In previous postings, I have pointed out how learning is diminished when public schools are required to build their school days around continuous testing. Learning has become a victim when our schools spend their time “teaching to the test.”

In a recent “Washington Post” opinion piece, Eugene Robinson offers us another slant on the destructive nature of our insatiable commitment to Standardized Tests:

It is time to acknowledge that the fashionable theory of school reform — requiring that pay and job security for teachers, principals and administrators depend on their students’ standardized test scores — is at best a well-intentioned mistake, and at worst nothing but a racket.
. . . creating a situation in which teachers are more likely than students to cheat cannot be the right path.
Standardized achievement tests are a vital tool, but treating test scores the way a corporation might treat sales targets is wrong. Students are not widgets. I totally reject the idea that students from underprivileged neighborhoods cannot learn. Of course they can. But how does it help these students to have their performance on a one-size-fits-all standardized test determine their teachers’ compensation and job security? The clear incentive is for the teacher to focus on test scores rather than actual teaching.

Our public school system, under undue pressure from our government, is irrationally focused on test scores in science, math and reading while ignoring the ultimate goal of learning — retention! In addition, traditional subjects in the arts, history and literature have all suffered through neglect.
What is really happening, however, is an advanced curriculum that is beyond the readiness of many elementary school students. “Love of learning” is becoming a slogan of the past. Homework loads have increased, even on first and second graders, and constant testing has become the norm. Short term memorization and rote regurgitation are the standards in our current classrooms — to the detriment of thinking, questioning and discovery.
Where will our future innovators and critical thinkers come from?!? Certainly not from schools who are mired in “No Child Left Behind” and Standardized Tests!
It is a safe prediction on my part that this constant emphasis on testing will probably fail and our schools will return to emphasizing learning once again. However, before we finally come to our senses, we will have failed an entire generation of our children.
More on Tuesday – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder
ITC Learning (Tuesdays & Thursdays)