12/07/2007 11:32 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

High-Stakes Testing Arrives in Kindergarten

In recent years, high-stakes standardized testing has been propagated so loudly and so often by its powerful supporters that it has succeeded in becoming a largely unquestioned fixture in education policy.

Now a decision by the New York City Department of Education that rings insane to rational ears--administering standardized tests to kindergartners-- is rolling forward like a juggernaut.

The New York Daily News reports:

Starting next fall, schools will give the Bracken School Readiness Assessment in all kindergarten classes to identify which children should be further tested for coveted spots in gifted programs.

But the standardized test, which gauges understanding of letters, numbers, colors and shapes, is also designed to identify learning disabilities and find out where kids stand when they enter school.

High-stakes testing--which this is, as it will slap labels on five-year-olds--is more than just casually popping in an academic thermometer on a given day to see how a kid is doing. It creates a culture that distorts curriculum, hijacks school resources, and robs young children of their precious days of discovery.

"Making testing a part of the curriculum for [kindergarten to second grade] is tantamount to child abuse," said Jane Hirschmann of Time Out From Testing.

High-stakes testing for young children does more harm than good. To bring this practice to kindergarten is unconscionable.

Dan Brown is the author of the new teacher memoir, "The Great Expectations School: A Rookie Year in the New Blackboard Jungle."