Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Value of high-stakes standardized tests questioned in Texas

Way beyond Providence, they're thinking in Texas that an education system controlled by high stakes standardized tests might not be so great for the economy. From Longview, Texas, as reported here in the Longview News-Journal:
A state official says the longtime education focus on teaching students to pass standardized tests is having a detrimental effect on Texas’ job market. 
As a Texas Workforce commissioner representing employers, Tom Pauken said he hopes to lead an effort to change that. He was in Longview on Friday promoting business and the role it plays in job creation and economic growth while addressing the Texas Business Conference at Maude Cobb Convention and Activity Center, where about 250 business owners, managers and human resource specialists gathered. 
“I’m really concerned we’re choking off the pipeline of skilled workers that our employers need,” he said. “We’re spending too much time and effort teaching to the test instead of focusing on real learning.”
Even though I embrace the reality that education is complex, and that our obligation to create and maintain a strong, equitable, and accessible public education system isn't purely driven by economic arguments, I am a firm believer in the power of such arguments to influence policy. Much of the current education policy that's caused over-reliance on high stakes standardized tests in was generated in response to overblown anxiety about the ways that our "education crisis,"as measured by our international comparisons, was going to be the ruin of our economy. I like seeing the argument cut both ways.

I also note that this is happening in Texas, home of the Texas Miracle (read about it here), which many think was a source for the pervasive myth that it's possible to improve educational outcomes for young people by testing the life out of them. There was no Texas Miracle. Deceptions created the illusion of success. Nevertheless, that illusion went on to have a pervasive and powerful impact on federal education policy that we are still very much in the grip of (yikes! time for grammar workshop: in the grip of which we very much still are?).

Please let this be evidence of a pendulum swing toward a more balance and educationally enriching version of accountability. And if we need this swing to be more economically enriching, too, bring it on. I'm all for it - and really do believe that a world in which schools help all young people use their mind well will be a better world all around.

Hat tip to Tom Hoffman for linking to this story. Thanks!

No comments:

Post a Comment