Those oh-so-elusive SBAC results: after millions of dollars squandered on broadband improvements, tedious test prep, and time diverted from actual learning, our students, parents, and teachers have been prevented from getting the test results because no one in educational leadership today has figured out how to “spin” the results without facing the consequences of this poorly designed, invalid, questionably-standardized assessment that was perpetrated on our public school students.
Despite the reluctance of school administrators to speak up and push back against this ludicrous accountability exercise that has been promoted by politicians and corporate education reformers who have many self-interested reasons for maintaining this misguided testing endeavor, it is well-known that the “standardized” testing mandate only serves to continue the false narrative of failing American public education in order to drive the profit-making agenda of those who seek to privatize education and undermine the public trust.
For an insightful look at the test industry, Todd Farley’s under-publicized 2009 chronicle, Making The Grades, recounting his many years working in the test industry would make anyone question why we place any stock whatsoever in our children’s “standardized” test results. Any test that is designed to fail the majority of test takers has no purpose in the education of children.
Rhetorical flourishes citing “rigor” and “higher critical thinking” are nothing but empty words, as repeatedly the test questions have been criticized by both parents and educators and the test answers have been notoriously ambiguous and often wrong. There is no amount of test industry algorithms that can justify this educational malpractice.
Since the parents of all students in public schools were discouraged from opting their children out of this state-mandated “standardized” test experiment, it should be gratifying to those who saw through the misinformation and controversy associated with the Common Core testing requirement and, with courage and conviction, refused to allow their children to take this unnecessary and unproven test.
When the results are finally reported to your child’s school, you can be thankful there will be no “sticky label” to apply on your child’s permanent record card and no single data-point to upload into your child’s computerized learning profile. Furthermore, there will be no woefully inadequate measure of your child’s reading, writing, and math skills for teachers and school administrators to use in any future planning of your child’s school program.
Instead, you can rely on your child’s previous teacher — who for a full school year strove to understand and nurture your child’s individual learning needs — to share with receiving teachers what was found to work in developing each student’s academic skills, confidence, and interpersonal abilities. You are to be congratulated for advocating for your child against the pressures to conform and I hope you will be able to trust that the teachers working with your child will care and protect him/her from any unfair practice derived from this unproven test experiment.
Although unable to come right out and say it for fear of retribution, most teachers do not believe in the top-down, dictatorial approach of the corporate education reform movement that has a stranglehold on American public education today and hope that it will implode of its own malfeasance.
Until then — as parents — you must continue to ask probing questions of district administrators who are mandated to adhere to the flawed educational policies developed by politicians, lobbyists, business leaders, and millionaire philanthropists who have strong opinions, but no actual experiential knowledge of how children learn. It is only when school administrators, elected board of education members, and state legislators hear the anger and frustration of parents (and voters) that there can be meaningful pressure brought to bear on those who promote the continuation of these failed educational policies.
Jack Bestor of Sandy Hook is a recently retired school psychologist who, for 41 years, enjoyed working with students, parents, and his many colleagues. He is a past recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the CT Association of School Psychologists.