Reading & Reacting: The New Dropouts? The States Divide on Testing and Accountability

By Marc Tucker @ EdWeek’s Top Performers blog

It’s funny how things work. For some people in this country, the idea of the Common Core State Standards—national standards for student achievement—was more than they could bear, an affront to their sense of the right relationship between government and its people.

Interesting argument made about the cost of testing by Marc Tucker. Clearly, ha is advocating for the Common Core here, taking on some of its critics.

However, there are many people debating the Common Core on its merits, contrary to Tucker’s claims. His opening concession is a little faulty.

His dismissiveness of what he frames as the first wave of criticism is a bit oversimplified. The margin of difference between a state’s preexisting standards and the CCSS is an issue with multiple facets and complications. Part of that criticism also is about the merits of the new standards and how they were conceived.

His second and main point, dealing with the costs associated with the testing, also can be reframed as a debate on merits, despite his suggestion that it is not. At least he alludes to the possibility that yearly testing may not be so wise, as he cites other countries avoiding that path. However, that is because the tests in those countries are more about assessing students and less about teacher accountability.

The more things that are trying to be determined by an assessment the more murky and potentially invalid. Linking these tests to teacher evaluation is one of the main problems that Tucker here does not even address, but is directly relevant to the associated costs. He takes on accountability and evaluation separately in a prior post with a similarly dubious agenda.

The costs of these tests are going to be very real and for what exactly? What exactly are they going to measure or prove? Will they simply be rigged justifications for destroying public education as we know it? Will they continue to manufacture a never ending state of crisis that warrants greater and greater corporate, private, and political interventions? Tucker is not interested in those questions.

Lastly, what is really funny is the implication that states opting out of the CCSS testing regime is guarantees that student performance will be lower or that teachers will teach to a lower standard or weaker test. It is not a given. In fact, it might lead to less narrowing of what is taught, since he clearly believes teachers only teach to a test.


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