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I wish I could opt out of writing this


The EdFly Blog

  • Standards and Accountability

    Standards and Accountability

    Students and schools must be held to high academic standards, with their progress measured and results reported in simple, transparent formats. The Foundation supports standardized measurement of student learning, including annual comprehensive end-of-course assessments in elementary, middle and high school, as well as grading schools on an A-F scale – just like students.

mikeoptout

 

Opt-out:  An instance of choosing not to participate in something.

I would like to opt out of writing this blog, but alas I cannot.

Because my boss would opt out of paying me. And my wife might opt out of having a deadbeat hanging around the house.  There are some things that just must be done.

Colonoscopies.

Teeth cleanings.

Watching romantic comedies with your wife.

If I had my greatest wish, it would be for a life of open-ended opting out without consequence. But alas, some things just must be done.

We not only make opt-out decisions for ourselves, but our kids as well. My youngest wants to opt out of wearing shoes (No, even though I never wore them at your age) and my oldest wants to opt out of physics (OK, but you have to take two chemistry courses).

As of late, some parents have decided to opt their children out of taking standardized tests in school. The reasons are myriad. The tests are too hard. The tests are unfair. And so on and so forth.

The same rationale could be provided for any number of life’s endeavors that we judge hard or unfair. And that’s why I’m an opt-in on testing. I want to know how well my kid is doing in algebra. I want to know how smart she is compared to all the other kids in the state. The same goes for reading, writing and science.

This information will let me know if she is on track for being first in line when the University of Florida opens its doors to incoming freshman. Or if we will have to settle for Harvard or Yale.

And so testing must be done as far as I’m concerned.

But whether you support or oppose testing, I wonder what message it sends kids that they can simply opt out of life’s unpleasantries.

Journalist Amanda Ripley, who wrote “The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got That Way,’’ took to Twitter to pursue this thought.

She tweeted: “Let’s all play! What would you like to opt your kid out of? It’s a brave new world! “

Here are some of my favorite responses:

  • We really have had people opt out of lice checks. Apparently we have right to lice.
  • We should not be labeling kids w/lice as failures. “I AM MORE THAN MY LICE CHECK RESULTS!!!!
  • I’d opt my kid out of going to school w/kids whose parents opted them out of vaccinations.
  • Lockdown drills. Acne. Writing bibliographies.
  • Braces. They make kids cry. Also: cavities.
  • Birthday parties for kids you kind of know.
  • I’d opt my non-existent children out of hashtags followed by Emojis & dependent clauses posing as sentences.

If only we could all spare our children a life of lice, acne, braces and bibliographies. Such are the challenges of life, which in our house includes taking tests in algebra, reading, writing and science. And so I will be opting my kids out of opt-out.


About the author


Mike Thomas @MikeThomasTweet

Mike@excelined.org

Mike Thomas serves in the communications department, writing editorials and speeches. Prior to joining the Foundation, Mike worked for more than 30 years as a journalist with Florida Today and the Orlando Sentinel. He has written investigative projects, magazine feature stories, humor pieces, editorials and local columns. He won several state and national awards, and was named a finalist in the American Society of New Editors’ Distinguished Writing Award for Commentary/Column Writing in 2010. As a columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, he wrote extensively about education reform, becoming one of its chief advocates in the Florida media. Mike graduated from the University of Florida with degrees in political science and journalism. His wife is a teacher and he has two children in public schools. Contact Mike at Mike@excelined.org



34 Responses to “I wish I could opt out of writing this”

  1. carmazon says:

    How do you know they are “opting out” to avoid “life’s unpleasantries?” Since you believe standardized tests are valuable, the only rationale you might have for opting out of it is escaping something difficult. If these parents don’t view these tests as of value, their choice becomes more logical and not about avoiding unpleasantness. Perhaps you are right and these tests are valuable, but don’t deflect the argument on to this silly strand. We teach children to endure hardship in search of a worthy goal, not hardship just for the sake of hardship.

