Arne on Dumbing Down Standards and the Next Generation of Assessments

Secretary Duncan sits down several times a month to answer questions he receives via his Facebook page. This past week, Arne answered questions that had been received on Facebook’s Facebook in Education page.

In the video, Arne responds to a question asking why we as a country allowed standards in schools to be “dummied down.” Secretary Duncan explains that dumbed-down standards are an unintended consequence of No Child Left Behind (NCLB), but that over the last two and a half years, 44 states have raised standards and are working to level the playing field for students.

Arne also responds to a question about the need for a new generation of assessments. Duncan notes ED is helping fund two consortia of states that are providing leadership and working together to develop new assessments that will go beyond today’s fill-in-the-bubble tests that only measure basic skills. These new assessments will support good teaching by measuring crticial thinking skills and complex student learning.


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14 Comments

  1. Imagine this teacher’s surprise when her degree in education left her completely ill-prepared for the realities of teaching today’s children. My fifth year in education and I am completely fed up with a system that ties the school systems hands, bases all judgements on how “well” a teacher teaches based on test scores and the 15 minutes they observe every few months, and how much is work is posted outside on their walls. The sad fact is that no, many parents do not push their children, but the children at some point have to take responsibility as well. I have students in high school that cannot read, cannot write a complete sentence, cannot THINK their way out of a paper bag, and I am supposed to teach them to the point of college readiness? Most of them are not even concerned about the fact that they consistently are shown they are behind. I have 30 inclusion students out of my 150 a day, and that does not include the number with ADHD, mental health issues, and physical health issues. They plagiarize essays, copy homework, and do not study for a single quiz or test. There are about 10 students I teach who have an A average, simply because they try harder than all the others and turn in their work.

    At the end of every month I am broke, have spent at least $50 or more on classroom materials, have been beat down by disrespectful children who do not care to learn most days, and am expected to perform some kind of miracle, otherwise I will lose my job because my students did not score as high as the state or feds wanted them to. Seriously? Sure China has better test scores. They do not educate everyone. Their educational system is limited to the elite or very intelligent. Germany tracks their students, and they are one of the fastest growing industrial nations today. I teach history, a subject that should not be difficult considering it has been taught to them over and over again, yet I have some who cannot tell you the COUNTRY they live in vs. the COUNTY. Is there hope? Absolutely. Can teachers, administrators or parents do it alone? Absolutely not. Is the bureaucracy and political correctness of education killing us? YES. Are we as a country holding students accountable for anything but a standardized test score? Not really. What happened to critical thinking, writing, creativity, the arts, using correct grammar and knowing how to spell simple words. I have students who are so lazy they won’t even open a book to find an answer. We can make all the excuses about technology and speed of information and how they need to be “entertained”, but the fact of the matter is until we reform the education system, put shared responsibility on students, parents and schools, nothing will change. As a good teacher who cares about her students and fights the good fight every day, I get sick of hearing teachers get blamed for everything under the sun. I don’t get up every day and teach those angels (who yes are devils at time) because I make a fortune, get a thank you, or even respect; I do it because I still have hope. I pray every morning for myself and my students, which keeps me sane. Imagine those less inclined to the beliefs I have; how many good teachers will we lose today because they burn out and give up that hope? Obviously throwing money into creating more tests is the answer. Good job government. F- in my book.

