The Problem with Relying on Testing When Assessing Students and Teachers

Amos Roe:

What defines a good school? Nearly every report, comparison or analysis on education labors under the assumption that this can be found in some form of test scores. Ever since No Child Left Behind made its debut in 2001, top-down government-funded education has proceeded from one failed experiment to another. Testing is now almost always the sole way schools are being judged for excellence.

But this reliance on testing is only done because of deeply flawed assumptions being made by politicians and an army of “experts” who have never actually taught children themselves. Dealing with disembodied numbers also makes it much easier for these “experts” to convince others that they know what they are talking about. Currently, the latest fad being imposed from above is Common Core, another guaranteed-to-fail government program which attempts, yet again, to force-feed children into learning what they “need to know.”

Certainly, test scores for truly motivated and older kids can be useful. Testing can help in assessing how well a school has performed for these motivated kids as they reach their later years in high school and as their interests become more defined and focused. But using tests as a useful indicator for the quality of our schools among younger children often only ensures a growing failure in ever getting a child to truly enthusiastically embrace learning. Institutionally-driven tests became a counter-productive instrument of “accountability,” and very often degenerates into full-blown child abuse and is causing an astounding rise in youth suicides.

Keep in mind that it is the needs of the unmotivated, or somewhat unmotivated students, who are hit the hardest with any form of early academic testing. (Also note that using tests to discover true learning disabilities – and not just manufactured ones by a growing army of LD teachers who want more work – are excluded from any of my assertions here.)

Amos Roe is a candidate for the Madison School Board. Learn more about the 2019 Madison School Board election, here.