Diane Ravitch – former US Assistant Secretary of Education and current Research Professor of Education at New York University – recently went head-to-head with Merryl Tisch – Chancellor of the New York State Board of Regents – about testing, or rather the “Testing Revolt” surrounding the opt-out movement, specifically, on MSNBC’s “All In” host Chris Hayes. Click here to view the best version of the live broadcase I could find (via YouTube). Here are some of the highlights:
Chris Hayes compares opting out of high-stakes tests to opting out of immunizations, after which Diane responds that making such a comparison is completely inappropriate because “one has a scientific basis [and] the other has none.”
Merryl claims that the tests are diagnostic tools that are used to inform instruction and curriculum development, to which Diane responds about the inordinate numbers of hours students spend testing and how whatever formative value might come from such tests is grossly delayed whereas teachers do not receive results until well after their students have left their classrooms, which greatly limits formative potential.
Merryl has no response to that, that Chris aptly points out, but she defers rather to a peripheral argument that the public who spends $54 billion on education throughout the state has a right to what she did not term tests’ summative (i.e., opposite of formative) functionality.
Diane responds after a bit of redirection and explains how we test more than any other industrialized nation in the world, including the top 10 performing nations as per international exams. Interesting here, albeit not stated explicitly, is that we have been testing in this manner for over 30 years yet we still cannot break the top 10. Isn’t that an indicator in an of itself as our number one educational reform model — increasing standards and attaching new and improved tests to measure and hold teachers and students to meeting those standards, over and over and over again — isn’t working?
Merryl ends by (falsely) explaining to parents they are inappropriately opting out because they have been trapped in a dispute caused by Governor Cuomo linking tests to teacher evaluation to which teachers unions are opposed. Diane was not given a chance to respond.
Chris Hayes is a brave man. He has these two women sitting less than a foot apart in his studio and if you pay attention you can see the tension between them and Chris Hayes directing their responses. The segment is titled “to test or not to test” http://www.msnbc.com/all .