Apparently, standardized testing has reached nirvana, and the unimpeachable data paints a crystal clear picture of student learning and teacher expertise.
This is embarrassing. And furthermore, it is embarrassing that the release of the data related to individual teachers would be supported by Arne Duncan, who asks in the article, "What is there to hide?"
I don't think the perspective is that of hiding anything, but of being held responsible for results that have too many variables associated with them. That alone isn't good science, but we still pour our hearts and souls into standardized testing and believe that they should be the sole measure of student learning. That's a big load of hooey.
I mentioned this in a previous posting on Assessment in my eduACTion post, but when I go to the doctor, I don't want him to do one standardized test and base his diagnosis and treatment regimen solely on that one test. Likewise, it would be ridiculous to evaluate the doctor based on how he treats patients around this one measure. There are multiple ways to assess my health: the oral response to how I'm feeling and why I'm at the doctor; the formative, in the moment tests such as temperature, breathing, etc.; and the standardized--all of which lead to the proper result.
How do we know these tests accurately measure student learning against state standards? How do we know that the students didn't have a lucky guessing day on the day of the test? How do we know that something in the student's environment didn't impact that test score? How do we know the value of objective tests over constructed responses, multimedia products, or other alternative forms of assessment that break the tradition of instructional practices.
Additionally, it was mentioned in the article that understanding the results of these tests would help to target those teachers that needed professional development. I think that says it all right there. The assessments aren't for the teachers. They are to understand what students know and are able to do. Also--assessment doesn't mean test. Assessment is about evaluation and IT IS NOT MEANT TO BE PUNITIVE--for anyone involved. But we've got to have that grade--and we've got to spin those numbers, so that the American public, who values only the version of education that they experienced, will feel comfortable about the education they believe their child is getting. But how do they really know what this "assessment" is and what the results really are? Everybody just wants a number...a high number...but a number is not a kid. So it feels kind of wrong to value these numbers over the kids, and then to attach teacher evaluation to those numbers being high or low, as they are as subjective as current educational practices.
If the department of Education continues to value the archaic and ridiculous, then we as a nation should not be surprised when our children graduate from college and are only prepared for a world that is perpetually stuck in 1975. However, they'll be damn good test takers!
Read the article yourself and feel free to respond. I think it's quite inflammatory and disrespectful, and highly illogical.