Analysis This case exposes the issues of equality in the education system, and more specifically, within standardized testing. Standardized testing is a set metric used to measure the academic ability of all students who take the test. However, as is illuminated in the case of Lara and Roy, this kind of metric only reveals a small piece of information about some students’ academic achievement. Lara’s creativity and Roy’s social skills were invisible to eyes of the standardized tests, and as a result, they were penalized for, not their own, but for the tests’ shortcomings.
In addition, this case also brings forth the question of how early in their academic career should children be exposed to these types of tests. These tests were implemented to prepare students for their future middle school and high school careers. However, the role of elementary school is not limited to just preparing children academically, but it is also for nurturing social skills needed for students to communicate with their peers and helping children build confidence and esteem.
These kind of standardized tests that were taken at Resembool may prioritize the role of academically preparing the students while sacrificing or demeaning other essential roles that elementary schooling must play. Principal Elric is faced with a difficult decision to make. Faced with evidence that the standardized testing reform is harming a select few children in one specific classroom, he has to decide whether to take action backed by one credible teacher or look into alternative ways to solve this problem.
Principal Elric could decide to not act on Ms. Charlotte’s complaints under the argument that she is still only a single complaint, and that he would need more teachers to complain besides her before taking action. This would partially be a decision of self-interest because since Principal Elric is a new principal, if he were to file a complaint to his superiors about a new reform they made, rather than listening to him – it is possible that his position as principal could be put in danger under the pretense of qualification.
Also, by not acting, the majority of children in Ms. Charlotte’s class that are adapting nd getting better at taking these sorts of tests are continuing to benefit by preparing themselves for their future educational careers. However, by choosing to not listen to Ms. Charlotte, Principal Elric also opens himself up to some undesirable outcomes. Ms. Charlotte may follow through on her threat to violate her teaching license, and this would, in turn, damage Resembool and Principal Elric’s reputations if it was known that a teacher there was operating outside of her teaching license.
This may lead Principal Elric to have to fire Ms. Charlotte, and this would also be a bitter decision because since she is wellexperienced, celebrated educator, she is a great asset to Resembool Elementary. So this all makes ignoring Ms. Charlotte’s complaints not a worthwhile decision for Principal Elric. It is also possible that Principal Elric could mediate between keeping the standardized tests and helping the students, by asking for further funding from the Board of Education to help Resembool renovate the computer lab and possibly get more computers for the kids to practice on.
This would help the students who are struggling get more practice and become more comfortable with the tests – which should boost their grades and confidence. But, this is a rather sub-optimal decision for Principal Elric to make because of the uncertainty of the result. He could request further funding, but if further funding is denied – then this decision solves nothing. If not enough funding is given, then the amount of extra time that students can practice may not be significant enough to remedy the problem of test-taking. These uncertainties also make this possible course of action an undesirable one.
Principal Elric could also organize an after-school prep class to help students who are struggling get extra practice after school with the technology and test-taking strategies. This way, students can work in the computer lab in its free hours and become more familiar with basic operation and navigation of the testing website. Although, this plan is thwarted by a number of flaws that become apparent when analyzing it. For kids like Roy, who have resolved to misbehave rather than admit that they are struggling, this class will have no impact on them because they will not show up for it.
These kids would not want to admit that they are actually struggling. Also, many other students may lack transportation to such a class or may have other after school activities lined up before this. Thus, they would also fail to make it to the class. In addition, Principal Elric would have to find a teacher, most likely Ms. Charlotte, to be available and spend unpaid time supervising and teaching this after school test prep which would not be fair to said teacher. As a result, this option for Principal Elric to open up an after school test prep class would most likely be largely ineffective.
The best course of action for Principal Elric to take would be to follow up Ms. Charlotte’s complaints by asking around the school for other teachers’ thoughts and opinions on the standardized testing reform and take action accordingly based on the feedback he receives. He should ask each of the other faculty members if their students are having similar experiences to children such as Lara and Roy. Then, if Ms. Charlotte’s concern are echoed by her colleagues, he should go to his superiors, backed with the complaints of these teachers and request a change in policy.
This course of action is the best solution and is back by several ethical frameworks. From a rights approach, Principal Elric has to act to “respect the basic rights of each of the individuals involved” (Rights, 2014). In this case, every student who attends Resembool Elementary is a stakeholder in this case, as are all the faculty members. All students who attend Resembool Elementary have a right to learn, but all students are also entitled to their right to happiness. Ms. Charlotte has a right to be listened to and have her complaints be considered by her superiors.
By choosing to follow-up Ms. Charlotte’s complaints, her right to be heard is being respected. Also, by asking around the school for the thoughts and opinions of her colleagues, their right to voice their opinion is also being respected before the Principal decides to takes any action. However, opposing opinions from the faculty may be voiced and eventually the rights of the students will come into conflict and Principle Elric has to decide which right has priority (Rights, 2014). These two rights may be the right to learn and the right to happiness.
Depending on what kind of feedback Principal Elric receives, he would have to make a choice between the two rights that come into conflict. Nevertheless, this best course of action is supported by the rights approach because the rights of as many stakeholders as possible are being considered and respected. This best course of action is also supported by the justice and fairness approach. Justice dictates that “equals should be treated equally, unless they differ in ways that are relevant to the situation in which they are involved” and fairness “often has been used with rega
Ito an ability to judge without reference to one’s feelings or interests” (Justice and fairness, 2014). Ms. Charlotte is just one teacher; however, her immense experience in child learning is relevant to the situation of how standardized testing affects student development, so it would be prudent for the principal to act on her complaints. It would be just for Principal Elric to take her complaints seriously. However, it would not be fair to the other teachers if Ms. Charlotte’s single emotional complaint led to the removal of a school reform that they may advocate.
Thus, having the principal ask the other teachers for their thoughts and opinions in order to demonstrate impartiality lends fairness to this decision. Also, the just nature of standardized testing itself is brought into question. By conducting his teacher survey, Principal Elric will discover whether most teachers believe that their students should be assessed equally via this method or if they believe that individual students, such as Roy and Lara, are too unique and cannot be properly assessed by standardized testing.
All in all, the justice and fairness approach advocates the previously proposed best course of action. If Principal Elric followed through with the best solution, proposed above, it would be in line with the nonconsequentialist theory: the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule dictates that on should “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” (Strike, 2009, p. 14)