  2. Amelia says:

    I’m pretty sure you’re aware this oversimplifies the issue of high stakes testing and the problems with educational policy in our country. It also serves to alienate those parents who have valid concerns about what is being required of their children right now in school. I assure you, we do not view these tests as mere “unpleasantries.” They are driving the quality of the education our children are getting. Some of that is very good (standards), but some of it is also very bad (high stakes testing). For the record, I’m NOT opting my son out of the FSA test as a third grader. I worry that if I do, it will impact him negatively in the educational services he’s provided for needs on both ends of the spectrum. I do, however, fervently oppose the testing mania that has overtaken public education policy in this country. I’m careful to say policy, because the teachers and school administrators I work with on a regular basis do not believe this is a good idea or sound educational practice. Occupational therapists have real concerns that we are pushing writing too early, and it’s not developmentally appropriate. It is nearly impossible to separate the standards from the high stakes tests they are tied to, which then passes on the pressure of the high stakes tests to our kids. I very much believe in rigorous standards, I just don’t agree with high stakes testing. There is absolutely no reason my son had 8 tests in one week as a third grader. Skills and abilities can be assessed without being “tested,” but these tests are required by the district to prepare our children for what the FSA tests will look like. I truly feel that my child has spent the same amount of time learning how to take the FSA tests as he has learning the actual standards. That’s just not right, and quite frankly, it’s a waste of time, money, and human resources. I believe that if testing produced a better system of education, we would have seen the evidence of it by now. My research has not convinced me that we are any better off now than we were before high stakes testing was implemented.

    • mikethomastweet says:

      Hi Amelia, thanks for taking the time for such a thoughtful response. I will take issue with your last sentence, however. Public education in Florida is performing at an all-time high by most any measure: Graduation rate. Reading and math achievement. Participation in AP courses. Closing of the achievement gap. Progress made by traditionally disadvantaged student populations, particularly low-income kids and students with disabilities. And I think a big part of that is accountability. The testing prep that your district requires does seem like overkill. They seem to have struck a better balance in my kids’ schools.

  3. Sue Kingery Woltanski says:

    Lucky you, ignorance is bliss.

  4. Sue Kingery Woltanski says:

    Why didn’t my comment appear?

  5. Proudohioan says:

    Mike, your points are invalid when the testing tool that is being presented is so flawed. When the data from said tests are so ignorantly and inappropriately used. Then the issue is not that people are opting kids out of something hard but out of something wrong. It is a protest of the tool being used, it’s lack of educational appropriateness and the misuse of the data. Therefore it cannot tell you truthfully what your daughter knows about Algebra because it uses terminology that is above her grade level. It is too inferior of a test to accurately tell you how she compares with other students and it is disregarded by colleges that it will have no impact on which college she gets accepted. Why accept something that because of its inferior nature is harmful to students? Opting out is a form of protest.

  6. Sue Kingery Woltanski says:

    It is weird that the “opt outers” aren’t responding here…. Hmmmm, I wonder why?

    • flbusbaby says:

      The parents that support opting out of high stakes standardized tests have attempted to post responses. Their posts have been deleted. That is what happens when a column trivializes a serious subject such as this. The author CAN opt out of allowing views that conflict with his to be read by his audience.

    • flbusbaby says:

      The parents that support opting out of high stakes standardized tests have attempted to post responses. Their posts have been deleted. That is what happens when a column trivializes a serious subject such as this. The author CAN opt out of allowing views that conflict with his to be read by his audience.

    • Guest says:

      Why? Because this organization is funded by the very corporations that are responsible for and profiting from these tests and the CCSS.

      Follow the money.

    • Amy Harvey says:

      Um, just did. Thanks.

    • Raeanne says:

      What are you talking about? All I see are replies by opt out supporters? Please respond to this https://www.facebook.com/raeanne.gillenwater/posts/974483275895929

  7. Rebecca Brooksher says:

    My comment was deleted. Not only is this article terribly misleading, apparently we are now being censored.

  8. Greg says:

    Where ever you fall on the debate I don’t think parents are teaching avoidance. In there minds they are modeling how you resist great social injustice through civil disobedience. We have had standards based reform for 30 years but nothing has changed except diverting much needed funds to huge testing corporations. Standing up against testing is standing up for common sense.

  9. FL Opt Out Parent says:

    I’m glad you’re not my parent or guardian because you certainly wouldn’t protect me from harm. Are you being flip and humorous to stir the pot or just ill-informed of what Opt Out represents & the domino affect of high-stakes testing? In the words of Diane Ravitch “We are in the middle of a vast social experiment on the children of the Nation and it is all tied to the standardized tests.” Data & test scores should never be confused with teaching and learning. Yes, I opted out of the FSA to protect my child from the data mining machine that has no value on his education. Instead, he studied for his AP exam which WILL have value.

