Many on the left are raising a stink about the US Department of Education’s insistence on having states give their annual tests. Critics say it’s unfair because most students haven’t been in physical schools for about a year. These critics also maintain that it’s unnecessarily stressful to test students now. What’s more, some even propose sensible alternatives to machine-scored bubble tests, but don’t be fooled by the clarity of their logic or the power of their examples, because these hysterical objections only serve to demonstrate that the critics of machine-scored, multiple-choice bubble tests fail to understand that standardized testing is an important driver of the US economy.
Please consider these NINE economic consequences of cancelling machine-scored tests.
- Cancelling standardized tests will endanger the health of students and teachers. Both test-prep and testing are natural environments for social distancing; students who are required to stay at their desks all day long are not at risk of either passing on or catching COVID. That’s a win-win that would be a loss if tests were cancelled.
- Not testing will unsettle students, endangering their already shaky mental health. The rhythm of test-prep and testing is well-known and familiar to students. What could be better for students who have been trapped on Zoom for months than to have the familiar Zen-like peace-and-quiet of test prep and testing?
- The companies that create, administer and process these tests are a vital cog in our national economy, employing thousands of men and women, who then spend their earnings in their communities, thus seeding local economies. Suppose our 13,000+ school districts were to cancel the (often) multi-million dollar contracts? That would devastate those companies and the lives of their employees.
- Vital educational research will be jeopardized. The 400+ full-bore studies of “Learning Loss” would be useless without the results of this year’s mandated standardized tests. Although it’s a foregone conclusion that these studies will demonstrate the reality of “The Achievement Gap,” those headlines will enable us to continue the practice of not having to capitalize either opportunity and expectations gaps, meaning that we can continue to pretend they are not real.
- Cancelling testing will overturn lives. Somewhere between 175 and 35,000 doctoral students are close to finishing their dissertations on “Learning Loss.” Without data from this spring’s state tests, they will be unable to complete their theses, unable to sit for their oral exams, and unable to qualify for their doctoral degrees. This will mean an additional year of graduate school tuition and hardship for the struggling families of the graduate students, who may also have to postpone child-bearing for another year. Heartbreak and even divorce loom on the horizon for many of these families….if state testing is cancelled.
- Cancelling tests will completely derail the planned boom in in-service training for teachers regarding “Learning Loss.” With grants from the Gates Foundations and other organizations determined to reform public education, teams of skilled teacher-educators have spent months preparing extensive lessons for teachers to give them the skills they need to deal with the dreaded “Learning Loss.” Without weeks of after-school training, classroom teachers will not be able to identify the various forms of “Learning Loss,” which include ‘Lopsided Learning Loss,’ ‘Linear Learning Loss,’ ‘Logical Learning Loss,’ ‘Logarithmic Learning Loss,’ among many others. The trainers must have the data that standardized tests will provide.
- Cancelling tests will drastically reduce the incomes of child psychiatrists and psychologists, many of whom are called on to help despondent teens cope with the stress of testing. These doctors, humanitarians to the core, spend their well-earned dollars in their communities, and that money cycles through over and over, strengthening our economy. Without the stress of testing, young kids won’t need doctors, and the economy will sink.
- Cancelling tests will also hurt the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies, who rely on sales of Ritalin, Adderall, and other methylphenidate-based medications to keep their profits up. And before you scoff, those profits go to shareholders, who in turn pump the money into local economies when they purchase a new Tesla, a larger home, or a new polo pony
- Cancelling testing will endanger the health of universities. Pre-COVID, the focus on test prep and testing guaranteed that every year at least 100,000 teachers would get fed up and leave the profession for some other line of work. This created a perpetual ‘teacher shortage’ that university schools of education could rely on as they prepared their budgets. That is, they knew that school districts would have jobs for their graduates, and so they could aggressively recruit students and train them for classroom work. Cancelling testing will mean that teachers will actually be able to do what drew them into the field–help students learn and grow. This means that fewer teachers will give up on teaching, districts won’t have teacher shortages, university education programs will shrink, education faculty will lose their jobs, and lives will wither. All because we cancelled state standardized testing.
I will admit that some students (perhaps even all of them) would benefit from returning to a pressure-free school environment so they can get reacquainted with their peers. And I also acknowledge that some teachers (perhaps even all of them as well) should not have their worth determined by unreliable test scores.
However, those are necessary sacrifices and small prices for students and teachers to pay, because cancelling testing will endanger our national economy.
PLEASE, DO NOT CONSIDER THE NEEDS OF CHILDREN AND TEACHERS. TO SAVE THE AMERICAN ECONOMY, WE MUST KEEP THE TESTS!!