Standardized tests for PE? Better watch out

Unless policymakers start listening to teachers, the standardized testing mania is going to get even crazier. Some districts around the country already are conducting standardized tests in art, music and physical education. And, according to the article linked below, one of the pioneers of this expansion has been Mike Miles, the new superintendent at Dallas ISD.

While Miles was still superintendent of a Colorado Springs school district, the district launched a standardized testing program in the visual arts, music and PE as part of its teacher evaluation program. Firstgrade art students, for example, had to write a paragraph about a Matisse painting. And, secondgrade gym students were required to “Draw a picture of how your hands look while they are catching a ball that is thrown above your head.” (Sad to think that somebody actually was paid for coming up with that one.)

I don’t know if Miles has similar ideas for Dallas ISD. But given the furor over the new STAAR testing program and other pressing issues facing that district, I can’t imagine that many Dallas parents would have much patience for more standardized tests. That doesn’t mean, however, that some legislators – the ones who would rather order up more tests than adequately fund the public schools – won’t invite Miles to Austin during next year’s session for a presentation of his “innovative” ideas.

“Race to the Top has promoted this movement to test every subject,” education historian Diane Ravitch recently wrote in her blog. “Arne Duncan (the secretary of education) brandished $5 billion to encourage states and districts to judge teachers by the rise or fall of their students’ scores.”

She added: “The fact that there is no evidence for this method of judging teachers doesn’t matter. Bad ideas backed by big money have a way of catching on, no matter how mindless they are.”


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