Monday, August 4, 2008


I attended public school in Illinois from 1998 until I graduated from high school. My move to public school introduced me to larger classes, school buses, and a different attitude towards standardized testing. I had been accustomed to a culture where standardized tests were looked upon fondly...probably because they had little to do with funding.

Apparently testing in Illinois has been flooded with problems since 2002 when NCLB required states to "ramp up" the caliber of tests. Since then, every year but 2005 has faced major data errors that threaten the state. Schools might have large swings in the tests that were not expected, and doesn't large swings in scores equate to swings in funding?

I don't know the logistics, but I do know this. In 2004 when I first began my interest in education policy I decided to look at the NCLB report card for my high school. I read and pretty much expected what I saw. I turned to the last page and then I saw our score, failing. It's not like the school I went to was in disarray. My upper middle class suburban school catered to a diverse community where I saw all parents pushing their students towards academic achievement. People in fact would move to our district for the combination academics, fine arts, affordable homes, and oh right, the special education program. We failed something small, but that apparently stamped a big red mark on my high schools forehead. 

We are no longer failing, and I couldn't tell you what was on the Illinois State Achievement Test if I tried. But it is scary to think that one little test could determine so much for a school. My opinion on testing has changed recently and I see more and more the purpose of testing in a classroom, but I fear for good and bad schools when one test plagued with errors is decided the future of a child's education. 

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