The Paranoia of Standardized Testing (Pt. 5) Consequences of Embedding Market Capitalism in our Scho
In this post we will be discussing the actual effects that the paranoia of standardized testing has on children in their day to day living as they attend the school system. We will continue the discussion from the previous post on how market capitalism has embedded itself into the education system.
To understand the context of what we will be discussing here I suggest reading the previous posts in this series:
As we discussed in the previous posts the problem with standardized testing is not the tests themselves. The problem is the starting-point of paranoia that is permeating the entire education system that has been induced by the paranoia of scarcity within the market capitalistic system.
The Paranoia of Standardized Testing (Part 3): Teaching to the Test: DAY 28 The Paranoia of Standardized Testing (Part 2): Forcing Schools to Compete: DAY 27 The Paranoia of Standardized Testing: DAY 25 – See more at: http://teachersjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-paranoia-of-standardized-testing_12.html#sthash.kzEjOTrL.dpu
The Paranoia of Standardized Testing (Part 3): Teaching to the Test: DAY 28 The Paranoia of Standardized Testing (Part 2): Forcing Schools to Compete: DAY 27 The Paranoia of Standardized Testing: DAY 25 – See more at: http://teachersjourneytolife.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-paranoia-of-standardized-testing_12.html#sthash.kzEjOTrL.dpufAs we discussed in the previous posts the problem with standardized testing is not the tests themselves. The problem is the starting-point of paranoia that is permeating the entire education system that has been induced by the paranoia of scarcity within the market capitalistic system
“The state will be the ‘buyer’ of outcomes and the schools will be ‘sellers’ of outcomes.” This mind-view, rooted in the private-sector philosophy […] ignores the traditional moral responsibility of public schools to serve as society’s great equalizer. “ – Kyle Curtis[i]
So because the starting-point of standardized testing is an economic incitement essentially based on a cocktail of fear and greed, there is little to no educational value or purpose with standardized testing. Standardized testing is not prioritized and implemented into schools for children to learn from, but to place children onto an assembly line of production that is being optimized with the only purpose of securing profit-maximization for those on top of the market pyramid.
“The tests are just the means by which this game is played. It is a game that a lot of kids—predominantly kids of color—simply cannot win. Invoking these very kids to justify a top-down, heavy-handed, corporate-style, test-driven version of school reform requires a stunning degree of audacity. To take the cause of equity seriously is to work for the elimination of tracking, for more equitable funding, and for the universal implementation of more sophisticated approaches to pedagogy (as opposed to heavily scripted direct-instruction programs). But standardized testing, while bad news across the board, is especially hurtful to students who need our help the most.”[ii]– Alfie Kohn
Let’s have a look at how Children are affected by being seen as resources for market capitalism.
THE FUNDAMENTAL PROBLEMS:
1. Stratification and increased inequality
“Students from low-income and minority-group backgrounds are more likely to be retained in grade, placed in a lower track, or put in special or remedial education programs when it is not necessary. They are more likely to be given a watered-down or “dummied-down” curriculum, based heavily on rote drill and test practice. This only ensures they will fall further and further behind their peers. On the other hand, children from white, middle and upper income backgrounds are more likely to be placed in “gifted and talented” or college preparatory programs where they are challenged to read, explore, investigate, think and progress rapidly.”[iii]
2. Demoting subjects of value and importance
“The time, energy, and money that are being devoted to preparing students for standardized tests have to come from somewhere. 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 focused narrowly on decoding skills), and entire subject areas such as science (if the tests cover only language arts and math). Anyone who doubts the scope and significance of what is being sacrificed in the desperate quest to raise scores has not been inside a school lately.” – Alfie Kohn[iv]
3. Standardized testing has not improved student achievement.
“After No Child Left Behind (NCLB) passed in 2002, the US slipped from 18th in the world in math on the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) to 31st place in 2009, with a similar drop in science and no change in reading.  A May 26, 2011, National Research Council report found no evidence test-based incentive programs are working: “Despite using them for several decades, policymakers and educators do not yet know how to use test-based incentives to consistently generate positive effects on achievement and to improve education.” [v]
4. Standardized Testing Causes Stress and Anxiety in Children
“According to education researcher Gregory J. Cizek, anecdotes abound “illustrating how testing… produces gripping anxiety in even the brightest students, and makes young children vomit or cry, or both.” On Mar. 14, 2002, the Sacramento Bee reported that “test-related jitters, especially among young students, are so common that the Stanford-9 exam comes with instructions on what to do with a test booklet in case a student vomits on it.” [vi]
The first problem, the stratification of students is in direct discordance with one of the most fundamental arguments for market capitalism: equal opportunity. According to market capitalists, everyone has an equal opportunity to ‘make it’ in life – however children are inadvertently born into a socio-economic karmic cycle where their opportunities in life are based the opportunities their parents had before them. The way standardized testing is set up – based on the competition and paranoia of fear and greed, more children will be set up to fail than succeed – because this system doesn’t exist to support them to succeed in fact as we have established.
The second problem is one of the ones that have been discussed most in the critique of standardized testing. And although it is true that education has to be more ‘hands-on’ and ‘learning-by-doing’, there is as mentioned nothing wrong with testing or digital materials or standards for that matter. Here it is also relevant to briefly mention the never-ending academic battle between those who propone a positivistic model and those who prefer phenomenological methods. The first traditionally gives precedence to numbers, statistics and quantitative verifiable facts. The other gives precedence to subjectivity and qualitative learning methods focusing on lived experiences rather than numbers. The point I’d like to make here is that it is not relevant to call a winner between the two because each method has its strengths and flaws. So it is something else entirely that is relevant to discuss in this context: namely how the education system indoctrinates children to become apathetic (I’ve mentioned this in previous posts) and thereby prevent the education of children to become critical, independent and dangerous for the status quo of the current system. I will in blog posts to come explore this topic in detail so it is not something I will go further into here.
The third problem has to do with whether or not the usage of standardized testing has had improvements on students’ achievements. The fact that it has not had significant positive effects is a strong evidence of how the starting-point with standardized testing, as it currently exists is not in fact in the best interest of children’s education. Fewer will be on top and more will dissolve into the growing blob of the failing masses, here especially at risk are young men from the so-called ‘blue-collar’ vocational-caste who form the largest group of unemployed people currently. [vii]
Finally we have the fourth problem – the effects of standardized testing on children’s mental and physical health and well-being. This is probably the problem that most parents are concerned about when it comes to their own children as well as being that which students themselves mention the most in their encounter with standardized testing in schools. This is the most fundamental problem with the paranoia of standardized testing because it induces our children into the same state of paranoia and fear that is its starting-point and it literally functions in such a way that children are developing as human beings who learn to fear life.
I will therefore dedicate the next post specifically to this problem and discuss in further detail how children are affected by the paranoia of standardized testing as well as look at the consequences this has for the future of humanity as a whole.
Thanks for tuning in – until next time.
For more information about Equal Money and Education, I recommend reading the following blogs:
For more information about Equal Money and Education, I recommend reading the following blogs: