Books are Enough

The Power of Free, Self-Selected Reading

Minnesota Ed. Commissioner Blames Teachers and is Addicted to Testing

Brenda Cassellius went to great pains to make sure the public knew that teachers were to blame for stagnant test scores and a so called “achievement gap.” This is what politicians do. They use testing as a political hammer and do everything to divert blame from their own failed philosophy that is centered on meaningless testing and test preparation.

Casselius said the test scores failed to show the progress that students might be making but that did not stop her from bashing teachers or continuing to advocate for the state’s testing regimen.

In response to years of stagnant math scores, Casselius said that the state will offer more training for teachers. Yes Brenda. Blame those stupid teachers who do not know their subjects.

In response to “low” reading scores, Casselius launched another attack saying, “As teachers master the standards and get better, it will work.” Brenda just could not resist attacking teachers who are given little freedom outside of her test preparation empire.

R.T Rybak, the executive director of Generation Next, a group that supposedly wants to close the achievement gap in Minnesota said, “We believe the number of children reading below grade level is shocking and should require immediate action.” R. T throws out the old “grade level reading” line that is also a hammer that is used to mislead about schools.

Grade level reading is a political term that means nothing. I can show that students read “on grade level” one day, above the next and below the following day. A lot depends on interest and the text itself. Valid cut scores live in the same land as unicorns.

Standardized literacy tests that states like Minnesota use are akin to literacy tests of the Jim Crow era and do more to keep minorities from college than any in school factor. They are mostly proxies of income. The research on the disparate impact of standardized testing on the poor and minorities is well known- but ignored by politicians eager to please the educational testing complex.

Let’s say that the passing score on the test is 245. If you score 244 you are labeled non-proficient and one who cannot read. What a scam$. These tests do a great job of killing one of the main goals of public education- creating avid lifelong readers. Individuals progress at different speeds and the on grade level canard must be exposed. Massive testing is a civil rights crime and robs us of our educations. Independent and religious schools trust teachers to evaluate students and so should the state. It is time to end the political hackery of cut scores, “on grade level” and test based accountability. In fact, we must demand its end.

Keep looking for those unicorns Brenda.


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