  2. The principal cause for the decline in educational standards, in my 30+ years of experience in higher education, is due to liberal instructors and administrators trying to boost enrollments, under the guise of egalitarianism, by reducing requirements for courses and degree programs. Consequently students are being admitted to university campuses who do not have the basic skills to succeed in university degree programs, unless requirements for those programs are reduced.
    I recently was compelled to leave a teaching position in science at a mid-western regional university, where I had taught for six years, when a plan was put into motion to reduce the requirements for a new BS degree in science below the existing and traditional minimum. Two cornerstone lecture/lab courses, representing about 8% of the overall degree requirements, were to be replaced by an “internship.” It was erroneously and ludicrously claimed that the difficult topics in the two culled courses, (second term physics and physical chemistry), would be covered in “discussion and practice” while students participated in an “on the job” training program. The parent university was not to be informed of the details of the plan, though the internship was publicly touted as “new and innovative.” Local administrators and science department faculty intended to quietly slip the proposal past university remonstrance and state review for approval. The plot subsequently came to light and the regional university was compelled by the parent university to amend the program and bring it into line with parallel and dependent transfer programs offered at other member universities of the system.
    I subsequently took a teaching position in mathematics at another four year college, only to discover that the faculty of which I am now inadvertently a member is engaged in “dumbing down” mathematics curriculum here. They teach introductory algebra from a prealgebra text, have cut about a third of the topics out of their intermediate and college algebra courses, and apparently reduced requirements in their pre-calculus course similarly – all in the interest of bolstering sagging enrollments. Faculty members are convinced they are doing the right thing, because success rates have improved, of course, since course requirements have been reduced. One faculty member referred to the process as “beefing down” content. I’ve taught mathematics at several community and four year colleges, and have never seen such a blatant and self-righteous cutting of requirements as I’ve seen on this campus.
    The common threads that tie these campuses together are the political liberalness of the faculty and administration, and the need to boost sagging enrollments.

  3. With today’s pressure to get a good degree from a good university, many colleges across the country and even the world are tightening up their belts and are forced to limit their grade requirement for potential students. With external factors like the economic issues and job cuts, a place at a well-respected university is vital for any student looking for a decent career. Therefore, The Pressure for Standardize Tests has risen within the past few years due to the pressure for university offers. The selective process may have been the easier process for admittance, but it is not an effective or fair way to measure a student’s ability when applying to colleges.
    As a whole, Standardize tests fail to measure a student’s knowledge. If anything, the tests test good test takers In William’s standardize students: The problem with Writing for Tests instead of people. He cites that students writing for tests are unable to write creatively or independently but rather to cater to the test’s requirements for a high grade. Students with the capability to write effectively in college or as are often those who did not do well on the SATs or ACTs. (A Study by Sommers and Saltz concluded that those who were often the best writers at college were those who were 1“able to bring ideas and issues that mattered to them to their choices of course and their responses to assignments.” So If students are able to learn tricks rather than knowledge for the test rather than being able to express their opinions through their writings, how is that those students have the advantage over those who are truly talented and aren’t naturally talented enough to take tests? If Students are writing for a computer within the tests, and colleges are looking for those who can write for humans, then the whole process of applying to Universities just does not make sense.

