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de-testing and de-grading schools

Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization


Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas

A century of education and education reform, along with more than three decades of high-stakes testing and accountability, reveals a disturbing paradox: education has a steadfast commitment to testing and grading. This commitment persists despite ample research, theory, and philosophy revealing the corrosive consequences of both testing and grading in an education system designed to support human agency and democratic principles. This revised edited volume brings together a collection of updated and new essays that confronts the failure of testing and grading. The book explores the historical failure of testing and grading; the theoretical and philosophical arguments against testing and grading; the negative influence of tests and grades on social justice, race, class, and gender; and the role that they play in perpetuating a deficit perspective of children. The chapters fall under two broad sections. Part I, Degrading Learning, Detesting Education: The Failure of High-Stake Accountability in Education, includes essays on the historical, theoretical, and philosophical arguments against testing and grading. Part II, De-Grading and De-Testing in a Time of High-Stakes Education Reform, presents practical experiments in de-testing and de-grading classrooms for authentic learning experiences.
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Chapter Three: Technocratic Groupthink Inflates the Testing Bubble


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Technocratic Groupthink Inflates THE Testing Bubble


As I was taking a look at the latest report from the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), a disturbing thought came to mind. The NCTQ prepared a report in 2012 that criticized schools of education for failing to jump on the “obsessed with data” bandwagon. You can just feel the irritation in the words of NCTQ president Kate Walsh in an interview related to the report:

A lot of schools of education continue to become quite oppositional to the notion of standardized tests, even though they have very much become a reality in K–12 schools. The ideological resistance is critical. (Resmovitz, 2012, May, 2012)

This reminds me of a phenomenon called groupthink. I think what we are experiencing in education is actually a virulent and coercive strain of groupthink, and it is doing our students a great deal of harm. As I wrote in 2011 (Cody, 2011, April 28), the value of test data has been inflated way beyond its true worth, in a manner similar to real estate prices during the bubble of the past decade. Once this bubble is launched, many people begin to depend on it for their livelihoods (Resmovitz, 2012, May 22).

There’s been a flood of tax-exempt corporate money for advocacy, think-tank research, and lobbying to direct public education policy into a public-private partnership under corporate,...

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