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Can there be a CSAP test for honest debate?

By {screen_name}
It would be nice if we could get some reasoned discussion going on with the Colorado Student Assessment Program. Opponents want to ban the exam because it promotes competition (if only!) and proponents conveniently overlook the dubious constitutional implications of the CSAP. Let's deal with opponents first. The idea that schools ought to discourage competition is contrary to the point of being asinine. What next, do we get rid of AP classes so no one needs to feel left behind? Why have testing at all? By that logic, why should colleges have admission standards? Can't we all go to Harvard? (Yes, I know, if a Taliban can be welcomed at Yale, my point might be undermined a tad, but let's assume that Ivy League means something, if exactly what we're unsure.) In fact, if we're talking about encouraging cooperation, CSAP at least stands for the principle of esprit de corps, the idea that the success of the whole will reflect well on the individual and vice versa. Nothing wrong with that. There's also nothing wrong with the idea of parents saying that CSAP is odious. They're parents and they ought to have the final say as to whether their children take the test. It's ridiculous, however, to hold teachers and administrators hostage to those parents. Schools have been denied any number of behavior-management tools, to say nothing of being powerless in the decision making by parents, so how can they be held to standards over which they have no control? In any case, if we want to know how schools do, perhaps we'd get a better picture if we could view the performance of those students intent on getting educations with the backing parents. Just guessing here, but if you cull the uninterested, unnecessarily rebellious and lazy and chronically disruptive, you stand to get a very different picture of schools. On the other hand, proponents of testing overlook a set of inconvenient facts, among them that in setting the tests, the Legislature has supplanted local school boards in the matter of curriculum. The dirty little secret is that administrators routinely ignore (perhaps at the behest of elected boards) the standards and goals established by those boards. Often, those goals and standards aren't on the test, so school administrators simply dump them in favor of teaching the material on the test. Those tests are drafted not to please school boards (they don't get to vet the questions) but unelected bureaucrats with vague responsibilities to the Legislature. And that means that local control of education, as enshrined at least in the Colorado constitution, is a sham. Really. Oh really.

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