Where Does Mitt Romney Really Stand on Standardized Testing?
You'd expect the man who could very well be the next leader of the free world, Governor Mitt Romney, to have a solid answer to a question about the trend of high-stakes testing. It costs school districts billions of dollars, and results in teaching to the test and the killing of creativity. Unfortunately, at the recent Education Nation summit when I asked Romney about how he’d change the way testing is used in our schools, he didn't come close to meeting that expectation.
As you can see in the video above, Romney told me that in my life I would find that there are many tests. I would have loved to fire back with, “Mr. Romney, how many high stakes tests have you taken since you graduated from Harvard Business School?” Most likely none.
He also admitted he didn't know a better way to evaluate students other than the current testing model. One could believe this is yet another gaffe by the former governor, but it doesn't seem like it. We can now confirm that Romney supports the high-stakes testing regime.
To set the record straight, I don't support tests, but rather assessments. Yes, there's a big difference. As education thinker Ruth Michell defines it, "A test is a single occasion, unidimensional, timed exercise, usually in multiple choice or short answer form. Assessment is an activity that can take many forms, can extend over time, and aims to capture the quality of a student's work or of an educational program." Whether you call them authentic, performance, or portfolio-based assessments, many are rooted in 21st century skills and real-world tasks. The College and Work Readiness Assessment and iSkills exam are renowned examples.
Next, Romney went on to gloat at the fact that he passed his high school graduation exam and said that as governor he added more subjects for students to be tested in: calculus, biology, and geology.
For most students, learning these subjects is an utter waste of time. Take calculus. Unless you're in a field deep in mathematics, the likelihood that you will need this subject outside of school is slim to none. What kids need to learn should be obvious—solving problems, becoming globally aware, life-long learners, communicating well, taking risks, and overcoming failure. Romney failed to mention any of this.
Finally, I had a bone to pick with Romney's last statement when he declared that he would "expand [testing] in ways that maybe haven't been thought of before." Folks, there you have it. Romney would prolong the killing of learning in schools and the suppression of children. It’s no wonder we have headline grabbing and hard-hitting stories of children hooked on prescription drugs in order to pay attention during tests and class. Say hello to a generation of addicts, pencil pushers, and cogs in machines.
All in all, Romney failed to answer my question and disregarded my points on the billions of dollars—which goes into the pockets of testing executives— spent on testing and the killing of creativity.
I was shocked that Romney didn't address the creativity crisis, considering that in a recent IBM poll, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the most important "leadership competency" of the future. Insurmountable evidence demonstrates that as testing increases, creativity declines.
To be fair, President Obama is no better than his opponent. Although it was clear from the recent presidential debate that Obama believes otherwise, his Race to the Top program is a top-down initiative forced upon states with little to no dialogue from the true stakeholders: students and teachers.
If you solely scrutinize the intended outcomes of their plans, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney appear to be, as Jay Matthews of the Washington Post puts it, “education policy twins." Thus, we're left with two presidential candidates who cater to the elite and corporate interests without a plan to reinvent schools. Lovely isn't it?
What do we do? Should we just continue watching candidates stomp on each other election after election and wait for a technocrat with a sensible plan to come along? I'd rather not.
At the Brooklyn Beta conference this week, Seth Godin nailed it when he asserted, "Revolutions destroy the imperfect and enable the impossible." It's time to stir up the troublemakers, the rebels, and the mad ones—those who are not "willing to accept the limits or the doubts," but the ones who are "always digging and poking and building to make something bigger than even they can imagine."
Maybe then the once impossible will become the norm.
The Racket Over Rabbit: Whole Foods’ Newest Meat Causes a Furor Whole Foods falls down the ethical rabbit hole of selling coveted, controversial bunny meat.
Why Can't People Cozy up to Cuddle Capitalism? Despite their restorative and intimacy-inducing effects, cuddling services are increasingly coming under attack. Are critics simply out of touch?
An Overlooked Contributor to Climate Change: Leaky Pipes These tricked-out, air sensor-equipped Google cars are helping to identify dangerous natural gas pipelines.
Me No Want Cookie! Sesame Workshop puts the junk food industry on notice. The effort to re-brand fruits and vegetables for kids now has some cute, furry and iconic allies.
How Artists Got a Flock of Extinct Birds to Invade a Museum "Eclipse," now showing at MASS MoCA, commemorates the centenary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon.
Parks We're Crushing On Hang out in a sick park (while at your desk) The coolest greenspaces—old and new—as spotted by an intrepid network of photographers around the globe
Your Groceries Don't Need Their Own Bus Seat, Thanks Facebook's Jet Burrows and the Analog Lab team have created the much-needed 10 Commandments of Transit.
Why This Teen-Created Police Accountability App Rules Five-O, a new police accountability app created by three Georgia teens, is the most comprehensive tool of its kind.
Exit Through the Riverbed Olafur Eliasson's new museum exhibit will leave you thinking and splashing.
How Do You Compete With a Flying Toilet? The Savvyloo toilet is a bold step forward in the world sanitation crisis.
Elementary Schoolers Imagine Street Carts of the Future These prototypes show how a group of students from Brooklyn think street vendors and mobile service stations should look in 30 years.
City Park Showdown Who’s winning in the quest for the perfect urban oasis? Looking at which U.S. cities are investing most in parks and how it’s evolved over time. #GoodCitiesProject