Are You There God, It’s Me Eduflack?

The latest volley has been launched in the ongoing battle against the evils of testing.  Today, the folks over at No Test, sorry, meant Fair Test, released a letter they coordinated from more than 100 children’s book authors to EdSec Arne Duncan, attacking increased testing, computer adaptive testing, teacher evaluation measures, and “the narrowing of curriculum” for eliminating students’ love of reading and literature.

The full letter can be found here.   Hat tip to Stephanie Simon over at Politico PRO Education for spotlighting the letter this morning.
Lots of signatories on the list.  Some names folks know, many that they don’t.  Eduflack’s personal fave is Judy Blume.  I’ll admit, as a kid, she was one of my favorite authors.  I read everything she wrote.  I even triggered the town librarian call my mom one afternoon because she thought it was inappropriate for a young boy to be reading “Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret?” My mother, the high school English teacher, ignored the advice of the librarian, and I read the book many times over.
Eduflack can appreciate the concerns these authors and illustrators have.  And I might even be willing to concede that a child’s love for reading and literature has declined in recent years.  But is it because of testing, or is it because of multimedia?  Do we blame the bubble sheet, or do we blame the multitude of options now competing for a young learner’s attention?
Honestly, I’m getting a little tired of testing being blamed for all that is perceived wrong in our country.  Too many people far too often are throwing everything and anything they can in their Quixotic approach to rid our world of testing.  We ignore that testing has been a part of our public schools for as long as we’ve had public schools.  We overlook that testing data can play a meaningful role in improving both teaching and learning.  We avoid the true debate, a discussion about ensuring the value of testing and the use and application of high-quality assessments.
Instead, we rail against the system, throwing the red meat on “high-stakes testing,” “testing and reading schemes,” and “testing overuse and abuse.”  We talk in media releases, instead of engaging in dialogues.  And we turn to scare tactics and the negative, instead of exploring common ground and the positive.
We need to stop our Blubber, clear our Tiger Eyes, and Forever commit to a better way to talk about schools, school improvement, and testing.  Otherwise, there will be no more Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing because more than a third of our fourth graders still won’t be reading at grade level.  If we really want Sally J. Freedman to star as herself, can’t we shift from this vitriol to a more meaningful community engagement?
Or perhaps I should just let a few Superfudges fly, and accept this is just as it is.  Then Again, Maybe I Won’t …
 

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