Pittsfield Teacher responds to praise for PARCC, speaks the truth about why we need a moratorium

High-Stakes-Testing Long-time Pittsfield Public School teacher and former Taconic High School English Dept. Chairman Edward Udel responds to Massachusetts Alliance for Business' Linda Noonan in a Berkshire Eagle op-ed, debunks her claims that PARCC and other high-stakes standardized tests are the way to better prepare students for college and careers.

I remain unconvinced that one test, any test, no matter how well conceived, no matter how challenging, can address the real issues. Ms. Noonan writes, "This is particularly challenging in our smaller cities where poverty and language barriers keep students farther away from attaining the degree they will need to receive family sustaining employment." I would add that large cities are dealing with the same problems on a larger scale, and many smaller suburban communities have also suffered under the weight of state mandates. I respectfully ask Noonan to explain how another high stakes test will mitigate the effects of poverty and language barriers.

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Ms. Noonan, if it will give you comfort, then untether the tests from their high stakes moorings and measure away. Determine if you must where there are large pockets of underperforming students. I submit that socio-economic factors are undeniable and directly reflected in test results. I urge you to read reports from the American Statistical Association that warn about the danger of using test scores as indicators of school quality or teaching performance.

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