Testing Abuse

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

High-stakes testing makes teaching bleak

Published online on Saturday, Sep. 26, 2009


During a post-game interview by Coach Jim Mora of the New Orleans Saints, he responded to a sportswriter questioning a game decision he made: "You think you know, you really do think you understand ... but, you don't know ... you really don't understand at all."

Coaching decisions are based on a number of factors: Who is healthy or injured? What is the play that best fits this situation? What are the conditions of the field, the direction of the wind? What is the quality of our athletes for his play?
So many details and nuances that only experience and training can take into consideration before making a decision. 

These are dark days for teachers and their students. There are so many who think they know, who think they understand, but they don't.They are not on the sidelines and in the locker rooms; they do not have the experience and expertise with this team, this group of humans. Decisions are being made about individual students, teachers, and schools based on test scores that few understand and by those who are far removed from the reality of the individuals in the classroom.

Educational judgments are being made by those who have deluded themselves into thinking they know, when they don't.Frightened to speak up, teachers who want to advocate for their students are squashed at site and district levels, and are not even involved in the critical decisions that affect the very core of their life's work-love of students. Their passion to teach is being subjugated to becoming a mechanical administrator of test day facts and figures.

There will be no Bill Walsh's West Coast Offenses produced. Creativity and autonomy will become a thing of the past. Students will be considered as so many widgets to be produced at a prescribed rate and under strict quality control.
Gone will be the value in the uniqueness of each child, in the variability of human diversity on which thrives our ability to respond to our changing cultural and physical environment.

Businesses will stagnate with plenty of robotic workers. With sameness as the mantra, new products and services cannot be produced from employees who have been trained into conformity. Families will find little reason to encourage their children to think beyond the status quo.

All of this because of high stakes testing? Yes! Drop in at our colleges and universities. Ask the professors the change they have seen in their students as a result of No Child Left Behind, and soon, its more insidious replacement: The Race to the Top.
Forget states rights in educational choices. Like students, their uniqueness will be bribed away by the funds only available to states who continue with the high-stakes testing to track students, teachers and their university training programs.

Why is it so difficult for so many to see the tyranny of high stakes testing? The answer is simple; they are not in the classroom. They cannot, will not, and dare not see the expressions on students' faces and the angst in the eyes of their teachers.Day after day, week after week, sit, look and have your eyes opened. 

Those who have seen the other side of the mountain know what the classroom is supposed to be like. They know what their students should be experiencing. Because they know, they suffer and see their dreams for their students wither away. They are forced to offer students only the goal of a higher score, not love of learning.

Our children only go through school once. Their teachers cry for mercy for those who have no voice to speak it: their students.
Horace “Rog” Lucido is a retired from 38 years as a physics instructor.He is a member of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse and also Central Valley Coordinator of the Assessment Reform Network.