The Newark Star Ledger takes a look at the consequences of basing so much on high stakes tests:
As New Jersey’s public schools put students through the annual spring round of standardized tests, a growing number of districts are devoting time to helping kids prepare.
Standardized tests — the NJ Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, or NJ ASK, for grades 3-8, and the HSPA, for high schoolers — have long been serious business for schools. But with New Jersey moving toward using student test scores in teacher evaluations, experts say the stakes are rising.
Some worry that time spent taking the tests — and preparing for them — will increase at the expense of other learning.
In some districts, teachers have been asked to "stop teaching more — go back, review and get kids ready" for the test, said Rosemary Knab, associate director of research for the New Jersey Education Association, the state’s largest teachers union.
This isn’t just happening in New Jersey, said Drew Gitomer, a professor at the Rutgers Graduate School of Education and an expert on standardized tests. Reports from other states have "suggested a very substantial amount of school time is spent preparing for tests in ways that are hard to justify educationally," he said.
If test scores are linked to teacher evaluations, that practice will only increase.
"If they think the way to improve test scores is to practice a lot on the test, I think they will do that," Gitomer said. "Some test preparation, in its place, is okay. It’s when it becomes the dominant form of the curriculum, that it has pernicious effects on education."
President Obama said in his 2012 State of the Union address that he wants less teaching to the test in public schools, and yet he has put in place policies that promote national standardized tests based upon the Common Core, teacher evaluations based upon how well students score on those tests and (if his Secretary of Education gets his way) teacher pay based upon those same scores.
Does he REALLY think these policies are going to lead to less teaching to the test?
Does he REALLY think these policies are going to improve education for children?
Does he REALLY think a narrowing of the curriculum to only what is tested and school environments where FEAR over test scores rules everything else is the way to educate children for the future?
If you put into place policies that promote 35+ tests a year and base teachers' jobs and pay on those scores (not to mention the existence of the schools themselves), you are going to get a very damaged and damaging education system.
President Obama is a lot of things, but he is not a stupid man.
I have to assume that he has put into place education policies that promote these consequences because he wants things that way.