Campbell’s Law Strikes Education Again

For those who don’t know what Campbell’s Law is, I’ll turn it over to sociologist Donald Campbell:

The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.

And now let’s go to Alexandria, Virginia (boldface mine):

As schools were busy readying students for state exams, teachers at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, a high-poverty school in Alexandria, were poring over data to determine which students would probably not do well on the tests.

But according to a school district investigation, the effort wasn’t aimed at giving those students extra help. Instead, Principal Brandon Davis allegedly told teachers this spring to call the parents of students who appeared on the brink of failing the exams to inform them of their right to opt out of the tests, according to the investigation. Three dozen parents decided to pull their children from the state Standards of Learning exams; no parents at the school had done so the previous year.

The move, which meant those students’ scores would not be considered for state accreditation purposes, probably artificially inflated the school’s overall performance and masked the fact that some students were not performing up to standards. It also means the data used to evaluate the school is potentially flawed and presents evidence that a new Virginia law allowing students to opt out of tests without it affecting a school’s rating could compromise the ability to assess schools…

Alexandria school officials said Davis told teachers “to identify students who may not do well on the SOL test, and contact parents of these students regarding their right to refuse SOL testing.” The students whose parents were contacted had scored 425 or below on exams; a 400 is the passing rate.

How this helps children, especially those who are doing poorly, escapes me.

This entry was posted in Education. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Campbell’s Law Strikes Education Again

  1. jrkrideau says:

    How this helps children, especially those who are doing poorly, escapes me.
    Presumably it reduces student stress levels and may even allow them to do some actual learning rather than wasting a month or so learning how to take a useless test? Assuming there is an available teacher who is not feverishly teaching to the test.

  2. Peter Foley says:

    What happens when ALL the students opt out of the tests….?

Comments are closed.