Tienken and Borst: Please Get Rid of Standardized Testing! It Doesn’t Work!

For Profit Corporations and the management of nonprofit organizations are adding to their wealth by getting state and federal governments to force our public school children to take more standardized tests than any other democratic country.

“Studies over the last 35 years have demonstrated that results from standardized tests are highly subjective and not entirely indicative of what is happening in the classroom. Findings from decades of scientific research suggest that standardized tests are blunt instruments, whose results can be predicted at the school and district levels by using family and community demographic data found in the U.S. Census.”

What does that previous paragraph mean when translated so most if not all readers will understand it?

In every developed country in the world, not just the United States, the children of the wealthy and/or educated do better on standardized tests than the children of the poor and/or undereducated. The poorer and less educated a family is, the lower those standardized scores tend to be.

Which country has best education system for children?

” Finland, which has the best schooling system globally, offers students free education and free meals from primary to high-school level. In Denmark, there are no educational dues until the students turn 16 years of age.”

Finland also doesn’t force its teachers to conduct standardized tests and its k-12 students to take those tests.,turn%2016%20years%20of%20age.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Christopher Tienken and Julia Larrea Borst wrote this article for, where it is behind a paywall. It was reposted by the Network for Public Education blog:

In a guest editorial at, Tienken, an associate professor at Seton Hall University, and Borst, executive director of Save Our Schools New Jersey, explain why it’s time to put an end to the big high stakes standardized test.

They wrote:

A veritable industrial-testing complex has been set up across the country that siphons educational resources from public schools to large corporations. The United States mandates more standardized tests of academic achievement than any other democratic country in the G20 group of nations. So, what have we learned from all of this testing?

Studies over the last 35 years have demonstrated that results from standardized tests are highly subjective and not entirely indicative of what is happening in the classroom. Findings from…

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Posted by on May 26, 2023 in Uncategorized


Josh Cowen: Texas Doesn’t Need Vouchers. Neither Does Any Other State.

School vouchers steal money from needy public schools, money that ends up going to often below-average private schools desperate for money so they don’t go out of business. Then, often, too many of those voucher students learn the hard way they gave up a good public school for a lousy private one and leave, returning to often better public schools in one to two years.

When students leave an inferior, cost-cutting, profit-generating voucher school, what’s left of that voucher money does not follow them, putting a bigger financial burden on OUR non-profit public schools.

More proof that today’s Republican Party, hijacked by Traitor Trump’s supporters, is nothing but a mindless, mean Wrecking Ball.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Josh Cowen is a professor of education policy at Michigan State University. He has been involved in research on vouchers for two decades. He wrote the following article for The Houston Chronicle.

Every state has versions of Texas’ Snapshot Day: the time early in the school year when districts submit pupil counts to their state education agency. How many students go to school in each district determines how much money districts receive each year, as well as a variety of other services and programs.

Not every state is considering a school voucher program, however, and as the Texas Legislature debates that possibility (officially called an education savings account), details like pupil count are going to matter a lot more than either voucher supporters or opponents are considering right now.

Here’s how we know.

I’ve been studying school choice policy for two decades. That work includes official evaluations on behalf…

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Posted by on May 6, 2023 in Uncategorized


James Harvey: How We Cooked the Books to Produce a Deeply Flawed “A Nation at Risk”

James Harvey, a member of the staff that wrote what ended up being called “A Nation at Risk”, reveals why/how our government in 1983, declared war on OUR public schools, our teachers, our family values, and our children.

A war that has made some wealthy while letting our schools rot, and turned our public schools into a Ukrainian battle field, under endless attack.

“The bumbling began immediately,” Harvey writes, when “Reagan startled the commission members by hailing their call for prayer in the schools, school vouchers, and the abolition of the Department of Education.”

Cherry Picking the Facts — Cooking the Books

“There were at least three problems with what the commission finally produced. First, it settled on its conclusions and then selected evidence to support them. Second, its argument was based on shockingly shoddy logic. And third, it proposed a curricular response that ignored the complexity of American life and the economic and racial divisions within the United States.” …


Lloyd Lofthouse

James Harvey, a member of the staff that wrote what ended up being called “A Nation at Risk”, reveals why/how our government in 1983, declared war on OUR public schools, our teachers, our family values, and our children.

