When I spoke to the Texas School Boards Association a few years ago, a member of the audience got up and identified himself as a school board member and an engineer. He said that he didn't understand why the government tests every child every year. He said that in the industry where he works, it is customary to test the products periodically, on a sampling basis. I will never forget what he said: "If we tested every product, we would spend most of our time testing the product, and we wouldn't have time left to manufacture or to improve the product."
I was reminded of that statement when I received this comment from Doug Garnett, who is a specialist in marketing, advertising, branding, communications, and technology. Garnett wrote, just minutes ago:
Where I’m mystified is this belief that in order to have “accountability”, EVERY child has to be tested in the entire nation.
In business, we rely heavily on statistical sampling because it’s flat out too expensive to measure every item. Sampling in manufacturing, sampling in store satisfaction, sampling in purchasing, sampling in advertising impact, sampling, sampling sampling.
The NAEP relies on sampling…because it’s EFFECTIVE!
Imagine this: IF we shifted to a sampling test approach an amazing array of issues would be mitigated. The tests would lose their intensely punitive nature – and evolve toward being instructive and enlightening. They would lose the “high stakes” and become simply learning that informs. And, WE could use their reduced presence to focus on the totality of education instead of creating testing farms.
So…why don’t these so-called “business people” behind reform endorse smart business approach like sampling? Mind boggling…unless we embrace the conspiracy to redirect all of that government spending into the profits of private corporations.