Professor McDermott lays out why his opinion of the MCAS has changed in today's "As I See It:"
My reform beliefs have been hijacked. I realize now that MCAS is not viewed as a means to a much higher end. MCAS has become the end....the answer is going to come back, 'Oh, but now we're doing PARCC!" There isn't much sign that it's going to be better with that, however!
The consequence? Lower expectations.
Yes, the focus on testing actually lowers expectations for our children when it takes the focus away from teaching for understanding.
I’ve seen it happen and it breaks my heart. I’ve seen great teaching and learning suspended in favor of weeks or even months of MCAS preparation. I’ve seen deficit models of teaching writing prevail over proven methods because the deficit models were supposed to be more like MCAS writing.
Transforming classrooms into powerful learning labs no longer is the focus of too many districts. Treating our children as thinking and feeling human beings no longer is the focus. Helping students understand themselves as young writers and readers and mathematicians and historians and artists and thinkers is no longer our focus.
Test scores are what count. Many districts funnel all their energy and perform all sorts of subterfuge to get their scores up, too often taking time and energy from authentic teaching and learning.