  4. The pressures of Standardized Testing
    Students are feeling the pressures of test taking even more in schools because of how critical tests are being perceived as entry to colleges. Colleges take into consideration student’s scores of the SAT for admittance into the universities and other than GPA, judge the students on how well they performed on their standardized tests. Teachers also feel the need to meet the governments and parent’s expectations because the competition of standardized testing between schools, students, and countries is rising. Standardized tests pressure students and teachers by raising expectations for students to perform well on the tests for college admittance without being accurate assessments of the learning abilities and knowledge of the students.
    For most, pressure for students to perform well academically starts at an early age. Parents want to see their children succeed and receive the best education in order to achieve a financially stable occupation. Therefore, in order to secure the best education in high school and college, students must excel at standardized testing. Standardized tests and GPA’s are one of the most important factors of admittance into some of the top universities: Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Georgetown, and MIT. Training younger generations to perform proficiently at an early age may give them advantages but also sets a high bar. Vickers, a writer for BusinessWeek magazine, comments in her article, “One reason is that four-year-olds must score well on a standardized test to gain acceptance to the city’s elite private kindergartens.” (Vickers, 596-598). Vickers refereed to the four-year-olds having to begin the process of standardized testing- a test that incorporates general ideas of subjects- simply to be admitted into an elite kindergarten. When I was younger, I did not take any standardized tests at such a young age and I am glad that I did not have that amount of pressure put on me before I started middle school. Having the pressures of admittance into schools at a young age can affect these children with an overwhelming amount of stress, which is not beneficial towards the children’s happiness. Parents should not put an immense amount of pressure on children at a young age, the elite private kindergartens should not require standardized testing and should admit children based on less rigorous forms of testing, such as communicative interviews or creative assessments.
    While students feel the pressure to perform well on standardized tests, teachers feel the pressure to produce the students with the highest performance rate on standardized tests. Schools are becoming more serious about standardized testing that they are requiring teachers to take time out of their lessons in class to prep students for standardized test taking instead. Gose and Selingo, editors of Chronicle of Higher Education, state “Even some high school teachers are taking time away from basic reading and writing instruction to prepare students for the SAT- a practice that Mr. Atkinson criticized.” (Gose and Selingo, 623-633). Taking the time out of learning main subjects for SAT prep is becoming a disadvantage towards students because they are not learning the proper lessons that their education is for.
    From spending a large amount of time focused on standardized testing, students learn about “gaming the test” rather than having opportunities to learn actual information. Because schools want students to perform well on their standardized test, students learn the different techniques they utilize when writing essays for the tests. This amount of teaching to make standardized essays more efficient takes away from the actual progress of learning. Kohn, a critic of standardized testing, states “prospective teachers are rethinking whether they want to begin a career in which high test scores matter most, and in which they will be pressured to produce these scores.” (Kohn, 598-603). This statement illustrates that teachers do not appreciate the pressures put upon them, and teaching students in a setting where they learn how to “game a test”. Williams, an associate professor, writes “received a report that praised the high quality of writing, including the mature command of language and the effective use of examples and transitional devices.” (Williams, 603-611). Here, a student can receive a high mark based on the tactics they used to “game” their essay. While a student can add in examples and transitions, their essay could still be inadequate and evaluated highly.
    Standardized tests take the passion and creativity out of their format, and because of that programs are eliminated in schools that do not relate to these tests. Students are required to write about topics that they have absolutely no interest in and that takes the individuality out of the student’s opinion. Williams states “increasing pressure of standardized testing disconnects literacy education from human concerns. Students face writing prompts and reading tests that have no connection to their lives, communities, or interests.” (Williams, 603-611). In high school, when I took the SAT’s and had to write an essay, I would only focus on using the best examples I could reference from books that I thought would impress the readers who would evaluate my essay. As far as the topic of the essay, it would be something that did not relate to my life and something that I had no enthusiasm for.
    Creativity is needed for students to excel, because it gives people an edge to succeed, and standardized tests do not encourage this. Standardized testing is very straightforward and to the point, quite the opposite of creativity. While students are being taught in the classroom how to succeed at mastering standardized tests, they should be learning how to explore creative areas that relate to their life. Zhao, a professor of technology at Michigan State University, writes “What fosters creativity in the United States is the whole multifaceted experience of growing up… standardized testing could kill creativity.” ( Zhao, 619-622). The point that Zhao makes demonstrates the United State’s “competitive edge” which is creativity, and standardized tests are pushing aside students opportunities to be creative. Programs are being eliminated in schools because they do no fit the criteria of standardized tests and school do not want the “waste” the money on these more artistic programs. Kohn, writes “Schools across the country are cutting back or even eliminating programs in the arts, recess for young children, elective for high schoolers… and other activities intended to promote social and moral learning.” (Kohn, 598-603). By taking out all of these extracurricular programs, students are being denied the opportunity to explore new, creative projects and expand out of the academic boundaries they are in. Schools should not cut these programs, and allow students the choice to make the decisions of choosing to participate in more creative activities in school.
    The main goal to perform well on standardized tests is for students to be admitted into universities, but universities are analyzing students on a test that does not illustrate student’s learning abilities. Fore example, Kohn states “SAT’s are designed so that only about half the test-takers will respond correctly to most items. The main objective of these tests is to rank, not to rate; to spread out the scores, not to gauge the quality of a given student or school.” (Kohn598-603). This shows that SAT’s are purposefully formatted to rank students on how well they can perform on a test rather than how well they comprehended learning at their school. Kohn also goes on to write “Standardized assessment differs from assessment that attempts to determine whether students are learning what we are trying to teach.” Universities care so much for standardized tests not only as a decision factor for admitting students but for ranking. Gose and Selingo write, “Many colleges also feel they must report high average SAT scores to the guidebooks, in order to earn top rankings and keep applications flowing their way… enrollment managers also know that recruiting students with high SAT scores is an easy way to improve an institution’s reputation.” (Gose and Selingo, 623-633). Colleges should care less about how they are ranked based on student’s high SAT scores, and more about whether they are admitting students into their universities who retained knowledge from what they learned in school.
    The amount of pressure put on students and teachers to excel at standardized testing is extraneous. From an unsigned article in USA Today Magazine, “Research by Marchant and Paulson determined that the rankings say more about the nature of the students taking the test than about the states’ educational systems.” (634-635). Standardized tests are more about taking the creativity out of their format, which influences schools to cut extra programs. These tests also promote superficial thinking such as “gaming” the essays to add special techniques such as transitions and vocabulary. Standardized tests should not be set up to rank students who take them, but rather used to further a student’s intellectual learning and be an opportunity for the student to showcase what they have learned in school and express their creativity.

