Thursday, July 30, 2015

How ridiculous can this testing get?

The latest horror story around testing is that of a principal in New York City who committed suicide by jumping in front of a subway train.   The back story is that she was distraught over having falsified some test scores of her third grade students.

Last April the Common Core exams were given at the 49-year old Harlem principal's school.  Many third graders did not finish on time.  The principal concerned because she had promised parents that the kids would do well fudged answers on the tests of numerous students who could not finish the test on time.   Then she confided that sin to someone other than her clergy.  The person to whom she confided the violation filed a complaint with the Board of Education.  An investigation by the Board substantiated the allegation made by the complainant.  The investigation into the complaint was reported in the New York Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal and picked up by the Associated Press.   REALLY!!!

Surely this is such an important issue that these highly respected news media needed to cover this terrible discretion.   Tongue firmly planted in cheek here.   The same day the complaint was made the principal threw herself into the path of an oncoming subway train.  The death was ruled a suicide by the city medical examiner.   The superintendent has sent letters to all 3rd grade parents saying that the exams had been tossed due to the investigation.  "The integrity of the assessment was compromised due to actions outside your child's control" the letter read in part.   Evidently the level of anxiety among some educators in the city caused some educators to walk out and refuse to participate in the administration of the testing.

Prior to this situation, the principal had posted on her college profile that this was a chance for her to build the school of her dreams.  Her husband has said she got great joy and pleasure from her students.

What are we doing???   It is not clear if this woman had other mental health issues.  What is clear from parental reaction to her death is that she was well loved by parents and students.  How large a factor was this testing event in her suicide, not clear.   But it certainly had some part in pushing her to this awful action.  People these are artificial assessments of a child's future success. In 10 years they will be meaningless to everyone.  They may not even exist in 10 years.  We are giving them a level of importance that they do not deserve.  We know they stir anxiety in kids and staff, make some kids ill, push other kids to lower self-esteem, and now have played a role in someone's death.  Enough- let's get rid of the things.

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