criminalizing failure

Education Radio: Criminalizing failure: How high stakes testing warps identities, opportunities and communities
"In this week’s program, we take a closer look at how high stakes testing is impacting what happens in classrooms, how teachers see students, how students see themselves, and the kinds of society we are building through how young people are being educated. The impact of high stakes tests is both broadly social and intimately personal. Socially, high stakes testing re-segregates our schools, marginalizes black and brown children, young people who live in poverty and children who do not learn in traditional ways. High stakes testing tells us who we will value, and who we will not value, and makes room for us to criminalize youth, especially black and brown youth, opening the path to the school to prison pipeline. It operates within and builds on white supremacy, and exploits long standing privileges and oppressions. And, as with any dominant discourse, high stakes testing enters our consciousness and begins to structure how we see ourselves, each other, and the kind of world we want to build."via Blog this'
A sensitive look at the full ramifications of high stakes testing and the way it impacts kids. Much of this would also apply to most forms of grading practiced in the US though teachers do have somewhat more control over that process. The schools are a service for families and kids and schools should support every child. And doing this fully and fairly would strengthen our social relationships and build our human capital. We cannot have a sift and sort approach to children: we can provide services that are supportive and helpful to families. We might be astonished at the variety and depth of the many skills and talents that human beings possess were we not so bent on invasive shaping and sorting, all based on disproved science and all extremely anti-social in design.

This is one of the best shows I have heard recently on this topic but I want to point out that testing links two different worlds together: the world we hear so poignantly about in this show and a another world, a world of good schools and clean suburbs, corporate campuses, and top colleges. The
 ones who pass these tests are also affected: they may feel smarter than they are and they may assume they know more than they do. Those who test well and get the grades and achieve may come to accept many aspects of this coercion and sorting system as beneficial. They may become comfortable with social and institutional practices that are overly punitive and destructive. They may not actually know what they think they know. 

How could so many top-level economists not see the global financial crisis? How could so many economists follow groupthink and not question the models they learned? How could Europe actually try an austerity that is so vicious on its surface? How could anyone think that was the way to go forward? How much intellectual energy is expended on trivial activities that could have tackled more meaningful work? Why do we have so many poorly built and designed houses, suburbs, services and products? Why is there so much waste generated? The systems we raise our children within affect us all.
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