A Month of Opting Out of Standardized Tests: Day 9

This is the 9th of 20 posts I will be writing during the PARCC testing window of March 9 – April 10.  If you’re interested in the growing master list of reasons we opted out of standardized tests in 2015, you can find it here.

Yesterday I explained how test scores are perfect for manipulating you and other Americans into believing drastic corporate education reforms are necessary.  Today I’ll start to explain why this is so and why we opt our kids out of standardized tests so that we won’t be party to the manipulation.

Reason 9:  An Invented Crisis

You’ve probably heard that standardized test scores in the United States are experiencing a dismal trend of decline.  Our children are not improving and our schools are to blame.   In fact, a colleague and I recently surveyed 1,047 Americans and asked them if they thought test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) had increased, decreased or stayed relatively the same over the past 40 years.  The NAEP is the only “national” standardized test administered in the United States.  90% of our respondents told us that they believed test scores had either decreased or not improved at all since the 1970’s.  This study is still in progress, but we have come to a pretty important conclusion:

Only 10% of Americans know the truth about NAEP test scores over the past 40 years.

Let me lay it out for you.

The following are some examples
taken from Diane Ravitch’s 2013 book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to American Public Schools (p. 49-50).

  • Reading scores in fourth and eighth grade have
    improved significantly since 1992 for almost every group of students
  • The proportion of 4th and 8th
    grade students who were “proficient” in Reading increased from 1992 to 2011
  • The proportion of 4th and 8th
    grade students who were “below basic” in Reading declined from 1992 to 2011
  • Mathematics scores improved even more than reading
  • The proportion of 4th and 8th
    grade students who were proficient in Mathematics increased from 1992 to 2011
  • The proportion of 4th and 8th
    grade students who were “below basic” in Mathematics declined from 1992 to 2011

For those of you who prefer charts, here’s one that shows how much NAEP scores increased from 1973-2008.

Increase in Long Term NAEP Scores from 1973 to 2008

The raw numbers are going up, but even more impressive is the percentage of students that have moved out of the lowest level of performance known as “Basic” and the percentage of students who have moved into at least the “Proficient” level over that same time period.

Change in percentage of students scoring at the “Basic” level and “Proficient or better from 1992 to 2011

It is clear that American students’ performance on the NAEP has improved over the last 40 years or so. Yet, politicians and the media continue to perpetuate the myth that our schools are failing to raise test scores. Why is this even possible? Manipulation of numbers makes is possible and quite profitable. Tomorrow I will show you how it is done and how closing the “achievement gap” is used to manipulate you even further.