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Time For Teachers, Parents, and Students To Strike?



A teacher holding a sign about fighting for public schools at a protest during Covid 19 pandemic strike



Following the Money Trail

Is It Time For Teachers, Parents, and Students To Strike? Following the Money Trail As a concerned citizen and advocate for education reform, I have researched the financial implications of school standardized testing. It is evident that the cost of these programs is astronomical, and the impact on teachers, students, and parents is significant. The hidden financial gains are as sketchy as Big Pharma but go unnoticed. In this article, we will explore the money gained by federal and state education testing programs through standardized testing, the cost of these programs, the impact on teachers, students, and parents, and why standardized testing should end. We will also discuss the role of the U.S. Department of Education and state departments of education and how student educational attainment has changed since the enactment of school standardized testing. The Money Gained by Federal and State Departments of Education Through Standardized Testing Standardized testing has become lucrative for companies that create assessments due to federal and state education departments' testing programs. The companies that produce and administer these tests, such as Pearson and Educational Testing Service, are making billions of dollars in revenue. The federal government is estimated to spend over $1 billion on standardized testing yearly, while states spend an additional $1.7 billion. The costs associated with the testing industry have become too large and profitable, particularly with the rise of high-stakes testing and the use of test scores to evaluate schools and teachers. These costs include the development and administration of tests and the necessary technology and infrastructure. Additionally, federal educational bills, such as No Child Left Behind and the Every Student Succeeds Act, have provided funding for standardized testing. This funding is often tied to performance, incentivizing schools to prioritize test scores over actual learning. This emphasis on testing has led to a narrowing of the curriculum, with less time and resources devoted to subjects such as art, music, and physical education. Teachers are limited to teaching students how to pass the test instead of creating robust remediation or advanced lessons for above-average students. Understanding the Role of Federal and State-Mandated School Standardized Testing The role of federal and state-mandated school standardized testing is to measure student learning and academic progress. These tests are designed to be objective and standardized, allowing for comparisons between schools and districts. However, the validity and reliability of these tests have been called into question. Critics argue that standardized tests do not accurately measure student learning. They are often based on breadcrumb content and do not consider individual learning styles or cultural differences, demographical or socio-economical differences in our students. Many educators feel that the emphasis on testing has become a business instead of focusing on student growth. Furthermore, the pressure to perform well on these tests has led to a culture of teaching to the test, with little to no focus placed on real student learning models. In the meantime, parents demand that teachers stop assigning homework and ask school districts to hire better teachers. There are several limitations of school testing programs used to measure teacher effectiveness and student attainment. Here are some of the most common ones:

  1. Narrow focus on a limited range of skills: Standardized tests typically focus on a limited range of skills and knowledge, such as math and reading, and may not fully capture the breadth of a student's abilities or the quality of teaching. This can create a skewed picture of student progress and teacher effectiveness.

  2. High-stakes nature of tests: When tests are used to make high-stakes decisions, such as teacher evaluations or school funding, a significant amount of pressure can be placed on teachers and students to perform well. This can lead to teaching to the test, test anxiety, and other negative consequences that can undermine the validity of the results.

  3. Variability in student performance: Students come to school with different levels of preparedness, motivation, and learning styles, leading to variability in their performance on standardized tests. This can make it difficult to accurately measure teacher effectiveness or student attainment using test scores alone.

  4. Limited feedback for improvement: Standardized test scores are often unavailable until well after the test, limiting their usefulness in providing teachers and students timely feedback on their performance. Additionally, test scores may not provide specific information on areas where students need to improve or where teachers need additional support.

  5. Potential for bias: Standardized tests may be biased against certain groups of students, such as impoverished rural and urban communities or students with disabilities, leading to inaccurate assessments of teacher effectiveness and student attainment.

  6. Costs and time constraints: Developing and administering standardized tests can be expensive and time-consuming, diverting resources from other essential aspects of education, such as increased teacher pay and student support services.

  7. It should be highlighted that the questions asked on the assessments are not revealed until the following year, and teachers are constantly planning a year in review instead of preparing for the year ahead. This places students, parents, teachers, and schools at a disadvantage, and many should be asking why.

