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Do you personally agree with the emphasis placed on standardized tests in public education?

In Massachusetts, my kids took the Mass Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) tests (English language arts - ELA - and math) every year between grades 3–8. There is a science test in grades 5 and 8. If they had not gone to private HS, they would have taken the tests (ELA/math and one science subject) again in grade 9-10 for a “competency determination” for graduation.The Mass Department of Elementary and Secondary Education publishes frameworks for every content area and grade level (or band - elem/MS/HS). These are the requirements and basis for what is taught in public schools. The MCAS tests hew to the frameworks. There are no MCAS tests in social studies or world languages, but there are frameworks for these subjects.These tests have few benefits or risks for students. They might be used to assign students to receive an independent education plan (IEP) or remedial or accelerated classes, which could be perceived as a risk or a benefit even though in theory they should be ways to be sure of a good fit between the student and curriculum. If you struggle in school, they ensure that you receive a free and appropriate public education and aren’t just passed on from grade level to grade level. They might keep you from graduating, but again this should in theory be a positive - do you want to graduate even though you can’t read?They have higher stakes for schools and teachers. They are used in grade 10 to be sure all public HS don’t graduate students who can’t read or have what the state has determined are basic math and science skills and knowledge. But what about schools that have more than their share of recent immigrants (English language learners), or a lot of turnover in students or staff from year to year, or high absenteeism due to poverty, local violence or higher rates of asthma and illness? How do you justify basing a teacher evaluation on student performance, when not all subjects are tested (you are either evaluating social studies teachers on student performance in English, or evaluating English teachers on a standardized test and social studies teachers without one)?For students and families, I think that testing makes sense in grade 3, to find the non-readers or the math-challenged and help eliminate subjectivity in assigning students to IEP or additional supports. It makes sense at any grade for students entering the state (for the same reason). It makes sense in grade 7 or 8 as kids prepare to enter high school to see if they need continued supports and assess high school readiness. And it makes sense to be sure that HS graduates can read and have achieved specific math and science skills.For the state, it might make sense to test a portion of students each year to monitor progress (improving average achievement over time) and ensure that the frameworks are being used. But individual teacher evaluations should not be based on these tests; the time frame of one school year is too short and the sample size (24–32 students) too small for meaningful evaluation. Grade-level or school evaluations make more sense, using corrected data comparing similar demographic groupings and/or student growth rather than absolute achievement.To sum up - I am not opposed to standardized testing, but it is overused and data currently overinterpreted.

Is public education wasted on those who don't want to participate?

First off, I do not believe public education is a monolithic concept. That is, not all public educations are the same. If you live in Massachusetts or Kentucky, you’ll have different experiences with public education.We tend to grade public education by how much support it gets (aka moolah) from the government. But more than that, the people on the ground, the teachers and the administrators, are a closer community than any other institution you might find in the US, like hospitals, fire departments or churches. In our small towns we know our teachers. So it’s not so much public and private when it comes to education; it’s more majority/minority opinion about what works. If it’s a small community, the difference is less likely to be stark, often the public school will be the monopoly, the private school the outlier. And private El-Hi institutions have declined: you have to look into that phenomenon. Ask whether your town has true Community Policing - that’ll tend to be correlated more with how people perceive the local education system than the school budget. It’s party subjective, I mean.That’s the way people go through grade school - on the decisions of their parents, which generally follow either a faith-based scheme, or some political tradition. It’s pretty much that way through high school, that any “choice” one individual might have regarding participation at public school is pre-determined.How does one measure non-participation in (public) school? Most empirical studies look at non-participation in State programs, like Free or Reduced Lunch. or IEPs, or post-high-school comprehensive assessments (like Massachusetts MCAS.) Total non-participation does not seem to have studies attached to it, as far as I understand; at least I can’t find references to functions of those who simply do not participate in school. That’s probably because your parents are responsible when you’re less than 18 so your don’t really have a choice unless you decide to sever that link, which isn’t a good idea, because you still have about 10 years before your pre-frontal cortex is fully developed - the part of your brain that is responsible for complex behaviors, including planning, and greatly contributes to personality developmet (Prefrontal Cortex - Therapy Blog)You refer to those who don’t want to participate, but this is such a small group. you have to admit it. Think of your high school and the kids who decided “not to participate” were the loners; in college they were “independents” (not in a frat or sorority). Good on them, because the world needs all kinds! If public education money is wasted on these kids, then it’s very little..I like this question, but I think you should consider a broader term, perhaps the “opportunity cost” of dropping out, and change the question’s scale from taxpayers to individual. That’s more fruitful research - the sample is too small to make statements about social effects of non-participants, whose characteristics are heterogeneous. Participation is not the same as “succeeding.” You can be a genius and not want to participate because you feel alienated by all the sheer stupidity that goes on when you’re young. Much of the outrage is generational, by the way. For example, in the 70s it was perfectly acceptable, encouraged in fact, to abuse underclassmen.

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