Testing is rapidly becoming radioactive. No one lies it, yet Congress can’t bring itself to drive a stake through the withered lifeless heart of NCLB, nor call a halt to Race to the Top’s promotion of even more testing.
Jason Stanford says a new film called “Divergent” shows how standardized testing is harming students, determining their future, and inspiring rebellions against it. It will debut on March 21.
“Because of its resourceful and tough female protagonist, Divergent will draw comparisons to The Hunger Games franchise. But the popular Jennifer Lawrence movies are all about income inequality and poverty whereas the new film, based on the 2012 bestseller by Veronica Roth, questions whether our children can still determine their own futures.
“The central feature of Divergent is that children are given aptitude tests that sort them by virtues, sometimes separating them from their families. These sorting tests are nothing new in popular young adult fiction. Harry Potter had the Sorting Hat that grouped students based on their innate traits. The Hunger Games held a lottery to single out a boy and a girl for ritualized murder. And in the Percy Jackson novels, only genetics—not skill, talents, or knowledge—could get a child into Camp Half Blood.
“But Divergent, intentionally or not, puts high-stakes testing at the center of the educational dystopia it portrays. As in present-day reality, testing takes time away from classroom instruction and occurs on a single day. The Divergent tests measure aptitude, not comprehension, and serve mainly to sort students according to immutable traits into one of five factions “to determine who we are and where we belong.” In schools, we use standardized tests to figure out whether someone is “college or career ready.”
Who decided tat the testing corporations would become THE gatekeepers of social and economic privilege?