An alternative to universal, standardized testing

Many people in the education industry scoff at the idea of using standardized tests. They say:

  • Schools overuse standardized, multiple-choice tests.
  • Teaching to the test provides children a student education, limited to what’s on the test.
  • Teachers prepare students for standardized tests in ways that short-circuit the development of their critical-thinking abilities.
  • We should use other assessments such as long-form answers, research projects, and work portfolios.
  • Nobody outside the classroom teacher knows how to assess children.
  • George W. Bush, who gave us No Child Left Behind, is an idiot (seriously, I’ve seen comments on “Education Week” that more or less offer this up as a reason to oppose standardized tests).

How about we make a deal? It’s a four-part offer:

  1. Channel all funding away from districts and to individual families.
  2. Let public schools charge tuition, along with private schools.
  3. Each school then develops whatever assessment system it thinks appropriate. Parents and teachers choose schools that offer the kinds of assessments they think is appropriate.
  4. The state gathers information about every school, including its assessment policies, and disseminates that to the public at large, but especially to parents of school-age children.
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