I highly recommend this blog post by Peter Greene, writing at EdWeek Teacher:
In it, Peter has some choice words for those in the education “reform” camp who insist that we need standardized test results to be really very extra sure that we know whether or not poor and minority children are being well-served. Because after all, what else to kids need in life besides being proficient or above on a bubble test? You couldn’t look at their deteriorating neighborhoods to figure out where the needs are concentrated? Never mind about crumbling physical and technological infrastructure. Or access to a varied, engaging, high quality academic program, access to health care, school nurses, libraries, counselors… Nope, it’s test scores that tell us what we need to know.
A few choice lines from Peter:
“[We] have a new addition to the list of Reasons We Must Have High Stakes Standardized Tests: because otherwise, we would never know that there are pockets of poverty and low achievement in this country’s schools.”
“I will bet you there have been parents calling, writing, complaining, begging, pleading for school leaders to Do Something about their childrens’ school. And yet, somehow, their voices don’t register (unless those voices fit the reformsters agenda). From Philly to Newark to Detroit, you can still find parents expressing loud and clear what they want and need from their schools.
“And yet reformsters sit hunched over computers and spreadsheets saying, “Sorry, I won’t know what your district needs until I read the test data.”
“If social justice is your aim, here is step one—go and listen to the people who are crying for it. Do not act as if you don’t need to talk to them, as if you just need to look at the test results.”
“If you do not know, right now, where at least a few centers of social injustice are in this country, you’re an idiot. If you need standardized test results to find those places, I do not trust you to do anything useful once you find them.”