  10. opt out mom says:

    First, as you stated…your “blog” is paid for…mission accomplished on that front. However, I don’t feel you have hurt the feelings of opt outers, you just made FEE look childish. We opt outers, as well as FEE, KNOW the real reasons behind our fight, and that it goes so much further than kids dealing with the challenges of life. You being on the payroll & being paid to toot FEE’s horn gives you zero credibility. Opt out parents get paid nothing to work tirelessly for not just our own children, but for the future of education in America.
    And BTW, what would you say to a woman being physicslly abused by her husband? Would you tell her to suck it up, it’s just one of life’s”unpleasantries”?

  11. Aimee Rogers says:

    I highly doubt that my daughter will think that my refusal to allow her to take these high stake and completely irrelevant tests as an avoidance of life unpleasantries since she gets to spend an extra 2 hours today doing math and spelling work AND she has to do actual homework while her classmates who are testing do not. Your article does say more about you than it does about me though. I made a choice about my child in a mature manner like an adult. You chose to make fun of that choice like an immature teenager. God job! It lends so much to your credibility.

  12. tina says:

    This article is completely one-sided and insulting. You intentionally glossed over the real issues. Teaching students to stand up for themselves and their constitutional rights is something we should applaud.

    Standardized testing does not test true knowledge. It tests the ability of the student to either regurgitate back answers. This is why teachers spend the weeks leading up to testing doing test prep. Test prep is not learning. It is not knowledge. It is learning the tricks to pass.

    Testing and test prep eats up weeks of time where teachers could be teaching and students learning. Worse, the tests are designed for to fail the majority of students. Not everyone can pass and not everyone can do well. Students should not be taking tests that are designed to fail the majority of them. Instead spending time on challenging literature, projects, reports and the like should be where students are engaged. Sadly this does not happen much under common core. And, thus is why parents will continue to fight for their children.

  13. Heather Kate says:

    Simply Hilarious…However zero of your points were valid and had nothing to do with the actual reason parents are opting out of the PARRC test. Not that you actually care but I don’t think “we” are teaching are children that it’s alright to avoid unpleasantries it’s more like it’s alright to stand up for something that you believe in and that has no merit. But thank you for the giggle I hope your pay check reflects.

  14. Icare says:

    Those who mock fail to understand why parents are so vocal against these high stakes tests and highlight the need to educate. There is a nationwide movement against the injustice of what is happening in education right now. In my kids schools you might as well say that learning has shut down. With the endless pretesting, review, and prepping, it has gotten out of hand! Other disciplines that aren’t being tested have suffered as well. Testing in my school is from March 9-20, then starts up again from March 23 – April-24 and that is ONLY the first round! Then the cycle starts again for May going into June! It’s a disgusting waste of time,money and resources.

    http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2015/02/parcc-cheerleaders-snide-dismissive.html

    To read why and there is a plethora of information out there for those who want to go deeper than mocking check out these sites!

    http://www.fairtest.org/

    http://mcorfield.blogspot.com/2015/02/12-questions-every-parent-must-ask.html?m=1
    http://www.saveourschoolsnj.org/refusing-parcc-test/

    http://thefederalist.com/2014/09/24/top-ten-things-parents-hate-about-common-core/

  15. Steve Lee says:

    Opting out of an untested and unproven test is not opting out of something because it’s painful or difficult. We are teaching our children the valuable lesson of standing up for what you believe is right. My 8 year old does not need a test to measure her “College and Career Readiness”. The time spent preparing for tests and conducting tests could be far better spent with instructional time–you know, that thing we pay teachers to do. My tax dollars pay for my child’s education. Do I not have a say in what that education should look like anymore? Or would you prefer we all just “shut up and get in line” Mr. Thomas? Your snide column belittles the genuine concerns of many parents across the country, and does nothing to help FEE’s founder’s campaign efforts with people that would otherwise consider supporting him.

  16. Amy Harvey says:

    If I want to know how much my child knows, I ask her. I do not expect nor trust an out-of-state, for-profit corporation to use her for their own greedy purposes and then eventually report to me what their statisticians determine is her rank. What nonsense. I opt her out of things that serve no purpose of mine or hers.

  17. Lisa Miconi says:

    There are some things that just must be done:
    Following the law
    Using Common Sense
    Leading without controlling
    Not inflicting child abuse
    Questioning authorities that have no jurisdiction
    Protecting privacy and well being of OUR – not the government’s- children
    Requiring all pro-CC parents, educators, town administrators, public and parochial supers to publically take and pass multiple PARCC exams before having an opinion.

