Testing, testing! One two three!

I want to tell you three stories from the world of testing–small, medium, and large. Real stories, things that happened. I saw two with my own eyes and the other one is all over the news.

Just three short scenes.


My 4th-grade daughter came home one day during testing at her school and related a conversation she’d had that day.

“Mom, I was kind of worried about my friend because of the ISATs. I asked her how do you do these tests with your dyslexia? Can you read them? And she goes, no, but I don’t care. They don’t matter.”


Years ago. After No Child Left Behind, but well before the Race to the Top double-down on standardized testing. Son is a prospective first-grader, I am looking around at schools. Waiting in the office to talk to the principal. Busy day during testing time, office filled with action. Overheard:

Child looking green around the gills, crying a little: “But I just threw up.”

Principal, bending over child and glaring: “I don’t care! Get in there and take that test! This is important!”

(This is, I need hardly add, a school with very high test scores.)


In pretty appalling news almost everyone knows by now, Beverly Hall, former Atlanta school superintendent, “faces 45 years in prison. Her high-stakes testing strategy led to a massive cheating scandal which took ten years to uncover.” (Read more here.)

In truth it wasn’t just her. She “is among the thirty-five educators within the Atlanta school system who were named in a 65-count indictment last week that alleges a broad conspiracy to cheat, conceal cheating or retaliate against whistleblowers in an effort to bolster student test scores and, as a result, receive bonuses for improved student performance.” (The rest of the story and bonus mug shots here.)

And in truth, Hall is the only superintendent to get probable time in the pokey. Michelle Rhee has been dogged by, and cleared of, similar problems in the DC school district, for years.

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