A war that has made some wealthy while letting our schools rot, and turned our public schools into a Ukrainian battle field, under endless attack.

“The bumbling began immediately,” Harvey writes, when “Reagan startled the commission members by hailing their call for prayer in the schools, school vouchers, and the abolition of the Department of Education.”

Cherry Picking the Facts

Cooking the Books

“There were at least three problems with what the commission finally produced. First, it settled on its conclusions and then selected evidence to support them. Second, its argument was based on shockingly shoddy logic. And third, it proposed a curricular response that ignored the complexity of American…

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When looking for a good public school, ignore the Standardized Test Scores.

In this post, I’m going to tell you what to look for when searching for a good public school. FIRST: Charter Schools are not real public schools. Do not forget that.

Charter Schools are not REAL public schools.

Public schools have what’s known as school report cards that can be found on-line. Those reports are supposed to report a lot of info.

Always ignore the standardized test score rankings.

Low standardized test scores basically reveal how many children at a public school live in poverty. A high child poverty rate at a public school is what brings those stupid, useless tests scores down, not the teachers.

Higher test scores for a public school usually reveals it is located in a more expensive area where many of the parents are college educated and/or earn more money.

If the public school report card has the following information, use it to determine if it is a good public school.Look for the average level of education for the teachers at the school and the turnover rate. If most of the teachers have a higher level graduate degree, in the subject area they teach, then they probably know what they’re doing and are good at it.

If the public or charter school has a high turnover rate for its teachers, those schools are in trouble and probably are being mismanaged by its district administrators and maybe the site administrators, too. Those not a public Charter Schools have a reputation for high teacher turnover and harsh disclpline for both teachers and students.

Many administrators have never taught, and many of them couldn’t teach their way out of a paper bag if their lives depended on it.

Still, you can ask how many of the administrators at a public school and the ones in the district office were teachers for at least six years before moving to administration. If the top admin never taught, they probably do not know what they are doing because they do not know the challenges teachers face in public school classrooms.

If the public school has a low teacher turnover rate and hangs on to its teachers for long periods of time, those are the public schools you want to focus on. The teachers that stay are more dedicated and work harder. It’s a demanding, challenging job that drives out the undedicated teachers really fast.

A lower teacher turnover rate also usually means the administrators probably know how tough teaching really is. Good public schools do not focus on teaching to raise those damn standardized test scores. They focus on supporting their teachers so they can teach the children instead.

Teachers that don’t learn how to manage their classes and/or can’t stand the pressure burn out faster and leave sooner.

Incompetent administrators, in public schools and those private sector Charter Schools speed up teacher burnout when they focus more on those useless and often misleading standardized test results instead of supporting teachers so they can teach, not to the test, but what their students should be learning.

A good teacher often works more than 50 hours a week while only teaching about 25 of those hours. Teaching is like an iceberg. Most of the work teachers do takes place out of sight, before and after school and on the weekends. When I was still teaching (1975 – 2005), my work weeks often ran 60 to 100 hours when I added all the time I put in: correcting student work at home, doing grades at home, calling parents from school and at home, planning lessons at school and at home, et al.

It’s not easy to manage your classes, teach. and do all that stuff during regular school hours.

I’m a former US Marine and combat vet. Teaching was tougher and more demanding than any other job I’ve had in my life (I worked in the private sector for about 15 years, too), including being a combat Marine.

By the time I went into teaching, I was 30 and I stayed for 30 years until I was 60. If I had to go back to work for some reason, I’d rather be a Marine again instead of a teacher. Marine Corps boot camp and being shot at in combat, as long as whoever was shooting at me kept missing, was less stressful and demanding than teaching. I think the Marines did more to prepare me for teaching than earning my teaching credential through a full-time, year-long urban residency did. Still those urban residency teacher training programs are considered the best ways to learn how to become a teacher.


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NYC Public School Parent: Why Charter Schools Disgust Me

In 1900, seven percent of Americans graduated from high school and three percent from college. The poverty rate was also about forty percent. If we the people lose our accountable Public Schools to publicly funded, private sector unaccountable Charter Schools, the United States may return to those 1900 ratios.

Yes, in case you didn’t know it, real public schools are accountable to state and federal laws, but publicly funded, private sector Charter Schools ARE NOT!

Public Money we pay in local, state and federal taxes and fees, funds both OUR public schools and those Charter Schools we do not own. Every public dollar that goes to an unaccountable Charter School is lost to OUR accountable public schools.

What should we call schools that are not held accountable to the same laws that guide our public schools, laws from our democratic process passed by our elected representatives, laws that are supposed to protect all of our children and insure that all of our children are allowed to learn.

Diane Ravitch's blog

A regular commenter, who signs as NYC Public School Parent, is sharply critical of the games charters play. She doesn’t like the way they push kids out as young as 5 or 6 for misbehaving. She doesn’t like their boasting about test scores when the schools with the highest scores are selective, either in their admissions or their attrition or both.

She writes approvingly of schools that seek out those students with the greatest needs, like the one funded by LeBron James in Akron.

Didn’t the LeBron James-funded school in Akron do just that — specifically took the most struggling students? And wasn’t it part of the public school system? THAT is what all charters should be doing.

The so called “successful” and expanding charter chains have almost universally prioritized the needs of their CEOs over the needs of the most vulnerable children. Their approach to teaching students is that…

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Posted by on April 22, 2023 in Uncategorized


What Factors determine Quality Public Schools

There are several factors that determine the quality of public school districts, and the results of standardized test score are NOT one of them.

What to look for:

How old are the public school buildings? It isn’t easy to teach or learn in buildings with roofs that leak, old moldy carpets, overcrowded classrooms, et al.

Funding is another important factor. Too many public school districts are not getting the funding they need to update and maintain infrastructure, keep class sizes low (12 to 20 in a class. It’s okay to have less than 12 but no more than 20) and hire the best teachers. In crowded, aging classrooms, teachers often become overwhelmed and face burnout, one of the major factors for high teacher turnover.

“Funding is always an issue for schools and is, in fact, one of the biggest issues facing the American public education system today. For more than 90% of K-12 schools, funding comes from state and local governments, largely generated by sales and income taxes.”,by%20sales%20and%20income%20taxes.

A high rate of child poverty in a school district is also a challenge. Children living in poverty, in every country, have problems learning because… well, they live in poverty.

“Students living in poverty often have fewer resources at home to complete homework, study, or engage in activities that helps equip them for success during the school day.”,success%20during%20the%20school%20day.

Teacher quality is also an important factor. There is no uniform method in the United States to train teachers. In some states, a high school dropout with a GED is allowed to teach. In others, to teach, you need a four year, or more, college degree.

The worst teacher training in the United States is probably from Teach for America. The best are urban residency programs.

TFA trains their future teachers in a few weeks with little or no time practicing, under supervision, in a classroom with real students.

Urban residency teacher training programs often run for an entire school year, full time in a classroom with a master teacher and college classes required to earn a credential through this program are held after regular school hours and during summers.

In The Teacher Wars, by Dana Goldstein, in one chapter, the author goes into detail comparing the different teacher training programs.

Back to a few of the major flaws of Standardized Tests.

The only tests that are useful are teacher made tests that are not used to determine a students grade or rank teachers or schools. Teacher made tests should be used a s a tool to help teachers discover what their students are learning so the teacher can focus on what they are not learning.

“Some of the cons of standardized testing include the fact that standardized tests are unable to assess a student’s higher-level thinking skills, teachers may alter their curriculum in order to ‘teach to the test,’ and standardized tests have been shown to result in inequitable outcomes for students.”,in%20inequitable%20outcomes%20for%20students.

The human brain also doesn’t work well to remember what a Standardized Test asks. Even if a teacher taught what the Standardized Tests asks, and this isn’t always the case, there is no guarantee students will remember what they were taught by the time they take these useless tests.

“There are numerous reasons to believe that high stakes standardized tests are actually quite damaging to education and have received forceful criticism over the past dozen years as a result. Examples include their propensity to drive out teachers, encouraging teaching “to the test” as well as increasing grade retention and school dropout rates, all of which question the imposition of high quantities of standardized tests throughout a student’s school career.”

