Superintendents’ Bonuses Tied To Testing
The Tests Become The Curricula!
By Dr. John Trotter 

   The standardized tests themselves become the curricula.  Everything is geared toward passing the tests.  Everything else (creativity, writing skills, appreciation for world literature, U. S. History, etc.) takes a back-seat role, especially with the CRCT which is, by the way, a criterion-referenced test which means the State establishes the criterion to be learned.  This "criterion" is often watered-down, as several posters have already noted.  If the State really (not just politically) wanted to know how well Georgia students were doing, then the students would be given norm-referenced tests.  Then, we would know how well our students are doing compared to students in other parts of the country -- or the world, for that matter.  Standardized testing is a big game...and a big industry.  Don't expect it to end any time soon.  There is virtually always a one-to-one relationship between the test scores and the socio-economic scores.  This is the dirty little secret that educrats simply don't want to talk about.  It is based on the Law of the Large Numbers -- just as political polling is.  You can't make a pig bigger just by continuing to weigh the pig.  Kids are not going to get smarter simply by throwing more and more standardized tests their way.  It doesn't take an Einstein to figure out that in the twisted world of public schooling that sufficient time, resources, and freedom to be creative should be given to the teacher so that the teacher can figure out a way to help motivate a student who essentially comes to school with little or no motivation to learn and with very few readiness skills.  No, our educrats are so stupid that they think that throwing tests at these students will make them learn.  Again, no, these students eventually drop out of school because they are bored and are simply not engaged in the public schooling "mission" (which is to raise standardized test scores "by any means necessary").  Despite all of the outright cheating (administrators erasing the incorrect answers, teachers giving cues in the classroom for the right answers while the tests are being administered, etc.), the elimination of very vital vocational programs, certain students being held out of the testing, watering down the tests (like the GHGT), eliminating physical education/recess, eliminating creative and imaginative teaching and learning, etc., the test scores have continued to drag the bottom like big Mississippi mudcats.  Educrats simply will not accept the fact that not all students will be "scholars."  It is O. K. for some children to grow up to be painters, mechanics, lawn care specialists, roofers, plumbers, electricians, tile men and women, cleaning specialists (some of these folk who own their own cleaning company make lots of money), etc.  I have to call on these people on a constant basis -- and pay them handsomely.  It was like that in the 1950s and through the mid 1980s, and things worked out better than now.  Our drop-out rate now is atrocious, and these young adults are leaving school with no skills at all.

   I remember when the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) began eliminating its vocational programs -- like the auto body building program at the old Archer High School.  The students in this program were "engaged" and fired up about learning a very marketable skill.  This school's program in auto body building (is this what it is called when people fix your wrecked cars?) won many state-wide contests through the years under the leadership of Mr. James Whitehead.  The students stayed in school and graduated.  Upon graduating, these students would find a good job at places like Beaudry Ford.  They became contributing members of society.  But, the Atlanta Public Schools (APS) under the non-leadership of Beverly Hall did away with this very worthwhile program.  This was a disservice done to the Perry Homes/Hollywood Court Community.  Perhaps APS wanted these kids to drop out of school.  I don't know.  Or, perhaps the motivation for eliminating this program was simply to raise incrementally APS's standardized test scores by a scintilla of a point.  Superintendents' bonuses are tied to standardized test scores, not to how many marketable skills the students learn in school.  Personally, I think that kids were sacrificed at the almighty altars of the false gods of Standardized Testing.  Hopefully, we will someday see ourselves out of this educational morass.  Perhaps we will look back upon our wandering in the Educational Desert (for 40 years) and see Standardized Testing as a fad not unlike the Pet Rock, though more prolonged and more malicious.  Humans do stupid things.  Standardized Testing has hurt kids, not helped them.  June 9, 2009. © MACE, 2009.

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