What lessons do students learn from incompetence and greed? Nothing good.
Student testing contractor CTB/McGraw-Hill’s computer failures have severely punished students here and across Oklahoma as well as those who work so hard to provide them a quality education.
The company has an $8.9-million state contract to provide testing services this year. Its problems have grown like dandelions in the spring, culminating in events Monday and Tuesday go way beyond unacceptable.
Children who are as young as third graders try to take these high-stakes tests only to have the computer server they’re stuck with fail repeatedly.
The contractor said the students could pick up the tests where they left off when the server crashed. But this is the same outfit that also told state officials Monday that the computers would be crash-free on Tuesday. If anything, the problem was even worse.
School officials are furious.
It is time for both civil and criminal investigations of both the contractor and State Superintendent Janet Barresi. This situation doesn’t just stink, it reeks.
And it isn’t just in Oklahoma. Indiana, a much more populous state, is paying $95 million under a four-year contract with the same company. Students there have faced precisely the same problems.
The magnitude of the contracts makes us wonder what is driving the nationwide testing obsession—a sincere interest in better education or corporate greed?
The Tulsa World’s reported last year that CTB/McGraw-Hill got the contract because it was the highest “but most responsive” bid.
It suggests that testing criteria have become so complex that only insiders can meet them. That always spells trouble.
Incompetence and greed are a given here. The company’s refusal to talk to the media here or in Indiana adds cowardice and makes the whole mess a trifecta of horse manure.
Our students and teachers devote huge amounts of time to this testing. It bleeds huge amounts of money from our educational investments. But has testing inspired students?
To see education working well, just look at the other story on the front page of this week’s Leader. Our students are excited about careers in engineering and science, thanks to the new robotics team program.
Participating in high school yearbook inspired us to pursue a career in journalism. High school debate inspired our son to study the law.
The lesson here? We can make testing companies rich but frustrate students, teachers and administrators. Or, we can invest our money in programs that energize teachers and inspire students.
It’s time to stop paying for greed and incompetence.