Earlier this year, in an interview with World Observer, Yong Zhao likened the current educational mania sweeping America (Common Core and its national testing program) to the Chinese proverb: Yin Zhen Zhi Ke.
It means “Drinking poison to quench thirst.”
The Chinese saying warns not to take measures that may appear to solve an urgent problem in the short term but in effect the solution is more damaging than the problem.
Zhao calls the most pressing problem in American Education today an obsession with standardized tests, which distorts and confuses education. High-stakes testing, he says, does more harm than good: “Using standardized tests to measure student performance in a few subjects distorts the whole picture of education, confuses test scores with real education that prepares competent and responsible citizens, and reduces education to test preparation.”
Zhao’s answer to how Americans can serve children, when we are fraught with money being poured down the testing companies’ coffers, is simple: Abandon the idea of test-based accountability via high-stakes testing.
“We should completely abandon the idea of test-based accountability, that is, get high stakes standardized testing out of education, do not use it to evaluate schools or teachers. Second, we need to return autonomy to local schools and teachers. Let educators do their job… ”
Zhao has written extensively about Common Core. “The simple message is that they will not improve education,” he says, and calls Common Core “an expensive and futile exercise” that will “cause more damages in terms of narrowing the curriculum and leading to more teaching to the test.”
To read more, here is the full text of the interview :