    Works Cited

    Vickers, Why Can’t We Let Boys BE Boys?, 596-597, Elements of Argument

    Gose and Selingo, The SAT’s Greatest Test: Social, Legal, and Demographic Forces threaten to Dethrone the Most Widely Used College-Entrance Exam, 623-633, Elements of Argument

    Kohn, Standardized Testing and Its Victims, 598-603, Elements of Argument

    Williams, Standardized Students: The Problems with Writing for Tests Instead of People, 603-611, Elements of Argument

    Zhao, Are We Fixing the Wrong Things?, 619-622, Elements of Argument

    Are SAT Scores “Worse Than Meaningless”?, 634-635, Elements of Argument

  5. The Contradiction of a Standardized Test
    Presuming that students all across America are receiving the same level of education is not only folly, but has lead to the epidemic of standardized tests unfairly determining the future of students and schools alike. The purpose of a standardized test is to ensure that students are on track and prepared for the next level of their education. However the very nature of a singular test for millions of vastly different people is set up for failure from the start. Student of higher socioeconomic status perform better than those of a lower class due to the fact that they can afford to enroll in preparation courses that teach how to “game the test”. Standardized tests of all sorts don’t test on a critical thinking level, rather these tests measure a way superficial thinking. In reality a standardized tests, such as the SAT, in no way predicts how well a high school senior will thrive in a college environment. Yet universities use Scholastic Aptitude Test or SAT a test given to all seniors in high school to rank students on reading, writing and math skills scores as a major contributing factor in the acceptance process, rather than looking at the student as a whole. In fact schools across the country are being forced to push aside subjects like the arts and social sciences in order to focus on math and science, in the hopes of having student perform well on standardized tests.

    When students do not perform at a level that the government has set as a standard, students can be held back. The whole point of keeping a student back a grade is in the hopes that repeating that grade will ensure a students knowledge of the material. A poor performance on standardized tests can a major contributing factor when deciding to hold a student back. However A Harvard University study found that “students in the bottom 10 percent of achievement were 33% more likely to drop out of school in states with graduation tests.The National Research Council found grade
    schoolers who are held back because of poor performance on standardized tests are more likely to drop out.” There is not part of the standardized test system that is set up for students. Although the idea of a standardized test is well based, in reality there is no way to fairly determine how well a student is performing in comparison to another student because the entire education system is uneven. The blame can not rest on one singular group of people; in reality it would do not good to place blame anywhere. The current system of standardized testing is more harmful than beneficial. Schools and teachers can suffer and be considering failing without taking into account that school’s progress. High school students have become so desperate to perform well on standardized tests, that they pay large sums of money to buy books and take preparation courses that take away the equality of the test. It is simply too much pressure to place on a student and expect a good performance.