  18. Deb Herbage says:

    Your foundation focuses on this (taken directly from your website): “Rigorous academic standards, such as the Common Core State Standards, will prepare students for college and careers. The Foundation supports policies that set high academic standards and provide rigorous preparatory courses and dual-enrollment options for students.” I also see that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is one of your biggest donors which explains your ignorance and attempt at mocking the “Opt-Out Movements”. Let me help educate you Mr. Thomas. The Common Core State Standards do not prepare students for college or careers. Common Core is NOT higher standards nor are they rigorous – they hinder all students by greatly reducing the study of classic literature in favor of abundance of non-fiction texts and eliminates creative writing in favor of rigid reading responses in a very specific format. The Common Core ELA is empty skill sets that weaken the basic literacy and cultural knowledge needed for authentic college coursework. Common Core “math” is greatly flawed and unnecessarily cumbersome. Here’s an example from a 2nd grade math book: Show how you can add 3 coins to make 10 cents. It’s impossible to solve that problem with U.S. currency and there are many, many more examples like that! Common Core is inappropriate for early childhood cognitive development and missing fundamental building blocks in favor of jumping to higher grade level materials not suitable for children. Common Core is a one-size fits all education and our children do not all learn the same way. Common Core was adopted sight unseen by the states under the “Race To The Top” program in 2009 without legislature approval in exchange for grant money. Common Core was adopted in a rushed manner because of pressure from the Gates Foundation and the USDE which threatened to withhold “Race To The Top” grants from any state that did not promise to adopt them. Common Core was NOT written by educators, teachers or educational professionals but was written by head architect David Coleman (head of college board now) and FOR-PROFIT (testing companies) trade organizations under NON-TRANSPARENT circumstances. Common Core has no body of research evidence and were NOT written by expert educators. Sandra Stotsky (well respected expert who helped develop the Massachusettts standards) refused to sign off on the Common Core. Common Core is copyrighted and cannot be changed. The owner of the copyright is the NGA. Common Core was funded largely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Common Core mandates data collection which is tracked from pre-K through college and into the workforce. Personal and private data are being collected about our children and families with no consent and the information is being sold to testing companies for profit. Special needs students are being tossed aside as IEPs are ignored to comply with Common Core. The Common Core standards are NOT internationally benchmarked nor are they vetted. The USDE chose two testing consortia (SBAC & PARCC) to develop the curriculum frameworks, models, guides and instructional material – behind closed doors with no public comment or public revisions. (Is that even legal?) The Common Core standards are garbage. Now let’s talk about the tests because YES I am one of the “Opt-Outer’s”. The tests were crafted “behind closed doors” and not by educators, teachers or educational experts. The tests have been shown to be flawed year after year in New York and recently Utah. The tests have 70% failure rates and are not used for any instructional purposes or gain whatsoever. The tests are never revisited or discussed with the students so they know what went wrong. The material on the tests is NOT based on your child’s age or grade level and are not used to help your child at all. The tests only reflect a student’s ability to take a test and do not reveal your child’s “mastery of knowledge”, understanding or comprehension like they claim. The test was not successfully field-tested or vetted anywhere! The tests are used to punish the teachers and schools and are absurdly long (8-9 hours). The State of Florida paid Utah $5.4M for their test questions and then Utah decided to dump AIR (good for Utah). Utah has completely different demographics than Florida. When the test was given in Utah – 75% failed the test (just like NY). Florida paid AIR (the same company that wrote the test for Utah) $220M for a 6 year contract to do the testing for Florida (lots of money being exchanged and lots of pockets being lined). AIR is renowned for their behavioral and social science research and not for writing “tests” for educational purposes. Districts all across Florida and Superintendents all stated they were not ready to implement this test and begged for more time which went ignored by the DOE and Pam Stewart. The tests are given on-line requiring keyboarding skills that were not taught to the students and students do not have yet. The tests are timed and if students cannot type at least 20 to 30 WPM – they will not finish the test. Teachers were not given the appropriate material and time to teach the “new” standards. The testing is unfair to students. We (Opt-Outer’s) are advocating for what is right and just and Common Core and the high-stakes test are so wrong on all levels. Common Core is not conducive to learning and is not for the betterment of the students in Florida. Common Core is the fruit of a process tainted with politics and heavily vested interests as evidenced by the millions of dollars in contracts to the testing companies, data warehousing, etc. Common Core has no empirical evidence of value. We Opt-Outers are not opposed to change – change can be a good thing but we are opposed to Common Core and the high-stakes attached to the tests. The tests hold no value whatsoever. How can you punish a teacher who spends 180 days in a classroom with your child by one test? It states above that your wife is a teacher – does she think it’s fair to be judged so heavily by one test? If her students all fail the test (and they will by design) it’s ok for them to fire her? So yes – we will definitely avoid the “unpleasantness” of the ludicrous test by saying NO THANK YOU and Opting Out.

