Saturday, February 5, 2011

The Achievement Gap and Testing: Understanding standardized Testing Below Its Deceptive Surface (Part II)

Pay scales for classroom practitioners are characteristically governed by (1) the degrees earned, and (2) the length and quality of job experiences, which is comparable to most other professional occupations.

However, a suburban high school, where 80 highly qualified and experienced teachers are paid an average of $1,000 more per teacher, per month than their cross-town colleagues in the inner-city, is investing in excess of $1 million dollars more per year in salaries and benefits for those educators. Yes, that substantial difference in investment certainly should yield an expected return annually.

While formal assessment and standardized testing can serve a worthwhile mission, all tests are not necessarily accurate indicators of knowledge attainment, skills acquisition, scholarly competence, or "school quality." Yet, we have faith in the erroneous equation...

more pressure on teachers = more learning = better test scores.

When the multifaceted processes of teaching and learning can be reduced to “a bubble” on a multiple-choice test item, we have significantly degraded cognitive development and the intrinsic importance of intellectual exploration. Innovative thinking has never been stimulated by standardized testing.

Even more important, many of the most beneficial human traits, dispositions, and attributes (ingenuity, persistence, compassion, creativity, dependability, controlling impulsivity, adaptability, flexibility in thinking, integrity, originality, self-sufficiency, etc.) that have sponsored the greatest advances in human development, go untested and completely ignored by standardized tests.

These characteristics typically determine the success in life and the quality of one's life, although they are most unwelcome on standardized tests.

Albert Einstein once said, "Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” or calibrated on a standardized test. As adults, our "character" is informally assessed daily, where it counts -- our professions and our entire lives.

What do you think?

The Achievement Gap and Testing: Understanding standardized Testing Below Its Deceptive Surface (Part III) follows tomorrow.

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