[Susan notes: Vermont is on the verge of applying for the NCLB waiver. I voice my dissent.]
Dear Vermont State Board of Education Members:
I know of no evidence showing that testing poor kids more increases their achievement.
And calling the tests "formative" doesn't change the fact that testing what can be measured crowds out important things that can't be measured.
I wonder why ALL students would be subject to Accuplacer, ACT, SAT, and Work Keys assessments. I read the online sample questions from Accuplacer. What garbage! Putting ugly old test prep materials online doesn't improve them. Nor does collecting the results in a data warehouse make those results any more useful. I offer the NECAP answer from a Vermont high schooler whose career goal was to be a lumberjack. WARNING: This contain vulgarity. The student spelled out the words.
This pain and outrage went on for six pages., ending with
I send this to you because I think we all need to feel this student's pain. This Waiver Request plan mandates that this boy should spend more time taking more tests. I ask: To whose benefit?
The Waiver Request operates on the principle that teachers and principals are to blame for achievement gaps. I predict that the current federal intention to reduce heating oil subsidies will have a much greater effect on Vermont student test scores than teachers administering another test or attending another professional development session on assessment.
Data driven efficiency and fanatical devotion to test scores can produce one thing-- obedience from people working in schools. There's no evidence that it can produce better learning outcomes. If we want to count things, I suggest counting the number of books for children in the homes of Vermonters--starting at birth. And work on reducing these inequities. Research shows that owning books makes a difference in student school performance. There's no research showing that any of the mandates in the Waiver Request matter.
I thank you for your work for the children of Vermont and I urge you to reject this Waiver Request.
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