Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

Rewards and Mediocrity: State-Testing Questions

April 22, 2008 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

Two thoughts come mind after reading “State Tests Not All OK Under Law” (April 2, 2008), which reports on states’ progress in establishing testing systems compliant with the federal No Child Left Behind Act:

First, with so much national focus on standardized tests, why haven’t I heard much conversation about the use of incentives before test administration? Many years ago, when I administered tests, there was standardization of the testing environment as well as of the administration procedure. Offering prior-known rewards was discouraged, as was giving any praise during testing. How standardized is the testing environment these days when schools respond to the inane pressure to produce favorable statistics by offering prizes, sometimes as large as cars, to top scorers? What about the district that offers nothing?

What makes this straying from a standardized-testing environment acceptable now? Have times changed, or was I exposed to improper practice, or does the need to produce the best results allow for varied testing situations?

Second, while I am aware that the No Child Left Behind law’s focus is getting low-performing students to proficiency (or, some might say, mediocrity), and while I would be happy to see that happen, I am concerned that this draws attention away from the fact that our public schools also serve students who are already proficient and can score as such easily, before the school year begins. Which states go beyond that level of mediocrity of tracking to proficiency and show equal concern for high performers, or for all students generally, regardless of where their degree of proficiency lies? Isn’t this an odd question to have to ask when talking about a law called No Child Left Behind?

Should the legislation’s authors desire a more accurate title, they are free to contact me for suggestions.

Diane Hanfmann

Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.

A version of this article appeared in the April 23, 2008 edition of Education Week as Rewards and Mediocrity: State-Testing Questions

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Deepen the Reach and Impact of Your Leadership
This webinar offers new and veteran leaders a unique opportunity to listen and interact with four of the most influential educational thinkers in North America. With their expert insights, you will learn the key elements
Content provided by Solution Tree
Science K-12 Essentials Forum Teaching Science Today: Challenges and Solutions
Join this event which will tackle handling controversy in the classroom, and making science education relevant for all students.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
Stronger Together: Integrating Social and Emotional Supports in an Equity-Based MTSS
Decades of research have shown that when schools implement evidence-based social and emotional supports and programming, academic achievement increases. The impact of these supports – particularly for students of color, students from low-income communities, English
Content provided by Illuminate Education

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Education Briefly Stated: January 12, 2022
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read
Education School Bus Driver Retires After 48 Years Behind Wheel
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick sat behind the wheel for the final time last week, wrapping up a 48-year career for the district.
3 min read
Charles City school bus driver Betty Flick poses with one of her farewell signs. Flick has been driving for Charles City School District for 48 years.
Betty Flick quickly fell in love with the job and with the kids, which is what has had her stay in the district for this long.
Courtesy of Abby Koch/Globe Gazette
Education Briefly Stated: December 1, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
9 min read
Education Briefly Stated: November 17, 2021
Here's a look at some recent Education Week articles you may have missed.
8 min read