Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Conclusion

By Duane Swacker

About Duane


‘Truth, like Ol Ma Nature always wins in the end’ D. E. Swacker

The truth and the only conclusion that can be drawn from this study is that the educational malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing are so rife with conceptual and consequential errors and falsehoods that to use the invalid results of said processes to evaluate any aspect of the teaching and learning process and/or students can only be described as illogical, invalid, unethical and mind-bogglingly insane.  Yet those practices and their offshoots in teacher evaluations continue to be used on a daily basis.

Should the state, through the public education system, be using undeniably false and invalid malpractices, malpractices that have been proven to lack “fidelity to truth” and harm students?

No! The conclusion to be drawn from using these malpractices is that the usage of the results is unjust in discriminating against some students by sorting, ranking and grading (many times in error) by student characteristics that are largely determined by genetic inheritance, family and social influences outside the control of the individual and teacher.  Not only that, but that vast resources are being wasted and educational opportunities for students are being restricted in the name of test prep denying the student ample opportunity to “savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.”

Should the state, through the public education system, demand that teachers break codes of professional ethics?

No!  Distressingly, if a teacher doesn’t comply with these legally mandated malpractices, it is all but guaranteed that they will not only be reprimanded but worse, letters written against the teacher to be put in his/her file ultimately resulting in his/her termination usually for “insubordination” in not following these unethical mandates.  While it is perfectly legal for the administration do punish teachers, where is the ethics in that? Or justice?

Should the state through its public schools, be in the position of discriminating against some students while rewarding others through bogus practices?  Where is the justice in that?

Just as discrimination against students due to skin color, gender orientation and/or disability status has been adjudicated as unconstitutional so should the daily discrimination that results from the standards and testing regime be adjudicated not only as unconstitutional but should be judged to be the unjust and unethical practices that they are.  There is no justice in state approved discrimination!

Should the state, through its public schools, contravene its stated purpose of public education and government by demanding compliance with the standards and testing regimes that only results in not  promoting the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry“?

The answer has to be NO!

When will the insanity of the grading, sorting and separating and ranking of students, of the standards and testing malpractices end for the most vulnerable of society, the children?

Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Chapter Seven

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 7

Ethics in Educational Practices

‘Ethics are more important than laws.’   Wynton Marsalis

While many, especially those who make a living off of working with laws, might disagree with Marsalis’ statement much is to be said for this simple thought.  Much like with justice and truth, most folks believe they know what ethics are.  Merriam-Webster Online states:

1 plural but sing or plural in constr:  the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.

2a:  a set of moral principles:  a theory or system of moral values <the present day materialistic ethic> <an old fashioned work ethic> –often used in plural but singular or plural in construction <an elaborate ethics> <Christian ethics> b:  the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group <professional ethics> c:  a guiding philosophy d:  a consciousness of moral importance <forge a conservation ethic>

3:  a set of moral issues or aspects (as rightness) <debated the ethics of human cloning>

As with justice and truth, the topic of ethics has been debated for millennia.  The scope of this chapter does not allow for even a short discussion of the historical issues of ethics and will focus on the current and practical concerns of ethics in educational practices.  As it is, this book falls under the meaning of definition #3 as debating the “moral issues or aspects” of certain educational practices.  As part of that examination I will briefly discuss professional codes of ethics-definition #2b.  And in the spirit of definition #1 of dealing “with what is good and bad” with certain educational practices, and using the fundamental purpose of public education as stated above as the guiding philosophy-definition #2c) I attempt to will forge “a consciousness of moral importance”-definition #2d.

A number of different professional teacher and teacher preparation organizations have promulgated their own code of teacher professional ethics.  In examining a few of them I’ve chosen to use three organization’s codes as typical to extract common statements that will serve as guides to what teacher professional ethics can be.  The American Association of Educators (AAE) code of ethics lists three main categories of ethics:  1) In relation to the students and parents, 2) In relation to practices and performance and 3) in relation toward professional colleagues.  The National Association of State Directors of Teacher and Education Certification (NASDTEC) code details five:  1) responsibility to the profession, 2) respect for professional competence, 3) respect for students, 4) responsibility to the school community and 5) responsible and ethical use of technology.  The National Education Association (NEA) has only two:  1) in relation toward students and 2) in relation to the profession of teaching.

By far the most comprehensive of the three is the NASDTEC code with many pages of detailed commentary.  The AAE code is roughly two pages with some commentary.  And the NEA code can fit on one page with a preamble accounting for about one third and then basic listings of areas of ethical considerations.  The AAE and the NEA focus first on ethics in relation to students and then toward the profession and practices.  The NASDTEC code starts with an overview then lists two sections dealing with ethics in regard to the profession, one for students, one for the school community and in what appears to be a recent addition one on the ethics of technology usage.  All three have short summaries of each section.

Ethics in regard to students and towards practices and performance, are the two categories that interest us and warrant further commentary along with a quick caveat about ethics toward the profession of teaching itself.  Obviously teachers’ main ethical concern should primarily be directed toward the student as noted by the AAE code:  “The professional educator deals considerately and justly with each student, and seeks to resolve problems, including discipline, according to law and school policy” and “the professional educator makes a constructive effort to protect the student from conditions detrimental to learning, health, or safety.” What happens when “law and school policy” actually hinder those dealings as hinted at in the end of the statement?  The answer to follow.  Or from the NEA code:  “the educator shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning or to health and safety.

In regard to ethical considerations in relation to professional competence and practices the NASDTEC code states:  “The professional educator demonstrates responsible use of data, materials, research and assessment . . . and the professional educator acts in the best interests of all students. . . .”  And the AAE code offers:  “The professional educator assumes responsibility and accountability for his or her performance and continually strive to demonstrate competence.  The professional educator endeavors to maintain the dignity of the profession by respecting and obeying the law, and by demonstrating personal integrity.

Would not “personal integrity” entail not only “respecting and obeying the law” but to stridently opposing and challenging the law or policy that mandates the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing that are “detrimental to learning, health or safety” of the students?  Unfortunately, teachers are under constant pressure to institute and maintain those fundamentally and fatally flawed malpractices.  The vast majority of public school educators, especially administrators, believe that upholding the ethics toward the profession and its practices holds sway over upholding ethics towards the students.  While doings so may be quite beneficial to the educators, it serves to cause harm to the students as their interests play second or third fiddle to administrative decrees which is backwards to the interests of justice for the student.

