The Grassroots Education Movement, a group of citizens in New York City, are organizing a campaign against the high stakes use of standardized testing in their schools. Their first meeting will be on July 18th at the CUNY Graduate Center.
According the organizers of the Grassroots Education Movement, many citizens feel that their school have become testing obsessed, forgetting to focus on learning and teaching. In a research study cited in Schools Matter:
Data from interviews reveals that teachers experience negative emotions as a result of the publication of test scores and determine to do what is necessary to avoid low scores. Teachers believe that scores are used against them, despite the perceived invalidity of the tests themselves. From classroom observations it was concluded that testing programs substantially reduce the time available for instruction, narrow curricular offerings and modes of instruction, and potentially reduce the capacities of teachers to teach content and to use methods and materials that are incompatible with standardized testing formats.
What is happening in New York (and in most large school districts in the nation’s biggest cities), has implications for the city of Atlanta. High-Stakes testing has taken its toll in Atlanta, not only on the citizens and their children, but the current cadre of professional teachers who work in the Atlanta Public Schools. The Investigative Report ordered by the Georgia Governor’s Office clearly stated that a “culture of fear and a conspiracy of silence infected this (APS) school system and kept many teachers from speaking freely about misconduct.”
The Governor’s Report contains the scandal that occurred in the Atlanta schools to within the walls of the school system, when in all likely hood it was the State’s CRCT Program, and the NCLB Act that created the environment that led to a “culture of fear,” as stated the Governor’s Report. It is not enough to simply silence, fire, and publicly humiliate the teachers and administrators named in the report. The investigation, that has been set into motion, need to address some very “tough questions.”
- In whose interest is it to promote and continue with the CRTC as the determiner of student learning and teacher and school success?
- Does the CRTC corporate style of education promote a simplistic, dumbing-down educational system by encouraging teachers to “teach to the test” and is this supported by research in the learning sciences?
- Why has the state ignored research on cheating by teachers and other school personnel, and not attempted to get to the root cause of this culture?
- Why hasn’t the research bureau of the state education department investigated and reported to the public the substantial evidence exists that high-stakes tests do create negative, unintended consequences?
Smith, M. (1991). Put to the Test: The Effects of External Testing on Teachers Educational Researcher, 20 (5), 8-11 DOI: 10.3102/0013189X020005008