Standardized tests themselves - not students, teachers or parents - are to blame for declining college entrance exam scores, the National Education Association said yesterday.
Reacting to a report highly critical of the nation's schools, NEA president John Ryor said the Scholastic Aptitude Test and other standardized exams are "wasteful, inadequate and destructive."
'Tests of this kind don't serve students, parents or teachers. They do not measure what is being taught and what is happening to our students," he siad. "They ought to be dispensed with, once and for all."
Ryor made his comments a day after a blue-ribbon panel blamed a 14-year decline in SAT scores on television, watered-down school standards, and increased numbers of women and blacks taking the tests.
THe panel, headed by former Secretary of Labor Willard Wirtz, squarely rejected the idea that the tests themselves were to blame for the decline. It said tests were actually doing a better job than ever before of predicting how high school students would do in college.
The tests are taken by more than one million high school juniors and seniors each year. Other standardized tests have shown a similar drop in scores.
Ryor, president of the nation's largest teacher group, said the SAT has not significantly changed in 16 years, a time of great change in society and its values. "They are therefor busily measuring what used to be but no longer exists in education," he said.
Standardized tests, he added, "are misleading at best, and provide misinformation to students, parents, teachers and the general public. In fact, they may actually interfere with attention that should be given by educators and the public to problems faced by today's students."
The NEA has long resisted most moves to give the public a way to measure the performance of its teacher members. I recently released a report suggesting that parent-teacher conferences, teacher-designed tests, ad student self-evaluation be substituted for standardized tests.