  6. Standardized test, as we know, really produces a systematic way for students to gain knowledge, but actually during this process, both parents and students focus too much on how many scores they achieve in exams. Thus in a personal review, Brandon Wong, literature professor in Beijing University, claimed that: “I never regard score a perfect way to show how my students are going on with their studies. As an essay grader, I think the score of an essay only means the degree of a grader’s agreement with this essay. I mean a low-scored essay is also likely to be appreciated by other graders. So it’s totally meaningless to pay so much attention to scores.” (Wong) Actually before the interview, Wong ever expressed his worry about ranking students’ grades of each exam in Beijing University. He believed students should enjoy their studies instead of struggling for high grades. Moreover, with the grade-ranking system, industrious students gaining lower ranks are suffering from frustration because they think their hard work has been unrewarded and their confidence is heavily hit. Wong agreed that Beijing University does own a complete education system, but a number of students graduated here can do nothing as they are only good at studying and raking high in exams, but these don’t exist at work. In addition, I think luck is also an important element to gain high grades, at least for grading an essay. As Wong pointed that ” the score of an essay only means the degree of a grader’s agreement with this essay”(Wong), it means you are lucky enough to have similar ideas with graders.
    Admittedly, standardized test shapes students’ entire educational experience, during this process, students are gradually used to thinking critically, but their divergent thinking is eroded due to lack of space to think freely. “There is a circle around current students because they spend more time following teachers and they have few time to think by themselves. It’s not strange since standardized test only admits standardized answers, thus students’ own ideas make no sense in such tests.” (Brooks, p114) according to Jason Brooks, author of Education and Reform. I can deeply feel what Brook means by “circle”. There is an interesting math problem saying: if one equals five, two equals ten, three equals fifteen, four equals twenty, then what’s five equal? If required to reply in three seconds, the common answer is twenty five. But actually the correct response is one as it says in the beginning “if one equals five”. By this I mean with standardized test, students form stereotypes to think over problems and they only think in the way and find out answers that standardized test will say “correct”. So that is what Brooks meant students were learning what they were taught, but they seldom explored by themselves, and this results from lack of thinking independently. This situation, balances between critical thinking and divergent thinking, seems a choice between academic knowledge and creativity, but they should develop at the same time as academic knowledge is the basis for creativity while creativity deepens our understanding of academic knowledge. Thus we should never ignore the role of divergent thinking since this distinguishes human beings from machines, and this will help students jump out of “circle”.
    Standardized test also cut the time for some other programs, such as arts. According to Alfie Kohn, in Standardized Testing and Its Victims,
    “Schools across the country are cutting back or even eliminating programs in the arts, recess for young children, electives for high schoolers, class meetings (and other activities intended to promote social and moral learning), discussions about current events (since that material will not appear on the test), the use of literature in the early grades (if the tests are focus narrowly on decoding skills), and entire subject areas such as science (if the test cover only language arts and math)”.(Kohn, p599)
    Kohn thought standardized test are keeping students far away from round development. Tests should evaluate a students in variable aspects-morality, art, creativity, adaptability, and even leadership-besides just academic knowledge. However, students are now studying more about how to perform in exams, how to read and analyze each problems with their pens on sheets, they know little about how to appreciate Van Gogh’s work; they seldom care what it happens to Wall Street everyday; they are hardly willing to make a sports plan during study time.

  7. Because standardised testing has such a large impact on a student’s life, the quality of education in America is changing to fit the tests instead of for the student’s learning. Standardised testing has been used many times in the past, but education today relies on the system too much. Schools are changing their course curriculum to prepare students for the tests:
    ‘Schools across the country are cutting back or even eliminating programs in the arts, recess for young children, electives for high schoolers, class meetings (and other activities intended to promote social and moral learning), discussions about current events (since the material will not appear on the test), the use of literature in the early grades (if the tests are focused narrowly on decoding skills), and entire subject areas such as science (if the tests cover only language arts and math)’ (Kohn 599-600).
    A poll by the Public Agenda shows that 88% of teachers in America say that the school the amount of attention given to standardised tests has improved, and 61% say that ‘teaching to the test inevitably stifles real teaching and learning’ (Weaver 616). Especially since the enforcement of the No Child Left Behind act, the standards and expectations of students in America have risen.

