This article was written by Adam Hatch - UC Berkeley graduate, son of a teacher, brother of a teacher, and a teacher himself.
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Lower-income schools in Arizona are losing out on funds due to a new program that rewards schools based on standardized testing.
As AZCentral reports, “To qualify for the performance funds this year, at least 41 percent of a school's students must pass math and English Language Arts standardized testing.” The benchmarks for middle- and upper-income schools were higher at 65%.
Middle- and upper-income schools in Arizona received over 60% of funds from the program rewarding schools based on performance. Considering how much more low-income schools need public funding, this system will only hurt poor students and communities.
Richest schools get richer in Arizona's results-based funding program https://t.co/WKQ5cLfWB6— azcentral - Mesa (@azcmesa) November 6, 2017
Standardized testing around the country
Arizona isn’t the first state to struggle with standardized testing. The “No Child Left Behind” act set the tone for rating schools based on test scores, and since then testing has become ubiquitous. The stakes were further raised with President Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition, pitting districts and schools against each other for precious federal funding.
The strange thing is, most Americans believe there is already too much testing in schools, and that these tests are ineffective at judging schools, teachers, and students. If most people are against it, shouldn’t our education system place less emphasis on standardized tests as performance metrics?
There are also many outspoken critics of standardized testing across the country. They argue that increased testing does more to weaken the voice of teachers and is ultimately a strategy for weakening the school system:
A great debate
The debate over the veracity of the program rages on in Arizona.
"The idea here is that all of these schools have value and what we want to do is find a way to build and replicate and make these schools more accessible," said a spokesman for Arizona’s governor. "It will allow more students to have access to these schools. It will build school choice."
“School choice” is a known dog whistle meant to forward the agenda of defunding public education.
There are, of course, critics of Arizona’s new program.
"This doesn't do anything to close the opportunity gap between low-income kids and higher-income kids. It doesn't do anything to address our teacher shortage. It is not accomplishing our key goals," argues Children's Action Alliance President Dana Wolfe Naimark, who opposes the program.
What do you think? Should schools be rewarded with more funding based on test scores, regardless of financial circumstances? Or does it hurt students and teachers when more money goes to schools that already have more money?
Let us know in the comments.