We have been warning the alarm about the Smarter Balanced Assessment for a while now. We URGE parents to read the following letter that appeared in fosters.com recently.
There is still time to REFUSE this assessment if your children have not taken it yet!
School testing unethical, invalid
To the editor:
I am writing to commend Shawna and David Coppola of Madbury for their decision to opt their children out of the Smarter Balanced assessment at the Oyster River School District, and to invite other families to follow suit. It is my intention to do the same with my own children.
I am a PhD level educational researcher who studies learning. My opposition to Smarter Balanced is driven by two main reservations: (1) U.S. families have, since 2001, been unwitting participants in a educational research project at an unprecedented scale, with activist reformers and legislators pushing market-based reforms underwritten by a punitive system of testing. Smarter Balanced represents the latest wave of data collection in this widespread experiment. As a researcher, I am subject to Institutional Review Board scrutiny anytime I use psychometric assessments of learning, and it is required practice to secure consent from research participants and to let them opt out at any time with no penalty. Smarter Balanced is such an assessment and should be held to the same ethical standard as all research on human subjects, in which seeking consent is mandatory.
(2) Smarter Balanced is claimed to be a valid assessment of learning. This is false in one crucial respect: Standardized tests have been shown repeatedly to lack ecological validity. In educational research, validity refers to a test’s ability to measure what it claims to measure, and not something else. Above all else, standardized tests measure children’s ability to take standardized tests. There is little correspondence between this ability and the ability to proficiently learn and perform complex tasks in normal environments. I do not necessarily fault the designers of Smarter Balanced for this problem, as it is a common mistake in educational research due to inadequate training. Nonetheless, because Smarter Balanced – and all similar metrics – cannot approximate real-life situations in which people are called upon to learn, it lacks validity in precisely the domain it purports to measure.
I regard Smarter Balanced as part of a nationwide system of compulsory participation in unethically managed, invalid research. The Coppolas are wise to exercise their rights to opt out.