Still, what can parents do?

Well, parents may learn how long the average teacher stays in their job in a school district, what the annual teacher turnover rate is, and with a bit more digging, find out if a public school district’s admisntration is obsessed with standardized tests OR supports teachers to teach over the damn tests.

Hint: Parents aren’t going to learn this from the administrators. You have to ask involved parents and teachers, when no administrators are around.


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Secretary Cardona, NAEP Proficient Is NOT Grade Level!

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, I want you to stop spreading the ignorant lie that the majority of American children cannot read at grade level.

Simply put:

BASIC means reading at grade level.
BELOW BASIC means reading below grade level.
PROFICIENT means reading above grade level.

It is a lie that the majority of Americans grow up reading below grade level.

How do I know that and why don’t you?

“Between 700-900 million books are sold in the US per year.”

“An annual study found that the total number of magazine readers in the U.S. remained above 220 million in every year between 2016 and 2020, having previously hovered around the 210 and 215 million mark.”

“While 91% of all adults read magazines, those aged 35 and younger are more likely to read magazines (93-94%). In addition, 73% of adults agreed that reading a magazine or book in print format is more enjoyable than reading on a device.”

“Thirty-seven percent of fourth-grade students performed below the NAEP Basic level in 2022, which was 4 percentage points higher compared to 2019 and not significantly different from 1992.”

Can you subtract, Secretary Cardona?

100 – 37 = 63% are reading at or above grade level.

Secretary Cardona, do you know how many children live in poverty in the US?

If you don’t, you should!

You should also know that the leading factor that causes children to read below basic (below grade level in every country in the world) is poverty, not the quality of our public schools and public school teachers.

Diane Ravitch's blog

For the past dozen years, since the attack on public schools went into high gear, the same lie has been trotted out again and again to defame public schools. The slanderers say that 2/3 of American students are reading “below grade level.”

At Congressional hearings on the education budget on Tuesday April 18, the same ridiculous claim was made by U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. He said that only 33% are reading at proficiency. He said this is “appalling and not acceptable for the United States. 33% of our students are reading on Grade level.” (At about 45:00).

This is nonsense. Its’s frankly appalling to hear Secretary Cardona repeating the lie spread by rightwing public school haters. He really should be briefed by officials from the National Assessment Governing Board before he testifies again.

On the NAEP (National Assessment of Educationsl Progress) tests, “proficient” does not represent grade…

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Posted by on April 19, 2023 in Uncategorized


Forgotten Pre-Covid Report Reveals Standardized Testing Weaknesses in PA

Forgotten Pre-Covid Report Reveals Standardized Testing Weaknesses in PA

I think it is safe to say that most public school principals and teachers, many parents, and most if not all students hate standardized tests.

There is a good reason for hating standardized tests. They are a waste of time, prove nothing, and cause stress. The only toxic benefits of standardized tests are the profits from public dollars for the test makers. The CEO of one of if not the largest test maker is David Coleman. He earns about one million dollars a year from those stressful, waste of time, expensive tests we the people pay for through taxes that are supposed to fund OUR public schools.


The majority of teachers and principals in Pennsylvania hate standardized tests.

An increasing number of parents are refusing to allow their kids to take the tests.

And there may be better alternatives to the state’s Keystone Exams.

These were just some of the key findings of a blockbuster report from June 2019 by the state General Assembly’s Legislative Budget and Finance Committee.

The report, “Standardized Tests in Public Education” was published about 9 months before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

It effectively got lost in the chaos that followed the global pandemic.

However, now that things are returning to some semblance of normalcy, it seems that bureaucrats from the state Department of Education (PDE) are taking the wrong lessons from the report while the legislature seems to have forgotten it entirely.

The report was conducted because of legislation written by state Sen. Ryan P. Aument (R-Lancaster County). It directed…

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Posted by on April 15, 2023 in Uncategorized


Philadelphia: “Abbott Elementary” and the Real Story Behind Charters

“If our school’s not good enough, why don’t they just fix our school?”

That pull quote from this blog post is an excellent question that I want to answer.