  19. Joy says:

    At first I was going to post that I wished I had opted out of reading your blog post, which of course would support testing, testing, testing, because that is what you are paid to write. I’m glad I read it and the comments following that show parents are exercising their right to participate in the education of their children and are coming to the table with rational arguments in defense of opting THEIR children out of this useless and wasteful testing.

  20. Joel Gibson says:

    I appreciate your admission that you would not want to write this if you were not profiting from it. However, your premise is hyberbole. People can chose not to do all of the things you listed. You could even choose to find another job, if you wanted to do so. I suspect you rather like your job and do have options. That said I know how my kids are doing in school even though they though they have not taken their standardized tests this year. Am I a wizard? Am I a demon? Nope. I just sit down and look at their work, I ask them what is giveing them trouble. I ask the people that are in the classrooms teaching them. I know that these options must blow your mind! What would you do if you found there were kids who could do Algerbra better than your kid? why not do that now so she can reach HER potential rather than be satisfied that she is better than others?

  21. Frank Lovetere says:

    Clearly the writer of this article is being influenced by others. If you think Standardized tests are going to tell you how “college ready” your kids are then you have a big surprise coming. How about we give you a test that has not been validated by “educational professionals”, cannot be seen by a teacher, parent or administrator, will never be shown the answers to for effective feedback, will be scored by someone hired for $11/hr. Oh, and let us not forgot that at anytime during the testing time your connection may be lost so good luck remembering where you were at. There are much better ways to evaluate where children are at in their progression levels.

  22. Momin NM says:

    Why get a colonoscopy if you’re not going to get the results for 6 months? What’s the point? If we are going to assess our students, shouldn’t we receive the results in a timely manner so that instruction changes can occur? The EOY test is in April – results are given to schools middle of next school year. Let’s figure out a a better way.

  23. Beth Meyers says:

    I generally do not read materials produced by FEE, however, a parent sent me your recent blog post. The tone set forth in this piece is so unbelievably mocking, I felt compelled to address it. First, I agree. There are things in this life we have to do even if we do not like or want to do them. However, to equate the taking of standardized tests with the necessity of brushing one’s teeth or having oneself checked for lice is ridiculous and reeks of condescension and arrogance. We make multitudinous decisions regarding in what we will or will not participate. You decided to opt your child into testing. That is your decision to make. To ridicule other parents for not making the same choice is to convey that your decision is somehow better and those who do not are somehow ignorant, childish, or both. I too have made a decision to opt-out. I chose not to opt out of standardized tests, but rather the entire system. I have elected to homeschool. I imagine your derision would likely extend to that decision as well.

    I would like, however, to address your assumptions regarding standardized tests, which are not–in my experience as an educator, education researcher, daughter of a small business owner, the mother of four young men, and the grandmother of one grandson–valid. First, I do not base my decisions on how my children measure up against international students. Frankly, I don’t care how my children measure up to those in China, Singapore, or Thailand. My children do not live there and, therefore, are not competing for jobs with children in foreign countries. If they do find themselves in competition for jobs here, there is a greater likelihood that the competition will center on wage issues rather than skills issues (i.e., H1B visa). I could provide any number of historical references regarding this particular argument as the nation’s education system has been a whipping boy for the economic woes of this country for greater than a century:
    “…whether we like it or not, we are beginning to see that we are pitted against the world in a gigantic battle of brains and skill, with the markets of the world, work for our people, and internal peace and contentment as the prizes at stake. (Cubberly, 1909, p. 50)

    “The rapid development of Germany’s foreign commerce in recent years is one direct consequence of her excellent system of vocational training, and the development of our own foreign trade, in competition with Germany and with other European nations, will be determined by our ability to compete with them, not as in the past on the basis of natural resources but on the basis of skill and efficiency. (Commission on National Aid to Vocational Education, 1914)

    Research related to International Political Economy (IPE) does not support the assertion that corporations relocate to foreign countries primarily for its population of “higher performing” students. Corporations relocate overseas for varying reasons including to take advantage of tax incentives, jump trade barriers, or lower labor costs via the abundance of cheap labor.

