The Powerful, Enforced Silence Around Standardized Testing

03/18/2015 10:02 am ET | Updated May 18, 2015


Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) testing takes more than ten hours for students in grades 3 through 8 to complete.

These students have spent countless hours preparing for the PARCC tests, and they have heard that the tests are important. However, they will receive no immediate, clear benefit from taking the tests. Their teachers will receive no clear, immediate information to inform instruction. By the time PARCC scores come, the school year is over, and likely another begun.

The teachers know that student scores on PARCC are meant to be used to grade them and their schools.

All of the above makes for a high-stress situation for both kids and teachers.

And once it is over, kids now know that the testing companies and departments of education are trolling social media to see if kids discuss the experience.

Such constitutes an abuse of power.

Pretend I am Pearson. I have just spent ten-plus hours with your child. You have no idea what we "talked" about, what exact ideas I have presented or how I presented them to the tender mind of your child. I can "discuss" whatever I like and present it with authority. I can promote certain people as "good and others as "bad." I can promote products. And I can shape your child psychologically via my topics and presentation of such topics. Why, I can even collect psychological information on your child.

And once my ten-plus hours of "meetings" with your child are ended, I make it clear that I plan to monitor your child's public discourse about the experience.

All that this does is protect me, the one already in incredible power.

You did not request that I meet with your child. Your child did not request the meeting. However, those who organized the meeting (e.g., state departments of education, in cooperation with me) have made it clear that there will be consequences if the meetings are not kept. They have also admitted that there is no direct benefit for you or your child as a result of the meeting.

Yes, you might receive a report of our meeting produced by me, but that report will be several months in coming, and its contents are chiefly meant to judge a third party- adults who are also kept in the dark about the details of the meetings (e.g., teachers and schools).

Meanwhile, in the media, those who arranged the meeting (state departments of education) are able to advertise the meeting as wholesome and good- and even as a civil right- but there will be no equally free opinion allowed from the child about his/her experience.

Now tell me again how standardized testing constitutes a "civil right"? The parties involved are clearly not equal in power, neither are they equal in their freedom to express themselves regarding the secretive testing experience.

Those calling the testing shots hold all of the power cards. We know as much because any avenue of free choice and open communication on the part of the one with lesser power- the child- has been publicly countered by policy, legislation, litigation, and other consequences.

Their tools are bribery, threats and guilt.

Such manipulations only insulate a power differential upon which test-score-driven "reform" depends.

This is indeed a time for something "civil" to level this test-indulging playing field:

Civil disobedience.

Originally posted 03-14-15 at>

Schneider is a southern Louisiana native, career teacher, trained researcher, and author of the ed reform whistle blower, A Chronicle of Echoes: Who's Who In the Implosion of American Public Education.