Testing Does NOT Promote Cuvil Rights or Equity

This is a sad, sad story. At the very time that increasing numbers of parents, researchers, and educators agree that testing in American schools is out of control, the caucuses in the House of Representatives representing children of color have taken a strong stand in favor of high-stakes testing.

According to the Washington Post, they want schools held accountable if children fail to meet targets two years in a row.

“Now the Congressional Tri-Caucus has sided with dozens of civil rights groups and the Obama administration. In a letter to the Senate on Wednesday, more than 80 members of the Tri-Caucus said they cannot support the bill without key changes, including a requirement that states take action at schools that are failing to serve subgroups of children, such as those who are low-income, African American or English learners, or those who have disabilities.

“Specifically, the Tri-Caucus — made up of the Congressional Black Caucus, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus — wants the federal government to compel states to act when a school fails to meet testing targets for subgroups of students two years in a row.

“That type of change is anathema to many Republicans, who see it as a federal overreach, and to the NEA, which likens it to a return to the test-centric and overly punitive provisions of No Child Left Behind. But members of the Tri-Caucus say that the requirement is key to ensuring that states do not overlook the nation’s neediest children.

“Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (Va.), the ranking Democrat of the House education committee, said he and his colleagues are seeking a new law that “honors the civil rights legacy of the law and fulfills the needs of all of America’s children.”

This is very sad. It will make the testing corporations very happy. It will not help children.

Standardized tests are normed on a bell curve. Affluent students cluster in the top half, students whose family income is low cluster in the bottom half. The bell curve never closes. Why would civil rights groups favor a mechanism–standardized testing–that by its nature will rank, label and stigmatize the children with the greatest needs?

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