It is clear that science teachers are completely missing the point of testing standards. They don’t appear to understand that it isn’t what they find valuable that actually matters:
The Obama administration has urged broadening the subjects tested under the law — possibly including science. But some teachers say they are already burdened by state requirements to teach a wide range of facts — say, the parts of a cell — which prevents them from devoting class time to research projects.
“I have so many state standards I have to teach concept-wise, it takes time away from what I find most valuable, which is to have them inquire about the world,” said Amanda Alonzo, a science teacher at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif.
Alonzo has it all wrong. It is absolutely worthless to anyone but the teacher for high school students to “inquire about the world” at school. Intelligent inquiry requires information and teenagers simply don’t possess enough of it for them to ask anything but stupid and ignorant questions. Although it is to the detriment of the student’s education both students and teachers prefer self-centered “inquiry” to objective standards because the former is subjective and avoids the accountability of the latter. This does not mean that all standards are intrinsically desirable, only that some form of standards testing is the most reliable means that parents have of determining if their children have actually learned anything or not.
The uncomfortable truth that so many teachers are desperate to avoid is this: a properly instructed student should be able to pass the basic standards tests with ease regardless of the particular form his instruction took. If the standards are too difficult, then obviously they should be adjusted. But it makes absolutely no sense to assert that students will learn better if they are a) educated according to the individual whims of their teacher, and b) never tested by an unbiased third party on their knowledge at all.