Since the passage of No Child Left Behind, test scores have been defined by federal law as the goal of education. Schools and teachers that “produce”higher scores are good, schools and teachers that don’t are “bad,” and likely to suffer termination. The assumption is that higher test scores produce better life outcomes, and that is that.
In late 2016, Jay P. Greene produced a short and brilliant paper that challenged that assumption. I have fallen into the habit of asking myself whether the young people who are super-stars in many non-academic fields had high scores and guessing they did not. Fortunately, it is only in schools where students get branded with numbers like Jean Val Jean of “Les Miserables.” Outside school, they can dazzle the world as athletes, musicians, inventors, or mechanics, without a brand.
“If increasing test scores is a good indicator of improving later life outcomes…
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