That teachers and administrators put more emphasis in compliance with state department of education or federal directives and/or laws should not and cannot trump justice for the students.  Again Comte-Sponville:

“Should we therefore forgo our self-interest? Of course not. But it [self-interest] must be subordinate to justice, not the other way around. . . . To take advantage of a child’s naivete. . . in order to extract from them something [test scores, personal information] that is contrary to their interests, or intentions, without their knowledge [or consent of parents] or through coercion [state mandated testing], is always and everywhere unjust even if in some places and under certain circumstances it is not illegal. . . . Justice is superior to and more valuable than well-being or efficiency; it cannot be sacrificed to them, not even for the happiness of the greatest number [quoting Rawls]. To what could justice legitimately be sacrificed, since without justice there would be no legitimacy or illegitimacy? And in the name of what, since without justice even humanity, happiness and love could have no absolute value. . . . Without justice, values would be nothing more than (self) interests or motives; they would cease to be values or would become values without worth.” [my additions]

Keeping that in mind, let’s examine the two most dominant educational malpractices of today–educational standards and standardized testing by utilizing the condensed statements of teacher professional ethics with our fundamental ethical statement of the purpose of American public education in conjunction with a discussion of the demonstrated invalidity and lack of fidelity to truth in educational standards and standardized testing regimes and how all of that plays out in relation to ethical and justice concerns.

How was it that America became the “top dog” nation of the world by the end of the 20th Century without having a standardized public education system?  In the past century over 13,000 separate and distinct school districts went along, doing their own thing, developing their own curriculums as seen fit by the local democratically elected school boards.  And the result of that variety, multiplicity and non-standardization?  An educational non-system that the world admired, copied and emulated.  Why then the push for standardization in the very late 90s and in this current century?  There are many reasons, most having to do with the neo-liberal ideology in free markets and choice but that is not our concern.

Educational standards and standardized testing form the basis for federal and state mandated practices such as rating and ranking students, schools and districts, and teacher assessment through such invalid schemes such as Hanushek’s Value Added Methodology (VAM) and Student Growth Percentiles (SGP).  Considering that the standards and testing malpractices cause significant harm not only to the students but also  to teachers and schools through invalid schemes, that the errors, falsehoods and unfounded claims by proponents of standards and standardized testing render said practices invalid, unethical, unjust and contravene the fundamental purpose of American public education, these mandates violate the trust of the citizenry by not fulfilling the stated purpose of American public education of promoting “the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry“.

Our concern is the invalidity of, the injustice of, the unethicalness of and the broken promise of providing to our children an education that promotes “ the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry” in the educational standards and standardized testing regime.

In “Standards of Educational and Psychological Testing” it states at the very beginning of Chapter 1-Validity that “validity refers to the degree to which evidence and theory support the interpretations of test scores for the stated proposed uses of tests.  Validity is, therefore, the most fundamental consideration in developing tests and evaluating tests” (my emphasis) and I would include the standards upon which those tests are supposedly based in that development Noel Wilson has addressed those validity concerns in his review of the prior version of the “Standards. . .” in “A Little Less than Valid:  An Essay Review” stating “To the extent that these categorisations are accurate or valid at an individual level, these decisions may be both ethically acceptable to the decision makers, and rationally and emotionally acceptable to the test takers and their advocates. They accept the judgments of their society regarding their mental or emotional capabilities. But to the extent that such categorisations are invalid, they must be deemed unacceptable [and unethical] to all concerned.” (my emphasis) The brilliance of Wilson’s proofs of the invalidities of educational standards and standardized testing is in his flipping the concept of validity as proposed in the “Standards. . .” into one of invalidity as far as the test taker is concerned.

Taking into account Wilson’s proofs of the invalidities of educational standards and standardized testing we can only conclude that any results are therefore invalid, false, error prone and lacking a fidelity to truth as all the psychometric error factors are kept hidden from all but a select few involved in the promotion and dissemination of those malpractices.  As such those malpractices can only be considered unethical and unjust.  When have the proponents made explicitly clear those validity (and reliability) concerns?  Hardly ever, especially not to the person taking the tests.  They can’t!  Wilson has proven the fundamental concepts to be epistemologically and ontologically bankrupt.  All the errors in classification, in labelling, in construction, in slides of frame of reference, etc., which Wilson has identified are never addressed.  By not explicitly acknowledging all the errors in the process, proponents of the standards and testing regime are not being honest and therefore lack the fidelity to truth that should be the guiding principle for all educators.  Their actions must be considered unethical.

Not only that but since these practices cause untold harm through false conclusions that result in students being denied certain educational goals and aspirations the process must be deemed unethical as a violation of the ethical principle of “the educator shall make reasonable effort to protect the student from conditions harmful to learning”.  False and error filled test results can only insure to produce those harmful conditions and, therefore, rightly should be rejected on ethical grounds.  The results of the tests discriminate against some students not only through mis-categorization but also in falsely labeling (grading) some students as beginning, not proficient, average or whatever other terminology is used to describe the various categories of results.

Should the state be discriminating against individual students through invalid, harmful, unethical and unjust malpractices that are educational standards and standardized testing?

Considering that the fundamental purpose of public education in America can be summarized as “. . . to promote the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry” there is only one answer:


  1.  See:
  2.  The National Education Association (NEA):;  The American Association of Educators (AAE):; and The National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC):
  3.  The story of that ideology and its practices that have done so much damage to American public education is easily located by a quick internet search.  An excellent review is to be found in Diane Ravitch’s “Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools
  4.  See:
  5.  See:
  6.  See:  The AERA/APA/NCME’s “Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing”
  7.  See:


Infidelity to Truth: Education Malpractices in American Public Education: Chapter Six

By Duane Swacker

About Duane

Chapter 6

Of Standards and Measurement

Truth is not only violated by falsehood; it may be equally outraged by silence. Henri Frederic Amiel

How can anyone be against having standards in the classroom, standards for behavior or learning?  Kind of hard to argue against, eh!  What is so wrong with holding students accountable to educational standards?  Nothing!  Except when the term standard is inappropriately and incorrectly used to mean one thing while purporting to signify another, in other words lacking fidelity to truth.

Surely we need to and must measure student achievement.  How are we going to know how the student stands up to the standard?  How are we to know how the students in one class, district or state do in comparison to other classes, districts or states if we don’t measure student achievement?

The silence is deafening in regard to the lack of logical thought and the abuse of the language that permeates educational discourse in the standards and measurement movement.  The standards and measurement meme in public education has been a part of policies and practices for at least the last quarter of a century.  Even before NCLB, state departments of education were making and disseminating “standards” as guides for classroom curriculum.  And the emphasis was being guides and not some supposed “standard” against which educational outcomes could be supposedly “measured” for not only the student but teacher, school and district.  It wasn’t until the passage of NCLB in 2001 that the standards and measurement meme has come to completely dominate not only school life but the policy and practice arenas from the legislatures to state departments of educations to district boards and into the schools.

The standards and measurement movement is choking the life out of our public school classrooms!

