The emphais on standardized testing is so odd. 75 years ago, parents could predict with some accuracy what their daughter would do for a career. A large percentage would become teachers, nurses, or (mostly) housewives. 10 years ago, it would have been very difficult to pick the career, the number of career options had so proliferated. Today, many teenagers are going to work in jobs that aren’t even well known or defined as yet. What is so odd is that we’ve never lived in a time of such wide variety in careers or a time when so much emphasis was placed on standardized tests. Madness.
They should stop with the testing. Really. Instead, they should bring in teams of people and say, “You can’t get your MBA (or certificate in project management, or whatever) until you’ve made progress on this problem of [pick a project as varied as homelessness in Chicago to “nation building” in Iraq to funding Medicare]." All socially conferred degrees or professional designations should result from socially beneficial activities, where the grammatical construct is subject-verb-object and the subject is a group instead of an individual and the object is a social problem and not a test. Taht could simultaneously enhance the value of education and whittle away at (and occasionally eradicate) otherwise intractable social problems. And it would do more to emphasize work in teams, vital given that all signficant accomplishment happens within a community.
This would do so many things. It would force education from ivory tower and into the streets, force it to make real contact with real social problems. It would also force policy makers and politicians to allow regular change and force a more empirical approach to policy formulation and testing, eroding what is perhaps the most pervasive problem in policy: ideology trumping the scientific approach.