“The test scores of 15 year-olds have nothing to do with the productivity of a nation.”

by TeachThought Staff

While promoting her contributions to the aptly-titled book More Than A Score, Diane Ravitch was (thankfully) handed a microphone, and we are all the better for it.

Rattling off statistic after statistic (4000 schools closed….entire state of Washington self-reporting all schools as “failing”…50 schools closed in one day), Ravitch used her previous experience as US Assistant Secretary of Education to provide a more full picture of both education performance as a system, and the related trends she sees as more troubling than the test scores: An involved federal government.

“We’re in an unprecedented time in American history. We’ve never had the federal government (until No Child Left Behind passed in 2001) tell the whole country…when and how children are to be tested.”

She also takes on waivers and how the government forces its will on schools through that system, and writhes over the narrative of failing schools, seemingly admitting a need for improvement, but not through uniformity, standardization, testing, and the punishment of schools and teachers.

Anticipating some justification for “measuring knowledge,” Ravitch adds “The test scores of 15 year-olds have absolutely nothing to do with the economic productivity of a nation,” instead citing Lani Guinier’s The Tyranny of the Meritocracy. “What the tests do is redistribute privilege.”

What can we do?

“The only thing we can do is disobey. There’s something much older than testing in our society–it’s called civil disobedience. When the day comes when the grown-ups learn to be as creative as the young people in resisting testing, things will begin to change.”

The test scores of 15 year-olds have nothing to do with the productivity of a nation.