Monday, June 13, 2011

USC Professor Emeritus Calls National Assessments a Nightmare

No Unnecessary Tests (NUT) was coined by USC Professor Emeritus Stephen Krashen. He is another voice with consistent objections over the top down educational initiatives, corrects the rationale for the initiatives as presented by policymakers, and presents a series of solutions. Krashen points to the billions spent on a massive national assessments initiative that would mean more testing for students. He says there is no evidence to support the notion that these new tests will improve student achievement.

Krashen spoke to graduates the recent graduation ceremony at Lewis and Clark College.
Select the Play button and wait a moment or two. He is introduced and the presentation immediately follows.

Below are some key points from the graduation address on national assessments:

The astonishing increase in testing

It is widely acknowledged that NCLB (No Child Left Behind) required an excessive amount of testing. Not well known is the fact that the US Department of Education is planning to spend billions on a massive new testing program, with far more testing than ever before, all linked to national standards. The new plan will require, as before, tests in reading and math in grades three through eight and once in high school, but it also includes interim testing, and may include pre-testing in the fall to be able to measure growth during the year. In addition, the US Department of Education is encouraging testing in other subjects as well. The tests are to be administered online, which means a huge investment in getting all students connected.

No evidence supporting the increase in testing

There is no evidence supporting the idea that tests to enforce national standards will have a positive impact on student learning. In fact, the evidence we have suggests that it will not: States that use more high-stakes tests do not do better on the national NAEP test than states with fewer, and the use of the standardized SAT does not predict college success over and above high school grades.

Countries that use standardized tests for course examinations did only slightly better on the PISA, a test of reading given to 15 year olds, and the use of such tests to compare schools and to make curricular decisions has a near- zero correlation with PISA scores.

Of course, the administration has argued that these will be new and better tests, more sensitive to growth in learning, able to chart student progress through the year, and able to probe real learning, not just memorization. Before unleashing these "improved" tests on the country, however, there should be rigorous investigation, rigorous studies to show that these measures are worth the investment. Right now, the corporations and politicians insist that we take on faith the claim that these tests are good for students. Such claims exhibit a profound lack of accountability.

In contrast, there is overwhelming evidence that dealing with poverty is an excellent investment, one that will not only improve school achievement but also affect quality of life and personal happiness.

The full text can be found here.

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