Monday, November 12, 2012

Revolt against standardized testing

The Washington Post has an article today, "Revolt against high-stakes standardized testing spreads." It is important to keep in mind that the problems with high-stakes standardized testing are almost identical to the problems with homework. Both involve a breech of natural hierarchies. People function best when lines of authority are rational and clear. This true of teachers. It is true of parents. It is true for adults. It is true for children. Anytime decision making supersedes that natural order, it should be for a very good reason. Certainly, there are times when society as a whole must, through its power to legislate, impinge on the decisions individuals make. But as a general rule, people still function best when they make their own decisions.

Teachers understand that this frenzy about teacher evaluations and standardized testing is limiting their power to teach the best they can. But often, they fail to see that their policy of assigning homework which overrides parental judgment has similar, negative effects.

In my book, The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Students, and Teachers, I look at the homework debate not just from the perspective of what is good or bad homework (and there are many important and excellent discussions on that issue right now), but from the impact it has on parents and children who find that the work simply cannot get done. Children differ and those differences get exacerbated at home in a way that does not happen in school. Without the authority to make final decisions, parents are compromised, and the results can sometimes turn out quite bad.


Dr. Kenneth Goldberg, is the author of The Homework Trap: How to Save the Sanity of Parents, Teachers, and Students, published by Wyndmoor Press.

 I recommend giving copies of the book to the teachers at your child's school. Discount purchases are available through Wyndmoor Press. Single copies can be purchased at Amazon.

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