April 30, 2013 Leave a comment
By NICK CHILES
When our 10-year-old tumbled off the schoolbus today, the relief on her face tucked all up in that broad smile, it signaled the end of the five-day torture chamber that is our state’s annual standardized test.
Her feet hadn’t even touched the ground good before she and her friends were plotting a big, post-test celebration—maybe at somebody’s home, maybe in the park. But on one thing they were clear: fun would be had by all. Lots of fun. After all, the test was over and all that stretched before them, schoolwise, was three or so weeks of …well, actually it’s not really clear what their teachers will be doing over the next three weeks since the test is done.
The Georgia version of the state test is extremely high stakes: passage is required for promotion. And the stress is ridiculously high for everyone involved—students, parents, teachers, administrators. Like so many things in the world of education, what started with the best of intentions—pulling everyone up to the same high standard—has been distorted and exploited to such an extreme that the tests now represent all the things wrong with public education and very little that’s right. The high stakes were quite clear here in Atlanta, where administrators and teachers (and perhaps even the school superintendent) were driven by fear and paranoia to engage in what has been described as the largest test cheating scandal in U.S. history, getting together to do wholesale erasures of student tests, resulting last month in the indictments of 35 educators, including Superintendent Beverly Hall. Read more of this post