Debunking the Myths of Standardized Testing: A CTU Position Paper

Awash in logical fallacies and pro-labor ideology, this position paper from the Chicago Teacher Union takes a swing at “corporate reform groups” (hat tip to Advance Illinois and Stand for Children for making that list!) and the accountability reforms that they support. And it whiffs. Time and again. The paper is premised on the notion that “as much as 90% of variation in student growth is explained by factors outside the control of teachers” and, therefore, evaluating educators based on student growth is roundly unfair. Yet myriad studies have shown that teachers are the number one in-school factor for student success. And gobs of educators—many of them unionized—have shown that, in fact, demography is not destiny. (The CTU authors also ignore the latest value-added techniques that make it possible to identify the best teachers regardless of student background.) The eight pages of this skimpy screed are rife with diluted or twisted truths that downplay the importance of a high-performing teacher in every classroom (and do little to prove that standardized testing would harm any but the lowest performing teachers—which harm might well turn into great good for their oppressed pupils). Still, there is one line in the brief with which the Gadfly can agree: “Research shows students who are tasked with intellectually demanding work that promotes disciplined inquiry…score higher on standardized tests.” Good thing that the accountability movement doesn’t preclude (and, indeed, encourages) just such quality teaching.

SOURCE: Chicago Teachers Union, “Debunking the Myths of Standardized Testing: A CTU Position Paper,” Chicago Teachers Union (February 2013).

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