Corporate Group Calls for National Test

K-12 Testing

In American Workers and Economic Change, the Committee on Economic Development (CED), a business research and policy organization, has reiterated its claims that schools should adapt themselves to the needs of corporations and that test-driven schooling will improve U.S. education.


For years, the CED and others have maintained that U.S. public school failure was the cause of U.S. economic problems and that educational changes which met corporate expectations would improve economic competitiveness. The CED particularly promoted high-stakes national assessments to be administered to individual students.


Though prominent reports over the past two years conclude that the U.S. economy is the most competitive in the world, most educational measures show only slight improvements in U.S. schools performance. Due to the work of FairTest and its allies, there is no national test. That is, competitiveness has been attained independent of school reforms and without a national test.


Meanwhile, income gaps between rich and poor within the U.S. have continued to widen. In response to that concern, the CED tells us again that schools must meet corporate expectations, this time to prepare workers in ways that will reduce income disparity. No evidence is offered to prove that meeting corporate school reform demands will either improve education or narrow the income gaps.


Once again, the CED proposes to test students. More and more testing, with higher and higher stakes, is the near-certain result not only of the CED s call for a voluntary national exam, but also its calls for performance-driven education, incentives, teachers demonstrated mastery, and linking hiring to student performance.


In state after state, tests are already used to make decisions, control curriculum and instruction, and reward teachers, administrators and schools. The call to reform schools through testing operates as a smoke-screen for a deeper social and corporate unwillingness to support high quality schooling for all children. The CED also fails to recognize that a centralized test apparatus used to control schooling is contrary to its other recommendations, such as more school autonomy.


FairTest does not deny the need for major reforms in U.S. education. However, educators, policymakers and the public need to think deeply about what it should mean to educate all children well and then to think how best to do that, rather than just follow corporate proposals to inflict more tests.


American Workers and Economic Change is available for $18.00 from the Committee on Economic Development, 477 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022.