Letter: test not an accurate measure

I am responding to the article "Nevada Scores do not Compute" (March 20).

I am horrified by the idea that 25 percent of Nevada's graduating seniors will not graduate because of a standardized test, and even more horrified that Nevada State Board of Education members are not taking responsibility for such a terrible tragedy.

The board members quoted in the article are pushing responsibility back on the kids. Dave Cook, for example, says that he can't understand why "our kids aren't getting it after 10 years of education." and the article states that the neither the Nevada State Board of Education or the State Department of education "had any new solutions."

The problem is not the kids, it is the test. The Nevada State Proficiency Test has not technical manual, a basic prerequisite for any standardized test. In addition, the test is not aligned to the new high school standards. With no alignment and no technical manual, there is no accountability. This test is not an accurate measure of our children's abilities.

While we are on the subject, what standardized test is an accurate measure of a child's abilities? What I know about tests is that they accurately measure only how well our children take a test. These tests do not measure a child's diligence, perseverance, honesty, and creativity. Some kids are wonderful academics -- but they can't pass a test.

In the "real world" of business and life, people are not required to take bubble tests to prove their worth -- they prove it with hard work and excellent performance. We already have such a system in place. Teachers are well trained professionals who evaluate the performance of our children and provide a grade. When a child can succeed in 12 years of education but cannot pass a test, I think the problem is the test, not the child.

So, the Legislature says we must have a proficiency test. I say, that's fine. Give our kids the test, but don't deny those children a diploma because of that test. Instead, send those test results to the parents, to the teachers, to the schools. Allow accountability to come between parent and teacher, parent and administrator, and parent and local board members. Allow parents to look at the tests and the test results and decide whether they need to demand an improved educational system, better teaching, more accountability from child, teacher, or school.

The Nevada State Board of Education and the Nevada State Department of Education don't have answers because answers about our kids are found locally, not as a part of a state bureaucracy. We do not need a state system that robs our children of their diplomas, robs our parents and teachers of their rightful place in making decisions regarding children's education, and robs our local, county, and state education system of millions of dollars and wasted days of test preparation, execution and reporting.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: someone who thinks they can improve education with a test must also think they can fatten a calf by weighing it. Our kids don't need to be standardized, they need to be educated.



Candidate, Nevada State Board of Education


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