Testing, Testing…

There is no question:  the US educational establishment is moving rapidly toward a more test-based funding system.  The new “Race To The Top” (RTTT) program being promoted by Arne Duncan, our Secretary of Education, assumes that testing is the way to evaluate the success of students, teachers, and schools.  Further, RTTT is using the immense power of billions of federal dollars to lure states (through a competitive process!) to rewrite their regulations to facilitate an expansion of high stakes testing.

Where does this push toward testing get us?  Is it possible to improve education without requiring students and teachers to spend significantly more time on tests?  Is it possible to improve education WITH requiring students and teachers spend significantly more time on tests?  In this climate, those of us who are skeptical about the value of high-stakes testing are both outspent and outnumbered.

Susan Engel of Williams College has recently published the best comments I’ve read in a long time about the push for more testing and how best to assess the things that really matter in schools.  I recommend you take a look at her recent piece in the New York Times on the subject.  Then have a conversation with your kids, your kids’ teachers, or your school board members — or post a comment on this blog — and share your thoughts.  Thanks.

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One Comment on “Testing, Testing…”


  1. Hello Daniel,

    I share your frustration with the focus on testing and allocating money to schools based on competition. With competitions some win and some lose and that is exactly what we want most to avoid. This strategy is so ill advised. How much better it would be to encourage school and teacher and administrators and government to embrace partnership relationships instead of competitive relationships. When or when is our government going to learn that it is not business, life or learning as usual that is going to propel us forward into a just and sustainable world. We need community not division and we need all schools, students and teachers to win.

    Thanks for writing about the very important issue of increasing testing and competitive educational funding in the US.

    Cynthia DuVal
    Founding Director, DuVal Ethnographic Research Center & Change Agency
    Educational Ethnography Program


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