Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Louis C.K. on HIgh Stakes Testing

Posted By on Wed, Jan 28, 2015 at 1:38 PM

  • Courtesy of Shutterstock

OK, so Louis C.K. is a comedian, not an educator. But his mother was a math teacher (Fun facts: his parents met at Harvard. His mother has a background in software engineering, his father is an economist, and he grew up in Mexico City from age one to seven. His first language was Spanish). And he's a very perceptive social commentator. He's also got two young daughters. So, sprinkle a few grains of salt on his comments if you wish, but his statements on testing are worth a listen (especially if, like me, you tend to agree with them).

His concern about high stakes testing went public when he wrote a string of tweets, including:
My kids used to love math. Now it makes them cry. Thanks standardized testing and common core!
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014

Sorry. I sit with my kids as they so their HW they devour knowledge. When it’s hard they step up. Their teachers are great
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014

But it’s changed in recent years. It’s all about these tests. It feels like a dark time. And nothing is going in anymore.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014

It’s this massive stressball that hangs over the whole school. The kids teachers trying to adapt to these badly written notions.
— Louis C.K. (@louisck) April 28, 2014
He's gotten a fair amount of media coverage for this statements. On Letterman, he said, tongue slightly in cheek:
Well, the way I understand it, if a school’s kids don’t test well, they burn the school down. It’s pretty high-pressure.
Educator Diane Ravitch chimed in about Louis C.K.'s comments, at length, ending with a neutral statement about Common Core itself but a damning indictment of our current obsession with high stakes testing.

The Common Core has some good ideas in it; I doubt that it will do harm, although I believe that subjecting little children to 6-8 hours of testing to see if they can read and do math is harmful, physically and mentally, to them. Long ago, educators were able to find out in tests lasting 50 minutes how well a student could read or do math. Why is it now an ordeal that lasts as long as some professional examinations? For heaven’s sake, we are talking about little children, not candidates for college or a profession!
Louis C.K. isn't the first and won't be the last to chime in on the testing issue, and he's certainly not the most knowledgable commentator on the subject, but he's among the highest profile. After all, how many people get to bring up the subject to an audience of the size or the diversity of Letterman's?

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