It is causing innumerable harms to students, distorting curriculum and the teaching and learning process, many times into a year-long test prep program, causing districts to drop many electives, foreign languages, band, choir, and many others not related to the two main tested subjects English and Math.  Not only that but in the elementary level many students are now deprived of much needed recess/play time, gone are learning stations in favor of drill and kill methods of attempting to raise test scores.  Ever increasing test scores have become the predominant driver of curriculum since NCLB was signed into law.

In order to untangle this mess of educational malpractices that standards and measurement discourse has brought about we first need to examine exactly what are standards and measurements in a broader logical context which then will enable us to ascertain just how damaging the misuse of language, the twisted use of logic that makes the standards and measurement movement appear to be THE way to improve the teaching and learning processes in American public schools.  It will then be shown that using the false and error filled practices of educational standards and standardized testing contravene the fundamental purpose of public education causing, at times, irrevocable harm to the student in not guaranteeing “to promote the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.

The word standard is in the top 1000 most used words in American English and the Miriam Webster online dictionary gives the following definitions:


1:  a conspicuous object (as in a banner) formerly carried at the top of a pole and used to mark a rallying point especially in battle or to serve as an emblem

2a:  a long narrow tapering flag that is personal to an individual or corporation and bears heraldic devices  b:  the personal flag of the head of state or of a member of a royal family  c:  an organization flag carried by a mounted or motorized military unit  d:  banner

3:  something established by authority, custom, or general consent as a model or example:  criterion <quite slow by today’s standards>

4:  something set up and established by authority as a rule for the measure of a quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality

5a:  the fineness and legally fixed weight of the metal used in coins  b:  the basis of value in a monetary system <the gold standard>

6:  a structure built for or serving as a base of support

7a:  a shrub or herb grown with an erect main stem so that it forms or resembles a tree  b:  a fruit tree grafted on the stock that does not induce dwarfing

8a:  the large odd upper petal of a papilionaceous flower (as of the pea)  b.  one of the three inner usually erect and incurved petals of an iris

9:  a musical composition (as a song) that has become a part of the standard repertoire

For the purposes of this discussion, obviously definitions 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 do not concern us.  It is the somewhat similar and perhaps inter-confusing definitions of 3 and 4 that interest us.

As mentioned above before NCLB the definition of standard as used in the individual state’s curriculum standards and even today in curriculum standards promulgated and promoted by subject area organizations such as the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics or the American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages the term standard as used fell/falls under definition three as they were never meant to be used as “a rule for the measure of a quantity, weight, extent, value, or quality” as in definition four but as a model for teachers to use.  Confusing indeed!

Another way to look at the concept of standards is that there are two accepted types of standards, metrological and documentary.

Metrology is the science of measurement and a metrological standard “is an object, system, or experiment that bears a defined relationship to a unit of measurement of a physical quantity.  Standards are the fundamental reference for a system of weights and measures, against which all other measuring devices are compared. Measurements are defined in relationship to internationally-standardized reference objects, which are used under carefully controlled laboratory conditions to define the units of length, mass, electrical potential, and other physical quantities.

A documentary standard “is a document established by consensus and approved by a recognized body, that provides, for common and repeated use, rules, guidelines or characteristics for activities or their results, aimed at the achievement of the optimum degree of order in a given context.

Many governmental departments promulgate documentary standards, for example the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or the Environmental Protection Agencies (EPA) while at the same time being the certifying agent to ensure that the standards are followed.  The ISO promulgates international standards but is not the certifying agency, other agencies do the certifying of companies compliance with their standards.  From the EPA:

“When developing regulations, the first thing we do is ask if a regulation is needed at all. Every regulation is developed under slightly different circumstances but this is the general process: 

Step 1: EPA Proposes a Regulation 

The agency researches the issues and, if necessary, proposes a regulation, also known as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). The proposal is listed in the Federal Register (FR) so that members of the public can consider it and send their comments to us. The proposed rule and supporting documents are also filed in EPA’s official docket on 

Step 2: EPA Considers Your Comments and Issues a Final Rule 

Generally, once we consider the comments received when the proposed regulation was issued, we revise the regulations accordingly and issue a final rule. This final rule is also published in the FR and in EPA’s official docket on 

Step 3: The Regulation is Codified in the Code of Federal Regulations 

Once a regulation is completed and has been printed in the FR as a final rule, it is codified when it is added to the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). The CFR is the official record of all regulations created by the federal government. . . . ” 

The ISO has strict rules for making and issuing standards.  The key principles in standard(s) development:

1.  ISO standards respond to a need in the market.

ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard, but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO.

2. ISO standards are based on global expert opinion.

ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world that are part of larger groups called technical committees. These experts negotiate all aspects of the standard, including its scope, key definitions and content.

3. ISO standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process.

The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government.

4. ISO standards are based on a consensus

Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and all other state educational standards might be considered a documentary standard but in the development of the standards no procedures have followed the formal protocol and processes as outlined by the OSI or government agencies in their development.

In addition to that and perhaps even worse is that the proponents of these standards claim that the CCSS are standards against which ‘student achievement’ can be measured.  In doing so educational standards proponents claim the documentary standard (definition three) as a metrological standard (definition four).  In doing so they are falsely claiming a meaning of standard that should not be given credence.

This confusion is compounded by what it means to measure something and the similar misuse of the meaning of the word measure by the proponents of the standards and testing regime.  Assessment and evaluation perhaps can be used interchangeably but assessment and evaluation are not the same as measurement.  Word usage matters!

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of measure includes the following:

1a (1):  an adequate or due portion (2):  a moderate degree; also: moderation, temperance (3):  A fixed or suitable limit:  bounds <rich beyond measure> b:  the dimensions, capacity or amount of something ascertained by measuring c:  an estimate of whit is to be expected (as of a person or situation d: (1):  a measured quantity (2):  amount, degree

2a:  an instrument or utensil for measuring b (1):  a standard or unit of measurement—see weight table (2):  A system of standard units of measure <metric measure>

3:  the act or process of measuring

4a (1):  melody, tune (2):  dance; especially:  a slow and stately dance  b:  rhythmic structure or movement: cadence:  as (1):  poetic rhythm measured by temporal quantity or accent; specifically:  meter (2):  musical time c (1):  a grouping of a specified number of musical beats located between two consecutive vertical lines on a staff (2):  a metrical unit:  foot

5: an exact divisor of a number

6:  a basis or standard of comparison <wealth is not a measure of happiness

7:  a step planned or taken as a means to an end; specifically:  a proposed legislative act

Measure as commonly used in educational standard and measurement discourse comes under definitions 1d, 2, and 3, the rest not being pertinent other than to be used as an obfuscating meaning to cover for the fact that, indeed, there is no true measuring against a standard whatsoever in the educational standards and standardized testing regimes and even in the grading of students.  What we are left with in this bastardization of the English language is a bewildering befuddle of confusion that can only serve to deceive many into buying into intellectually bankrupt schemes that invalidly sort, rate and rank students resulting in blatant discrimination with some students rewarded and others punished by various means such as denying opportunities to advance, to not being able to take courses or enroll in desired programs of study.

