Coronavirus

Opinion: Deliver Us from the Biden Administration’s Focus on Testing During a Pandemic

While working from home, I quite often have Spotify playing in the background when one of my favorite favorites came on — Deliver Us from Prince of Egypt.  
With the sting of the whip on my shoulderWith the salt of my sweat on my browElohim, God on high, can you hear your people cry?Help us nowThis dark hourDeliver usHear our call, deliver us
While mindlessly singing along and scanning the headlines of the day, this one jumped out just as the chorus rose to a crescendo – President Biden stating that standardized testing nationwide must resume.  Situational Irony is what we call it in ELAR (English/Language Arts).  In case you’ve forgotten the story – here’s the verse and a recap –  Pharoh’s decree stated, “You are no longer to supply the people with straw for making bricks; let them go and gather their own straw. But require them to make the same number of bricks as before; don’t reduce the quota. They are lazy; that is why they are crying out,’   The Israelites begged for help in making the bricks with straw because honestly, they were doing the best they could with the materials on hand – straw, and mud.  Pharaoh did not take kindly to their grumbling and made them get their own straw – still keeping the daily quota the same.
See what I mean?  Hard-working people doing the best they can then told to get their own resources to do the work required. See why I find the whole situation – ironic?  So after reading the headline –  I’m honestly beginning to feel cheated or deceived. I doubt I am the only one.  The Biden Administration has disappointed us all in education with suggestions such as shortening the test or offering them remotely. Or even offering tests in the summer months or upcoming Fall. I cannot help feeling a little betrayed.
Get Real
Okay – the Biden Administration did recommend for students to take these high pressured tests remotely.   That’s a good thing right?  In a perfect world, yes.  I know what lengths we take at my school to ensure testing security by signing oaths, making sure our rooms are cheat-proof, not allowing devices in the testing site, and actively monitoring during the testing day itself. Do you think a child taking a high-risk test will have this setup? One part of me thinks – “sure – let’s see how awesome those scores will be!”  Cheating in the Digital Age: Do Students Cheat More in Online Courses states in its opening statement that students today have more opportunities and resources at their fingertips than those did a generation ago.  As an online tutor, I refuse the postings requesting help on assessments or tests because I know this is a violation of academic integrity.  It stands to reason the same could happen if states administer these tests in a remote setting!
What’s Being Said
Articles declare that states are being given flexibility, such as filing waivers that state – “These waivers would also exempt schools from the current requirement that at least 95% of students participate in testing. “ (NPR, Feb 2021) The flexibility claims that states can shorten the tests as an option. An option I seriously doubt would happen because where is the money to be made in that by the companies who devise these tests? While the data for testing during a pandemic is minimal,  I did find this from The Price of Standardized Testing 
Standardized testing is a billion-dollar industry paid for by taxpayers. There are better ways to spend such large sums of money. Many school buildings are in desperate need of repairs, students use the same dated textbooks that their parents used, and the class sizes in most schools are way too large for efficient learning. We need to think twice about how tax money is being spent by the school systems.     
Every article surrounding the cost of standardized echo the same lament.  Yet, the cry of the people goes unheard.  Teachers, who are already struggling with covering all the required “student expectations” for a year, will be in panic mode trying to get students ready for a  test that means nothing. A mentor once told me that our livelihood is sadly dependent on the capricious nature of a child one day a year and how they perform.  Take that to 2020 – forget the capricious nature – add in the remote/hybrid/pandemic craziness.   Adding this test to the plate does not help the already fragile mental state of many students and educators right now. An idea would be to encourage parents to simply refused to give the tests? I always see articles and motivation posters with the encouragement to say “No” to things you do not want to do especially if they violate your boundary.   Most states have teacher unions.  Perhaps this is the opportune time for them to step up and support teachers in this area.  We need to continue to lobby our representatives and other officials because this has to be something they can stand up for on our behalf.
Deliver Us
The Israelites had Moses come along to deliver them to the Promised Land.  I want to hold out hope for a miracle.  I want to believe that this administration is truly on our side and that President Biden will also be our Deliverer.
Maybe another will rise from the mud to save us from the administration of President Biden.
More articles on this topic:
U.S. News and World Report Biden offers flexibility in testing
States Still Must Give Standardized Tests

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