A Lesson From Behavior Management

Note: This commentary is cross-published at bobbycaples.org

One of the first lessons most educators learn about behavior management is to promote replacement behaviors. Don’t just tell kids what you don’t want them to do, but what you want them TO do. It seems that some folks positioning themselves as leaders in education (anti) reform have yet to learn this lesson.

Highlighting what’s wrong with a particular education trend is fine. Focusing on the negatives of that trend, while ignoring underlying problems and offering no real solutions, leads to poor behavior change. In short, if the leaders of the (anti) reform movement want to see change, they may consider finding that old Ed Psych textbook collecting dust in the basement.

All sarcasm aside, there are real problems with the testing movement in this country. They deserve to be pointed out. However, there are also real issues that led to the testing boom. Many children struggle, and continue to struggle, and there is a gap between best practice and implementation in enough classrooms in this country to be considered an issue. I draw from personal experience when making this statement.

So, if we want testing dismantled, the best place to start (or at least continue) is to offer an alternative. What should we do instead of testing to improve the quality of education?

Don’t give up the fight against testing, folks. Just don’t expect to win when that’s the only fight you pick.