QOD: Diane Ravitch on National Standards and Annual Standardized Assessments

Absent standards, poor and minority children do not have equal access to challenging courses; absent assessments, no one can know the size of the gap between schools or groups of students or whether that gap is growing larger or smaller. Without valid standards and assessments, there is no way to identify low-performing schools or to determine whether all students are receiving equal educational opportunity.
That’s the old Diane Ravitch --- word for word – quoted by Peter Cunningham in his Huffington Post article. The new Ravitch wrote a letter to Sen. Lamar Alexander’s about Congress’s reauthorization of ESEA. Cunningham has written an “alternative letter” from Ravitch to the Senator that reproduces her highly-regarded scholarship on the importance of national standards and annual standardized assessments. The old Ravitch explains further,
I, too, would like to see national testing, not the current idiotic system written into the No Child Left Behind federal law that permits every state to choose its own test and set its own standards, no matter how low they may be. When a state (or nation) announces standards but continues to use old tests, then of course the new standards will be ignored. The failure of national standards and testing will undermine faith in public education and pave the way for privatization of education. 
In the future, many students will be tested by sophisticated computer programs that quickly eliminate questions that are too easy or too hard for a particular student, leaving ample time for students to answer open-ended questions or engage in challenging performance assignments. 
Clear measures of "value-added" (that is, improved performance) must be developed, and assessments should measure progress toward meeting the standards.

Labels: , ,