“Opt-out activists are targeting more than just the tests themselves,” writes Owen Davis in Alternet’s 7 Big Public Education Stories of 2014. “As an assistant principal in New York explained to me in October, ‘The whole school reform machine falls down without the data’.”
“Indeed, the school reform movement DOES fall down without the data,” writes Lynnell Mickelsen on Put Kids First. So why do progressives want to dump the evidence showing that children of color are failing in traditional public schools?
No Child Left Behind required schools to test annually in grades 3 to 8 and report the results by demographic subgroups, writes Mickelsen, who describes herself as a progressive Democrat and recovering journalist. “The resulting data showed stark, systematic gaps between white kids and children of color that couldn’t be dismissed simply by income levels.”
Schools aren’t solely to blame for the gap, she writes. But, “this is what institutional racism looks like, folks: starkly different outcomes for different groups.”
In addition, analyzing the data has shown that “different teachers consistently had very different results,” Mickelsen adds.
This data made it harder for the teachers’ union to claim that no one could really tell who was a good teacher or not—it was all so subjective and personality-driven, which is why seniority had to be the top criteria in almost all staffing decisions, etc.
In recent years, more states have “required that teachers be evaluated in part by the progress their students make on these exams,” she writes. “And ding, ding, ding, this is when the organized backlash against ‘high-stakes,’ ‘high-stress’ testing seems to truly have started.”
When the sole responsibility for test outcomes was on the children, there was little to no organized test resistance. But as soon as some of the responsibility shifted to the adults, oh my God! Let the weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth begin. Oh, the inhumanity! Oh, the stress of “high-stakes”! Oh, the loss of childhood! Oh, the corporate conspiracy of Pearson! And so forth.
I’m not entirely unsympathetic to the anti-test movement. Some districts test too much. Endless rote test prep is dumb. Art, music and gym are all crucial and belong in the curriculum.
But the organized movement to dump standardized testing and replace it with projects or individual teacher’s tests, also strikes me as blatant attempt to dump the evidence.
Most opt-out parents are white, “Crunchy Mamas,” she writes. Their kids are doing fine, or so they believe. “Check your privilege, people,” she writes. “Just sayin’.”
Forget about “fixing” black kids and try fixing white liberals, Mickelsen writes in the MinnPost.