Diane Ravitch points out the hypocrisy in President Obama's speech, and his actions (via Race to the Top).
I don't know about you, but I am growing convinced that President Barack Obama doesn't know what Race to the Top is. I don't think he really understands what his own administration is doing to education. In his State of the Union address last week, he said that he wanted teachers to "stop teaching to the test." He also said that teachers should teach with "creativity and passion." And he said that schools should reward the best teachers and replace those who weren't doing a good job. To "reward the best" and "fire the worst," states and districts are relying on test scores. The Race to the Top says they must.
Deconstruct this. Teachers would love to "stop teaching to the test," but Race to the Top makes test scores the measure of every teacher. If teachers take the President's advice (and they would love to!), their students might not get higher test scores every year, and teachers might be fired, and their schools might be closed.Anthony Cody blogs about a similar Jekyll and Hyde situation:
Why does President Obama think that teachers can "stop teaching to the test" when their livelihood, their reputation, and the survival of their school depends on the outcome of those all-important standardized tests?
In a town hall meeting hosted by Univision, President Obama was asked by a student named Luis Zelaya if there could be a way to reduce the number of tests that students must take.
His answer was superficially reassuring, but underneath, rather alarming. He replied:
"... we have piled on a lot of standardized tests on our kids. Now, there's nothing wrong with a standardized test being given occasionally just to give a baseline of where kids are at.What is he thinking? Does he not see the disconnect between his words and policies? Should the Department of Education be abolished?
Malia and Sasha, my two daughters, they just recently took a standardized test. But it wasn't a high-stakes test. It wasn't a test where they had to panic. I mean, they didn't even really know that they were going to take it ahead of time. They didn't study for it, they just went ahead and took it. And it was a tool to diagnose where they were strong, where they were weak, and what the teachers needed to emphasize.
Too often what we've been doing is using these tests to punish students or to, in some cases, punish schools. And so what we've said is let's find a test that everybody agrees makes sense; let's apply it in a less pressured-packed atmosphere; let's figure out whether we have to do it every year or whether we can do it maybe every several years; and let's make sure that that's not the only way we're judging whether a school is doing well."