Colorado English teacher Don Batt, writing a guest post on Diane Ravitch's blog today addresses the issue:
Our political leaders–surprise–have bent under the pressure of businessmen wearing the masks of “rigor” and “accountability.” They have sacrificed our children’s joy of learning on the altar of expediency.
Here’s what should happen: teachers in their own classrooms, using multiple performance assessments where children apply their knowledge in the context of a given task, determine what their students know and what they need to learn, based on standards developed by that school, district, or possibly, state. Teachers should take students where they are and help them progress at their own developmental rates. And good teachers are doing that every day. Not because of standardized tests, but in spite of them.
Students’ abilities can be evaluated in many, creative ways. The idea that every student take the same test at the same time is nothing more than the warmed-over factory model of education used in the 1950’s, now, laughingly called “education reform.” As Oscar Wilde has observed, “Conformity is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”
I would only disagree with Batt on one point- when he says good teachers are providing that kind of teaching any way- that is happening less and less, thanks to micromanaging administrators who not only want all teachers to teach the same things in the same way but who also are buying all kinds of practice standardized tests to further take away from the time when actual learning can take place.