Thursday, March 24, 2016

#Te$tBetter Bill of Rights (updated)

Another day, another desperate PR attempt by all the people who depend on the promotion of the Big Standardized Test for their daily bread.

There was supposed to be a big PR launch this morning in New York, but it was canceled due to "scheduling conflicts." Nevertheless, the hot new website is live, various testocrats are pushing the hashtag on schedule, and any minute now the tide will turn and parents all over both New York and the United States will leap up, declaring that they have won the struggle against themselves and that they love the Test.

Central to the new #TestBetter campaign is the Testing Bill of Rights, which is not, as you might first guess, a list of the rights to which a test is entitled (the right to your tax dollars, the right to interrupt your education, the right to your personal information...), also not, apparently, short for Bill O'Frights, but is instead a listing of all the swell rights that students, teachers and parents have. There is no suggestion where exactly these rights came from, but there is a handy list. Let's take a look, shall we?

Students have the right to...

Not take the test if they don't want to!

Ha! Just kidding. That right appears nowhere on this list.

Tests that provide an objective measure of progress toward college-and career-readiness. 

There are two problems with this right. First, while students may want to know if they're progressing toward college or career, there are better ways to find out because, second, there is no test anywhere that provides an objective measure of progress toward college-and-career readiness (yeah, their last hyphen is mistaken). There is arguably no test that is actually objective, and there is inarguably no test that can measure college and career readiness for all students considering all colleges and all careers.

Testing schedules, policies, and practices that contribute to meaningful teaching and learning. 

No disagreement here. Of course, the BS Tests does not contribute to any of these characteristics.

Have student learning assessed based on an array of measures.

True-ish, if we define "measures" in the broadest possible way.

An education free of excessive test prep.

Oops. You messed this one up, guys. "An education free of any test prep." There, fixed that for you.  

Have their personally identifiable information protected. 

You know the best possible way to protect it? Don't collect it in the first place. This would be a good time to remind you of what a lousy job the USED has done safeguarding data. The old adage still applies-- if you want to keep something private or secret, don't tell anybody.

Fair, reliable, and unbiased tests used for their intended purposes. 

This would carry more weight if it came with an acknowledgement that reformsters have totally failed on this one. The BS Tests have been neither fair nor reliable, and they have been used for a dozen different purposes beyond what ever intentions may have been attached to them. There's no such thing as an unbiased test.

Teachers have the right to...

Tests that provide an objective measure of progress toward college-and career-readiness.

See above. This is like saying teachers have a right to unicorns that poop rainbows.

Timely data that measure what the student has learned, help them diagnose student needs and improve instruction.

Yeah, gee, thanks. I actually do this with my own materials on a daily basis, so, got this covered. Thanks a lot.

Professional development, high quality curricula, and the time and supports needed to teach and prepare their students. 

You realize that this has nothing to do with testing, right? This is like putting a line in the US Bill of Rights about banking policy in Uruguay. It's very nice and all, but it's completely off topic. If you think it's not off topic, it's possible that you don't understand curriculum, professional development, teaching, or testing.

Have test scores be only one of an array of measures of student learning in accountability systems. 

Oh! Wrong twice. Test scores should not be any part of the array of student learning used in accountability systems, because student learning shouldn't be used in accountability systems. Well, maybe just a little. But then you'll have to figure out how take a measurement of student learning that can legitimately be used in an accountability system. Give us a call when you've figured that out (I am not going to wait by the phone).

Have their personally identifiable information protected.

Again, such data shouldn't need to be protected because it shouldn't be in the system in the first place. Don't think I don't see you assuming the sale here and just skipping over the question of whether such data should be collected instead of opening the floor to teh question of just why our Data Overlords should be hoovering up everyone's personal data in the first place.

Parents have the right to...

Know if their child is making progress each year and on track to graduate from high school ready for college, career and citizenship. 

Yup. Good idea. Call your teacher and ask. As previously noted, nobody has a test that can tell you this.

Clear, comparable data about school performance. 

