Monday, March 16, 2015

NM: Defending the Test

Reader Terry Ward drew my attention to a part of the New Mexico Administrative Code. It's just one more example of how far the government protections of the Big Standardized Test goes.

Section of the NMAC deals with staff responsibilities regarding testing, and it includes a list of "prohibitive practices"-- things that staff are forbidden to do. At the end of the list, that it shall be prohibitive practice for the staff member

disparage or diminish the significance, importance or use of the standardized tests.

Other no-no's include photocopying the test, teaching from a copy of the test, copying copyrighted test prep materials, giving students reviews of the test questions, leaving test materials alone in an unlocked room, coaching students during the test, and taking standardized test materials off campus. All fairly standard stuff. Only the "don't say mean things about the test" rule surprised me.

The implications seem, well, chilling. Can teachers who look at blog pieces that disparage the significance, importance or use of standardized tests (I think I may have written one or twelve of those) be disciplined? Am I now an outlaw in New Mexico?

Penalties relating to these particular misbehaviors are unclear, but further along in section 6.10.7 we have section which includes very stern language about flauting the non-disclosure of test materials rules (because "given the proprietary nature of any assessment which is part of the NMSAP, under no circumstance shall a standardized test which is part of the NMSAP be released").

Section gets to the penalties for "testing irregularities" which can include anything from directing the "named individual" to cease and desist as well as barring them from ever administering a test again (boy, that hurts) all the way up to suspending or revoking their professional license (okay, that actually hurts). Whether Saying Mean Things about testing may or may not rise to the level of a testing irregularity.

So remember, New Mexico educators-- never speak ill of the  beloved standardized test in all its resplendent swellness. I look forward to the New Mexico blog embargo that will somehow silence the rest of us.


  1. Having lived in New Mexico for many years, I can state with gusto that being called an outlaw in NM is high praise.

  2. I just read this to my husband who still teaches HS in New Mexico (I did for 25 years). He grinned and said, "Carol The Kid, faster with a pen (or keyboard) than Billy The Kid ever was."

    The best thing about. Ow teaching college is that I can disparage away!

  3. Isn't there a 1st amendment about free speech that would trump state law as to what teachers have to say 'off the clock'?

  4. I kept my mouth shut about how I felt when NYS increased the number of intermediate assessments, but my students would fill in the blank for me.

  5. The mere thought that a foreign company has the gall to manipulate our sovereign leaders in the USA to trump our First Amendment rights, is one thing, but for it to be the same foreign country which we fought to gain those freedoms is appalling.
    Pearson, please go back to England and suck away from their tax coffers to make your fortune, leave us alone.