by Stan Karp
Maybe we’re finally reaching the tipping point.
After more than a decade of accelerating damage fueled by NCLB, the standardized testing regime that is the engine of corporate school reform is running into growing opposition from all directions.
Last week Rethinking Schools joined nearly 200 other organizations and thousands of individuals who, in less than a week, signed on to this National Resolution on High Stakes Testing.
This national campaign seeks to build on state and local efforts across the country, including:
- “Pineapplegate,” the exposure of absurd test questions by NYC parent activist Leonie Haimson, which led to a national media spotlight on the central role of corporate test profiteers like Pearson.
- An anti-testing resolution passed by almost 400 Texas School Boards.
- A letter to the New York Board of Regents by more than 1000 professors, educators and researchers calling for an end to test-driven reform and “just policies to transform the public schools in New York.”
- A campaign by over 1400 New York principals to block test-based evaluation of schools and teachers.
- A letter to President Obama from the president of the National School Boards Association emphasizing that “we have no problem with appropriate accountability. But we have swung to a far extreme that is significantly hurting children.”
- Florida Superintendents denouncing “an accountability system that is going to fall apart like a house of cards.”
- Increased protests by students and parents across the country against the use of test-based accountability systems to close their schools.
- The number of parents and students choosing to opt out of state tests is expanding.
These are all signs of growing resistance to the use of highly flawed standardized tests to sort and label students, close schools and fire teachers—purposes for which they were never designed and have no validity. Instead of producing useful information for better instruction, the tests are producing junk data for bad policy. Test scores are being used to move control over schools away from educators and classrooms to political bureaucracies and corporate test-makers. It’s way past time to take them back.
Pencils Down, Rethinking Schools’ new collection about “rethinking high stakes testing and accountability in public schools,” is another useful tool in this growing campaign. Pick one up today and sign on today to the nationwide effort to reclaim our schools for our students and ourselves.