Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
Chapter Four: America’s Obsessive-Assessment Disorder
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America’s Obsessive-Assessment Disorder
LAWRENCE BAINES AND RHONDA GOOLSBY-SMITH
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “people with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) feel the need to check things repeatedly, or have certain thoughts or perform routines and rituals over and over. The thoughts and rituals associated with OCD cause distress and get in the way of daily life” (2015). From this perspective, K–12 educational systems in the United States suffer from a similar malady, “Obsessive-Assessment Disorder.” In many schools today, students typically are expected to endure as many as 20 high-stakes tests in a single year (Lazarin, 2014). Incredibly, an urban school included in a recent study by the American Federation of Teachers administered 47 high-stakes tests over the course of a single year, an average of more than one high-stakes test per week (Nelson, 2013).
Standardized testing has even invaded kindergarten and first grade classrooms. According to Bassok, Latham, and Rorem (2015), “in 2010, roughly 30 percent of kindergarten teachers reported using standardized tests at least once a month” (p. 19). Testing was even more frequent among schools that served non-white, low-income children.
As testing has become pervasive, the daily routines of schools have become little more than an endless cycle of test preparation sessions. Of course, the compulsion to repeatedly assess often causes distress in children, but testing also disrupts a fundamental, recently neglected purpose of schooling, namely, learning (Segool, Carlson,...
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