Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Testing watchdog to face extinction

Unfortunately some really bad news for those of us who oppose the standardized testing educational-industrial-complex. Only from Winerip of the NYT:
Watchdog of Test Industry Faces Economic Extinction

For more than 20 years, FairTest, a small nonprofit group headquartered on the second floor of an old house here, has been the No. 1 critic of America's big testing companies and their standardized tests.


A generation of education journalists, like Thomas Toch, who reported for Education Week and U.S. News & World Report, were schooled on the complexities and limitations of standardized testing by FairTest.

"They've helped me a lot," said Mr. Toch, who is now a director of Education Sector, a nonpartisan Washington policy research group.

On a slow day, like last Friday, Robert Schaeffer of FairTest handled calls from The Honolulu Star-Bulletin, Lakeland Ledger, Associated Press and Hartford Courant and Bloomberg News.
So they provide a resource for education journalists for those who might want to provide a little bit of fair and balanced reportage. More reason why I'll miss Fair Test if they go under.
FairTest has a knack for catching the testing companies at their worst, sometimes by using the companies' own research.

In a recent newsletter, FairTest printed an analysis of SAT results, using, and crediting, College Board research showing the direct correlation between family income and SAT scores. For every extra $10,000 a family earns, children's combined math and verbal scores go up 12 to 31 points. So children whose parents earn $50,000 score better on average (a combined 996 SAT) than students from families who earn $40,000 (967) but worse than students from families who earn $60,000 (1014).

For politicians and testing executives bragging about how No Child's testing emphasis is closing the achievement gap, these are not promising numbers.
Not surprisingly, check out where the money is. Just alarming and sad.
FairTest has always been a David versus the testing industry. At its high point in the mid-1990's, FairTest had seven staff members and a budget of half a million dollars. Today it is down to one full-time worker, Mr. Neill; one half-time employee, Mr. Schaeffer; two phone lines; a one-room office; and a $168,000 budget.

That has not quieted them. Mr. Schaeffer pointed out after examining Educational Testing Service's most recent public disclosure forms that at least 21 E.T.S. executives make salaries larger than FairTest's entire budget, starting with Mr. Landgraf, who earned $1.07 million in 2004, and three vice presidents, who each earned over half a million.
"Those are outrageous salaries for a nonprofit," Mr. Schaeffer said.
Let's give it go. Help support Fair Test here.