Paying The Price For Telling An Educational Truth

“Mute the Messenger: When Dr. Walter Stroup showed that Texas’ standardized testing regime is flawed, the testing company struck back.”…

“The probability that we may fall in the struggle ought not to deter us from the support of a cause we believe to be just.” –Abraham Lincoln

Thanks Latoya Denise . This was a great article. There is a tremendous movement to turn public school students into commodities. $460 million is a lot of money. Another major player (not mentioned) that help to sink the professor is the cooperate collusion between the so-called reform movement and the news media. For example some news media outlets have a heavy financial stake in the testing business; which means they are never going to seriously evaluate the school systems where they have installed superintendents; and there will never be any serious “reporting” on their performance. Much of this unfortunately is going on outside of the understanding and knowledge of parents whose children are the most underserved in the system. They could stop this madness of artificially creating achievement gaps, where none exist; but what do you (the economy) do with all of those high performing poor kids; what will happen to our criminal justice and social service system? The 70% insensitive to instruction number is startling; but many of us have been saying this for years; we asserted that we are for the most part testing test taking skills, reading skills, vocabulary and algorithm recall ability; and less content, and content application then assumed. We (Science Skills Center) proved this years ago when we were able to get elementary students to pass high school Regents exams. (See Journal: “Assessment in the service of Instruction”; AAAS; 1990; “SSC, Brooklyn: Assessing an Accelerated Science Program for African-American and Hispanic Elementary and Junior High School Students Through Advance Science Examinations” ;( Johnson, M.A.; pg. 103) Updated and reprinted in: “Science in the service of reform”; 1991; Johnson, M.A. pg.267……. The gentleman in question, is a brave guy but I could have told that professor, that if you take on the Black and Latino students are “broken” lobby; its war on your head! There is nothing inherently wrong with the children’s brains; only something wrong with the technical methodology, content knowledge and efficacy put forward by educators on behalf of the students; but for now there is just too much money invested in Black and Latino student “invented” failure. I have spent a lifetime (in many parts of the nation) trying to break the “broken” narrative; and I believe that there is no grater act in America that will invite a furious backlash from powerful and influential segments of the Black, White, Liberal and Conservative forces in our nation. If a Black or Latino acts up they have plenty of resources and space in the criminal justice system; an unemployable Black and Latino can be served by a vast social (patching) service system. But a skilled and educated person of color is perhaps the most dangerous person in America; and thus the great energy that is exercised by a collective voice of denunciation and denial. Yes people will say: “Well, it’s just about business”; and yes $460 million is a lot of business (and just combine that with similar numbers in states like N.Y. and Calf.); but this business (and the other big-ticket item of “remediation”) is predicated on a false and invented phenomena; a myth that many White parents and their communities have already figured out is a joke. But a wasted effort and money is one thing, an educationally destructive policy is quite another. And so the biggest victims of any bad educational policy, are the Poor, along with the Black and Brown members of our school systems.

P.S. Answer to: Chryssey Schloss-Allen and Mike Williams
Standardized assessments (assessing the knowledge of standards) in themselves are not bad when they are used properly; for example there should be a “standard” that we want all Nuclear Engineers or Nurses to meet (through assessment), or some very bad things can happen. When used properly as a diagnostic tool to improve student learning, and to inform the direction of instruction, they are essential. The examples you guys gave (entrance exams for specialized high schools), I agree are the bad usages of standardized testing. Here they are being used to sort children unfairly, and give children who have an unfair advantage (an even greater advantage) linked to: “parent push”; access to a strong k-8 educational program, with very effective teachers, teaching in a “time-efficient” learning environment (“efficient” meaning–middle schools can have vastly different “productive” learning time period, that can translate into months, or a year or more of less learning over a 3 year period.) They have special tutorial programs that focus on test taking technology as opposed to greater content knowledge. For poor kids and children of color; the odds of having 3 (6th, 7th and 8th grades) consecutive years of really good certified instruction is extremely rare. Therefore, these standardized assessments are not fair in any sense of the word; because the children being tested have not been exposed (treated in research language) to the same standards. Testing, is like a vehicle; if it’s an ambulance that is a good use; but if it is being used as a “get-away” car in a robbery, then that is not good.