When Ed Reformers Want You to Ignore Test Scores


In a well-written story about one Arizona school district’s commitment to classroom technology, New York Times reporter Matt Richtel reported that Kyrene School Districts test scores were stagnant. No problem says one US Department of Education official:

Karen Cator, director of the office of educational technology in the United States Department of Education, said standardized test scores were an inadequate measure of the value of technology in schools. Ms. Cator, a former executive at Apple Computer, said that better measurement tools were needed but, in the meantime, schools knew what students needed.

“In places where we’ve had a large implementing of technology and scores are flat, I see that as great,” she said. “Test scores are the same, but look at all the other things students are doing: learning to use the Internet to research, learning to organize their work, learning to use professional writing tools, learning to collaborate with others.”

Say what?

Corporate funded ed reformers like Joel Klein and Mike Bloomberg are telling us that innovation is a key part of the school reform recipe they say will increase test scores. Now we have someone from Arne Duncan’s DOE that’s telling us to pay no attention to those test scores because the kids are using top dollar  technology.

It shouldn’t be lost on anyone that Cator is a former Apple exec who will probably be returning to the technology industry at some point soon. Neither Apple nor Microsoft want their future profits  in the education industry muddied up by test scores. But its ok for test scores to close schools and fire teachers and principals.

UPDATE: Larry Ferlazzo caught the same quote that I did.

Of course, the entire agenda being pushed by Ms. Cator’s boss, Education Secretary Duncan, is based on using test scores as the only way to measure…..well, just about everything –  Is a teacher good or bad? Is a student really learning anything?  Is a school or school district failing?

It would be nice if Ms. Cator and Secretary Duncan realized that students learn lots of things that may not be measured by test scores, and not just through the use of tech tools.  How about developing resiliency to push through challenges, a desire to become a life-long learner, a greater sense of intrinsic motivation and self-control, skills in working cooperatively with others?

What do you think — Will Secretary Duncan ever listen to her… and to us?


About Bob Sikes

A long time ago and a planet far, far away I was an athletic trainer for the New York Mets. I was blessed to be part of the now legendary 1986 World Series Championship. My late father told me that I'd one day be thankful I had that degree in teaching from Florida State University. He was right and I became twice blesses to become a teacher in the late 1990's. After dabbling with writing about the Mets and then politics, I settled on education.
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