As superintendent of Partnership Schools, a network of six urban Catholic schools in Harlem and the South Bronx, Kathleen Porter-Magee is opting in to state testing. Results are used to “benchmark . . . our students’ academic growth, and to ensure we are keeping expectations high,” she writes on The 74.
Union-backed organizations are trying to persuade parents to reject testing, she writes. One letter claims that “excessive standardized testing is consuming a child’s academic year” and that it “forces [teachers] to ‘teach to test’ and takes the joy out of learning”
New York state’s English and math tests take up less than one percent of the school year, writes Porter-Magee.
The test doesn’t “force” anything, she adds. “Decisions to scrap core content instruction in favor of test prep are leadership decisions, not policy decisions.”
“Independent measures” are needed to “ensure all students are being held to the same bar regardless of race or socioeconomic status,” writes Porter-Magee.
Recently, a Johns Hopkins University study found that “when evaluating a black student, white teachers expect significantly less academic success than black teachers,” and that “this is especially true for black boys.”
Moreover, “for black students, particularly black boys, having a non-black teacher in a 10th grade subject made them much less likely to pursue that subject by enrolling in similar classes. This suggests biased expectations by teachers have long-term effects on student outcomes.”
Relying only on “teacher-created tests and teacher-conferred grades” risks “systematizing the kind of unconscious bias that holds our most vulnerable children back,” she concludes. Standardized testing is “the best tool we have to expose” inequality.