I have spoken out against standardized testing in general and the Colorado Student Assessment Program in particular for
many years. In 2006, I testified in front of the House Education Committee at the State Capitol urging it to approve a
bill that would allow parents to opt their children out of CSAP testing without penalty to student or school.
Being a former teacher, I've tried to point out three fundamental mistakes we are making in today's educational-reform
efforts. First, we want to emphasize outcomes over the process. Right answers are important, but equally important is
the dialogue that takes place when we examine how and why children give the wrong answer." Second, we want to limit
these outcomes by expecting identical responses from every child. The third and biggest mistake we've made is that
standards-based education has not informed the educational model but in fact replaced it.
Now CSAP is going away. Our governor claims Colorado already is a national leader in school reform and looks forward to
using tests that are more meaningful to parents and students. He explains, This year, we're going to keep moving
forward, with legislation that will take us closer to the day when we end CSAP testing as we know it."
I'm not sure how spinning our wheels for 10 years before deciding to end a meaningless testing program makes Colorado a
leader in school reform, but these days, political rhetoric needn't match reality.
States currently are competing for Race to the Top" federal money. That will be followed closely by a push for
national standards. States are prostituting themselves for what amounts to peanuts in per-pupil spending, and national
standards are code for scripted curriculums and forced compliance.
This brings to mind a quote from William O. Douglas: As nightfall does not come at once; neither does oppression. In
both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all
must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness."
Bill Bowlby, Durango