Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Flawed Logic of Testing as a Strategy to Reduce Inequality

Anyone who studies economic data, or carefully examines social conditions in low and moderate income neighborhoods knows that families are under extreme stress. As wages remain stagnant, as jobs with security and benefits disappear, and as larger and larger portions of the adult population remain out of the labor force, more and more American children are living in stressful circumstances. A growing number are homeless or in foster care, but a much larger number are part of families that are doubled and tripled up or are forced to take in borders to pay the rent. Such conditions in the worst instance lead to physical and sexual abuse, but more often result in sleep deprivation, anxiety, and stress related disorders.
Given these conditions, what young people most need is schools which provide them with stability, security, nurturing, strong relationships with teachers, access to counseling and ample opportunities for exercise, and self expression.
What they are getting instead, especially in high poverty neighborhoods, is schools which are tense and stress filled as a result of relentless testing and test based accountability, which makes teachers and administrators fear for their jobs and students feel that their performance on tests is the only thing that matters.
A more ill considered and destructive strategy in current economic conditions could not be imagined
We are putting intolerable pressure on young people who already live with far more pressure than they should.
This is inhumane. This is wrong. This is profoundly destructive.
We need to change course, and fast. Parents, students, teachers. Stop the testing machine. Now.