I’d just like to bring this to everyone’s attention, as it directly relates to my previous piece on standardized testing. This article is a great example of the sort of thing I was talking about, in which standardized test scores are treated as an objective and factual measurement of the quality of education students are receiving internationally.
Fortunately, this article is an example of good journalism in that it also tells the other side of the story. It quotes numerous Chinese sources expressing concern that test scores aren’t the only way to measure the quality of an education. Of course, this fact will be lost on the politicians. You can bet that the next time Barack Obama (or some Republican running for office, this isn’t party-specific) wants to improve his poll numbers with housewives, he will cite how we’re “falling behind China in math and science” and this standardized test will be the “proof” he relies on to make such a statement.
Meanwhile, his friends in the teachers unions will be in violent opposition to any and all proposals to judge teachers or schools based on test scores. We’ll be told that these scores fail to account for a large number of other important factors and are an awful way to measure student performance and the quality of education received.
Remember: You can’t have it both ways. Either standardized testing tells us something useful about the quality of education students are receiving, or it doesn’t. You cannot point to poor standardized test scores as a justification for throwing more money at an awful public school system, but at the same time reject standardized test scores as a valid criteria upon which to make judgments regarding school or teacher performance.