The Globe’s lead editorial today recognizes the rising backlash against overuse and misuse of standardized testing. The editorial says that “resistance has grown louder, accompanied by some specific complaints: about schools overloading on diagnostic tests in bids to improve their MCAS scores, or posting students’ scores on public walls, as an attempt at motivation.”
Education Commissioner Chester has said that some complaints are “hyperbole,” and the Globe, while agreeing that the issue should be studied, concludes, “tests are not the enemy.”
My letter to the editor in response says:
We’ve gone overboard in our overuse and misuse of standardized tests. Now the cries of “enough is enough” are becoming impossible to ignore. Educators and researchers have long argued that high-stakes testing narrows curriculum and promotes teaching to the test (and cheating) instead of a whole child education.
Now national resistance to high-stakes testing is exploding, with tens of thousands of students, parents, teachers, school board members and superintendents speaking out. They’ve seen testing and test prep crowd out learning and create a destructive climate of fear in our schools.
In Massachusetts, our Less Testing, More Learning petition has rapidly gained thousands of signers and poignant testimony to the damage being done. Kathleen Thibodeau signed yesterday, writing, “Too much emphasis has been placed on standardized testing. It is no wonder we see so many children with anxiety. There is more to life than data and tests results.” Molly Senn-McNally wrote: “I strongly support a moratorium on high stakes testing, as a parent and as a pediatrician.”
We need to tally the true costs to our students and schools of testing overkill. We need reforms so our assessment practices support better teaching and learning to prepare our students for successful lives.
Do you agree? If so, please add your voice to the debate and your name to the Less Testing, More Learning petition, here.