Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Civil Rights Lawyers and Testing

Civil rights lawyers cling desperately to testing because they think it is the only way they can document discrimination in education. However, data gathering through testing is very different than gathering date in employment because the instrument chosen corrupts the very experience you are assessing. Testing, whether to evaluate student, teacher, school or even district performance, changes what goes on in classrooms. It excludes certain kind of experiences, and privileges others. And in high poverty districts, where resources are scarce, it has the effect of promoting rote learning at the expense of creative thinking, and crowding out arts, sports, play, and subjects which are not easily standardized or quantified. The result, is that policies designed to promote equity undermine it and lead to massive demoralization of students who the policies are presumed to help. Using high stakes testing for data gathering takes schools down a dangerous path. Other, less damaging, methods of assessment must be found lest we freeze current inequalities for generations