Standardized tests: good for the geese, good for the ganders.

De Cito Eindtoets Basisonderwijs.

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Something remarkable happened the other day.

A school board member in one of the nation’s largest school districts had the temerity to take the 10th grade standardized tests that he and his cohorts require students to take.

I think this is an excellent idea.

After all, if the tests are appropriate to see what students know then they are also necessary to see what school board members know. School board members should be required to take the same tests students are required to take. To be fair, I’d only require them to take the 10th grade tests. I wouldn’t want to challenge them too much.

Standardized tests are necessary to see what members of state boards of education know. If the state requires an exit exam so students can graduate from high school, then that is the exam the state board members should take. If they can’t pass them they should be removed from their positions and required to repeat high school.

Standardized tests are also necessary to see what the mayors who control school systems and the chancellors they appoint know. After all, if the tests are adequate to judge teacher ability they must certainly be able to judge the ability of the people who hire the teachers, set curriculum and allocate assets to schools.

President Barack Obama and Mrs. Michelle Obama...

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Arne Duncan should take standardized tests. So should President Obama.

And the results of those exams should be made public.

In fact, standardized testing is a great way to see which of the presidential candidates is most up to the demands of the job, which one can understand the math of the budget or the tax system. I’m sure Newt, Mitt, John, Rick, Ron and even Michelle could pass those tests with flying colors.

I’m starting a movement to have everyone who sets educational policy take the standardized tests, the same ones students do.

Join me. Send a tweet, a text, an email or phone to your school board members, your state legislators, your Congress people, Senators and presidential candidate of choice. Tell them that it is time for them to sit down with a couple of #2 pencils and show us what they know.

After all, it is only fair.

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8 Responses to Standardized tests: good for the geese, good for the ganders.

  1. A Ward says:

    LOL OMG this makes noooo sense at all! Those tests are meant to gauge how well the students are retaining and understanding information they’ve recently been exposed to, not 50 years after… Give me a test on gas prices, a household budget, voting, and credit card interest rates!

    • Deven Black says:

      The tests are designed to test student retention, yes, but what we are asking them to retain has almost no connection to what they will need to do in their working lives. While education should not be directly tied to jobs and should go beyond workplace skills and knowledge, there should not be a total disconnect either. Read the article I linked to in the second paragraph for a deeper understanding of why those tests are destructive. Here’s the link again

      • Deven Black says:

        Here’s the most important quote from the article. This is the school board member speaking.
        “If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had. It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning.”

    • Your point is well taken. Unless we educators “teach to the test” these generic, standardized rags do not assess the student’s knowledge of the material we cover. This also “makes noooo sense at all”.

  2. Dave Radcliffe says:

    Have you looked at the FCAT math exam? How is it reasonable that an educated person who works with quantitative information on a daily basis could not answer a single question on the test? A great many of the questions involve nothing more than simple arithmetic and the ability to interpret charts and graphs.

    I do not understand why anyone wants politicians to take these tests. It’s bad enough that Pearson is setting the curriculum, but it would be a thousand times worse if politicians were setting it. I don’t want a senator deciding that schools should not require algebra or botany because he doesn’t use them in his own life.

  3. jean gallarello says:

    I’ve always been a proponent of teachers taking the tests that their student’s will take. If you use backward design, it helps you to realize what you have to teach so that students will be successful.

  4. April says:

    The point is for the politicians to understand just what it is that the test results mean, and the best way for them to understand that is to go through the process themselves. Politicians (including school board members) already decide what the test scores mean for school funding so they’re already involved. The point is not what their scores are (although the knowledge that their scores will be published will provoke a sense of accountability), but whether or not the tests accurately reflect what they’re meant to reflect, and how much emphasis should be placed on these tests.

  5. […] Minister of Education about the possibility of the Minister taking the test. My friend, Deven Black argues that, “After all, if the tests are adequate to judge teacher ability they must certainly be able […]

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