P is for PARCC, Pearson and Pushback (and Peeps)

Before the first day of PARCC testing, the results are in. Push back against indefensible state policies and the state will crack.

peepsThe special time you’ve been waiting for has at last arrived, boys and girls. It’s PARCC testing week! Think Easter but with a few key differences. Like instead of hunting for eggs, you’re after *college and career readiness.* Also, those Peeps in your basket aren’t for realz but are being *piloted* to help determine what should go in your basket next year. Which is to say that it’s never a good idea to put all of the kids’ eggs in one basket, even if the state’s chief educational standards bunny happens to serve as the chair of an egg distributor.  Continue reading →

The Great Equity Test

Xian Franzinger Barrett argues that accountability without equity means more inequity…

Xian4

Chicago teacher Xian Barrett.

EduShyster: OK—I need you to set me straight here. Is ensuring that we continue to test kids in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is striking a blow against too much testing in high-needs schools the civil rights issue of our time? Or is civil rights actually the civil rights issue of our time?

Xian Franzinger BarrettThe people who are talking about this genuinely on both sides are talking about the same thing, it’s just that the problem they’re trying to address is pervasive and terrible. This idea that we’re unseen and unheard unless we’re measured has a basis in history and reality, so I think it’s important that we don’t lose that. But anyone who says *you’re not going to be acknowledged unless you’re tested* is either too pessimistic or they’re racist. We also have to acknowledge that the very fact that people aren’t being supported or treated equitably unless they’re measured is racism. No one would ever say: *the rich kids in this private school—we don’t have a good measurement of them so we’re just not going to give them an education.* That’s just ridiculous. Continue reading →

How to Tell Parents that They Я Wrong About Testing

rabbit holesA handy guide to steering clear of weeds and rabbit holes…

Can we talk about testing? And by *talk* I mean the thing where parents offer up reasonable, legitimate and likely heartfelt concerns, which testing advocates then deflect by changing the subject and *pivoting to a higher emotion.* That’s right reader—it’s time for another edition of Say This, Not That.Today’s topic: testing. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll gasp in amazement as our *testing talk* is transformed to appeal to different audiences. But watch out for weeds and rabbit holes!  Continue reading →

Hands Up, Don’t Test

Jesse Hagopian says protests against police and high-stakes testing have more in common than you think…

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle's Garfield High led a walkout in

Members of the Black Student Union at Seattle’s Garfield High lead a walkout to protest police violence and racism.

EduShyster: You happened to be in Boston recently giving a talk about the new uprising against high-stakes testing on the same night that thousands of people here were protesting police violence and institutional racism. Here’s the people’s mic—explain how the two causes are related. 

Jesse HagopianIf I could have, I would have moved the talk to the protest to connect the issues. I would have said that the purpose of education is to empower young people to help solve problems in their community and their society. The purpose of standardized testing is to learn how to eliminate wrong answer choices rather than how to critically think or organize with people around you or collaborate on issues you care about. These tests are disempowering kids from the skills they really need to solve the big problems that our society and kids themselves are facing—like rampant police brutality and police terror. What’s the point of making our kids college and career ready if they can be shot down in the street and there’s no justice? You look at how testing and the preparation for testing now monopolizes class time—that is the American school system. If our schools emphasized rote memorization and dumbing down, that would be unfortunate. But the problem goes so far beyond that. We face huge problems as a society: mass incarceration, endless wars, income inequality. Our education system has to be about empowering students to solve those problems.  Continue reading →

Question Authoritarianism

Yong Zhao warns that America is on a suicidal quest for educational excellence…

zhaoEduShyster: I have to start by paraphrasing my hero, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman: why can’t we have China’s education system for a day? 

Zhao: Because the Chinese system is not a system that you want to copy. I started thinking about writing this book a decade ago, after No Child Left Behind. I remember thinking *I can’t believe that the US is going to abandon what has made it a good country so far in order to try to copy a system that has been proven ineffective in producing a modern economy.* After a decade, it’s getting worse and worse, not just in education but in the rise in the glorification of authoritarianism in other domains. That’s how you end up with writers like Friedman asking *why can’t we be China for a day?* Every few decades people begin to question democracy because it isn’t as efficient as authoritarianism. On the one hand we condemn authoritarianism but at the same time we admire its actions. Continue reading →