stephanie jones

How to Make School Not Suck #3 – Leave the state tests alone already!

In classism, high-stakes tests, identity, NCLB, teacher education resources on May 20, 2009 at 8:31 pm

#6 Stop going on and on about the state tests even AFTER they’re over! We already know the stupid tests have taken all the “real” education out of schools and they’ve taken attention away from real academic learning, inquiry, curiosity, democratic engagement, and authentic projects. But once they’re over, DROP IT! But noooooo, some schools can’t seem to do that. Many weeks after the tests were over and the scores were in, celebrations are held for the “highest scorers” and those who have “exceeded expectations” get public recognition, and some even certificates!  I mean, are you freaking kidding me??!! It’s not enough to torture kids for weeks or months prior to the test with test preparation, test cheers, pep rallies, homework, etc. etc. etc., but now the kids who didn’t simply “meet” expectations but “exceeded” them get recognized?! All this time you’ve been telling kids you just wanted them to do a good job – but you lied. You really wanted them to do better than most other kids – passing wasn’t enough – and you do this publicly??!!

Get off it already.

Around every corner of this problem is another problem.

I shake my head in disbelief.

You would think that some educators have never, ever, ever read a single article or book about the negative impact of high-stakes standardized tests, competition, extrinsic motivation, privileging some kids over others repeatedly, “shaming” kids through exclusion, etc. etc. etc.

Besides, it’s really clear here that you are saying to kids, “Really, all you matter to us is a number. We don’t give a damn about what your dreams are, what you hope you can accomplish in school, the questions you wonder about, or how hard you’re working. And we don’t care if you have made two years’ growth this year, or came in so strong already but seem to have made no progress. We just care about that little score you’re going to give us in the spring, and then we are going to use that score to reward or punish you after the tests are long over. And we’ll do so publicly. So you better do good, because just when you thought the trauma of taking the test was over, we’ll make you re-live that over and over. (smirk).”


  1. This reminds me – I just picked up a new book by Kelly Gallagher, called “Readicide,” which sets forth another argument about how schools are killing kids’ enjoyment of reading by focusing so much on testing. I’m only about 20 pages into it, but I thought it was worth mentioning if you haven’t heard of it already. I wonder if it’ll make a nice companion with Stuckey’s “The Violence of Literacy.”

  2. Nice Grace – thanks for the recommendation! I’ll check out this book asap…may be a great companion book to Stuckey’s 🙂

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