25 July 2009

Obama Gets it Wrong

Reading about Obama calling out California for not including student test scores in teacher evaluation is disappointing.  For some reason, he has picked up on the Bush mistakes of using test scores to evaluate students, teachers and schools.  What remains neglected is the fact that the testing remains unfair.  Children in lower income homes do worse across the board on standardized tests.  There is a reason why some colleges are dropping SAT’s from required application materials.

As long as performance is based upon a single test, education will remain in a rut.  Here, a single test means everything.  Students get two tests.  If they do not perform well on the first, the second does not become possible.  With strict testing, Kenya flounders in its educational growth because a minority of students end up in Secondary schools.  The United States has moved past this issue by making it easier to attain a High School diploma.  However, testing still matters and it still harms the students. 

Speaking with very little experience, I have seen how a test can cause a student to shut down.  I have seen how a number two pencil can fill away ovals twice as fast as a girl can read.  I have seen how little students can care about grades.  I have seen how the cycle of poor education can have a stronger impact than poverty.  We are in need of radical changes in American schools.  That does not seem to be on the horizon as long as the federal government continues to hold out money for those who are willing to compromise.  A failed carrot and stick system in international relations does not all of a sudden work domestically.  Individuals cannot be treated like countries.