As someone who has been highly critical of New York State’s standardized testing due to the fact that it was an attempt to tie teacher evaluations to student scores, I ironically find myself in support of Chancellor Richard Carranza’s position that children should not skip the New York State tests administered each year to 3rd–8th-graders.
Although sympathetic to the opt-out movement where parents kept students home during the tests, I found the chancellor’s words most reasonable: “You don’t know, unless you’re able to assess where students are in the mastery of information.”
What was left unsaid was that elevating standardized testing narrows curricula and hurts other worthwhile purposes of schooling.
While schools declare goals of preparing students for a mix of lifelong success, citizenship, college and careers, the reality is that addressing content standards and test preparation runs counter to such lofty goals. My suggestion for the new chancellor is that any support for standardized testing must include statements concerning the importance of civics, character, morality and ethics in any curriculum.
We cannot simply look at a “mastery of information” measured through standardized testing as a comprehensive instrument to measure a student’s progress or a teacher’s effectiveness.
Larry Hoffner, retired