Worth Reading: Reports and Articles

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K-12 Testing

FairTest Examiner - July 2007

United Federation of Teachers report on High Stakes Testing

Chicago's "Renaissance 2010" use of testing and privatization to re-shape schooling, by Pauline Lippman and David Hursh

The New York City United Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Teachers' largest affiliate, has approved a strong statement on high-stakes testing. UFT organized a series of public forums on testing, at which the consensus was that an enormous amount of time and energy is being spent to prepare children to take tests, damaging curriculum, learning, children's emotions and teacher professionalism in the process.

Recommendations include stopping the compulsory testing of students every six weeks and not using test scores as a sole hurdle for major decisions such as grade promotion or for evaluating teachers. The report calls for the use of a "variety of indicators" of student learning and school well-being, extensive use of performance assessments and high-quality classroom-based "formative" assessments. The only questionable aspect of the report is a too-uncritical embrace of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which is a useful tool but is still only a standardized test capable of assessing a limited slice of what students should know and be able to do.

- http://www.uft.org/news/issues/reports/taskforce/

"Renaissance 2010: the reassertion of ruling-class power through neoliberal policies in Chicago" shows how Chicago's political and corporate leaders are striving to reshape public education in the city. If successful, the result will be a collection of largely non-union, privately managed schools separated hierarchically by race and class. The report links political, economic and educational themes in a unified analysis locating the Chicago experience in the broader U.S. and even global changes that are often termed "neoliberalism." This is a fairly complex academic read, based in large part on Pauline Lipman's excellent book, High Stakes Education: Inequality, Globalization and Urban School Reform.