Friday, May 4, 2012


I've just finished reading John Taylor Gatto's Weapons of Mass Instruction.  It's ironic to be reading it, and resonating so strongly with so much he has to say... just as I'm calling the local high school to see about Wyatt taking a couple of classes there, part-time, next year.  *sigh*

However, one thing we will NOT be participating in at the school is standardized testing.  I couldn't agree with Gatto's take on that more.  Here's what he says, (emphasis mine.)

… we inevitably discover (as adults) that the information these glorified jigsaw puzzles generates is unreliable, and very misleading – absolutely nobody ever asks after the data.  We see that those who test well are more often circus dogs than leaders of the future.

Nothing inside the little red schoolhouse does more personal and social damage than the numbers and rank order these tests hang around the necks of the young.  Although the scores correlate with absolutely nothing of real value, the harm they cause is real enough… They constitute a matchless weapon of social control, wreaking havoc on winners and losers alike.

The frequent ceremonies of useless testing – preparation, administration, recovery – convert forced schooling into a travesty of what education should be; they drain hundreds of millions of days yearly from what might otherwise be productive pursuits; they divert tens of billions of cash resources into private pockets.  The net effect of standardized testing is to reduce our national wealth in future generations, by suffocating imagination and intellect, while enhancing wealth for a few in the present.  This occurs as a byproduct of “scientifically” ranking the tested so they can be, supposedly, classified efficiently as human resources. 

No WASL, MSP, HSPE, MAP, AYP, or other BS.

I can only imagine how the school will react when it comes up...

Breathe the free air.


LISA said...

Wow, this post feels like salt in a fresh wound.
My son is graduating from high school this month. He has been homeschooled his whole life until he dual enrolled in the local state college to get both college and high school credits. He is graduating with an AA degree, at the same time as high school, and with honors.
You would think that that is an honorable accomplishment, except he is a terrible standardized test taker.
He has been told by another state university that he is not admittable due to low SAT scores. There is something very wrong with this system. This is a smart kid by their standards (not just mine) and yet he is denied.
Sorry to post such a long comment. Thank you for speaking up and for understanding my frustration.

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Oh Lisa, that's heart-breaking. And just so WRONG.

What does he want to do, or does he know?

Praying for his heart and yours :o)


LISA said...

He does not know what he wants to do, which makes it harder. We are not sure how to help him. So, right now we are just believing that this is all part of God's provision in his life and he will be stronger once we get through this.

One option is to take classes (twelve hours) where he is graduating from and then transfer. It is confusing because as of right now he is considered a freshman first time in college even though he his already graduating.
Ultimately it boils down to having to beat the system.

Choate Family said...

I was a good test taker growing up, but my brilliant husband only scored average. Now, he's working on his second graduate degree!

Q said...

I KNOW! Through the whole book I kept thinking, "We are SO BLIND!"

Had to laugh about the standardized testing. The girls did CATs several years ago so they could participate in the updated home educator report that came out shortly after. Their 'results' were 'outstanding', coming in several 'grade' levels ahead in every category, but I kept laughing because while one daughter scored in a ridiculously high 'grade level' for science, I knew that she didn't know squat about science at the time. (And that wasn't the only subject result that had me raising an eyebrow.)

What a racket!

Herding Grasshoppers said...

Lisa... or just opt out of the system. I've really changed my views on college/university. I'm NOT anti-education, but going on to higher education is no longer my "default position", regarding out boys.

I'm hoping/planning to help them utilize our state's program (like what your son did) to get their AA. But after that?

In my opinion, college/university is appropriate when you have a specific goal and the best or only way to reach that goal is a university degree. If you want to be a medical doctor, you need medical school. If you want to be a pastor you need seminary. If you want to be a chemical engineer, you need a degree.

But good grief, we've got way too many people with degrees and no useful skills. I'm not kidding when I say that the last time I called a plumber (and just try to get one on a weekend!) the guy had a degree in chemical engineering... but no work in his field. So he learned to be a plumber, and was digging his way out of debt.

Your son will land on his feet :D Maybe it's time to work for awhile, while he figures out what direction he wants to take???


dlefler said...

I really don't like standardized testing. The main test used for early elementary schoolers (for reading) is called the DIBELS. Matt gets horribly low scores because they have a segment called "nonsense word fluency." Matt won't read the nonsense words (things like "wib, nim, tup) because they don't make sense. He scores horribly low on that section, even though the child can actually... READ. The test makes him look like he is "behind" when he is actually "ahead." Ridiculous.

I totally agree about the "aimless degree" situation, Julie. So many kids go to college to get a degree - they don't have a career goal or life plan, but simply use college as a time-filler because they don't know what else to do with their young lives. I had a specific goal (mine was actually medical school, though I opted out and ended up working in biotechnology because I made the decision that medicine wasn't really for me) - I graduated in less than four years with a full bachelor's degree. Dennis also had a specific goal, and we've both done well. I had many friends, however, who floundered from major to major and took 8 years to graduate with no specific career goal in sight.

Ann said...

Doug is a phenomenal test-taker. They intimidate me to no end. Olivia's like me, but I think Angie is more like Doug. We have to do them in AR for third through ninth grade, but we can order our own and do them right at home at our leisure. That helps!