I am opposed to high stakes testing. In no way should those tests determine funding or teacher employment. If anything, consistently lower scores should mandate response plans and teacher observations. Lower performing schools need more funding, not less. Still, I was most fascinated by the article in Beers where Pearson validates some form of standardized assessment. Then, again, in the Reading Next plan, summative assessments are deemed a necessary portion of improving our education of students.
As a result, I found myself reevaluating why I dislike high-states testing. I would have argued for eliminating standardized testing; now, I see it has a role. The danger comes from the confusion of that role. Pearson states that “assessment is always a means to an end, never an end unto itself” (Beers, 261). Whether referred to as audiences or clients, when the intended market becomes confused, the result is an assessment that is not only ineffective, but also detrimental. Similar to the story of sending response notebooks home to parents, confusion begets confusion.
So, my revised argument would be that standardized tests should function for administrators and bureaucrats in the same way that daily assessments function for teachers. Either we got it or we don’t. If the performance is satisfactory, continue with the same strategies. If scores are low, a new plan needs to be developed. Discovering what is lacking and creating a comprehensive plan for improving it is much more effective than punishment. Teachers, students and parents will all respond to a community-focused effort.
I haven’t developed my new theory into how we convince bureaucrats to cooperate…