March 6, 2021

Robin Jacobowitz and Fred Smith: Building Back Better?

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Yet another well-reasoned reaction to the announcement that the feds will still require testing in 2021. 

This comes from the Benjamin Center for Public Policy Initiatives, a group that conducts studies on topics of importance in the Hudson Valley and throughout the state of New York. Robin Jacobowitz is the director of education projects for the center and Fred Smith retired from work as an analyst for the NYC Board of Education specializing in test research. They know what they’re talking about.

We support the search for understanding the impacts the pandemic has had on our students and schools. But we object to the premise that imposing the tests in 2021 will yield any meaningful answers either about its effect on students and teachers or regarding the numerous ways instruction has been organized and delivered this school year.

We find no justifiable logic in administering these statewide tests to a population of young people already enduring a year of disruption and hardship. As students and teachers struggle through unmatched upheaval, the USDE is choosing to deprive them of precious instructional time and instead subject them to mind-numbing exams whose worth, as we have previously written, was questionable even in good years

These exams are not needed to tell us what we already know: student learning has suffered this year, and even more so for students from disadvantaged and traditionally marginalized backgrounds. In requiring the tests, the USDE is reverting to old habits in a crisis and failing to exert educational leadership. In 2021, testing becomes a ship without an anchor.

They go on to list some of the practical concerns, such as the loss of time spent on testing and the ways the Department of Education’s, offer of “flexibility” creates as many problems as it solves. 

You can read the entire piece here, and I recommend that you do so. Then forward it to the Biden administration.

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