Alaska School Testing Crisis

Alaska School Testing Crisis

Alaska just cancelled its federally mandated school testing for 2016.  Why?  Because a severed fiber optic cable in Kansas created chaos and unreliable tests.  The severed cable meant that when students paused, their computers took them back to the start of the test, and only 4% finished the science portion and only 5% finished the math portion.

Why should a severed cable in Kansas have anything to do with tests in Alaska?  Because Alaska doesn’t write its own tests; it buys them from an institute at the University of Kansas.

This is an interesting birds eye view into the whole issue of local control and local knowledge.  The Kansas institute provides testing for at least 18 states, and they have a person on staff in Kansas, a Dr. Marianne Perie,  who is supposed to adapt the tests to local Alaskan conditions.  Dr.  Perie also happens to be the director of the center, so it is hard to imagine that she spends a lot of time making sure the tests are culturally sensitive and appropriate.  How likely is it that Dr. Perie knows a lot about Native communities, or what it is like to live in Alaska?

Math doesn’t change when you cross the Hudson river.  The large concepts in science don’t change when you get to Kansas, although the Kansas science curriculum that includes the teaching of evolution and climate change is actively being challenged in court as I write.  However, local ecosystems are different, local cultures are different (though becoming homongenized), what we teach and learn is impacted by our backgrounds.  It’s hard to accommodate that when your school testing is being designed thousands of miles away.

Here’s the link for the article about the severing of the cable

Jared Gellert is the Executive Director for CITE.

CITE is the Center for Integrated Training and Education . For over 25 years, CITE has and continues to train TEACHERS (Early Childhood, Professional Certification, Special Ed, Grad Courses, DASA); COUNSELORS (School, Mental Health Masters, Advanced Certificate); and ADMINISTRATORS (SBL, SDL, Public Admin, Doctorate) in all five boroughs of NYC, Yonkers, and Long Island.

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