One thought on ““Do Parents Support High-Stakes Testing?”

  1. Is Diane Ravitch Missing the Point?

    Diane Ravitch takes to task the Associated Press Research Poll for its findings that “Parents back standardized testing.”

    Unfortunately, Ms. Ravitch also takes the parents to task. Decidedly not good form — and pointedly missing the point of what the parents really want.
    She asserts, “The headline says parents support ‘high-stakes testing,’ but nothing in the story supports that assertion,” which is not exactly accurate and shows a disconnect from what the parents really are saying in the survey:

    “A full 93 percent of parents say standardized tests should be used to identify areas where students need extra help. Smaller majorities think such tests should be used to measure school quality, evaluate teachers or determine whether or not students are promoted or can graduate.”

    Ms. Ravitch’s observations about what the parents don’t know or fully appreciate about the focus on testing are worth noting and must be addressed. She correctly points out that many of the EOC (End-of-Course) testing methodologies are poorly designed to directly help students improve. She is also correct in her criticism that an over-reliance on these exams for teacher evaluations and employment is misguided.

    While she may be correct that parents and students don’t understand everything they should about standardized testing and its applications, Ms. Ravitch is wrong to not recognize that the motivations behind the support expressed in the Associated Press poll are real and do need to be addressed.

    Parents want structures in place that improve their schools and advance learning.

    Unfortunately, Diane Ravitch fails to address this obvious, important desire. She concludes with—
    How would parents react if they knew that the tests are not used to help their child, but to give her a rating and to rate the teacher and the school (sic) How would they respond if they knew that their child’s score would be used to fire her teacher or close her school?

    The poll gives you the answer, Diane: parents believe that something “should be used to measure school quality, [and] evaluate teachers.” If it’s not tests, then what should it be, Diane? It says much that Ms. Ravitch (and many others) see that to “fire her teacher” is the only option for improving teacher and school performance rather than implementing authentic structures supporting staff evaluation and development (something completely lacking in public schools now).

    It’s constructive and necessary to address the problems with the methods used to achieve these goals, but to ignore or dismiss the goals themselves is pretty much missing the point.

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