The groups of people who know most intimately the impact of high-stakes testing on our students and schools are students and teachers, especially teachers who are also parents. Here are excerpts and links to the full statements from two parents/educators.
Bianca Tanis: “I am a special education teacher in New York and a mother of two children on the autism spectrum. Sometimes it is difficult to separate these two roles. Being intimately involved in the education system has made navigating the world of special education for my children easier in some ways, but also infinitely more difficult and heartbreaking in others. Simply put, I know too much.”
“Perhaps the worst part of administering these tests is being forced to watch the trust that I have worked so hard to develop with my students break down. Great teachers work tirelessly to build relationships based on trust. They let students know they can be counted on and will always be there to help. What message does it send to students when their teacher, who has recognized and celebrated their progress and perseverance all year long, places a test in front of them that they cannot read or compute? How does it affect children when their requests for help are met with “I can’t help you” and “just do your best”? Breaking that trust for the sake of the test damages those relationships, sometimes beyond repair. Her full article is here.
Ricardo Rosa is a New Bedford parent and assistant professor of educational leadership, specializing in curriculum and instruction, language policies, literacy and social studies education at University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. He expressed his views on testing in a letter to school officials announcing his family’s decision to opt their children out of testing: “I write this letter to express my intent to opt my children out of high-stakes testing, whether the test is the MCAS, PARCC, or any other hip acronym that comes along in the shape of a high-stakes test designed to oppress, standardize, anesthetize, and ultimately suffocate students.
“I publicize this letter because it’s not only my children that concern me. My children usually do well. High scores on high-stakes tests do not prove that true learning is occurring. Countless educational research has concluded that the use of high-stakes testing narrows the curriculum and encourages test preparation as a substitute for engaged learning. High-stakes tests are also deviance-producing mechanisms. A number of school systems across the country have been exposed for cheating and unethical practices due to the pressures of high-stakes testing. They are, in short, becoming Enron.” The full letter was published in the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog, here.