I think the publicly funded, private sector, secretive and often inferior Charter school Industry doesn’t want to fix our public schools. The reason “they” don’t want to fix whatever is allegedly wrong with out public schools isn’t because of the quality of teaching and it isn’t about our children.

I know the real reason is all about the money that’s making charter CEOs and managers wealthy.

One example:

“Eva Moskowitz, who’s in charge of Success Academy Charter Schools in New York City and nowhere else, pulls down a salary of nearly $1 million a year.” — “Success has 45 schools with 17,000 students from kindergarten through high school.”

How much does a Public School Superintendent make in New York?

“The average School Superintendent salary in New York is $185,639 as of February 27, 2023, but the range typically falls between $151,635 and $223,999.”

New York City’s public school system is by far the largest in the United States. During the 2017-2018 school year, more than 1.1 million students attended approximately 1,800 public schools administered by the New York City Department of Education (DOE).

Eva Moskowitz with 17,000 students in her 45 private sector Charter Schools earns almost $1,000,000 annually from public dollars that should be going to real public school and not into her bank account.

The top paid superintendent that works for New York City’s real public schools serving more than 1,000,000 students is paid less than one-quarter of what Moskowitz pays herself as the CEO of a small, private sector Charter School chain with 17,000 students. The public money that flows to Moskowitz small charter chain should be going to New York City’s public schools and not into Moskowitz’s bank account making her richer than she already is.

The United States now has four K-12 education systems instead of two.

Before war was declared on our public schools in 1983, there were two education systems.

1. The K=12 public school systems that the public pays for.
2. A private sector k-12 school system that wealthy parents paid for.

Today we have four K-12 public school systems. What has changed?

3. Publicly funded, Private Sector charter schools without locally elected community school board.
4. Publicly funded, private-sector k-12 online virtual schools where children do not have to go to school everyday. They learn from home through their mobile, tablet, laptop or desktop.

What is the public getting for its money funding those private sector, very profitable online virtual schools?

“Virtual schools, which offer full-time instruction online and represent a slim 1 percent of all high schools…. The average graduation rate for virtual schools is 40 percent.”

What about the graduation rate for real, brick and mortar public high schools? “As of 2021, the national graduation rate is currently 85.3%, an all-time high.”

The United States also has two sets of rules for its confusing, publicly-funded K-12 education sector.

There are rules for real public schools, but no rules for the publicly funded, secretive private sector charters and online, virtual school, meaning the public has no idea how their money is being spent.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Peter Greene turned his blog over to an experienced journalist who covered education in Philadelphia for years. What’s the real story behind the outraged reaction by the charter lobby to “Abbott Elementary”?

Bill Hangley, Jr., is a free lance writer who worked the education beat in Philadelphia, and as such he has some thoughts about the charter scene in Philly as reflected through recent episodes of Abbott Elementary. I’m pleased to present his guest post on the subject.

Hangley writes:

America’s school-choice lobby can relax: when ABC’s Abbott Elementary returns this Wednesday [April 5], the plot will hinge on teacher qualifications, not charter school takeovers.

That’s good news for a community that’s used to being taken seriously – very seriously. Wherever charter supporters go, they usually have friends to defend their interests. But the choice lobby wasn’t represented in the Abbott writers’ room. Nobody stood in the way as…

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Posted by on April 4, 2023 in Uncategorized


California: What’s Wrong with Charter Schools?

What’s wrong with Charter School in California and why they should not be funded with public money?

Diane Ravitch's blog

In 2010, I traveled to California to

Guest post created by a longtime Northern California parent volunteer education advocate

  • Charter schools take resources away from the public schools, harming public schools and their students. All charter schools do this – whether they’re opportunistic and for-profit or presenting themselves as public, progressive and enlightened.
  • Charter schools are free to pick and choose and exclude or kick out any student they want. They’re not supposed to, but in real life there’s no enforcement. Many impose demanding application processes, or use mandatory “intake counseling,” or require work hours or financial donations from families – so that only the children of motivated, supportive, compliant families get in. Charter schools publicly deny this, but within many charter schools, the selectivity is well known and viewed as a benefit. Admittedly, families in those schools like that feature – with the more challenging students kept out…

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Posted by on March 28, 2023 in Uncategorized