…Test prep is the devil.
Via Alexander Russo comes word of a “misguided war” against standardized testing, and a backlash against the backlash. “Standardized testing is rarely fun — and it could almost certainly be improved — but it’s not nearly as antithetical to real, deep learning as its detractors suggest,” writes Anna North at the blog Jezebel, who scoffs at well-off parents refusing to let their kids sit for tests. Such protests
“…. run the risk of deepening the divide between haves and have-nots that continues to plague public education — and pretty much every other aspect of society. Any attempt to scuttle standardized testing needs to acknowledge that even if the tests are problematic, the deficits they attempt to address are real — and any alternative approach needs to face these deficits, not just walk away from them.”
North slightly misdiagnoses the issue. Personally, I have no problem with tests, per se. But you’d have to be naive to dismiss the impact preparing for those tests have had on the children North and everyone else purports to care so deeply about. Talk to someone who has taught in a low-performing school and you’ll almost certainly hear stories about prodigious amounts of time sacrificed on the altar of practice tests and language arts lessons in “test sophistication.” At my South Bronx elementary school, we had a Teachers College consultant who encouraged us to ”teach tests as a genre of literature.” But even that pales in comparison to a grad student of mine who was mandated to spend two hours per day on test prep from the first day of school.
Testing and accountability are unlikely to disappear. Boycott the test? Perhaps, but if I were a parent activist, I would march into the school office the first day of school with the following bargain: “I’m sure you agree the best test prep is great teaching and a robust curriculum, Ms. Principal. So let’s keep our focus right there. Don’t worry about spending my child’s time and your budget dollars on test prep materials. Because if they show up in our kids classrooms, we can promise our kids won’t be showing up for the test.”