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It’s standardized testing season, which makes me think of the late sociologist James Coleman, author of the famed Coleman Report.

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Perspective, Pages 78 on 04/10/2011

Print Headline: Guest column Only two cheers for standardized testing

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  • JakeTidmore
    April 10, 2011 at 6:36 a.m.

    Let's not forget that a Stanford study showed that public schools are equal to or better than 5 out of 6 charter schools in NCLB testing. Seems like the message needs to go out to those charter schools Maranto so conveniently ignores. And maybe he needed to visit more than one school and go to some of those public schools that had high performance.

    Apparently, there are plenty of them.

    Ask Maranto if those foreign countries have merit pay or vouchers or charter schools. Gee. They don't. What a shame! They have to do it all with just their public schools. That's because they support and work with their public schools.

    And, based upon one brief talk with a few teachers at one school, Maranto extrapolates that all public school teachers don't understand NCLB testing the way he does. This is how an expert in statistics functions? Talk to 0.000001% and then tell you how 100% feel?

    For an opinion piece, it lacks a lot of facts. It also lacks a lot of thought and skill.

  • Coralie
    April 10, 2011 at 3:46 p.m.

    I recently heard of a school subjecting its KINDERGARTNERS to these benchmark tests. A couple hours a day for three days. Some of the children ended up crying. They didn't understand what was happening and felt that they were doing something wrong, failing in some way.
    This is entirely wrong if you know anything about child development or ever had a five-year-old child. I would almost call it child abuse.

  • JakeTidmore
    April 11, 2011 at 5:35 a.m.

    Rec'd this message from article's author:

    "Hi Jake,
    You are right--very few European nations have charter schools, but nearly all do have vouchers to private schools, and all have testing. I can provide a full list if you want.
    Bob Maranto"

    Therefore, I will cede this one point about vouchers. I checked and have seen the list. As to testing, that's not a point I argued against nor mentioned.

    However, I see no disagreement with my points about merit pay & charters. Nor do I see any contradictions to the information about public schools and charters as given by the Stanford national study.

    Nor do I see anything to justify going from a tiny specific case to a very broad generalization as he makes in his article about teacher response to testing. Even basic statistic students know you don't do this and expect to get a passing grade.

    Maybe they teach it differently at the School of Reformology in Arkansas.

  • JakeTidmore
    April 11, 2011 at 6:44 a.m.

    Testing in Europe needs to be addressed. Here is what the 2009 European Commission report says:

    *Frequency and scope of national tests vary across countries

    On average, European countries organise national tests three times during compulsory education. The great majority of national tests in Europe are compulsory for all pupils in a given age-group and where they are optional they are often taken by almost everybody. Certain countries test pupils much more frequently than the European average. Thus, in Denmark pupils can take up to eleven national tests during compulsory education, followed by Malta and Scotland (up to ten), England (up to seven) and France (up to six). In six other countries, on the other hand, there is only one national test during compulsory education.

    National tests often concern only two core subjects: the language of instruction and mathematics. Apart from tests for the award of a certificate at the end of lower secondary education, only a minority of countries consistently test a wider spectrum of their respective curricula. Several countries, however, rotate the subjects in tests for monitoring purposes, which permits wider subject coverage without significantly increasing the burden on pupils and teachers.

    *Only a few countries publish school test results or consider them in school evaluation

    Although schools in Europe are often provided with their aggregated test results which can be in turn compared with the national average, national test results are rarely published or used as an accountability tool in external school evaluations. It is usually up to the schools to organise the ways in which these results are used for the improvement of their work.

    Furthermore, most European countries do not publish the aggregated test results of individual schools. In some countries official documents explicitly forbid the use of test results for the construction of comparative school tables, as these are not considered likely to improve education provision.

    As Maranto points out, European countries do have testing. They're just not fixated on them like he is. And, the ETS testing scandal in Britain didn't help matters either.