How to Argue that Testing & Privatization are Harmful to Public Education
High stakes tests & charter schools make public schools less effective:
A) High stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability, are harmful to children, and make public schools less effective.
B) Less than 20% of privately-managed public schools (charter schools) are successful; they also segregate children and minimize the decision-making power of parents & the community, ultimately making public schools less effective.
High-stakes tests do not effectively gauge student ability:
- Constrict wide expanses of knowledge into only what can be measured by a multiple choice test.
- Many tests contain nonsensical questions, have multiple correct answers, or have no right answers at all (look up Pineapplegate).
- With hundreds of millions of American kids taking the same test, ethnic & regional differences aren’t considered, making them unavoidably culturally biased.
- Unduly reward the superficial ability to retrieve info from the short-term memory.
- Pass/Fail status is often determined by politicians while test scores are often manipulated for political purposes.
- National Academy of Sciences, 2011 report to Congress: “Standardized tests have not increased student achievement.”
- Measure only low-level thought processes, trivializing true learning.
- Hide problems created by margin-of-error computations in scoring; scoring errors can have life-changing consequences.
- Curricula constructed from high-stakes tests are based on what legislators assume children will need to know in the future. Countless previous attempts at predicting the future have ended in failure.
- Provide minimal feedback that is useful to classroom teachers.
- Penalize test-takers who think in non-standard ways (common in children).
- Test results are not able to predict future success.
- Claimed to be used as a diagnostic tool to maximize student learning, but are actually used to punish students, teachers, & schools.
High-stakes tests are harmful to children:
- Minimal time for socializing & physical activity b/c recess & PE are cut in favor of test prep, particularly affecting low-scoring students.
- Testing anxiety has lead to sickness, vomiting, & even incontinence in the classroom.
- Excessive testing stifles the love of learning.
- Year-end tests require sitting still & staying focused for 3.5 hours, which leads to behavior problems.
- Encourage the promise of extrinsic motivators such as rewards for high scores (bribes) & punishments for low scores (threats).
- Pressure to pass tests has lead to stimulant abuse in teenagers.
High-stakes tests make public schools less effective:
- The lowest & highest achievers are left out as instructional resources are focused on learners at or near the pass/fail threshold.
- Fewer opportunities for kids to enjoy creative classes that make them love school.
- Arts & other electives are cut in favor of test prep & testing, particularly affecting students from low-income families.
- Children don’t receive adequate instruction in non-tested areas like science, history, geography, government, etc.
- Divert billions of state taxpayer funds from public schools to pay huge testing firms like Pearson & ETS (Educational Testing Services).
- Divert precious time resources to test facilitation, preparation (such as begging proctors to volunteer), & administration.
- More established parents move to private schools to avoid the abundance of testing in public schools.
- When test scores trigger automatic retentions, much older students in classrooms can cause additional behavior problems
- On norm-referenced tests, nationally, 50% of students are below average, by definition. Thus, requiring all students to be at or above “grade level” is statistically impossible.
- Give testing firms control of the curriculum
- Test scores are used to evaluate teacher effectiveness in lieu of more effective administrator observations
- Reduces teacher creativity & autonomy, thereby reducing the appeal of teaching as a profession
- Minimize teachers’ ability to accomodate multiple learning styles and provide adequate differentiation
- Create unreasonable pressure on students & teachers to cheat as well as on administrators & school districts to “game the system”
Less than 20% of charter schools are successful:
- Even the pro-charter documentary “Waiting for Superman” notes that only 1 in 6 charter schools succeed.
- Charter schools can artificially inflate their published success rate by deflecting low-scoring kids back to public schools, usually
Charter schools segregate children:
- Most charter schools are racially homogenous.
- Without diversity requirements, charter schools can market to specific demographics, ultimately segregating communities.
- Children from the same neighborhood often go to different schools, don’t know each other, & don’t play outside together. Alienation negatively impacts neighborhood communities.
Charter schools minimize the decision-making power of parents & the community:
- Private control, as opposed to elected control via school board, leaves curricula to be defined by a corporate agenda.
- Corporate-controlled charter school home offices are often centralized out of state.
- One more thing for parents & kids to worry about as they wait for acceptance letters.
- Undermine a fundamental democratic principle that the people closest to (& therefore most knowledgeable about) problems are the best positioned to deal with them.
Charter schools make public schools less effective:
- Taxpayer dollars are deflected from public schools into charter schools where they’re utilized w/o transparency or accountability.
- Charter schools have the freedom to select high-achieving kids w/ few needs so low-achieving kids w/ high needs get deflected & ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
- Charter schools aren’t obligated to provide special services for high-needs kids so they often get deflected & ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
- Only families who can navigate application processes can apply to a charter. Families w/o the time or know-how to “work the system” (often very poor and/or immigrant families) are ultimately concentrated into an underfunded local public school.
- Private entities have already tried running school districts according to corporate models & seen disastrous results.
What’s best for kids?
Dov Rosenberg (pictured at the Save Our Schools: March and National Call to Action )