Oh, the irony! For the past six years, I have actively encouraged families with children in the public schools to opt-out of New York State high-stakes tests - now, under the pressure (guise) of a global pandemic, those very tests have been canceled, including the Regents Exams.
You can view this decision from two very different vantage points: 1) at face value - they don't think it is fair to the students to take tests after having lost preparation time, or 2) with skepticism.
As you can probably guess, I take the latter position. 1) New York State has battled the Opt-Out movement from its inception. They have gone so far as to say that they would penalize those schools (reduce funding) who had an Opt-Out rate over a certain percentage. 2) The powers that be know there will be backlash (lawsuits from the civil liberty folks) because kids didn't have enough in-person instruction. 3) They may even, at the heart of it, understand that standardized tests are garbage, and this is an excuse to remove them without admitting that they are garbage (unlikely, but I am putting it out there).
The data is clear - standardized tests do not, in any way, measure learning (long term retention of information). I will not address the very long list of reasons here. Nonetheless, both the Federal and State Departments of Education are inextricably tied to high-stakes tests. Firstly, we have folks who know, absolutely, nothing about education running these departments and implementing programs ("No Child Left Behind" and "Common Core") that have little to do with, actual, learning. And secondly, once again, I will invoke the phrase, "follow the money" to explain the testing phenomenon.
It is the textbook (Pearson, McGraw-Hill, etc) and tech companies (Microsoft, Apple, etc.), who are developing the above-mentioned pedagogical programs, as well as the assessment instruments that are mandated by the Feds and the States. In doing so, they are creating demand, and, let's be brutally honest, a guaranteed (coerced) market for the products they sell.
New York State Governor, Andrew Cuomo announced last week that he is forming an educational task force, with none other than, Bill Gates, to determine, among other things, if virtual learning is a viable way forward for the future of public education. With unadulterated cynicism, this is where I ask myself, "Is this simply appeasement, for canceling the tests this year, with the idea of expanding them in the future?"
Clearly, as long as the governmental education system, our children, and learning itself, are considered commodities to be bought and sold - we will need alternatives dedicated to serving and supporting our kids and our communities.
Congrats to our four seniors. Friday was the last day of our academic year. Sadly, we were not able to share hugs, high-fives, and stories of our time together, in person. Nevertheless, we send them out into the world with our gratitude and very best wishes.
In Maria's Kitchen - Find the latest virtual cooking class below.