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high-stakes testing has real shock value, so when do we stop pressing the button

Morna McDermott writes fine columns for the Baltimore Education Reform Examiner. On Dec 31, she posted this:


She asks why do teachers go along with high-stakes testing, and looks to Stanley Milgram's famous study in which "teachers" (regular folks) administered electric shocks (not really, but heard taped cries and screams) to 'students' (who were not students). Two-thirds kept on administering shocks as the 'dose' increased; when 'teachers' expressed concern, they were prodded to continue.

Milgram wrote:

/ The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obedience> //are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations ... Stark authority was pitted against the subjects' [participants'] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects' [participants'] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation/.

Morna draws lessons from this about the difficulty of resisting authority, and the necessity to do so in the face of the damage caused by the testing regime. As we well know, at times people do rise up and resist authority. This needs to be such a time.

Monty Neill, Ed.D.; Executive Director, FairTest; P.O. Box 300204, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-477-9792; http://www.fairtest.org; Donate to FairTest: https://secure.entango.com/donate/MnrXjT8MQqk