During the 1970s and '80s, the pressure for students to attain high test scores on standardized, multiple-choice achievement tests spread to the primary grades. Tests such as the California Achievement Test (made by CTB/McGraw-Hill) or Metropolitan Achievement Test (Psychological Corporation), which are supposed to measure students' skills in specific areas like math or reading, are now given as early as grades 1 and 2.
The main reason for testing and evaluating students must be to improve student learning. Each year, however, public school students in the U.S. must take millions of standardized tests which are more harmful than helpful and which do nothing to improve the equality of instruction or learning for students.
Among the tests which are especially damaging to young children are readiness tests. Schools frequently use the scores from readiness tests to judge whether children are 'ready' for kindergarten or are 'ready' for promotion to first grade.
America's public schools administer more than 100 million standardized exams each year, including IQ, achievement, screening, and readiness tests.
Much of the time and money devoted to testing is misspent. Too many tests are poorly constructed, unreliable, and unevenly administered. Multiple-choice questions cannot measure thinking skills, creativity, the ability to solve real problems, or the social skills we want our children to have. Moreover, many exams are biased racially, culturally, linguistically, and by class and gender.
The Federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) law, passed by Congress and signed by the President in 1966, gives members of the public the right to obtain certain government records. The law was written to contribute to an informed citizenry that they could better participate in democratic decision making. State have their own FOIA laws and regulations which pertain to state and often local government agencies.
“Accountability” has become the fundamental tool for instituting changes in public schools. In most states and districts and through the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act, accountability means using standardized test results to trigger labels, sanctions, rewards or interventions for districts, schools, educators or students.This approach has been both insufficient and has had undesirable side effects.
Proponents of the federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law have charged critics with creating "myths" about the law and have issued their own "facts." It's time to look at the evidence for a reality check on NCLB's claims of success.
THE CLAIM:Proponents say higher test scores prove NCLB is working.