    Second, scoring well on standardized tests does not necessarily equate with higher academic achievement or a quality education. People often assume that standardized tests 1) adequately and appropriately test knowledge and skills considered valuable, and 2) that the scores from these tests provide accurate and reliable information of the acquisition of knowledge and skills. The validity and reliability of many of these tests are difficult to ascertain as testing companies often provide only internal and not independent analyses. While reports from companies that produce college entrance exams claim that their tests are predictors of college success, a body of independent research continues to find that student GPA is a better predictor. In addition, there have been numerous issues with the scoring and reports of test results. A Brown study found that, over a decade, nearly one hundred instances of testing errors have affected thousands of students and teachers, resulting in unnecessary remediation and summer school, rejection of program participation (e.g., gifted programs), and the loss of teaching contracts for new teachers. Some of these errors have resulted in fines being levied on those companies.

    In addition, cheating on tests and the manipulation of scores has become an increasing problem (e.g., Atlanta, Indiana). In my state, data was acquired from our Department of Education that revealed that cut scores for state tests had been manipulated. Specifically, cut scores were dramatically lowered over a three year period for a number of the state tests. For example, the changes to cut scores to achieve MASTERY on the state’s 4th grade ELA test were as follows: 2012 = 75.4%, 2013 = 71.5%, 2014 = 66.9%. Thus, parents are now left wondering if their children did indeed demonstrate improvement.

    Because of my state’s accountability system, standardized testing has “become” the education rather than an evaluation of it as curricula has been stripped to ensure adequate performance on these tests. There is a distinct difference between the quality of education my three older sons received, having graduated before No Child Left Behind (NCLB) affected the classroom, and the quality of education my younger son has received as NCLB ramped up the focus on standardized tests. My youngest son, on average, scores well on standardized tests. In his freshman year, he scored at the mastery level in math according a report we received from the state. When we withdrew him from public school in the middle of his junior year to homeschool, we found he, in fact, had NOT mastered the material, but was behind in math and several other subjects. The deficits were significant. We have spent thousands of dollars and nearly fifteen months remediating in order that he might be sufficiently prepare for college. Had those tests provided us with valid and reliable information, we may have had the opportunity to address deficiencies earlier.

    Last, I do not value an education narrowed to fit into a box created by over a decade of obsessive testing. I value a well-rounded, classical education that will prepare my child to be not only a competent employee, but also a productive citizen in a free society. I prefer my son and grandson, who is now homeschooled as well, receive an education that provides depth and breadth, that values authentic critical thinking, that celebrates our shared heritage, and that incorporates more than the “testable” subjects this testing regime has over time squeezed out (e.g., art, music, drama). No amount of mockery, derision, or condescension will change that.

  24. Duane Swacker says:

    Maybe the reason to opt out is the FACT that educational standards and standardized testing, and even the “grading” of students is COMPLETELY INVALID. To understand why, I challenge you, Mike, to read and understand (yes, not just read but understand Noel Wilson’s never refuted nor rebutted treatise “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700
    Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)
    1. A description of a quality can only be partially quantified. Quantity is almost always a very small aspect of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category only by a part of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as unidimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing the descriptive information about said interactions is inadequate, insufficient and inferior to the point of invalidity and unacceptability.
    2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).
    3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.
    4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”
    In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.
    5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren’t]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. And a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.
    6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.
    7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”
    In other words it attempts to measure “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?
    My answer is NO!!!!!
    One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:
    “So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”
    In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society.
    By Duane E. Swacker

  25. Raeanne says:

    The author has obviously stopped responding to the replies he has here, which really tells me all I need to know about him, his ridiculous argument, and his compete lack of any actual facts or research or true understanding of this situation what so ever. Obviously just another paid shill. Nonetheless I would request he watch this and respond, if he indeed posses an ounce of integrity. (Pretty confident this will be censored, but what the heck I’ll give it a whirl) https://www.facebook.com/raeanne.gillenwater/posts/974483275895929

  26. Raeanne says:

    I have posted two comments and so far both have been deleted.

  27. Raeanne says:

    Why has the author failed to respond to these thoughtful posts from people who took the time to respond to his article?

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