Succeeding at standardized tests means owning the books with the answers in them


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Why does every event in life feel like a tax any more?


The article highlighted a lack of training or awareness of the administrators of the actual processes and data they could use to understand whether schools have books and where they are. A store with their lack of awareness of inventory would be going out of business, unfortunately the Philadelphia School District is. Perhaps librarians have the set of skills necessary to help with matching book to curriculum to inventory.

The other issues that come to mind are… Do these schools even have librarians anymore? Do you agree that for-profit companies should get to write the tests and then sell the books that let you pass them?

Add to that my general disagreement with the thesis that standardized testing can measure teacher performance or that it is the only measure of performance, or even whether teachers are the biggest factor in student performance. (see this excellent list of reasons to hate standardized tests)

He makes a strong case that the schools need textbooks, but rarely have any at all. He doesn’t make such a compelling case that the students need a specific textbook in order to pass a specific test. However, I believe that is often the case.

In North Carolina, we have now dumped the Common Core standards we adopted a few years ago. I think they dumped the curriculum because it’s more profitable for state legislators to accept bribes (or lobbying, or whatever you call it) to mandate different tests and curricula. Case in point–at the end of 2013, the legislature mandated that all 3rd grade students must pass a reading test at the end of the 2013-14 school year, or else repeat third grade. This bomb was dropped on third grade teachers in January, and they had to cram this new standard, new test, and twice-weekly quizzes into their lesson plan. And surprise, all of these quizzes and tests were already prepared by some testing company. You could tell very clearly that lobbyists got this through the legislature so that the schools would be forced to buy all these materials.

And now that we’ve dumped Common Core in favor of our own standards (to be “developed” over the next year), I’m sure the lobbyists in Raleigh are going hog-wild.

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Here’s yet another of the many reasons why standardized testing is utterly worthless. Then again, any attempt to quantify something as individual as teaching/learning is doomed from the start.

I don’t think this proves standardized tests are worthless.

And we require quantization in science, regardless if it’s a soft science, to make and reach public policy goals.

The issues described in the article are how flawed a system can be implemented if your policy does not include the budget implications in it’s execution.

This has been a political problem for a very long time: We implement policy, then fail to allocate budgets to:

  1. Make sure it’s implemented correctly
  2. Make sure we track it’s progress

Thought. Take the materials preparation out of the for-profit corporations. Prepare the textbooks in a creative-commons or similar way, let the corporations compete on the actual commodity-level printing and delivery, with merciless competition to drive prices down.

In short, keep the knowledge part of the books free and open, and let anybody print the books.


What it proves is that marketing is the devil and the textbook-upgrade treadmill (along with every other scheme for market dominance) should be stabbed in the face.


I recently took a professional licensing exam and had the same experience. About half of the questions had appeared verbatim in my study material, and I could remember which answer was right. It was great, I only needed half the allotted time. But I suppose it’s not very fair to the people who used other study materials.


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