To the Editor:
This is in response to the article “Educators and Parents Prefer Formative Assessments” (Feb. 22, 2012).
I would imagine that the reason educators and parents hold mixed views is that everyone is at a loss as to what to do in our current situation. Educators want to meet standards (some ridiculous, some not) because that is what is being handed down from above. Parents don’t really have a clue (in most cases) about how to “properly” educate children. So they make a reasoned decision about the dialogue that is most prevalent in the debate as to why school systems are failing the next generation: testing.
Testing seems to be all that we talk about because things get complicated when you are spending other people’s money. We seem to be losing the forest for the trees. By this I mean that evaluation is simply a secondary operation of the education system, yet somehow it has assumed its primary function.
We have entered some strange type of simulation where the observation of outcomes precedes the process of education. What a condition we are in when teachers teach to the test, students study to the test, taxpayers pay to the test, and everyone is failing.
The next time the detached lawmakers write an education law, I’m sure that they’ll get it right. Let’s hope that law is bipartisan, too, so we’ll have no one to blame again.
The writer is pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching degree at Willamette University, in Salem, Ore.
A version of this article appeared in the March 14, 2012 edition of Education Week as Evaluation Is Not the End Goal