The most misleading concept/term in education is “measuring student achievement” or “measuring student learning”.  The concept has been misleading educators into deluding themselves and others that the teaching and learning process can be analyzed/assessed using “scientific” methods which are actually pseudo-scientific at best and at worst a complete bastardization of rationo-logical thinking and language usage.

There never has been and never will be any “measuring” of the teaching and learning process and what each individual student learns in their schooling.  There is and always has been assessing, evaluating, judging of what students learn but never a true “measuring” of it.

The TESTS MEASURE NOTHING, quite literally when you realize what is actually happening with them. Richard Phelps, a staunch standardized test proponent (he has written at least two books defending the standardized testing malpractices) in the introduction to “Correcting Fallacies About Educational and Psychological Testing” unwittingly lets the cat out of the bag with this statement:

Physical tests, such as those conducted by engineers, can be standardized, of course, but in this volume, we focus on the measurement of latent (i.e., nonobservable) mental, and not physical, traits.

Notice how he is trying to assert by proximity that educational standardized testing and the testing done by engineers are basically the same, in other words a “truly scientific endeavor”.  The same by proximity is not a good rhetorical/debating technique.

Since there is no agreement on a standard unit of learning, there is no exemplar of that standard unit and there is no measuring device calibrated against said non-existent standard unit, how is it possible to “measure the nonobservable”?


Finally, what the proponents of the educational standards and standardized testing regime don’t appear to understand is that in many areas of human interactions and feelings there cannot be any measurement.  How does one measure the love of one’s spouse, children, parents or friends?  How does one measure what is going on in the heart and mind of a distressed person who has just lost a loved one?  Why do we even begin to think that we can measure what goes on in the body and brain of the student who is learning any subject matter considering all the various hormonal and endocrinal influences occurring outside the individual’s control, with the hundreds of millions if not billions of neuronal firings going on at any given moment that partially influence what happens in the mind of the student in a teaching and learning situation?  How do we believe that the thousands and thousands of environmental influences on each individual could begin to be measured and accounted for?  Are proponents of the educational standards and standardized testing “measurement” regime that arrogant, hubristic and presumptuous to believe that they hold the key to supposedly measuring the teaching and learning process or more specifically, the learning, aka, student achievement, of an individual student?

Considering the facts of the misuse of language, logic and common sense as outlined above, the only wise course of action is to immediately cease and desist, to abandon, those malpractices that harm so many students and contravene the state’s responsibility in providing a public education for all students.  The billions of dollars spent by states on the educational standards and standardize testing regime would then be freed up to provide a better education for all students through perhaps such things as smaller class sizes, needed social services, foreign language instruction, arts programs, etc.  And the state, by approving and mandating the fake standards and false measuring of student learning that are the malpractices of educational standards and standardized testing, by not adhering to a regimen of fidelity to truth is surely guilty of not promoting “the welfare of the individual so that each person may savor the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and the fruits of their own industry.

  1.  I purposely used “do” and not “are learning” as the teaching and learning process is not amenable to simplistic comparisons.
  2.  Yes, play time.  The research on the importance of play time for elementary (K-8) students in social and academic development is overwhelming.
  3.  And that dominance was greatly enlarged by the Obama administration’s “Race to the Top” federal mandates in 2009.  What a bizarrely craven way to attempt to improve the teaching and learning process, by having states compete for monies only if they enacted certain unethical malpractices such as using standardized testing not only for sorting and ranking students but also evaluating teachers and schools districts.
  4.  From the Oxford Online Dictionary, see:
  5.  See:
  6.  See:
  7.  From the National Institute for Standards and Technology
  8.  ISO is the French acronym used in describing standards.  In English the ISO means the International Organization for Standardization.
  9.  From the EPA website:
  10.  See:
  11.  The scope of this study does not include a discussion of the nefarious process by which the CCSS were made and forced upon the states through what might easily be considered monetary extortion by the Federal Department of Education.
  12.  Now whether that claim, a documentary standard as a metrological one, is intentionally misleading or not I leave up to the reader.  Personally I don’t believe they have the knowledge to understand the difference.  And while that attempt may be well intentioned we know that “The road to hell. . . . “
  13.  See:
  14.  The suggestions only begin to scratch the surface of what might be done and which must be determined by each public school community.
  15.  The false and misleading language embedded in these practices surely must qualify them for the designation of malpractice.


Serious alert. Gonski & NAPLAN unite.

“The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral crisis, maintain their neutrality”  Dante


Gonski and NAPLAN unite

Serious alert

Gonski changes from its needs-based ethos to test-based.

NAPLAN increases its levels of debauchery.

 Australia’s sick obsession with numbers applied to the status of the country’s learning habits will certainly continue to push us down towards the lowest of the international ‘achievements’. It’s on the way now. The fake concern of our erstwhile politicians for child welfare and progress continues to be exposed. 

 Tests create disengagement. Disengagement creates failure in test results.  Failure creates mental health problems. Mental health problems create stress for pupils and parents.

The whole system gets sicker and sicker.

 One observation remains constant: Our politicians and their testucrats do not like public school kids.


 The federal minister of education has recently indicated that the levels of Gonksi needs-based funding from the Commonwealth to the States, will be linked to each state’s results on the previous NAPLAN  tests. 

 For many voters that’s raw fascism at work; and those politicians who remain silent on the issue need to be called to account in the public arena. Do they support this change of Gonski ideals….from needs-based to test-based? It’s a despicable way to fund schooling and will do nothing to repair our broken system. This use of fear as a weapon of social activity was a feature of the 1930s, as Pastor Martin Niemolier pointed out at the time.  It was introduced to Australia in 2008 with the intrusion of kleinism.  It destroys a country’s reputation and any learning ethos that it has.

 It’s fear-imbedded ideology is certainly getting out of hand in Australia….now.

 The latest extension to NAPLAN  is the decision to test the 4 and 5 year olds when they enter school [NSW], so that pollies can have a benchmark for all subsequent data gathering. They’ll brand each and every pupil with a number [unless a parent objects to it].

Then they will use NAPLAN tests for 7 and 8 years olds in Year 3… the same age as advanced countries lovingly introduce children to play learning at a school….and our testucrats check the brand  [unless a parent objects to it].

