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Place a moratorium on high-stakes testing

As a former middle school principal, I did not receive the recent news that the state would look to eliminate the eighth-grade math test for accelerated students as a positive source of change. In fact, it may be harmful to the school and to the teachers if the results from those individuals who achieve at the highest level in mathematics are not included in the school’s overall assessment reports.

If this plan moves forward, I wonder if there could be some negative consequences. Would educators decide to recommend fewer students for accelerated courses? Would some schools eliminate accelerated courses in order to keep the high-achieving students in the general mathematics course? Will educators continue to maintain the same number of students in accelerated courses but eventually be harmed as their overall effectiveness score would decrease without the benefit of those student results?

Donald Campbell is an American social scientist who devoted his professional life to studying the methodologies of social science research. He indicated that the more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

Campbell also stated that “achievement tests may well be valuable indicators of general school achievement, under conditions of normal teaching aimed at general competence.” But when test scores become the goal of the teaching process, they lose their value as indicators of educational status and distort the educational process.

The state Education Department would be wise to place a moratorium on high-stakes testing as it relates to teacher and principal performance review and re-evaluate the goals of producing a high-quality education.

Brian Graham

Assistant Superintendent of Pupil Services

West Seneca Central Schools