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Noam Chomsky on Standardized Testing

Noam Chomsky on the Dangers of Standardized Testing

“The assessment itself is completely artificial. It’s not ranking teachers in accordance with their ability to help develop children who will reach their potential, explore their creative interests. Those things you’re not testing.. it’s a rank that’s mostly meaningless. And the very ranking itself is harmful. It’s turning us into individuals who devote our lives to achieving a rank. Not into doing things that are valuable and important.”

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Opt-Out Newburyport

I opted out of the standardized testing last year for my fourth grader. The MCAS was administered over four days.

During the testing my daughter continued to work on her school studies.  I logged her onto Khan Academy for additional/new math lessons.  We visited the Peabody Essex Museum and the MFA in Boston.  We did some free art and fun science on our own and took the dog for walks at Maudslay and Olde Town.  It was a very positive experience, both for her and myself.

This year, repeat scenario, only the testing will include the PARCC and a section of the MCAS spanning NINE DAYS!  I have been encouraged to reconsider by the principal.

“The state assessments provide important feedback to families, teachers, administrators, and state policymakers as to where schools are succeeding and where schools and districts need to enhance their efforts. They also provide a valuable gauge of your child’s progress in relation to his/her peers, as well as, provide the school/district data that represents all of our learners. ”

I’m not impressed by impersonal, generic feedback generated by standardized testing.  Teachers interact, instruct and assess students on a daily basis which empowers them to give specific, personal feedback on each student.  Administrators have very little interaction with my child and know nothing of her personally, and State policymakers know nothing of my daughter and should not be assessing her performance unless they do.

Success has multiple meanings, varying with each individual.  For me the process by which an individual attains success is most important.  I want my daughter to think for herself and act accordingly.  Testing does not assess a student for kindness, fairness, determination or respect. These characteristics lead to a productive happy life regardless of where you are or what you do.

Opting Out is a positive way to demonstrate my educational values.  The opportunity lost to students is not only nine days of learning.  It includes the multiple days of preparation.  In addition, this wasted time represents a considerable economic cost, paying for the tests and the staff time.  This money could be saved or used to improve the art department, create a foreign language department or improve the school library.

Let teachers teach.

Teach students to think.

Think, then act.