 Then they do the same for Years 5,7,9 encouraging professional teachers to provide  plenty of practice and tutoring and homework and  useful modes of cheating and pharmaceuticals for each two-year section of schooling [unless a parent objects to it].  

 One of the craziest is the recent official suggestion of a linkage of NAPLAN results at Year 9 to HSC graduation at Year 12.  That’s a doozy of creative testucation.



 WHAT A MESS.         ( ♬ We’ll meet again….  ♬)

 It’s a provocative statement to make, but it does appear that, after nine years of sinking standards of all kinds,  only sensible parents consider the effects of true schooling, compared to those who participate in the artificial schooling according to numbers; and the more alert ones opt out of the use of NAPLAN,  the agent of schooling destruction. Many get in a real tizzy, take their kids to tutors, purchase mind-altering pharmaceuticals, hire counsellors,  pay enormous amounts of money to send their kids to a private school, where, they believe, schooling is better; and generally panic about the place of their kids  in the competition stakes.  Every child should be a winner, shouldn’t each one?

 That’s our system. Yes, Julia. Kleinism has certainly revolutionised schooling in Australia!

 Sadly, at standardised schools, those children, freed by their alert parents from the rigours of being tested and numbered, will, as a rule,  go through the same heavy test-prep routines as the others until the number of learners replaces the number of testees, as they do at advanced schools like Kimberley College where almost all the parents will not permit their children to contest NAPLAN. They, more than most, seem to be able to see through the stupidity and dangers of  standardised blanket testing and the school can get on with the business of learning. The NAPLAN system is absolutely crazy as it exists; and it exists because of the government’s obsession with scores and numbers and data. “No wonder kids keep getting more messed up.” says Lucy Clark –P. 20. “It’s because we judge every inch of their worth by a silly number.”  It’s true. Caring parents opt out.

 {By the way. Weren’t you impressed by the dramatic ending to Lucy Clark’s Beautiful Failures ?  What a remarkable young lady her daughter!}

 If NAPLAN continues, the time is coming when standardised schools will have to provide two levels of schooling.  One level establishes the passing of tests as its centre-point. The ‘fat controllers’ demand it.  The other level recognises the supremacy of the child’s holistic development and the pursuit of learning as its centre-point.  Their parents have pulled them out of the rat-race. Both groups will have to exist in each school, side by side.  The Naplanners and Non-naplanners.  Spare a thought for management.  Staffing arrangements will be tricky.

 Finally. …..while we are flinging NAPLAN tests around everywhere,  how do you think our politicians would  go on, say, the Year 7 NAPLAN tests, prior to selection . Join the teacher neophytes.

 Now. There’s a thought.

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443              


“They came first for the Communists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Jews,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the trade unionists,

and I did not speak up, because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Catholics,

and I did not speak up, because I was a Protestant.

Then they came for me,

and by that time, no one was left to speak up for me.”

— Pastor Martin Niemöller

A Mother’s Story.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

One Mother’s Story: How Overemphasis on Standardized Tests

Caused Her 9-Year-Old to Try to Hang Himself

There are major costs to corporate-driven “education reform.”

By Marion Brady / AlterNet  August 1, 2016

Washington Post

“…I received a note from my son’s teacher telling me he’d failed the FCAT [Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test] by one point. The note said he’d have to take a reading class over the summer and retest…We weren’t alarmed as he only had to score one more point to be promoted…

“…a few weeks later his teacher called. [My son] had failed the test, again by ONE point!

“…I didn’t tell him, but the next day [he] told me he knew he’d failed because if he had passed we’d have been told by the school and be celebrating. I lied—told him it takes several days and we’d know soon, but he insisted he’d failed.

“It was dinner time. I called down the hall and asked what he wanted to drink with dinner. No response. I figured he was watching television in his room and hadn’t heard. A few moments later I called again. Again, no response.

“I can’t tell you what it was that came over me, just that it was a sick feeling. I threw the hot pads I had in my hands on the counter and ran down the hall to [his] room, banged on the door and called his name. No response. I threw the door open. There was my perfect, nine-year-old freckled son with a belt around his neck hanging from a post on his bunk bed. His eyes were blank, his lips blue, his face emotionless. I don’t know how I had the strength to hoist him up and get the belt off but I did, then collapsed on the floor and held [him] as close to my heart as possible. There were no words. He didn’t speak and for the life of me I couldn’t either. I was physically unable to form words. I shook as I held him and felt his heart racing.

“I’d saved [him]! No, not really… I saved him physically, but mentally he was gone…The next 18 months were terrible. It took him six months to make eye contact with me. He secluded himself from friends and family. He didn’t laugh for almost a year…”

Her son had to repeat the third grade. That happened five years ago, and she says the damage continues: “Currently, [he] could be driving with a learner’s permit but he refuses. Why? Because ‘eighth grade kids don’t drive.’ If new friends saw him they’d know he’d failed a grade… Retention is repetitive and lasts a lifetime. It’s never far from his mind, just as seeing him blue and hanging from his bunk bed sticks in mine.”

For years, this story was a family secret. A mutual acquaintance, knowing from my Knight-Ridder/Tribune columns that I had repeatedly attacked the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test not just as a waste of time, money and human potential, but as child abuse, gave this mother my email address and suggested she write me. I met with the mother and child personally and can vouch for the fact that they do indeed exist.

If failing to reach the pass-fail cut score by just one point wasn’t within every standardized test’s margin of error; if research hadn’t established that for the young, retention in grade is as traumatic as fear of going blind or of a parent dying; if standardized tests provided timely, useful feedback that helped teachers decide what to do next; if billions of dollars that America’s chronically underfunded public schools need weren’t being diverted to the standardized testing industry and charter promotion; if a generation of test-and-punish schooling had moved the performance needle even a little; if today’s sneaky, corporately driven education “reform” effort wasn’t driven by blind faith in market ideology and an attempt to privatize public schooling; if test manufacturers didn’t publish guidelines for dealing with vomiting, pants-wetting and other evidences of test-taker trauma; if the Finns hadn’t demonstrated conclusively that fear-free schools, cooperation rather than competition, free play, a recess every hour in elementary school, and that letting educators alone could produce world-class test-takers—if, if, if—then I might cut business leaders and politicians responsible for the America’s current education train wreck a little slack.

But all of the above are demonstrably true. And yet we keep subjecting children to the same dangerous nonsense, year after year.

I’ve no doubt that at least some reformers sincerely believe that America’s schools should be privatized, that educators are unduly attached to the status quo, that unions are a serious problem, and that teachers resist change and must be pressured to perform. I’m sure some are sincere in their belief that the Common Core State Standards actually identify core knowledge, that standardized tests can evaluate complex thought processes, that the reforms they’re pushing, although painful, are essential and right, and that teachers can’t be trusted to judge learner performance.

