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I coulda tole you that for twenny bucks!

So the jury has come back and presented their decision. No one’s going to be surprised on this one:

Making kids take lots of standardized tests doesn’t make them become any better educated. Read about it here.

I wonder if anyone really knows — or wants to know — how much money has been spent on this testing bonanza in the last ten years. I wish they’d given that money to me: I could have told them the outcome. Yet our federal government keeps giving states more and more money to apply to a losing proposition.

Part of this travesty is due directly to the fact that we have education policy made by non-educators. Bush’s Secretary of Education was not an educator. But she sure did know how to torture schools and demonize teachers. I have to say I’m not much more fond of Obama’s Secretary of Ed, who thinks that if a school is “failing,” he just needs to fire everyone to make it work right.

Yeah, kids really respond real well to turning up and finding a bunch of strangers at their school. That will make them learn!

I keep turning to a thought-provoking book I am reading called The Book of Learning and Forgetting. The author points out that we have known for a long time how kids learn, and it’s only recently that we’ve paid high salaries to bureaucrats to make up another story.

Kids learn because something is important to them. They learn because the person teaching them is important to them. They learn because they need to.

They don’t learn because someone threatens them (in fact, threats pretty much stop learning cold). They don’t learn because someone’s testing them. They don’t learn because they know that one day, if they and all their friends don’t do well on tests, some really nice guy living in Washington DC is going to fire their beloved teachers and the principal who is guiding them and install some strangers who will read from a script and force that learning into their brain!

Let’s get back to reality: Standardized tests have their place. It’s fine to give them a few times in a kid’s education to make sure that they didn’t miss something important or to see what a child’s strengths might be. And even to make sure that our schools are not missing something important. But the tests themselves are not important. They are not the point of education.

Yes, our schools are failing. But standardized tests were never the solution. We have made them the problem — luckily, an easy problem to get rid of.

Just Say No To Tests. A simple message for a complex age.

Posted in Culture, Education.

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