  8. One Test Does Not Fit All
    According to the California Department of Education website, the SAT is “is a standardized test that assesses the critical reading, mathematics, and writing skills that students need to be successful in college.” Supposedly, it is an examination that helps colleges and universities to identify “qualified” students and serves as a tool to assess one’s academic readiness for college. It is a test that has been used nation wide to evaluate a student’s learning and is used to predict whether or not a student will do well at the college level. Claims such as these have been made by the College Entrance Examination Board and time and time again. While their exams have served as a key role in the college acceptance process, there has been much controversy over how effective of an instrument it is. The standardized admissions tests are educationally illegitimate to indicate a student’s academic skill set and knowledge when evaluated in socioeconomics, testing abilities and ethnic origin.
    The SAT is an academically illegitimate test when evaluated through the criteria of the socio economic realm. Misconceptions about the SATs are that it levels the playing field but with more research, the level field has only seen more variation and unevenness. Not every student has an equal opportunity because of their families’ income, knowledge of the test, and socio economic priorities. In a 1992 study, the National Assessment of Educational Progress found that the poverty rate was one of four main variables that were accountable for nearly 90% of the different test scores in one state (Kohn, Alfie). Along with poverty, the number of parents in the home, their education and community were other attributes. The socioeconomic welfare of a child plays a key role in the SAT and college process. Often times, single parent homes will see less annual income and are usually located in less than ideal communities. Consequently, a child raised by a parent only seeing one pay check role in every month will often be on, around or below the poverty line. When families are poor, the opportunities to further education, find professional help for classes and SAT prep are sparse. Also, students who are higher on the socio economic scale tend to do well because they can afford the preparatory classes, the tutors, and are more aware and knowledgeable of the value that the SAT has with the application process of college. With higher incomes, better quality schools can be accessed and in turn, better quality educations. Although there are programs such as SEE College Prep, that provide SAT prep classes for students that come from low income homes, students in poor socioeconomic conditions still aren’t performing as well as their wealthier peers (Honeycutt, Mimi).
    The knowledge of the test is essential in taking the test. Not only is the knowledge of the subjects on the test necessary, but how to beat the test. The SAT’s lack of academic comprehension and indication for students is justified when evaluated with the criteria of the broad questions that do not have the capabilities of measuring a students high school knowledge and understanding of the high school curriculum. The SAT has been questioned for its questions. Studying for the SAT can include learning material that many students have yet to learn in high school or will never learn, therefore preparations for the SAT is learning new material, learning how to beat the test mentally, and reviewing the newly learned material for a test that is sought to test the knowledge and comprehension of a high school curriculum. Yet it seems that schools are more concerned with producing students that will do well on the SAT test than in the actual classroom. Bronwyn T. Williams, a professor and director at the University of Louisville, makes a bold statement in “Standardized Students: The Problems with Writing for Tests Instead of People” declaring, “As long as students meet the standards, what they may actually be learning seems to be besides the point.” It seems that Williams’ point may stand true as well. Schools with poorly performing students will often get a slap on the wrist or reassessment of their curriculum if their students aren’t doing well on tests such as the SAT. In order to prevent this, it only makes sense that schools are gearing their curriculums towards tests such as the SAT so that they can get better rankings and meet the standards regardless of student’s differences. Standardized assessments simply focus on the broad comparison of students and pay little to no attention to the student as a single person (Williams, Bronwyn T.).

