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Test Quotes

"Believing we can improve schooling with more tests is like believing you can make yourself grow taller by measuring your height." Robert Schaeffer of FairTest

"Standardized tests equal standardized students" Amanda Parsons, a sophomore from Boulder, CO wearing red arm bands and a student ID sticker number 142337 at a protest of nearly 200 students

"Not everything that counts can be counted and not everything that can be counted counts." Albert Einstein

"I don't think there's any way to build a multiple-choice question that allows students to show what they can do with what they know." Roger Farr, professor of Education at Indiana University

"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest." Elie Wiesel, writer, Nobel laureate

"Rather fail with honor than succeed by fraud." Sophocles

"It looked like Trivial Pursuit to me." Tina Yalen, Virginia teacher after SOL exams

"Be in possession of every detail of the operation, use, and origin of these tests, in order to better equip yourself as an active agent against the insidious propaganda which seeks to demonstrate that the Negro is intellectually and physically incapable of assuming the dignities, rights, and duties which devolve upon him as a member of modern society." Horace Bond, 1924

"The decline of American intelligence will be more rapid than the decline of the intelligence of European groups, owing to the presence here of the Negro." Carl Brigham, 1924, developer of the SAT and dean at Princeton

"It was not until I was long out of school and indeed after the (first) World War that there came the hurried use of the new technique of psychological tests, which were quickly adjusted so as to put black folk absolutely beyond the possibility of civilization." W.E.B. DuBois, 1940

"Anyone can confirm how little the grading that results from examinations corresponds to the final useful work of people in life." Jean Piaget

"We could prohibit lunch, or take their shoes." Calvin Trillin, The Nation, on what to do to help kids score better

"Education is not a preparation for life...education is life itself". John Dewey

"To exploit us, they measure us. To control us, they measure us." Subcommandante Marcos of the Zapatistas

"There were times I'd be reading a paper every ten seconds…you could put a number on these things without even reading the paper." Anonymous worker at test scoring company in North Carolina that gives a $200 bonus to workers after 8000 papers

"Americans are taking as many as 600 million standardized tests each year in schools, colleges, and universities, and the workplace." Peter Sacks

"In America, no child should be left behind. Every child should be educated to his or her own full potential." President George W. Bush

"If more testing were the answer to the problems in our schools, testing would have solved them a long time ago." Bill Goodling, chair of House Education Committee

"Every hour spent on such exam preparation is an hour not spent helping students to become critical, creative, curious learners." Alfie Kohn

"What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge and not knowledge in pursuit of the child." George Bernard Shaw

"This will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave." Elmer Davis

"Only on 'Who Wants to be a Millionaire?' can people rise to the top by rote memorization and answers to multiple-choice questions. The FINAL ANSWER to improving education is more than memorizing facts for a multiple-choice test. Children today need critical thinking skills, creativity, perseeverance, and integrity - qualities not measure on a standardized test." Dr. Paul Houston

"I did not take the test, because I find no benefit in it." Hanna Bellini, 11, Santa Monica, CA

"Testing season is upon us, and a lot of kids are so nervous they're throwing up." Mickey Van Derwerker, leader of PAVUSROL

"If you're on time every day, are here every day, and do your best on the test, you qualify for the MSPAP Playground" Principal Michael Castagnola of Bethesday Elementary

"Our mechanical, industrial civilization is concerned with averages and percents. The mental habit which reflects this social scene subordinates education and social arrangements based on average gross inferiorities and superiorities." John Dewey

"Testing improves education the same way that bombing promotes democracy" Steve Cohn, Education professor at Tufts University

"Those born into less privileged social and economic circumstances are punished at least twice: first, when they start life already behind their more privileged peers; and second, when the testing game's sorting, labeling, and screening of children begins." Peter Sacks

"Too often, however, hasty judgments about test scores result in superficial responses to real educational issues." Kurt Landgraf, President of ETS

"It is time to end the obsession in Washington and elsewhere with standardized tests." Ralph Nader

"If social engineers had set out to invent a virtually perfect inequality machine, designed to perpetuate class and race divisions, and that appeared to abide by all requisite state and federal laws and regulations, those engineers could do no better than the present-day accountability systems already put to use in American schools." Peter Sacks

"Where a state has undertaken to provide an opportunity for an education in its public schools, such opportunity is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms." Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

"Education ceases to be learning when the 3 R's are read, remember, and regurgitate." "Boston Public" character of student protester

"Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it." Henry Ford

"'Teaching to the test' [is] a practice likened to memorizing an eye chart. With enough drill and rote work, even a person with 20/150 vision can rattle off 'E-F-P-T-O-Z'. Of course this doesn't mean that person can truly see." Meredith Scrivner

"First, they ignore you. Second, they laugh at you. Third, they fight you. Finally, you win." Gandhi

"One must learn by doing the thing. For though you think you know it, you have no certainty until you try." Sophocles

"Standardized tests can't measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes. What they can measure and count are isolated skills, specific facts and function, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning." Bill Ayers

"Standardization of our educational systems [which includes testing]is apt to stamp out individualism and defeat the very ends of education by leveling the product down rather than up." Harvey Cushing (1869-1939)

"When these tests are used exclusively for graduation, I think that's wrong." Eugene Paslov, former English teacher who now runs Harcourt Educational Measurements

"I'm thinking about letting us have a scream day sometime in March, when we just go outside and scream," anonymous Louisiana teacher

"If there is anything in heredity (such as tall parents having tall children) one would expect children of high socio-economic group parents to have more ability than children of low socio-economic group parents" Henry Chauncey, founder of ETS

"I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." Fannie Lou Hamer

"Making students accountable for test scores works well on a bumper sticker and it allows many politicians to look good by saying that they will not tolerate failure. But it represents a hollow promise. Far from improving education, high stakes testing marks a major retreat from fairness, from accuracy, from quality and from equity." Senator Paul Wellstone

"My kids won't do what the average adult won't do" Deborah Meier

"Excesses of standards movement have promoted lock-step education." Michael V. McGill, superintendent of Scarsdale, NY schools

"No single test score can be considered a definitive measure of a student's knowledge." National Research Council Report, High Stakes

"We call it the Affluence Performance Index" Judi Hirsch, Oakland, CA teacher in regards to Academic Performance Index in which CA students can earn up to $2,500 scholarship for college based on Stanford-9 test scores

"You're a wonderful human being, but the tests don't show it." Educator Chuck Lavaroni to Gilbert Medeiros after telling him he shouldn't plan to go to college as a result of his test scores. Chuck later met Gilbert at a party in Marin County, only to hear that Gilbert got a law degree, worked as vice president for a large real estate firm, owned and ran 5 different companies

"Now it's going to be hard for us to get an accurate score so we can continue our work here." Principal Rollie Johnson, after 70 R.A. Long high school students boycotted the WASL in May of 2001 (Longview Daily News, Jill Carnell, May 3, 2001)

"I don't know how anyone can say we can do this now." ETS President Kurt Landgraf in reaction to sharp increase in scoring from Bush testing plan

"In Texas we have found that when you raise the bar, people rise to the challenge." George W. Bush (Time, May 31, 2001, Jodie Morse)

"The National PTA believes that valid assessment does not consist of only a single test score, and that at no time should a single test be considered the sole determinant of a student's academic or work future." National PTA position Paper drafted January 2001

"As a true believer in public education, I cannot be a participant in its demise" Lynn Spampinato, Denver principal, who resigned in protest over the governor's report card ranking of schools

"Would a child who spent every day doing basketball drills without ever having the joy of playing a game of basketball enjoy basketball enough to become good at it?" Lalia Kerr

"We are on the threshold of leaving behind the old way of teaching---the way based on right/wrong, competition, shame, fear, punishment, rescuing, judgment, demand of compliance, and obedience to outside authority. We are entering a new age--a time of awakening founded on trust, inner knowing, allowing, choice, personal power, responsibility, love, and unity." Chick Moorman

"If I were to compare the agendas of teachers and the agendas of test publishers, the bottom line for teachers is always kids. For test publishers it's money. For politicians, it is votes. Who do you want to trust your child's learning to? George Bush, Prentice Hall, STAR test, or a teacher with a strong sense of commitment to the welfare of children?" Nancy Haas

"In fact the very best schools may be doing the most harm because they are accomplishing what they are setting out to do." James Skeen

"Learning and teaching is messy stuff. It doesn't fit into bubbles. I don't think a simple pencil-and-paper test is going to capture what students know and can do." Michele Forman, named "Teacher of the Year" on 4/23/01 in a White House ceremony.

"Teachers and students must always remain free to inquire, to study and to evaluate, to gain new maturity and understanding; otherwise our civilization stagnate and die." Chief Justice Earl Warren, Sweezy v. New Hampshire '57