Such is the case with the standardized testing regimen that has taken over and become the spear's tip of the so-called education "reform" movement.
This annual public and charter school multiple day test (CSAP/TCAP in Colorado) has become the foundation for a school's "grade"; for the school's future funding or very survival; for "tracking" students; for extracting all kinds of bureaucratic data; for judging administrators; for evaluating teachers and how much they should be paid or if they should even be employed; and most importantly of all -- for giving elected politicians something to point at to prove they are holding the schools 'accountable'.
'High stakes' -- indeed!
So, among many examples of how the standardized testing scheme has failed, what is the latest verdict on this "reform"?
Last week USA Today published this story: School is too easy, students report. The article began saying, "Millions of kids simply don't find school very challenging, a new analysis of federal survey data suggests. The report could spark a debate about whether new academic standards being piloted nationwide might make a difference."
According to the article, the survey offered these results:
Among the findings:•37% of fourth-graders say their math work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•57% of eighth-graders say their history work is "often" or "always" too easy;
•39% of 12th-graders say they rarely write about what they read in class.
Now think this through ... in whose interest is it that students do well on these tests?
-- Students? Well, of course, all kids want to get a high mark and make their parents proud.
-- Teachers? Well, yeah if they want to keep their job and/or get a raise.
-- The school administration? Well, they want to look like they are succeeding and if they want to win in the next tax hike election.
-- The elected and appointed politicians? Well, they need to show that after a two and a half decades of billions and billions of dollars thrown into education "reform" they are seeing positive results.
There is one way to get the desired results when it all boils down to one big test: make sure that almost every student can do well on the test.
In other words, don't make the test too hard ... and that means making most of what is taught in the classroom easy for the vast majority of kids to understand and be capable of regurgitating during testing week. And that is exactly what the survey published by USA Today demonstrates is happening in your public schools.
High stakes standardized testing means 'teaching' to the lowest common denominator to ensure 'success' ... and that means dumber kids.
And dumber kids means what for the future of the nation? Well, this poster gives an indication ...