We ask that teachers be held accountable for the achievements of small children who are human. If they're experiencing issues at home, have low self-esteem, have absent parents who do not value education, or are experiencing other difficulties, they will not perform well on these assessments. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, an estimated 1 in 5 children in the United States have learning and attention issues. This includes students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia, and students with ADHD or other attention disorders. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health reports an estimated 3.2 million adolescents aged 12 to 17 in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in 2019, representing 13.3% of the population in that age group. Since the introduction of COVID-19, the number of students experiencing symptoms of depression or other forms of trauma has risen dramatically. Teachers are set up to fail as they continue to work against policymakers either out of touch with the classroom or are guided by special interest groups with only the bottom dollar in mind. The Cost of Federal and State Testing Programs The cost of federal and state testing programs is staggering. In addition to the direct costs of test development and administration, there are indirect costs associated with testing. Nearly 90% of a teacher's yearly planning is solely focused on teaching a specific skill and most often requires skipping over fundamental skills needed between standards tested. Additionally, the stress and anxiety associated with testing can negatively impact student health and well-being, as previously mentioned. Those who ignore the dangers of standardized testing have children who have yet to be affected by it, have their children with private schools, or do not have resources that connect them with materials on how they negatively impact their child's education. Politicians who support standardized testing should be questioned on their involvement with teacher unions or special interest groups. Moreover, students need help understanding why they cannot meet the school's expectations. This isn't the student's or the teacher's fault. Instead, federal and state expectations are purposely set higher and defined by state and national standards. Teachers work against time to ensure students are taught the standards expected for their grade level and cannot meet individual student needs. The U.S. Department of Education and the state departments know this, but the money gained seems more important than actual learning. Politicians on both sides of the aisle allow this to continue, and citizens need to ask why. Teachers also feel the cost of testing programs. Teachers are often evaluated based on the student test scores alone, which can impact their job security and pay. This creates a disincentive for teachers to take risks and try new teaching strategies, as they fear their students will perform poorly on tests that are purposely out of reach for over half of America's students. Since the release of COVID-19, student behavioral issues have risen tenfold, and parents are increasingly more absent, yet the expectations are still out of reach. Schools can only withdraw truant students once they have missed, in some cases, half a month of school and are often financially incentivized to not expel students for poor behavior due to missed tax dollars for each student not enrolled. This creates a toxic school environment where education is not the focus, and money dictates needs. Yet, these students still count toward teacher and school effectiveness and take away valuable time from instructing students who want to learn. Some incentives may discourage schools from expelling students who behave poorly, including:

  1. Funding: Schools may receive funding based on their enrollment, so expelling students could result in a loss of funding. Additionally, schools may receive funding for students who require additional support, so removing these students could result in losing funding for these services.

  2. Legal liability: Schools can face legal liability if they expel students without following proper procedures or if they discriminate against certain students. In some cases, schools may avoid potential legal action by avoiding expulsion, which needs to be reformed for today's needs.

  3. Student outcomes: Research has shown that expulsion can negatively affect a student's academic and social consequences. Yet, students causing disruptions in the classroom are also negatively impacting other students' educational abilities. Schools may avoid expelling students to prevent these adverse outcomes but at the cost of the other students who want to be there.

  4. School reputation: Oddly, expelling students can harm a school's standing in the community. Schools may try to avoid this by working with students and families to address behavior issues without resorting to expulsion. While many in the nation wonder why school bullying is on the rise or violence in schools is on the rise, the answer can be tied to funding and reputation. The days of creating a calm and peaceful environment for student learning are no more. All at the expense of your child's learning attainment. The Impact on Teachers and How the Teacher's Unions Are in Bed with Special Interest Teacher's unions may have various incentives for supporting standardized testing, including:

  5. Job Security: Standardized tests provide a measure of accountability for teachers and schools, which helps to ensure that teachers are meeting specific standards and students are making progress. This can help improve the job security for union leaders as teachers will remain on the defense to ensure they are not unfairly blamed for poor student performance in light of the multitude of politicians and special interest groups dictating the classroom with zero knowledge of how to teach students themselves effectively.

