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Posted: February 13, 2009 12:01 a.m.

Those who can’t change, measure

 In a recent interview Education Secretary Arne Duncan promised more data-gathering and testing as the way to improve academic performance.  

 Along with "internationally benchmarked" achievement standards — all under the ill-conceived No Child Left Behind nonsense from the Bush II years.

 There is no doubt that any number of additional tests can be devised, sophisticated computer programs can produce endless charts, trends, projections and the like. There is only one problem. Simply because you can measure something, doesn’t make it meaningful for the educational process.

 Schools could start measuring head size, the number of cavities each child has, or even the average of the color of clothes each child wears to school. All would have about as much to do with academic performance as does many of the current and proposed data gathering devices. All would have the same negative impact on the educational process. Teachers will be satisfying the needs of those who can only measure and not the needs of their students.

 I don’t doubt that poor teachers exist, but one only has to ask the other teachers at a school to find them.

 It isn’t necessary to impair the educational process for everyone with meaningless tests, charts and graphs to find them.

 If Secretary Duncan wants to improve educational achievement across the board, suspend all the current testing madness and directly fund each teacher with resources to spend at their discretion for their classes. Every teacher I have ever known contributed out of their own meager salaries to classroom resources. If better education is the goal, let’s support the people who are in the best position to provide it.

 Patrick Durusau is a resident of Newton County. His columns regularly appear on Fridays.

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