I came across a very short but profound post called "The Culture of Testing" on Seth Godin's blog. I like posts that have deeper meaning and stick with me for a while. With regard to this one, I think that educators should read it and think about the implications it might have for how we do things. I'm not suggesting that we run our schools as corporations, but at the same time I don't think that we should assume that we can't learn anything from them either. For me, it was the last three sentences that resonated with me:
The three biggest assets of the company weren't tested, because they couldn't be.
Sure, go ahead and test what's testable. But the real victories come when you have the guts to launch the untestable.
I worry that as we continue our obsession with testing and the quatitative data that results from these tests we are not assessing lots of things that matter (and therefore do not consider them as important). What skills aren't we measuring becasue they can't be easily tested? Student creativity? critical thinking? Meta cognition? Independent thought? What about a student's ability to utilize what they are learning in school in the real world (practical application)?
We must continue to capture measurable data, we would be foolish to ignore it. However, we should evaluate the overall importance of what we measure and how it informs the decisions that get made. Perhaps real education reform will come when we get the "guts to launch the untestable"... or at least get the guts to value the untestable.