    The SAT has a racial bias, which leads to many colored racial groups performing significantly worse than white students. Studies and research have proven this problem to be legitimate with numerical statistics and values that show the substantial difference in higher scores and lower scores. In a 2009 study, it was seen that students who listed themselves as Asian, Asian American or Pacific Islander improved their test scores by 13 points. On the contrary, those listed as Puerto Rican had scores that differentiated by 9 points, in the negative direction. Even more shocking, was the differences between a student’s race and actual test scores. While the Asian students averaged a score of 1623 out of 2400, Puerto Rican students averaged 1345. Though the national average in 2009 was 1509, black students averaged a scored of 1345, the lowest of any ethnic group (Marklein, Mary Beth). Though the reasons why certain ethnic groups do better or worse than others can’t be fully explained, some of it may be due to demographics in relation to ethnic groups. For example, African Americans show high concentration in large cities. Since there is a high concentration of African Americans, there is also a high concentration of crime in those areas – which may also lead to poor academic performance (Giddens, Anthony). In addition to communities, the variation of test scores throughout ethnic origins may circle back to the aforementioned socioeconomic issue. Many children belonging to ethnic groups such as Hispanics, African Americans and American Indians account for over 65% of the population that is below the poverty line (“How Many Children Live in Poverty?”). As explained earlier, the socioeconomic effect on SAT and other standardized test performance holds a strong correlation. Since ethnic origin plays a vital role in poverty statistics, it does in turn do the same with testing results.
    The SAT and other standardized tests, although they are used to assess a student’s academic readiness, discriminate against socioeconomic standings, testing abilities and ethnic origin. If this hypothesis holds true, then there are two ways to solving this issue, to either revise the testing material, or to change the entire high school curriculum across the globe to prepare students for such tests. Much of the material in the SAT test itself isn’t covered by the bare minimum that students must complete by the end of their high school career, or even by junior year – which is when most students will take their first SAT. If a student’s college readiness is going to be judged by their junior year education, the test material should be geared towards students at the average junior year intelligence. As an alternative, it may be possible that curriculums should be more rigorous and include concepts covered in the SAT during a student’s sophomore and junior year. Clearly, there is a problem in which students are having a harder time doing well on the SAT and there must be a compromise to be reached. Either the test much be diluted or school curriculums must be augmented. In any event, the test and curriculum must meet in the middle in order to accommodate the diversification of socioeconomics, testing abilities and ethnic origins.

  9. Mr. Duncan,

    This new generation of assessments sounds interesting but with the same old testmakers doing the actual preparation, why should we believe they will be any more relevant and fair than previous tests? Just because there are promises and new technology does not mean that the curriculum will ultimately be less narrowed than in the past if we are still focused solely on Reading/Math and high stakes. Why should we be hopeful?

  10. Standards are the stranglehold of education in their current form. Our public schools are educating a generation of children who do not have history of family acedemic or economic performance and yet teachers are supposed to overcome huge socioeconomic barriers on the basis of test scores. We need to get real.

  11. He makes some good points. Another problem are the prents nowadays don’t care too much and see school as a free daycare instead of what it is meant to be. Teacher have to focus on raising and disciplining students instead of teaching them. This whole education mess we are in needs to be cleaned up before we fall even further behind.

  12. No child left behind was a brainchild of the late Sen. Kennedy (d-ma.) george W. Bush signed it while trying to appease liberals. The real reason our school system is in the doghouse is 40 years of liberal policies. As a teacher in High School and now College I find that the students of today are woefully undereducated. They do not know proper english and U.S. History (my subj.). This problem will continue as long as we have the substandard education of potential teachers.

    • Mr. Duncan – Please read the book “Making the Grades, My Misadventures in the Standardized Testing Industry” by Todd Farley and explain how spending $350 million to develop two tests is going to improve student education? Also, please explain why you are paying TWO groups for the same product? That is like me having two companies to replace my roof–I only need one.

      • Is is it really that suprising that the government is paying TWO groups for the same product? Also, spending $350 million for two tests? Seriously? How about allowing teachers to actually teach and hand out grades that students earn rather than all of the bleeding liberal hearts who insist in believing that individuals should not have to take responsibility for their actions, so we need to hand them everything?

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