I am sure there are many interesting points to be made about the philosophy of having and implementing these tests, but what concerns me here is how holding students back to learn material is punishing them.
I know piss-all about Boston city schools, and the MCAS is on the news all the time in some damn form or another. Some news story was about how some teachers couldn’t pass it or something, but if it was anything like the standardized test I took in Ohio then it really was no big deal. Admittedly, that probably doesn’t mean much coming from your average doper, but the point here is that a high school education doesn’t really offer people that much to begin with, and not being able to take a comprehensive test on what you’ve been doing for the last X years could say any number of things.
The striking percentage difference on traditionally poor minorities raises issues of what the students do when they aren’t at school, but since more and more of America is subjected to the latchkey kid phenomenon I am not sure we can really look at economic class as an indicator, here. I’d be interested in checking out labor statistics for this age group, though, to see if there is anything to that idea.
The idea here that the NAACP representative offers is pretty short-sighted. Standardized testing isn’t going to get the weeds out of everyone’s lawn, but I think it is definitely a step in the right direction even if it isn’t suited to each individual child’s need. I think the more important question is how these students came to be in a situation where they could graduate if only they passed this test and then didn’t. I would like to think that tests like these are more or less formalities, with some possible trend indicators built in (tough questions asked but not scored, for example). Eliminating the MCAS isn’t suddenly going to make these kids, and kids like them, brighter, it is just going to hide it from plain sight where it needs to be so we can address it.
Hold them back. Sorry, but the education system shouldn’t be putting kids out there without something resembling an education. And they really need to take some time to find out how something like this happened.
wring, if I may, I’d like to address your three points. The first point seems to me to be a general complaint about test anxiety, but do you honestly feel that having to take, and perform well, on a timed test is something limited only to the high school experience? Operating under time contraints is surely a factor of just about every single job I can conceive of. I don’t have much to say about your second point, but I think that it has no bearing on the question at hand. They need it to graduate, who cares if they want to pass it or not. Who wants to take any (or most) of their high school classes? For the third, and final, point you make I need to reiterate my response to the first point. Operating under pressure is such a real-world fact that I cannot imagine finding this to be a flaw with testing. Of course your points are true, but this doesn’t mean that the tests shouldn’t be there anyway.