The other night, I received a message from Matt Cochran, a former student of mine. After some kind words about my blog, he quickly got to the point that prompted him to write: my stance on standardized testing. He wrote:
“… here lately I’ve become curious. I see that you take a stance against the STAAR/EOC exams. My curiosity is in what you think would be the optimal alternative. What type of standardized testing, if any, would maximize the passing of knowledge from teacher to student?”
Wow! That is THE question, isn’t it? What would we teachers – not politicians or even administrators, but teachers – suggest we do to address our country’s educational woes?
I’d like to offer Matt more than my opinion alone. The fact that he sees value in asking someone in the classroom deserves more than a single response; after all, this is a step farther than what many educational leaders take. So, I’m posting his question here, hoping teachers across the United States and even those from other countries will take a few minutes to address Matt’s question: what type of standardized testing, if any, would maximize the passing of knowledge from teacher to student?
It’s a good question. Let’s give him some good answers.
(If you prefer to submit a private response, please email me (email@example.com), and I’ll get your comments to Matt.)
Matt, here is the response Diane Ravitch sent your way. She is one of the top education leaders in our country.
January 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm
Please tell this young man that no standardized test can assure the passing along of knowledge from teacher to student. A yardstick is a measure; it doesn’t make you grow taller. A test is a measure, not a means of instruction.
More valuable than a standardized test would be an assignment in which the student is asked to write a research paper about a topic of interest. Conduct research on a historical or political issue. Compare different books. This is how students learn: they learn by thinking and acting and assembling what they have learned into a coherent report to their teacher.