In her recent Commentary (“Putting Myself to the Test,” Education Week, Aug. 31, 2011), Ama Nyamekye alleged: “Blaming the test for the shortcomings of that [high-stakes assessment] agenda is like blaming the barometer for the weather.” Perhaps one thing she didn’t learn in her three years of classroom teaching is that, since the rise of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and merit-pay strategies, evaluation-based solutions have become the weather. It’s raining barometers!
Apparently, Ms. Nyamekye found it expedient to seek shelter outside the classroom, leaving the rest of us, students and teachers alike, to deal with being pummeled daily by falling barometers. With cheating scandals coming to light across the country (Atlanta, the District of Columbia, and Los Angeles, for instance), we can no longer afford to brush off the assessment tensions so lightly.
Testing has become much more than a tool, and an unsophisticated rationale like the writer’s, no matter how well intentioned, does little to alleviate the debilitating barometric pressure on our students and learning communities.
I believe that the National Education Association represents the collective voice of those professional educators who refuse to allow teaching to be reduced to programmed lessons in test preparation.
Professor, College of Education
California State University, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2011 edition of Education Week as Former Teacher’s Essay Shows Naiveté on Testing