Warren Simmons: “Student testing is like using a thermometer to diagnose what kind of cancer an individual has.”

Dear Commons Community,

An article in the New York Times over the weekend focused on the opt-out movement and specifically if it was only supported by suburban white parents as alluded to by former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.  The article comments that recent actions by students, parents, and teachers in minority schools in Philadelphia, Baltimore, and New York show support for the opt-out movement.  For example:

“On April 15, a group of racially mixed high school students in Baltimore walked out of school and rallied outside the district’s headquarters to protest their state exam, known as the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers. The students expressed frustration over the underfunding of their schools and the lack of culturally relevant courses and said they did not want to take the tests until those problems were addressed.”

Warren Simmons, senior fellow and former executive director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University is given the last word and is quoted saying:

“Student testing is like using a thermometer to try to diagnose what kind of cancer an individual has…” 

He said he believed that was why there was growing testing fatigue in low-income communities. Test scores can reveal that something is wrong at a school, but not what is wrong or how it can be fixed.

“I think what people are understanding is we don’t need another round of tests to tell us that schools are struggling.” 




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