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Test-Driven Education Falling Out of Favor

March 25, 2016
By Jarrod Whaley

Julian Vasquez Heilig, writing for The Progressive, on the rising tide against the extremely testing-oriented direction our educational system has taken in recent years:

A revolt involving hundreds of thousands of Americans against the federal and state government has been brewing over the past couple of years. What caused this grassroots revolt? Parents and students have had enough of high-stakes testing required by federal law and implemented by the states and have chosen to “opt out” of the tests.

We think that No Child Left Behind is a bad idea on a number of different levels. It incentivizes the wrong things, as Heilig continues:

No Child Left Behind required that schools that do not raise their scores fast enough could be closed or turned over to private operators. A decade of research has shown that the privatization approach to education spurred by testing has not only deprived communities of publicly controlled anchor institutions, it has usually failed to improve educational outcomes while increasing segregation. Test-driven “accountability” has also led to mass firings of teachers of color in cities such as Chicago.

We fully support the concept of setting goals and enforcing them with consequences when those goals aren't met, be we do not believe that the educational progress of all children can be measured using a single metric. Because each child has specific strengths and needs, a more tailored approach generally leads to better results. This style of education may be more difficult to implement in practice, but it is not impossible when an appropriate amount of resources are put to the task--and the outcomes are much more favorable for all of us.