The Racist Beginnings of Standardized Testing

With the ravages of Covid-19, the idea that students should be forced to take any sort of standardized test this year is incomprehensible. The priority right now should be on strengthening instruction and support for students and families in communities most traumatized by the impact of the coronavirus, according to an article in NEA magazine by John Rosales and Tim Walker.

Many of these same communities have suffered the most from high-stakes testing. Since their inception almost a century ago, the tests have been instruments of racism and a biased system. Decades of research demonstrate that Black, Latin(o/a/x), and Native students, as well as students from some Asian groups, experience bias from standardized tests administered from early childhood through college, the article continues.

“We still think there’s something wrong with the kids rather than recognizing their something wrong with the tests,” Ibram X. Kendi of the Antiracist Research & Policy Center at Boston University and author of How to be an Antiracissaid in October 2020. “Standardized tests have become the most effective racist weapon ever devised to objectively degrade Black and Brown minds and legally exclude their bodies from prestigious schools.”

Yet some organizations insist on more testing, arguing that the data will expose the gaps where support and resources should be directed, Rosales and Walker said.

Standardized tests, however, have never been accurate and reliable measures of student learning and, one year into a pandemic, would be even less so now.

Read the full article here.

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