Proficiency cannot be meaured by tests
Westest is not a roadmap "for where to increase education emphasis" as the Gazette reports. To even think so penalizes students by accepting the misguided belief that standardized tests are the sole (much less valid) measure for what students in each grade should know and whether they are proficient or not.
What makes those kinds of tests acceptable is the ridiculous notion that machines can measure brains. No research says how much of what's recalled at test time remains permanently in memory, nor to what practical use, if any, that information is later put. It is a myth that standardized tests are a means to an end of improving our schools or a prediction of real-world performance. The only things they can measure accurately are random bits of information stored in short-term memory.
Those politicians, board members, administrators, who think proficiency can be accurately measured using a single, paper-and-pencil, machine-gradable test should take the Westest for, say, the 11th grade, and resign if they fail.
Do you really agree that a school is failing or succeeding based on the scores of a standardized test? They have far more to do with the wealth or poverty of student families than with instructional quality.
As Marion Brady, native West Virginian, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author, writes "because standardized tests can't measure the only educational outcome worth measuring -- what kids can do with what they know -- we're being distracted from the real challenge. Our obsession with standardized testing is sidetracking and downgrading the traits and abilities, which are every society's salvation -- creativity, ingenuity, leadership, character, individuality, love of learning. And we're doing this even though we know there's no connection between high-stakes test scores and adult success."
John Taylor Gatto, New York Teacher of the Year, warns us, "Nothing inside the little red schoolhouse does more personal and social damage than the numbers and rank order these tests hang around the necks of the young."
Shame on the media, school board members, politicians, administrators, teachers and parents who believe, as Mr. Brady states "that Educational Testing Service, McGraw-Hill, Peason, or some other remote corporate entity can write a machine-scored test to determine the quality of what's happening in the heads of kids as they wrestle with firsthand, real-world work."