Recommended reading and media

HIGH-STAKES TESTING

“Sorry, I’m Not Taking This Test”
(Mother Jones, September/Octoboer 2015)
Excellent, in-depth look at how high-stakes testing is affecting children across the U.S., particularly those from low-income families and communities of color.

Standardized tests with high stakes are bad for learning, studies show
(Statesman, 3/10/2012)
A National Academies of Science committee reviewed America’s test-based accountability systems and concluded, “There are little to no positive effects of these systems overall on student learning and educational progress.” Here is an op-ed by a member of the committee.

Is School Making Our Children Ill?
(New York Times, 1/2/2016)
Editorial about how the rise of high-stakes testing has coincided with a rise in mental illness among children and teens, and (ironically) a decline in college readiness.

“The Coming Revolution in Public Education
(The Atlantic, 4/25/2013)
A handy overview of what’s wrong with the new vogue for standardized testing and other so-called reforms

Five reasons standardized testing isn’t likely to let up
(Washington Post, 2015)
Short answer: Follow the money!

OPTING OUT
Opting Out Is the Only Option
(City and State, 8/18/2015)
Why opt out? A fantastic op-ed by Leonie Haimson and Jeanette Deutermann of New York Allies for Public Education

NEW YORK STATE EXAMS

Teacher: I am not against Common Core or testing — but here’s my line in the sand
(Washington Post, 2015)
Do New York’s ELA exams actually make students WORSE writers? This teacher makes a strong case that it does. The way to ace the open-ended portion of the exam is to write badly: pile on empty words and phrases and disregard leaps in logic or common sense. Rather than building critical thinking, she argues, these tests dull it.

Why the movement to opt out of Common Core tests is a big deal
(Washington Post, 5/3/2015)
Opposition to the New York State tests is spreading far and wide, crossing geographical, socio-economic and racial lines.

TEACHER EVALUATIONS

Teacher Evaluation Should Not Rest on Student Test Scores (FairTest.org)
Nice summary of the various reasons why evaluating teachers based on student test scores is just plain stupid. Annotated version with footnotes and URLs here.

Bruce Lederman Explains the Challenge to New York State Teacher Evaluation System
Background on an important lawsuit currently in NYS courts. A decision is expected later in 2015.

STANDARDIZED TESTING INDUSTRY

Why Poor Schools Can’t Win at Standardized Testing
(The Atlantic, 7/15/2014)
“The companies that create the most important state and national exams also publish textbooks that contain many of the answers. Unfortunately, low-income school districts can’t afford to buy them.”

Inside the multimillion-dollar essay-scoring business
(City Pages, 2/23/2011)
A former employee of Pearson and Questar tells all in this devastating take-down of standardized essay grading. Workers sometimes end up changing scores in order to meet quotas (“We need more 2s!”). or score exams before they’ve fully read them in order to meet impossible deadlines. The need to keep costs down on tests results in poorly graded ones. See also dianeravitch.net/2012/12/27/11990.

9 Billionaires Are About to Remake New York’s Public Schools—Here’s Their Story
(The Nation, March 19, 2015)
If you have trouble understanding the connection between hedge funds, school privatization, and high-stakes testing, you are not alone. This lengthy investigation follows the money in New York State.

INTERNATIONAL MEASURES

The Myth of Chinese Super Schools
(New York Review of Books, 11/20/2014)
In the first half of this piece, Diane Ravitch provides a brief history of standardized testing in the U.S. In the second half, she reviews Yong Zhao’s excellent book Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System in the World.

Video

Most Likely To Succeed
What does non-test centered education look like?  This top-notch doc makes an excellent case for the importance of inquiry-based learning and “21st century skills.”

Race To Nowhere
A documentary film and companion book that look out the negative effects of high-stakes testing and school standardization on children’s mental health and college and career readiness.

Jeanette Deuterman, When You Refuse:  https://youtu.be/CQUp0YISp6k
The Other PARCC (spanish):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D6XA2Nvtkqk
Refuse the Tests:   https://vimeo.com/107646863
Ronda Matthews, What Testing Looks Like:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KMAjv4s5y3M

Books

The Test: Why Our Schools are Obsessed with Standardized Testing–But You Don’t Have to Be,  by Anya Kamenetz
Nice summary of concerns about standardized testing and arguments against it.

More Than A Score: The New Uprising Against High-Stakes Testing
edited by Jesse Hagopian, with Diane Ravitch and Alfie Kohn
A helpful resource for connecting the dots between high-stakes testing and the battle to save public education in Chicago, Seattle, and other cities.

Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon? Why China Has the Best (and Worst) Education System, by Yong Zhoa
Chinese students score high on international tests but the country’s school system is widely considered lousy by the Chinese. As Yong Zhoa notes, only about 10% of graduates of Chinese colleges are deemed employable by multinational companies. Ironically, while the United States has been trying to emulate China’s “success,” people in China has been doing whatever they can do escape it.

The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education and Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools, by Diane Ravitch

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