stephanie jones

Testing Time Again…A modest proposal for change

In communities, democracy, great books, high-stakes tests, justice, kindergarten, NCLB, politics, professional development resources, social action, teacher education resources on April 10, 2008 at 10:29 pm

I was in a kindergarten classroom this morning where children are not allowed to make any noise for two and a half hours each day for three days for fear of disturbing the testing classrooms next door. Instead of their usual greetings, sharing, mingling during their creative projects, and moving about the room – the way kindergarteners and other students need to do – they are watching videos. Instead of engaging in rich curricular work, they sit silently at tables.

Kindergarten is not tested in this school.

But the kindergarteners are. Their experiences are yet another one of the “unintended consequences” of a high-stakes testing regime in our country. And they know the “big kids” are taking a “big test” and everything needs to be silent. So the kids taking tests can’t think of anything but the tests – and the kids supporting the “silence” for the test takers can’t think of anything but the tests.

More “collateral damage” done by the billion dollar testing machine wreaking havoc in our schools and on our future as an educated, engaged democracy.

We know tests are biased and advantage students from English-speaking, White middle-class and affluent homes.

We know schools and teachers have narrowed curricula to focus explicitly on the high-stakes test-preparation areas of reading and math often leaving behind science, social studies, language development, fine arts, physical education, and project-based experiences.

We know children vomit on testing days, teachers have insomnia, and principals are stressed to the max.

We know children, teachers, principals, and parents cry when a score comes back only 1 or 2 points below proficient.

We know test-preparation has dumbed down curricula and bored our students (and teachers) to death.

We know so much  more…


I modestly propose three steps toward change:

1. Find colleagues and community members to read and discuss Collateral Damage

2. Contact your local, state, and federal representatives and encourage them to read Collateral Damage (perhaps we could even buy an extra copy to send out to folks – or photocopy the first chapter and mail to them)

3. Start a local, grassroots campaign to “End High-Stakes Testing and AYP Sanctions”

Find some others concerned about the same issues:


Susan Ohanian

Anti-NCLB Legislation

Awesome Anti-NCLB merchandise

  1. thanks for the anti-nclb links, stephanie.
    just before the math test, one of my students asked me is this the real test. with all the predictive assessments, practice tests, etc. the students don’t even know what’s real any more. and as you described in the kindergarten class you visited, what’s really real – fun, muddy, loud, creative, playful investigative learning – is being quickly pushed aside, vanishing from the radar of what teachers AND students see as possible in schools. Thanks again. A.

  2. i both love and hate this comment! of course, with so many hours and days and weeks devoted to “practicing” what is “real” and not? does it mean then that all those hours/days/weeks were not real? just pretend? rehearsal? fake?


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