created, or will it always be plagued by perverse incentives (teaching to the test, neglecting certain types of students, etc)?”

Silver replied, “There are certainly cases where applying objective measures badly is worse than not applying them at all, and education may well be one of those.”

Silver explained that it would take “a book- or thesis-length treatment to really evaluate properly”

Of course, our current crop of leaders in Washington, DC and state capitals are not about to wait for “a book- or thesis-length treatment.” Because they are imbued with the “fierce urgency of now” for “education reform,” they want a formula instead.

But schoolteachers, principals, and parents on the ground have long understood that enforcing education practices on the basis of government mandated metrics is a losing proposition for children. Now they’re speaking out.

I have always had a problem with knee-jerk programs such as No Child Left Behind and I have heard too many horror stories from teachers and educators around the country that suggest Washington is not the place to reform education. Read the complete editorial at Nation of Change.

I think I”ll add Nate Silver’s book to my library.

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