This is not the first time I've piggy-backed on a post from Mark "Jersey Jazzman" Weber, but sometimes what he posts just sets a bright blazing lightbulb off in my head. Weber is a certified PhD-carrying academic of data crunching, and he is an absolute master of rendering complicated ideas comprehensible to civilians, and that's what he's done with his post about why "We Don't Need Standardized Testing In A Pandemic."
I encourage you very much to go read the whole post. But sometimes saying, "This! This! This!" isn't enough for me. So. What I'm going to center on is his three-question response to anyone who says that students must take a standardized test.
1) What are you going to do with the results?
This question is hugely powerful and by far the least answered. Here's Weber:A core concept of assessment is that tests must be shown to be valid for the purposes in which they will be used. In other words: you should make a separate argument for every proposed use of a test. A test that may be valid to use for, say, determining whether there are enough overall resources in the education system isn't necessarily valid for the purpose of determining whether a student should pass to the next grade.
Psyshometricians often speak of making a validity argument in favor of the use of a test for a particular purpose. That argument should touch upon the relevancy of the outcomes to a specific use, the consequences of making decisions based on these outcomes, the opportunity to learn the content in the test, and other factors.
What, exactly, will statewide standardized test outcomes tell us that we didn't already know, or that we couldn't find out some other way? That students didn't gain as much learning as they would have without the pandemic? We already know this; and again, it's not like the tests will give educators data they couldn't get other ways that are much faster and more detailed.
Will we learn that students who are economically disadvantaged need more resources to equalize their educational opportunity? We already knew that before the pandemic. And does anyone really think that otherwise reluctant politicians will be persuaded to dole out more funds when they see this year's test scores? Really?