Obama had his “Sputnik Moment,” when standardized test scores around the world pointed to the mediocrity of American students in reading, math and sciences. There is now a major mantra coming from Washington to all state capitals: the “race to the top” is on, and it doesn’t include a continuation of the downward spiral of test scores. The new modus operandi: Leave aside achievement throughout the years in high school, the stream of G.P.As., the difficulty of courses taken during the years in 9 to 12, and any creative projects done by students. Base everything on standardized tests.
When career prospects, prestige, and job security are connected to one and only one criteria — score on a standardized test — human nature is bound to creep in. Baseball players start taking steroids; Olympic athletes try every means to beat the system. Will it happen to dedicated teachers who are working hard to educate our next generation? Will temptation overtake honesty, integrity and ethical behavior?