Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
Chapter Seven: Bubble in B for Boredom
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Bubble IN B FOR Boredom
The growing import given to high-stakes tests brings to mind the state-run light bulb factories of the former Soviet Union. Those under-resourced factories were required to meet mandatory monthly quotas, not of the number of bulbs but of the total combined bulb wattage. So, in the last days of each month, if production was behind schedule, many factory managers instructed their workers to fabricate larger bulbs of higher wattage. Though the factories filled up with comically over-sized, useless bulbs too large for sockets, imposed quotas were met. Present-day public school teachers in the United States are required to meet state-imposed mandates with unintended consequences that are no less absurd. Required by educational reforms to foster students that excel on standardized tests, teachers are turning out better test takers, but also dulled young learners.
As a result of the “pervasive testing culture” (Moses & Nanna, 2007, p. 55) in public education, students on average now take more than 100 standardized tests during the course of their K–12 education (Carpenter, 2015; Sanchez, 2015), with students of color more likely to be over-tested (Dianis, Jackson, & Noguera, 2015). Additionally, more instructional time is spent on test preparation, at the expense of engaging and varied learning activities (Abrams, Pedulla, & Madaus, 2003; Shepard & Dougherty, 1991; Smith, Edelsky, Draper, Rottenberg, & Cherland, 1990). There is also substantial evidence of curricular narrowing...
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