Standardized Tests Are Not Objective Measures of Anything


If you teach a kid, birthed a kid, are a kid, used to be a kid, or are planning to rely on today’s kids to whip this planet and its inhabitants back into shape, please read every word of this. And then tell everyone you know to read every word of this. Thank you, Steven Singer.

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When it comes to standardized tests, most people are blinded by science.

Or at least the appearance of science.

Because there is little about these assessments that is scientific, factual or unbiased.

And that has real world implications when it comes to education policy.

First of all, the federal government requires that all public school children take these assessments in 3-8th grade and once in high school. Second, many states require teachers be evaluated by their students’ test scores.

Why?

It seems to come down to three main reasons:

1) Comparability
2) Accountability
3) Objectivity

COMPARABILITY

First, there is a strong desire to compare students and student groups, one with the other.

We look at learning like athletics. Who has shown the most success, and thereby is better than everyone else?

This is true for students in a single class, students in a single grade, an…

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Pass the Compassion, please…


(when your whole country is a trigger, it’s hard to dodge the bullets)

Well, happy Thanksgiving, all!

(DISCLAIMER!  By ‘you’ I don’t mean YOU -unless the ‘you’ fits. This is how I write-for me, “one this” or “one that” is cumbersome and too formal for most of my topics.)

I have a bit of advice for you as you prepare to sit down with family and friends and instead of speaking your gratitude, would rather expound on the ubiquitous, never-ending stream of sexual abuse/assault/harassment stories that abound in our nation right now:

Don’t, unless you’re going to speak with non-judgment and compassion.

Seriously, don’t. Unless you’re willing to open your mind and heart and listen? Willing to have the uncomfortable and honest discussion? Willing to stop victim-blaming? Willing to prioritize empathy over your need to dominate the conversation/be “right” in an argument, or, for some, validate your own previous behavior? Nah, today, especially, is not the day.

Why?

(DISCLAIMER again: I’m not espousing that the topic shouldn’t be discussed, ever. On the contrary-honest and fearless exchanges on this subject, had they not been avoided, could have saved countless {and I do meant countless, having seen all of the “me, too” hashtags} girls and boys from life-altering trauma. Talk about it. LISTEN about it. LEARN about it. Early and often, please.)

Because tensions are high. Because in some families, confrontation is the deal during family get-togethers. Because copious amounts of alcohol. People get really stupid when they drink, while still perceiving themselves and their behavior as perfectly rational, and of course, ‘right.’ Because one person’s victim conspiracy theory comment is another’s trigger. Yep. I said it. The “T” word. Because, to use another term at which some people  now scoff, family should be your “safe place.” Whether it be a thoughtless comment, or a relentless victim-blaming  tirade, you could really be stabbing somebody in the heart.

Because, if you’re in a large group situation, no matter what your political leanings (and I still don’t get how sexual abuse became a partisan topic), chances are very good that one or more of these are the case:

  • Someone at the table has experienced molestation, an assault, or harassment, and you just weren’t chosen to be in on the story, or that someone hasn’t chosen to speak yet.
  • If someone at the table has been molested, it’s very possible that the perp is at the table too, passing you the mashed potatoes.
  • The victim (who will be referred to as ‘survivor’ from this point) is already tied in knots at the notion of sitting at this table (whether perp is present or not) and trying to act normal.
  • The survivor has been emotionally shredded for weeks now, as there has been nothing else discussed on talk shows, in kitchens, or in the news-the topics of sexual assault and pedophilia are inescapable. While there is so much good in women and men coming forward and speaking their truth, the consequence for survivors is the daily or hourly re-living of events that slice and dice more keenly than whatever you’re using to julienne the veggies for your feast.
  • The survivor across the table is so tired, and just wants to enjoy a few hours of peace and fellowship with her family before the next news story about the latest accusation comes out and fuels the cycle of brain-fry/heartbreak.
  • Your aunt/sister/mother/cousin/brother has spent weeks/months/years/decades wondering: what her life could have been like without the disaster; what greatness she might have achieved without the anchor of (unearned) shame weighing her to the floor; what it might have felt like to enjoy her thin-ness when she was; why being pretty was a crime or being an ounce overweight was the ruination of a woman; how faithful he could have been had the church not been a place of horror; what self-esteem feels like; what good could have been done with the tens of thousands spent on therapy and meds; what ‘normal’ is; trying not to cry when his friends talk about ideal childhoods. Wondering why people say, ‘such a long time ago, just get over it!’ when apparently it’s only the survivor’s club who knows that getting over “it” doesn’t happen.  “It”  became part of what molded her into the person she is.  It’s one of many aspects, to be sure, but those who lived through it have permanent scars, and those scars are burning right now. You could douse the flames just a little if you choose:
  • When you bloviate about party plants, what the governor thinks, what Jane Curtin signed, the “He totally denies it!” proclamation, or the more local “what was she wearing?” “was she drunk?” analysis, the person who just passed the green bean casserole uses every ounce of self-control she had not to bean you with it. His mind is short-circuiting and he’s making the healthy promise to himself to never attend a family function ever again, for his own sanity’s sake.
  • If Drunk Uncle begins a rant, be the one to exclaim, “New Subject!” if that’s the best you can do. Better yet, first tell him he’s wrong, then change the subject. Your table mates will (silently, most likely) thank you. The survivor(s) at the table will take a breath and smile a little, knowing s/he has a champion in you.

Think:

  • Trying to function unscathed for the last few weeks-trying to avoid teeth-grinding, sudden tears, nightmares, or flashbacks? Nearly impossible. The survivors need major consideration and compassion right now. Just because you haven’t heard about it doesn’t mean that your sister, cousin, mother, aunt, or grandparent-isn’t holding it together by a thread.
  • As in the meme above, if you would prefer a probable pedophile to a Democrat in Alabama, might be a good idea to keep that gem of a notion to yourself, no matter whose company you’re enjoying. It also might be a good idea for some introspection, but I digress.
  • These overindulgence-fueled conversations can make a survivor, for a few moments, anyway, forget about how steel-strong he really is and how relentlessly courageous she is at her core.  It puts a survivor back to a place he or she has chosen to transcend; this place may fit your comfort zone because it’s the world you recognize, but for so many, there’s no comfort in that particular familiar.
  • As ever, as always, kindness matters. It matters more than political bent, more than your desire to score verbal points over your nephew, more than your ego or your biases.

Choose kindness today. So many people, survivors or not, will be Thankful for it.

Peace, friends,

Compassion, friends.

Courage, “club.”

*New comment below; it’s a must-read! Thanks, Lisa King.

Visit:

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Want to Change the World?


With your help, ALL kids can believe they can!

I do.

More than anything.

I want to help erase Inequality, Inequity, Racism, and Biases of all kinds from the face of this Earth.

I’m just a teeny drop in the bucket, but if you’re so inclined, you can add a drop to the bucket by supporting a GoFundMe campaign that aims to fill the buckets of some kids at my new school. I will add more to this post later; in the meantime, I invite you to check out my campaign below:

https://www.gofundme.com/WantToChangeTheWorld 

Peace and Equity, Friends.