In early February of 2012 a dramatic shift occurred in a corner of the education world. Almost two months later the aftershocks are still reverberating. There’s no telling where this might lead.
In 1987 The Cosby Show was the #1 show on TV, “Walk Like An Egyptian” was the #1 song and standardized testing of students was under way in Texas. The Bangles broke up, The Cosby Show is a cliché but students in Texas still write standardized tests.
They write a lot of tests. Students in Texas write the The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) developed by a division of textbook publishing giant Pearson. They write the tests every year from grade 3 to grade 10 and before exit. Over 25 years the program has grown in size and The State of Texas now pays over $100 million dollars per year to Pearson Educational Measurement for developing and scoring the test.
Ontario was behind the curve when it came to standardized testing. We didn’t
So what happened in February? Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott called the current testing system in Texas a “…a perversion of what is intended…” and got into a war of words over testing. Now other educators are openly supporting Scott’s position including “superintendents of several high-performing North Texas school districts” and “State Board of Education member George Clayton”. Texas educators feel that they’ve had enough of the continued emphasis on standardized testing and want to start moving away from it.
So what can we take from this? Texas educators have seen where emphasizing testing takes us and the feedback isn’t positive. Let’s learn from them. Let’s get ahead of the curve and scrap EQAO now.
Dumping EQAO would allow Ontario educators to focus on using effective long term strategies to better prepare students for the 21st century. We won’t be spending time discussing what strategies we should use to raise our scores, or which students we can ‘bump’ from level 2 to the magic level 3.
The money saved could put a new iPad into every classroom in Ontario every year or pay for every students to have an enriching, off-site trip. Combine this with a renewed focus on learning over testing and we’ll have the makings of a real learning revolution.