Professor Dana Rapp takes up the anti-testing mantle first and to spare you the indignity of having to plow through the incoherent mess of an argument that it is, I'm going to give you the short Rapp version with my helpful color commentary.
According to Rapp, standardized testing is bad because it:
- eliminates recess
- links teacher salaries to test scores (like the unions would allow this)
- makes kids sick
- makes teachers dislike their jobs (see bullet two above)
- makes kids learn less
- made the baby Jesus cry
- is unreliable and/or unethical
- makes schools dehumanizing places
- evaporates enriching opportunities for students
- erodes local control of curriculum
- causes kids to be doped into educational submission by Big-Pharmacy
Left unsaid is whether it is the standardized tests that cause this parade of horribles or the schools' own bad decisions when the standardized tests showed that their students weren't learning anything.
But the parade's not over yet, here come the floats. In paragraph two Rapp turns his attention to the capitalist pigs who are profiting on the back of schools' failure.
Testing is a booming market where companies like McGraw-Hill and Harcourt-Brace are reaping record profits with the sale of the textbooks, tests, practice tests, and improvement kits.Oh, the humanity. Textbook publishers are actually making profits selling ... textbooks. Have they no shame? My monocle almost popped out when I read that line. But it gets better:
As testing proceeds to earlier grades, even kindergarten, CEO's and industrial "leaders" can rest even more assured that future employees will not have the skills, knowledge, dispositions, and collective consciousness to recognize and act to change disparities of wealth, loss of jobs, lack of health care, and corporate corruption in the organizations in which they work.Huh? So you mean to tell me that when my son took that fancy DIBELS test in kindergarten that it wasn't to see if he was at risk of reading failure as I so naively suspected at the time, but rather to assure that the plutocrats will be able to beat him out of health care twenty years hence? Lucid criticism or unintentionally hilarious? You be the judge.
Then we come to yet another parade of miserables (cut and pasted write from the socialist's party platform no doubt) in which we find out that standardized testing is neither Santa Claus nor the Tooth Fairy. A snippet will suffice:
Often over-shadowed by a focus on higher standards and test scores by politicians, who are anything but accountable themselves [Ed: except at, you know, the ballot box], are deeper social problems that increased test-scores will never address. At this time in the United States: 5% of the population has 95% of the wealth; middle and lower income citizens are working 10 hours more than 1990 (that is 180 hours a year away from families) for less money; U.S. citizens have nearly four weeks less vacation time on average than do people in almost all other industrialized countries; at least 25% of US citizens do not have health coverage; half the new jobs created are at minimum wage (that is $10,800 a year); one in five children in the U.S. go to school hungry; the U.S. is bankrupting it’s future generations by wracking up a record deficit; programs for the elderly are being cut; global warming and environmental degradation are more apparent by the day; and, Iraq and Afghanistan are out of control. [And soylent green is made from ... people !!!]
Reminds me of the Simpsons episode when Homer asks, "If they can send a man to the moon, why can't they make my shoes smell good?"
So in honor of Homer J Simpson let's summarize Rapp's "argument" (see, I know how to use ironic scare quotes too) as: Standardized testing: won't make your shoes smell good.