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On Getting Rid of Standardized Testing

by johnk Saturday, Jan. 31, 2015 at 11:28 AM

A comment on a blog post about eliminating standardized testing.

[This was a comment on https://gadflyonthewallblog.wordpress.com/2015/01/30/why-we-should-have-zero-standardized-tests-in-public-schools%E2%80%A8%E2%80%A8/comment-page-1/#comment-261]

This reminded me of an argument against reinstating Affirmative Action at the Univerty of California: since AA is very flawed, and the students often drop out, K-12 should be fixed.

I thought it was a weak argument, because fixing K-12 is more expensive than dealing with the potential dropouts who enter via AA.

Likewise, it's easier, and cheaper, to fix flawed testing than it is to fix poverty. It's easier to address poverty than to address the things that result in poverty.

Even if we got serious about poverty and did all the things we need to do, like end homelessness, make sure nutritous food is available to everyone, had equitable universal healthcare for everyone, and paid-for education up through college via state schools, it still wouldn't elminate the need for standardized testing.

Even if you dealt with problems that correlate with low incomes, like drug addiction, limited English proficiency, illiteracy, short library hours, inequities in internet service, parents working multiple jobs or working at night, overcrowded homes that are too noisy for extended study, PTSD in communities wracked by gunfire from gang wars, and domestic violence and child abuse, you would still have standardized testing.

You'd have standardized testing because its purpose is to find the most intellectually talented people across all schools across a diverse nation. Specifically, you're looking for people who will become the intellectual strata of policymakers, the managerial strata of the economy, and the technical laborers within the economy, mainly producing "high tech" computers, drugs, and war, and operating the financial system. Standardized testing functions as a way to assess who will be allowed to create and operate the bureacracy of a modern, capitalist (and in China, socialist) economy.

If you get rid of testing, and don't change society, you're just going to motivate the creation of other systems to qualify people to be inserted into the system. Prior to standardized testing, the qualifications were race, gender, and class. Indeed, you can see remnants of that old system in the college system.

What system should be used in the future?
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