  6. Funding: Standardized test results are often used to determine funding for schools. Teacher's unions may support these tests to ensure that their schools receive the grant to provide quality education or fund special projects that have little impact on student learning. Additionally, teachers may receive bonuses or other incentives based on their student's performance on these test scores. This has been mentioned on major news stations; however, it needs to be noted how few and far between our most effective teachers receive a bonus. The bonus structure is often built so teachers cannot meet the objectives, much like that of high-pressure sales models.

  7. Professional Development: Teacher's unions may support standardized testing to identify areas where teachers need additional training or professional development. This can help ensure that teachers are well-prepared to teach their students and improve overall education quality. Or otherwise seen by critics as a way to fund speaker engagements or other special interest needs that have little impact on your child's education.

  8. Political Influence: Standardized testing is often a hot-button issue in education policy. Teacher's unions may support these tests to maintain their political influence.

The impact of standardized testing on teachers is significant. Teachers feel they are being held accountable for factors beyond their control, such as student demographics and socio-economic status. Additionally, the emphasis on testing has led to a need for more autonomy in the classroom. Teachers are forced to follow ineffective scripted curricula that do not allow for individualized instruction and are faced with time restraints on re-teaching standards not mastered or the alarming increase in classroom disruptions from ill-behaved students. The teacher's unions have been criticized for being in bed with testing companies. These organizations have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of standardized testing, as it provides them with revenue. Critics argue that the teacher's unions should advocate for the best interests of teachers and students rather than aligning themselves with special interests. As long as educators are overworked and underpaid, unionization will always be needed. Therefore, it is job security for teacher unions to remain faithful to the state and federal education departments. The Impact on Students and Parents The impact of standardized testing on students and parents is also significant. Students are often subjected to hours of testing each year, leading to stress and anxiety. Additionally, the emphasis on testing has narrowed the curriculum, with less time and resources devoted to creating robust core subjects or subjects such as art, music, and physical education. This narrow focus on test scores can lead to a lack of engagement and motivation among students and questioning whether it is purposely modeled so as not to meet the needs of rural or urban demographical or socio-economic challenges. Test scores do not reflect student ability or teacher effectiveness, regardless of what the state and federal education tell us. Assessments are a big business that brings in nearly $2.7 billion in revenue each year and doesn't care about the small child on the other end of the teacher working tirelessly to do the job of 10 for the pay of one. Why Standardized Testing Should End There are many reasons why standardized testing should end. First and foremost, these tests are unreliable and invalid measures of student learning. Additionally, the emphasis on testing has led to a culture of teaching to the test, with less time and resources devoted to meaningful learning experiences. Finally, the cost of standardized testing is astronomical, with billions of dollars spent yearly on development, administration, and technology, when it has proven ineffective in producing students who can graduate with more successful college performance or high trade skills. It is time for parents to demand change. The U.S. Department of Education and state departments play a significant role in implementing standardized testing. These organizations are responsible for developing and administering tests and funding testing programs. Additionally, they are responsible for setting policies and regulations related to testing. And, more often than not, they cause more problems than solving them within our schools. However, the U.S. Department of Education and state departments of education have been criticized for their role in the testing industry. Critics argue that these organizations have become too focused on testing and have lost sight of their primary goal of promoting meaningful learning experiences for students. In conclusion, since school standardized testing was enacted, student educational attainment has not significantly improved. While test scores have increased slightly, there has been no significant improvement in overall educational attainment. Standardized testing has become lucrative for federal and state education departments and testing companies. The cost of these programs is substantial, and the impact on teachers, students, and parents is significant. It is time for oversight and accountability in the federal and state departments of education and for an end to federal and state testing programs. We must prioritize meaningful student learning experiences and empower teachers to be creative and innovative. It is time for education reform that puts the needs of students and teachers first. Call to Action Join the fight for education reform by advocating to end federal and state testing programs and begin showing support for teachers in the classrooms. Contact your elected representatives and let them know that you support meaningful learning experiences for students and the empowerment of teachers. We can create a better future for our children and communities.


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