But wilful ignorance from an unwillingness to talk to experienced educators is unacceptable.

Given the money and power behind current corporately driven education policy, few tools for resisting are available. Of those tools, refusal to go along is both the moral and most effective choice. Thoughtful, caring parents won’t be bullied by test manufacturer propaganda or threats from those in Washington or state capitols who cling to the quaint notion that test-taking ability is a useful, marketable skill.

Marion Brady


This is a sad story, but it is real.  It should not be dismissed lightly, even though it ‘happened in America’. It was still a real mother and a real child. It happens where the circumstances are conducive. Scaring kids is part of our education system. With the inbuilt intent that is part and parcel of NAPLAN testing – to frighten and stress children to get better scores on immoral, unreliable, useless tests – we can be pretty sure that this story has its counterpart here in Australia.  We Aussies don’t care much about kids, so there’s no sense in talking about it..  Australians have a casual attitude towards the mental health of our young; and our media would not be allowed to print a story such as this, in any case.  We all know that too many children feel ashamed when it comes to pressure on them to get better scores, but adults prefer not to talk about it, too much. Most schools and principals approve of  klein-type testing. Since a few million pupils have already been through the NAPLAN branding machine in Australia,  there are sure to have been; and we will have more casualties, such as this story portrays, as the years go on. Children can be very sensitive little people.

They can well do without the kind of child abuse and cruelty, now becoming endemic in Australia’s schooling system. For instance….

1. Testing of the data-collection kind is being introduced soon into Year 1 for Australian five-year-olds so that NAPLAN can have a starting point. Imagine being this age and having to undergo the test-stress that is imposed by order of the big masters. 2017 innovation!  Rotters. Only a maker of Don Dale chairs could have dreamed this up.  2. Stress tests already exists for Year 3 which contains mostly seven-years olds, the age that children start school in more sensible and advanced countries. We let it continue at this young and crucial age, even though we know it stinks.    3. NSW is going to attach the raw results of Year 9s to success or failure in the HSC, three years after. That’s a real doosy.The older the child, the bigger the chair. 4. NAPLAN is talked-about as if it was a part of school routine and always has been, whereas it was a dump–on,  an uncalled-for extra,  of elephantine proportions on an already over-crowded curriculum in 2008.    5. As unreliable and useless as they are, the scores are used by businesses and by private schools for admission purposes and judgemental opinions.  These groups, supposedly education- canny and knowing the value of a buck, reminds one  of Carson Robison : There’s sumpin cock-eyed somewhere.” 

Certainly the fear-based element of  kleinism used by the testucators,  is meant to cause stress and it is so unnecessary.  That’s what kleinism is.  As Ms. Gillard says in her autobiography, that’s why she …she and her pin-up boy….introduced it.  Sad Christopher Pyne thought it should be more ‘robust’ and gave over $30 million for Direct Instruction packages to selected schools!  Australia approves of the creation of stress in all places of detention [schools, gaols, migrant centres] as it did at the Don Dale Centre, where  our treatment of the young was brutally exposed. Physical abuse is easier to film. that’s the only difference.   We can cover-up NAPLAN effects even though the impact on the long-term  mental health of our youth is not much different from that used  at the Don Dale Centre.

You will have noted the increases in the  numbers of parents in New York [Klein’s legacy] who are opting-out of Standardised Blanket Testing in dramatic numbers, “…despite state attempts to pressure, brow-beat, threaten, cajole and distribute a huge case of PR-spin whirtles.” [Peter Greene]  More than one in five [ 20%] children in New York do not take the test. Real child-oriented Australians could make it 95% if they wished. [Kimberley College in Brisbane only tests 6 pupils out of a possible 200; and there are other schools around Australia whose almost all parents do not like the nasty thing anywhere near their school. Presumably, they talk to each others abut learning and evaluating and improving. ]

Far too many schools do not discuss evaluation or testing with their parents or distribute articles of an anti-NAPLAN educative kind.   They impose data gathering  on kids without reference. None seems to give parents the democratic right to chose whether they want their kids to do the tests or not.  No democracy involved. Have the parents at your school heard of Sir Ken Robinson, Gene Glass, Marion Brady, Diane Ravitch, Susan Obanian or read any of their articles?

We can beat NY,  All that Australian parents have to do is drop a note to their teacher “I do not want my child to undertake any standardised tests”. There are no legal no administrative complications if this simple action is taken. . That’s it.  Such an action will hasten the end of NAPLAN and schools will find some decent learning to do. For sure. If enough parents do this, our kids will learn a great deal more,  at a higher level;  and enjoy learning!

Please accept some serious advice :  OPT OUT NOW.  Don’t put it off. Don’t risk putting it off. OPT OUT.

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  0              

 Let’s think 

A Testucation System

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available .

 Australia’s Testucation System

Goodbye inglorious 2015

“You are dead set keen on producing robots……… instead of citizens with full brain power, innovative ideas and gumption”, she said during a recent visit. [It’s only our great classroom teachers that are holding the system up during the present period, she added.]

It’s true. Australia does not have an education system.  It’s a test, test, test dominated TESTUCATION SYSTEM  diluting the curriculum so that the myopic measurers in charge of Australian schooling can demand higher scores on shallow, immoral, abusive,  proven useless, proven unreliable tests called NAPLAN.

This system callously abuses the mental health of children and frightens them away from the beauty of curriculum offerings of all kinds;  and prevents pupils  from experiencing the joy of the arts and physical variety and the millions of other things they would like to learn about.

The monster is  NAPLAN – the real, the biggest enemy of Australia’s progress ever.  It uglifies and corrupts Maths, Literacy, Science……three of the most beautiful, creative, challenging, enjoyable topics in the curriculum.  Want to uglify something? Test it!  NAPLAN is the gunboat of corporate testucation that was introduced by Joel Klein, because corporate America demanded it of us. The Yanks actually believe that FEAR is the most effective motivator of the learning business. There was never any  sound education reason for introducing NAPLAN at the time. Schools were going great guns.  Now, things have all gone crazy…’s a radical imposition that has stolen three days of useless sweat from learning exercises; it abuses children with months of cerebral floggings each year,  for school uglification purposes only.  Then there are those boganisers who use the scores to set standards and compare.

No self-respecting parent would give, under normal circumstances, their permission for their children to undertake the preparation and  pain of NAPLAN, but parents have never been asked. NeverEver. No Australian parent has ever been offered the choice.  Australian educrats dictatorially force children to do NAPLAN tests, without permission from the parents or from the teacher or from the school.  Fascist behaviour? Yes. Close to criminal! Yes. What next?

