The Case Against Standardized Testing: Raising the Scores,
Ruining the Schools (2000), Alfie Kohn - one of the nation's most
outspoken educational critics - concisely explains the inherent harms of a
test-driven curriculum. Additionally, he suggests ways in which
teachers, parents, and students can successfully fight against both the
ignorant politicians who parade their notions of accountability for media
sound-bites, and the wave of test-obsession that our schools have embraced
with something akin to religious fervor. Finally, James
Alexander, Ph.D., Asst. Prof. of Elem. Educ.
Kentucky Wesleyan College, has contributed an original essay.
Measuring What Matters Least
scores are frequently quoted by newspapers, and hailed as the most effective
way of measuring a students' success, they aren't necessarily valid
indicators of achievement.
The Worst Tests
Not all tests are created equal. Although most tests are harmful, some
- such as multiple choice, timed, or norm referenced examinations - prove
even more damaging to children.
Burnt at the
High Stakes Simply put, high stakes testing is a flawed notion
with a vast array of negative consequences. Though talk of 'accountability'
and 'raising the bar' might make for good media sound bites, high stakes
testing has led to increased incidents of bribery, coercion, and cheating.
Poor Teaching for
Poor Kids The movement towards high stakes testing has placed
children from lower socio-economic backgrounds at an even greater
disadvantage. Not only are tests often biased, but such students lack
access to equal amounts of funding for quality teachers and test
Standardized Tests, Then What? Contrary to popular belief, there
are alternatives to standardized testing. Written evaluations,
parent-teacher conferences, and performance assessments such as the
'portfolio' could not only lessen the need for standardized tests, but also
lead to increased communication between all involved parties.
Fighting the Tests
Nothing about our educational system need be set in stone. We found ways to
incorporate standardized testing as a major component of modern schooling,
and likewise, we can find ways to remove such elements when they prove
Movements James Alexander, Ph.D. describes experiences of people
confronted with the reality of standardized testing.