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Topic: [ncsm-members] Invitation to a Dialogue: An Excess of Testing
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
[ncsm-members] Invitation to a Dialogue: An Excess of Testing
Posted: Jul 18, 2012 5:19 PM
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From The New York Times, Tuesday, July 17, 2012. See

Invitation to a Dialogue: An Excess of Testing

To the Editor:

The common core standards movement seems to be common sense: Our
schools should have similar standards, what students should know at
each grade. The movement, however, is based on the false assumption
that our schools are broken, that ineffective teaching is the problem
and that rigorous standards and tests are necessary to improve things.

The mediocre performance of American students on international tests
seems to show that our schools are doing poorly. But students from
middle-class homes who attend well-funded schools rank among the best
in the world on these tests, which means that teaching is not the
problem. The problem is poverty. Our overall scores are unspectacular
because so many American children live in poverty (23 percent,
ranking us 34th out of 35 "economically advanced countries").

Poverty means inadequate nutrition and health care, and little access
to books, all associated with lower school achievement. Addressing
those needs will increase achievement and better the lives of
millions of children.

How can we pay for this? Reduce testing. The common core, adopted by
45 states, demands an astonishing increase in testing, far more than
needed and far more than the already excessive amount required by No
Child Left Behind.

No Child Left Behind requires tests in math and reading at the end of
the school year in grades 3 to 8 and once in high school. The common
core will test more subjects and more grade levels, and adds tests
given during the year. There may also be pretests in the fall.

The cost will be enormous. New York City plans to spend over half a
billion dollars on technology in schools, primarily so that students
can take the electronically delivered national tests.

Research shows that increasing testing does not increase achievement.
A better investment is protecting children from the effects of
poverty, in feeding the animal, not just weighing it.

Los Angeles, July 16, 2012
The writer is professor emeritus at the University of Southern
California Rossier School of Education.
Editors' Note: We invite readers to respond to this letter for the
Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Krashen's
rejoinder in the Sunday Review. E-mail:
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244

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