NAPLAN has nothing to do with learning. It has nothing to do with teaching. It has nothing to do with real schooling. It has to do with finding fault and making money. It’s an ineffective, unreliable and invalid device that makes the most of young children’s vulnerability and it deliberately threatens their cognitive development and emotional stability for the sake of a score.

The NAPLAN control of the curriculum represents a system dominated by corporations operating locally  on behalf of bigger ones in the USA.

Talk about taking us for suckers!

Our politicians operate on behalf of these corporations and…

play dumb on their behalf.

It must be noted that our new federal minister, as all new ministers are prone to do, is looking for a gimmick, for which he will be remembered.  His is Voucher Schooling. We’ve been there, done that. It’s a giggle, Simon. Can’t we try something new? WHAT IS LEARNING IN THE CLASSROOM ALL ABOUT? There’s a topic.  Let’s be original.

Wouldn’t we be better off encouraging all Australians to talk about the real business of schooling – in all schools?

You could be remembered for the sponsorship of …….


Why not have schools, that are allowed to think, to concentrate on LEARNING ?

Another Bedtime Story.  A mum tells me that her local state high school enrolment asks for her child’s NAPLAN results. Yes.  She did not fill in that part and was telephoned! She wants to know what sort of school she is sending her child to, that has to rely on NAPLAN results, which she knows to be useless, to guide her child through a very serious part of his development.  OMG. Let’s stop the NAPLAN crap before things get worse!

Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Avenue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443               

Client capture.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn

encouraging adults to think sensitively, to care for kids, to make wise choices….with their hearts in gear, their pens active and their votes available.

Client Capture

We are all familiar with the term “Client Capture’ when applied to organisational behaviour. You will recall that remarkably perceptive quadrant constructed by Richard Carlson that portrayed the differences in administrative style required for those of us operating in hard-wired ‘domesticated’ societies as compared to those in hard-wired ‘wild’ societies. We were different from each other with different system and role operations because of the nature of our clients. The design was quickly modified for those of us who worked in various kinds of educational administration……primary schooling, secondary schooling, TAFE, College, University management. Each section was sufficiently different to have its own unique ways of doing things.

The design helped us to come to grips with the nature of our task and cope with its vicissitudes.

Such studies of administrative behaviour were over-looked by the Managerialists of the eighties. For them, ‘client capture’ meant the gathering by managerial, ‘Harvard-type’graduates and the big-time power people of mostly school principals’ leaders in groups and indoctrinating them with the new ‘force’. Coralled by this New Mafia [Hired, appointed or elected body more engrossed in dollars and power than in the education of children- Horwitz] the important school-based targets were easy-meat when it came to believing in Klein and how to bark and saliva together. They believed that a playschool in South Birdsville could be run in the same manner as a Chinese mega-city in Outer Mongolia. When things get tough: downsize. When a job needs to be done, don’t trust your own: outsource. When you need a leader, look for one with a university degree, especially a doctorate. A doctor is a superhuman and can do anything. ‘Experience’ can be outsourced or researched…..or ignored.

I’d like to add, at this point…..A very proud moment for the officers of the Queensland Primary School Division in the 1987, was when the Division told their Director-General that, based on their collective school experience, they would not indulge in the managerial deceit and skulduggery that was being organised around the state at the time, that was aimed at down-playing the importance of schooling as a departmental operation. When your cause is true, you can say “No.”

Organisations that have a close connection with governments – health, education – in the supply of care for a nation’s citizens must always act warily, but honourably. Governments frequently make outrageous decisions, some unpalatable to the professionals within the organisation. Governments usually insist that they have complete control of such services and in totalitarian, fascist type countries they tend to force the providers to do as they are told to provide it. [The introduction of Kleinism to Australia is a prime example.] Not so in democratic places where it is known that the services are superior because there is a climate of shared good-will and trust in the provision of services. When the government pretends that it knows better than the professionals in the field, especially when intrusive elements are forced by influential politicians and corporate barons into government operations, there is unproductive conflict.


The client capture of almost all professionally well-known organisations, using the Eichmann/Pavlov method of control in Australia in 2008-9, especially of Principals’ associations and so-called Learned Societies [ACEL & ACE] was completed early in the Murdoch take-over program and each has remained faithful to the cause of Klein, Murdoch, Pearson and Gillard ever since. Subject Associations, those who know what is happening in the classrooms, such as the Australian Literacy Educators Association, peopled by down-to-earth teachers strongly oppose NAPLAN. Their cause is honourable, indisputable, just and honest, but they lack sufficient influence. Only dumbed-down political clout now controls the Australian school curriculum.

An expected outcome of all this NAPLAN nonsense has been the ‘playing out’ of certain laws of human behaviour with remarkable validity……..

Campbells Law leads the pack: “The more any quantitative social indicator is used for social decision-making, the more subject it will be to corruption pressures and the more apt it will be to distort and corrupt the social processes it is intended to monitor.” How true. Professional corruption is rife…every single teacher is affected…..unworthy of a place like Australia.

Stockholm syndrome, or capture-bonding, is “a psychological phenomenon in which hostages express empathy and sympathy and have positive feelings toward their captors, sometimes to the point of defending and identifying with the captors.” The support of NAPLAN by Principals’ Associations and so-called professional groups is testimony to this cruel outcome. The ‘job’ on them in 2008-9 was brilliant.

The Milgram Experiment showed that “people will, when prevailed upon, perform acts that would, normally, offend their conscience.”

Creeping Eichmannism : “Doing what one is ordered to do because one is ordered to do it; involving suspension of professional, educative and moral beliefs.” Australia school principals were the first to claim, “We did as we were told.”..


All of these laws are firmly in place on our shores, [as is Mrs. Murphy’s Law : “Murphy was an optimist”.].….working together to collect unreliable scores and marks using NAPLAN Tests that are known to be inherently faulty and useless…..and cruel…..and for the sake of the greedy rich.

It’s a neo-liberal mess. Time for some liberal thinking.

A mark or score, by the way, is an inadequate report of an inaccurate judgement by a biased and variable judge, of the extent to which an undefined level of mastery of unknown proportions of an inadequate amount of material has been completed. [J.Settledge].

Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486
07 5524 6443       0407865999

The King Has Abdicated

An oversized, ugly, brutal giant called Naplan walked into a bar with a toad on his head.
The surprised barman asked, “Where did you get that thing from?”
The toad replied. “ I dunno. It just started off as a wart on my backside.”

The King Has Abdicated

“I am no longer comfortable being associated with the discipline of educational measurement.”If ever there was a giant amongst educational measurers of the world, it is Gene Glass, Senior Researcher at the National Education Policy Center at the University of Colorado, Boulder. The seminal mega-research of Glass and Smith into ‘Class Size’ is a study to which any studious commentator refers if ever he or she mentions anything about the efficacy of class size on child learnings. It had an enormous impact on world discussion about class size.

