What seems a long time ago, Florida (surprise, surprise) did the right thing and canceled all state testing for the 2019-2020 school year that we are finishing via the miracle of Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Classroom.
With everyone at home and inequities abounding, who has a good computer and who doesn’t, who has access to broadband and who doesn’t, who is squinting at a cellphone to do a lesson and who doesn’t even have that available, it only made sense to let it go for this 2019-2020 school year.
Even if the state tests could be administered to students working from home, the results would be garbage. Garbage in, garbage out: even Richard Corcoran, Commissioner of Education, had to admit defeat and that it would be impossible to rate schools, principals, and teachers this year.
Many have said this proves that testing is unnecessary, even bad. Calls have begun to cancel testing for next year as even a Spring 2021 test will not truly measure … well, whatever it is supposed to measure.
Then there are those who think the tests should be administered in August or September when we reopen the buildings. They claim a diagnostic will be needed to determine the amount of academic regression each student has suffered so teachers can make plans how to bring them back up to speed for the tests.
Because the only point of school is passing tests.
Let’s face it. While the new coronavirus, officially designated Covid-19, is closing schools and otherwise upending education and all life, there has been another virus having the same effect on public education. It sprang into life 22 years ago and has been increasing its devastating effects ever since.
Call it the Coronabushaccountability virus. Its end result, intended by the former Governor himself, is the same as the virus: death. Death to public schools.
Death to schools that until the era of NCLB and its successor, ESSA, sought to improve the lives of children, provide for their needs, and honor their developmental agenda (anyone remember Piaget? Vygotsky? Erikson?) In these days of testing and privatization, nobody else does, either.
Those days when a teacher could indulge children’s curiosity and veer off the curriculum map–killed by the coronabushaccountability virus.
Those days when preK, K, and 1st grade children were socializing and learning to integrate into a human society–killed by the coronabushaccountability virus.
Those days when parents weren’t persuaded by self-appointed educational experts who never spent a day in the classroom or bothered to consult with those who had that their children were trapped in failing schools–killed by the coronabushaccountability virus.
Those days before standardized testing masqueraded as a measure of student learning–killed by the coronabushaccountability virus.
22 years. We’ll live through Covid-19, but let’s take the opportunity to eradicate the testing virus from our schools.
We don’t need diagnostic tests in the Fall. Tests are worthless, anyway. All they reveal is the test-taking skills students possess, which in turn depend upon the ability of parents in the early years to read to their children and give them counting blocks to play with, which in turn depends upon the income and socio-economic level of the parents, which does not depend upon but correlates with the amount of trauma too many children experience before they enter school.
Tests from the Spring of 2021 will tell us nothing except how to put children into the categories of that last paragraph. And you know what? We don’t need a test to do so.
While we shelter at home to flatten the curve and defeat the pandemic, let us do the same to this long-running virus.
Let’s kill the bushaccountabilityvirus. We owe it to our children and succeeding generations.