Comparable why? Are you telling me that parents need to know if their kid is doing as well as a kid in Idaho? Or is this just the part where you hold onto the idea that a free market needs consumer data, in which case the BS Tests is actually intended to generate marketing data, in which case we can chuck all the rest of this baloney out the window, because the test isn't about measuring student achievement at all.

Know the amount of instructional time being used to deliver and prepare for standardized tests, as well as the purpose and timing of standardized tests.

If the BS Test wasn't happening, we would all know-- zero. As it stands, this "right" is a frank admission that when test preparation is happening, learning is not. 

Detailed, clear and timely results from standardized tests.

Absolutely agreed. This would include a release of all the test items, the correct answers, the reasoning behind the correct answers, the methods and results of the test reliability studies, and the methods and personnel used to correct the test. This particular right is not met by a two-page low-data report. Testocrats should, on this point, put up or shut up. If test manufacturers' intellectual property rights are more important than test transparency for parents, stop pretending otherwise.

Have their child’s personally identifiable information protected.

By not allowing anyone to collect it in the first place. There. I fixed that for you.

Regular communication about their child’s progress and well-being.

One more thing that no teacher needs a BS Test to do.

Who made this silliness?

The usual gang of testocrats. CAP. High Achievement New York. Educators 4 Excellence. National PTA. The usual assortment of astro-turfed Gates-funded corporate stooges who are always there to assure us that tests are swell and we should all love them and boy, maybe if they can build this PR campaign sorta kinda around some ideas that are sorta kinda like the ones real people are worked up about, maybe they can get some traction.


I will remind you that they are trying hard to make #TestBetter a thing on Twitter. I recommend you head on over and help them out.


D'oh! I can't believe I missed the obvious.

This may be a bit of a PR push, but it is also (and maybe mostly) a mailing list honey trap. Do you think this is swell? Then sign our Bill of Rights. And give us your email address so that we can do more targeted bombarding of people with anti-opt-out propaganda. Well, they will if you give them your real name and email address.


  1. But we live in the time of "Big Data"! Surely it can tell us something about what and how students are doing, if they're making progress and if they'll be ready for college or a career. After all, we can't trust teachers to tell us that because they have a "vested interest" in never admitting that a kid under their charge is not doing well. See, I'll show you how it works:

    1. Test kids using privately generated testing materials that may or may not mean anything
    2. ?
    3. ?
    4. ?
    5. Have a nation filled with EXACTLY the right number of scientists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, authors, small business owners, entrepreneurs, burger-flippers, cabinet makers, carpet installers, auto workers, etc we need

    Don't complain to them that you don't know how to answer those question marks! Clearly you aren't doing your job if we don't end up at #5. And that's why we have to have the test - to make you do your job better!

  2. The snake oil claim by the Common Core testocrats of "college and career readiness" ranks right up there with Big Tobacco's claims of better health and vitality.

    How on Earth can this BS meme still be alive?

  3. Timely data that measure what the student has learned, help them diagnose student needs and improve instruction.'s that going to work? Already the PSSA (PA test) is given in March/April but the results aren't known until September, when the child's in the next grade. Honestly, do you think the next teacher is going to look them over during the summer and see where the student needs help? Especially when the class the teacher thought s/he had in June is probably not going to be the same students or even the same grade that was assigned so long ago? And don't forget about "reorganization" or "leveling", which usually takes place in October/November?

    I say we hold the testing companies accountable for scoring the tests and sending the results within 30 days! Have language in these contracts that state a 30-day turnaround. Why do they need to take almost 6 months? Something's wrong with this picture!

  4. These people need to look at the Code of Fair Testing Practices in Education, just to begin with.

  5. This entire "document" is a farce in so many ways, but digging a bit deeper reveal the usual suspects behind this propaganda the Center for American Progress. Bill Gates has given at least $1,000,000, Eli Boad somewhere between $500, 000 and $999,999, and both the NEA and AFT haven significant amounts. So yeah, no new to see here but the same old shell game the BS test supporters play.