Outcomes and results matter: But what’s with all the testing?

In a recent post at Raining Acorns, a Pennsylvania parent records what happens in March school testing season. She outlines the impact on the school schedule and the disruption to learning. Is it all worth it? Why all this time on test?

Yong Zhao argues that this imposition of high stakes testing is more than a waste of time and a focus on the wrong thing. It is also damaging our global competitiveness.

Tax dollars pour millions into testing companies developing ever more sophisticated instruments and schools devote even more precious learning time to test prep and test taking.

Meanwhile, our global competitors are striving to move away from standardized testing and the assembly line of schooling because they know it strangles creativity and innovation essential for future success. Not to mention killing the joy of learning essential for nurturing the resilient, self-sustaining learners for life we need our children to become.

So as China and other Asian nations strive to move toward more creative and curiosity approaches as a way to ride the wave of innovation and the new culture of learning, the United States is driving in the opposite direction.

Zhao, who is the author of Catching Up or Leading the Way. has a unique perspective on the issues of global competitiveness and the test obsession.

He is currently Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon, where he also serves as the director of the Center for Advanced Technology in Education (CATE). He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education.

Until December, 2010,  Zhao was University Distinguished Professor at the College of Education, Michigan State University, where he also served as the founding director of the Center for Teaching and Technology, executive director of the Confucius Institute, as well as the US-China Center for Research on Educational Excellence.

He also grew up in China and came to the US  when he was 27.  His You must be joking Professor Chua was a powerful and personal contribution to the “Tiger Mom” debate.

In this video Zhao  draws on his personal story as he questions the wisdom of current US education policy. He argues that to compete in the world we need  a diversity of talents and to recognize and respect individual passions and creativity.

Watch the video and hear him speak on global competitiveness and why what matters most (our children’s minds,  their resilience and their future) are damaged by the obsession with standardized and high-stakes testing.

No Child Left Behind and Global Competitiveness from New Learning Institute on Vimeo.

Featured photo by Dawid Małecki

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