The LA Times had a piece over the weekend about Value Added Assessment as a way of measuring teacher success or failure.
And this has sparked new posts (or links to older posts) debunking and critiquing the use of Value Added Assessment.
And the same things happens around discussions of teacher merit pay, school closings, and how - under NCLB - schools are identified as failing or making progress.
And while these are all discussions that need to happen, the process of engaging the issue provides a tacit acceptance of the underlying argument: that standardized tests measure something that is important, and that these measurements are sufficiently valuable and accurate as to be a worthwhile mechanism upon which to base life-changing decisions.
The discussions around merit pay, value added assessment, school closing, teacher effectiveness and value added assessment - these conversations slip in the legitimacy of standardized tests through the back door, Trojan-horse style.
And the point of this piece is not to say that standardized tests do not have a role to play. But they should not be seen as the primary measure of the success or failure of any program. Really, any single measure used exclusively will not provide an adequately detailed view.
I want to see standardized test scores that norm for the child that comes to school that day without breakfast - and without knowing whether dinner is coming - due to food insecurity.
I want to see standardized test scores normed for hours of art instruction, and rates of obesity.
I want to see standardized test results that norm for the quality of that child's kindergarten teacher (which, of course, sets up the quandary of how we would discern good from bad).
I want to see some level of consensus - free from political gamesmanship - that standardized tests correlate to some definition of success besides the ability to do well on other standardized tests.
In the ongoing conversations about what makes for meaningful change, we should all be looking at the following questions, either before - or as part of - ongoing discussions around new education policy: