Standardized Testing: The Monster that Ate American Education

Diane Ravitch: The rise of the testing movement can be traced through the twentieth century.  But what we’re living now with is not just the rise of the testing movement but the overwhelming dominance of testing.  It has become almost like the monster that ate American education.  And we are so test-obsessed that schools are being closed based on test scores, even when those test scores reflect that the schools have a heavy enrollment of very poor kids or heavy enrollment of children with disabilities and children with all kinds of other needs.  We don't look at the needs.  We don't evaluate the problems that need to be solved in that school.  We just say "These are low scores.  We have to close the school."  

I am very deeply concerned about what years and years of standardized testing does to children’s brains.  I think it actually becomes destructive.  If we think about what our needs are for the twenty-first century, and not just how do we compete in the world but how do we live in the world, how do we survive in the world, we need a generation of people who will succeed us who are thoughtful, who can reflect, who can think.  You know, the expression is "think critically," and that's certainly important, but also who have imagination.

None of the characteristics that are important for thriving in the world of the twenty-first century are encouraged by standardized testing.  In fact, they’re all squashed.  So we’re doing something that is, actually, long term, harmful to children’s brains.  We’re saying to them, year after year, "You will be judged by whether you can select the right answer, whether you can put your X in the right bubble."  That's wrong. Whether we do it on a computer or do it with a number two pencil, it’s wrong, because we’re teaching children that every question has four possible answers, one of which is right and three of which are wrong.  

Directed / Produced by
Jonathan Fowler & Elizabeth Rodd

None of the characteristics that are important for thriving in the world of the twenty-first century are encouraged by standardized testing, argues Diane Ravitch, one of the most respected educational historians in the world. What we need is a generation of students who can think critically and creatively.

Modern society is as unequal as 14th century Europe

As bad as this sounds, a new essay suggests that we live in a surprisingly egalitarian age.

Getty Open Content
Politics & Current Affairs
  • A new essay depicts 700 years of economic inequality in Europe.
  • The only stretch of time more egalitarian than today was the period between 1350 to approximately the year 1700.
  • Data suggest that, without intervention, inequality does not decrease on its own.
Keep reading Show less

You are suffering from “tab overload”

Our love-hate relationship with browser tabs drives all of us crazy. There is a solution.

Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels
Technology & Innovation
  • A new study suggests that tabs can cause people to be flustered as they try to keep track of every website.
  • The reason is that tabs are unable to properly organize information.
  • The researchers are plugging a browser extension that aims to fix the problem.
Keep reading Show less

U.S. Navy controls inventions that claim to change "fabric of reality"

Inventions with revolutionary potential made by a mysterious aerospace engineer for the U.S. Navy come to light.

Credit: Getty Images
Surprising Science
  • U.S. Navy holds patents for enigmatic inventions by aerospace engineer Dr. Salvatore Pais.
  • Pais came up with technology that can "engineer" reality, devising an ultrafast craft, a fusion reactor, and more.
  • While mostly theoretical at this point, the inventions could transform energy, space, and military sectors.
Keep reading Show less

Epicurus and the atheist's guide to happiness

Seek pleasure and avoid pain. Why make it more complicated?

Credit: Antonio Masiello via Getty Images
Personal Growth
  • The Epicureans were some of the world's first materialists and argued that there is neither God, nor gods, nor spirits, but only atoms and the physical world.
  • They believed that life was about finding pleasure and avoiding pain and that both were achieved by minimizing our desires for things.
  • The Epicurean Four Step Remedy is advice on how we can face the world, achieve happiness, and not worry as much as we do.
Keep reading Show less
Quantcast