Teacher quality is vital, but I’m concerned about increases in high-stakes standardized testing (and imperfect tests) to evaluate teachers, influence compensation, etc. Testing and data mining is going to cost a lot of money. Who will pay? What will be the effect on students?
How will the state develop standardized tests for Art? History? Theater? Health? You know there are no state tests for those right now. How long is that going to take? How much more learning will students lose in order to participate in testing? These are just a few of my concerns.
Then I read Dana Goldstein's story in the Daily Beast about high-stakes testing and something called "Campbell’s Law" — the social-science maxim that holds that the reliability of a decision-making tool is inversely proportional to the importance of the decision being made. That is, the more a test score is worth, the more it’s worth cheating on the test. (The story was about allegations of high erasure rates -- cheating -- on supposedly-improved standardized tests in Washington, D.C.)
So that gives me even more worry about placing all this emphasis on state-developed tests.
Did I mention how pretty much every 9th grader in New Jersey failed the state's first Biology test? So now they're back at the drawing board trying to come up with a better test.
And, finally, Diane Ravitch tweeted today, "Imagine putting fate of students and teachers in hands of the testing agencies" like those described in the book, Making the Grades: My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry by Todd Farley, an eye-opening (and frightening) book that I read last year. Another good point, Diane!
What does this mean for Ridgewood? The political pressure in Trenton is forcing a rush to policies for evaluating teacher quality, based on extremely flawed state tests. Eventually, the requirements will hit Ridgewood, we'll be forced to comply (rather than rely on our own education leaders to evaluate our teachers), it will cost a lot of money, it will suck even more time away from our administrators and teachers...like I said, I'm worried.
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