Assessing and Addressing the "Testing Backlash"
With annual testing at the heart of President Bush's education plan now nearing the end of its Congressional journey, testing has never been a hotter issue in national politics. It is also generating plenty of heat at the state and local levels as more test-and-standards-based accountability systems kick in. Business leaders have been among the strongest advocates for higher standards and greater accountability for results, but lately some members of the business community seem cowed by vocal parents and teachers opposed to any test with real consequences. To aid standards supporters and reformers inside and beyond that business community, the Business Roundtable (BRT) has published a guide that is chock full of practical advice and illuminating opinion research. Included are results from two studies by BRT and Public Agenda that found overwhelming support among all demographic groups for standards-based reform. BRT advises standards advocates not to back down in the face of opposition. This does not mean ignoring critics but, rather, engaging and working with them to fine-tune standards and generate support for the "novel" message that "virtually all children can learn at much higher levels than have been expected of previous generations." Once those lines of communication are open, standards advocates can work with teachers, parents, and others to maximize the benefits of testing for improving instructional efficacy and student achievement. All who are involved in the battle over testing will want to read this report. Free copies are available from The Business Roundtable at 1615 L Street, NW, Suite 1100, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 872-1260; www.brt.org.