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Manipulation of Standardized Test Scores is Evil
by Adekunle Lawal
5/02/2016 / Education
Having read Apple (2006) book where the policy called "No Child Left Behind" is thoroughly examined by the author I have come to understand how faulty the educational legislation is. Apple states that No Child Left Behind was passed by the Congress in 2001 and signed by President Bush in January 2002. According to him, NCLB defines its success and failures based on the scores on standardized achievement tests.
In order to buttress his point of argument, Apple quotes from Leaving Children Behind written by Valenzuela (2005). Valenzuela claims that the dramatic educational improvement attributed to Texas's system of accountability is questionable. For him, the state's methodology of collecting and reporting educational data, including the critically important high stakes test scores, hide as much as they reveal. I think the author has sound knowledge of what he is talking about because he provides evidences to support his claim. Valenzuela states that when the focus is shifted to Texas students' performance on nationwide tests such as the American College Test (ACT) and the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) 1, or when sky-rocketing dropout and projected retention rates are factored in, the State's educational improvement looks like a mirage. I believe this is embarrassing and ridiculous. Why did Texas manipulate their Standardized Test Scores? Who were they trying to impress?
I want to suggest that all educational officials that were involved in the Texas' "miracle" should be prosecuted. They misled the public by giving incorrect data concerning the Test Scores. According to Apple, the State's irresponsible action made many children to be left behind, especially our poorest children and children of color. Apple claims that Texas State "creatively" finds ways of excluding thousands of students from taking the actual tests. Surprisingly, Apple exclaims that the evaluation community is aware of the problems associated with high stakes testing and with using tests inappropriately. I wonder aloud why U.S. Department of Education continues to support Texas manipulated results, and even goes to the extent of recommending and imposing it on other schools. This is quite unacceptable, and very destructive to the U.S. public education system.
Taking a serious look at the Texas' misused test scores and the manipulation of test results through the exclusion of certain students, decreases in completion rates, the loss of autonomy, and a drastic truncating of the curriculum so that students actually get less in the guise of getting more; according to Apple, all these mentioned factors make school and entire systems becoming factories that are aimed at producing one thing increased test scores. Based on this information, I want to put majority of the blame on the U.S. government for placing so much importance on Test Scores. Schools cut corners and manipulate their results in order to impress the government, and avoid their schools to be labelled failures and get closed down. I believe this possibly answers my questions that I asked in paragraph 2.
Therefore, I think I completely agree with Valenzuela's workable alternatives approach to solve the problem of manipulating test scores. According to him, the approach suggests that standardized tests in literacy and numeracy are given, but their use is limited and complemented by a wide array of other information student exhibitions, portfolios, products, and performance tasks. That sounds plausible to me.
Concerning the Fundamental Christians' position on the current situation of the U.S. public education system, it is quite understood, according to Apple, that the Christians believe that the current public school system is dangerous for moral and proper learning. Apple further claims that the Christians believe that one of the roots of the "evil" done in schools is John Dewey and his progeny. That is, for these Christians, Dewey and his followers' faith in experimentation, their rejection of absolutism, their sense of the individual/collective relationship at the core of democracy, and above all the integration of all this in their theories of education have led schools astray. Apple states that the Christians believe that if the existing public school system cannot be made to support Christian beliefs, then other school programs such as vouchers, charter schools, and possibly home schooling should provide the keys for changing that children will learn and how they will be taught it.
According to Apple, the Christians believe that home schooling and privately run Christian schools hold out hope for a safe and Christian future. Moreover, Apple notes that the removal of school prayer (although it was actually never removed from the daily activities of many schools that simply ignored the ruling) is seen as both a national loss and a cause of what ails the nation. Apple states that according to the Christians, the Supreme Court's decision to "take prayer out of the school" in the 1960s was "a sign of the lifting of God's blessing from our land" and a "major contributing cause of the moral breakup of society." Therefore, the Christians believe that godless society and schools damage the future of children and the nation at large. What a true statement!
I completely agree with the position of these Christians that believe that Biblical principles are one of the important ingredients of shaping characters and morals in school kids. If the education officials in Texas had applied Biblical principles of honesty and integrity they would not have manipulated test scores to impress the public. The Bible says, "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14: 34 KJV). Likewise, if government officials also had applied Biblical principle "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Matthew 22: 39 KJV) they would not have deliberately recommended and imposed manipulated educational policy on innocent schools. Well, I believe that in a godless society cheating, confusion, and wickedness are the orders of the day.
Apple, M.W. (2006). Educating the "Right" way: Markets, standards, god, and
inequality. Routledge: New York.
Valenzuela, Angela (2005). "Accountability and the Privatization Agenda." In Leaving
Children Behind: How "Texas-style" Accountability Fails Latino Youth, ed. Angela
Valenzuela, 1-32. State University of New York Press: Albany.
Adekunle Lawal is a Christian writer and educator. He lives in Everett, Washington. His website link is http://www.faithwriters.com/member-profile.php?id=64535
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