His leadership during the 1970’s Minimal Competency Testing movement was profound. The application of the most misused and misapplied concept of competency aka basics in American history, resulted in state authorities and school districts wondering what schools could do about it. The foolish thought that testing would encourage school pupils to perform better. They used local tests and the SAT : Student Aptitude Test as measures.
Glass described the movement as one would describe NAPLAN : ‘the case of fruitless use of an analogous concept – the minimum lethal dose’ ; ‘bad logic and worse psychology’ ; ‘a return to Payment by Results, abandoned by the British over one hundred years ago’ ‘has nothing to do with science and technology; not with psychology, not with measurement. It has to do with politics’ ; ‘the business of failing students’.Why would such a giant of the measurement profession ‘no longer feel comfortable ‘ with the American version of NAPLAN testing? Without a doubt, the world’s leading measurer for endless years, Gene Glass has been ‘slowly withdrawing his intellectual commitment to the field of measurement’ and has even asked his University to shift him from its measurement program. In the field of education, this decision represents a greater comment on prevailing educational circumstances than King Edward VIII’s did for regal circumstances; or if one of highest test performing schools in the country decided to drop NAPLAN and HSC contests from its curriculum ….that sort of thing.

This is monumental.

It says so much that ought to have an impact on the principles of schooling and the place of measurment in it.He once said, “I favour competence, I prefer classrooms where teachers know where they’re aiming. Sloth is as unattractive to me in children as it is in grown-ups. Bad writing stinks; it’s as ugly as litter. And bad arithmetic is pathetic, and sometimes unfair. But I don’t like the MCM {aka NAPLAN [Aus.]}. It’s bad psychology; it’s bad measurement; it’s bad thinking. It threatens to subjugate what’s easily measured to what isn’t. It is rooted in the fiction that we know what skills in school insure success in life.”

You must read….. “Why I am No Longer a Measurement Specialist”

Onya, Gene Glass. God bless you.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443

I once visited Professor Glass at Boulder. The Ahern Inquiry into Education in Queensland was in full swing, and , as Chairman of the Queensland Primary Curriculum Committee, I wanted to find out as much as I could about Minimal Competence Testing in the United States. Small world, Dr. Barry McGraw whom I knew, then at Murdoch Uni., was visiting Professor Glass to find out more about measurement. Dr McGraw later became Julia Gillard’s captain’s pick to lead ACARA and apply NAPLAN, based on Klein’s New York model, to Australian schools. How about that? Ironic?

Humour in the face of the Horrible

Humour in the Face of the Horrible

The Horrible The English-speaking countries of the world have little-to-no interest in the social and intellectual health of school children. When large-scale, high-stakes issues arise in school systems, their publics prefer to condemn teaching practices, teachers and children’s social circumstances than to examine the full circumstances of an issue with professional integrity. Schooling is such a soft target.

Every decade or so, a ‘Standards’ Meme dominates activities throughout these English-speaking education authorities and is maintained by vested interests of some kind. The link between them is the common English language. The general hoity British public school culture prefers things that way. It’s only kids. Too many other things to worry about, old chap.

Things become quite horrible. Operating under Stockholm and Eichmann induced conditions, the school itself, in some instances becomes the enemy of positive schooling.

Those of us who lived through the last standards meme with its venomous effects and its consequences, can assure you that this one is much more dangerous for those English-speaking countries which are forced to tolerate this sort of controversy. Children’s freedom to learn and to achieve and finding ways of satisfying our country’s need for high-achieving lateral thinkers and doers is never high on the agenda of inter-generational conversation. Knowledge of spelling and tables becomes the main issue of the day. The meme turns into a low-level discourse and maintains itself on its own offal. Who cares about kids heading for an uncertain kind of future, full of inspiring challenges, in a country that just doesn’t care much about where it wants to go, despite programs like Australia’s recent “Challenge of Change – 2015 Intergenerational Report……. for ‘Adults Only’, of course. You can wager that the state of schooling will not get a jersey. Children are not part of anyone’s generational interest. Since this over-bearing 2008 Meme is politically operated, staked by some of the biggest businesses in the world, it does not look like disappearing for some time, even though the cries from the likes of Dr.Karl are very serious. The meme can only disappear when classroom teachers, parents of ‘ordinary’ social-class parents and the older pupils, all now used as pawns, say NO to testing. Then we can ask what we need for our present crop of kids to be “resourceful”.

It will take some time because, in Australian parlance, our now-established, anti-resourceful, unimaginative, pervasive Standards Meme, converted to NAPLAN, is a ‘corker’.

While Australia tries to produce automatic robots at the same naplannic level of mediocrity, Dr. Karl’s TV adverts of the moment, emphasise the crucial need for Australians to be more creative and innovative and diligent !!! Fat chance while NAPLAN exists. Indeed, NAPLAN’s depressing control of a creative, holistic curriculum will certainly make Australia more vulnerable to exploitation than it has ever been.

There is little doubt that the products of English-speaking ‘western’ schools of the world will be the poor ‘cotton-pickers’ of tomorrow’. Sorry Dr.Karl. I reckon you’d agree that we need to start at the beginning. We can’t. The mess is almost too vast for the youngest cohort. Its sterility is becoming entrenched. It requires the kind of resourcefulness that is in short supply.


In the meantime, humour helps people to maintain their spirits. It varies in kind. A former Australian primary school principal, whom many of us knew and whose war experience parallels that of the American hero in the movie “Unbroken”, was made to kneel during an incident at Hell-fire Pass while his guard punched him viciously in the back. It was his birthday and his colleagues, keeping time with the punches, sang “Happy birthday to you”. That’s morbid humour and there are other many kinds. Power humour helps those of us, who love children and are distressed by the sadness of what is happening to them, to cope.

Things are very sick at the moment and those who care about kids need some bright light. .

Power Humour The extraordinary talents of The Bad Ass Teachers’ Association provide support for the wounded school-based victims [classroom teachers and children] of corporate greed and political chicanery in an entertaining way. Who would ever have thought that schooling issues would ever need to use such tactics? Treehorn hopes to supply one or two laughs-a-day or a pithy illustrated comments for those in Australia who are enjoying a well-earned break at this time of the year. Here’s the first…..

[Thanks to BAT]

The Bad Ass Teachers’ Association is an association that is for every teacher
who refuses to accept assessments,tests and evaluations imposed by those
who have contempt for real teaching and learning.


Phil Cullen 41 Cominan Avenue Banora Point Australia 2486 07 5524 6443

Thinking about NAPLAN.

Aussie Friends of Treehorn


Thinking About NAPLAN as Child Abuse  ?

NAPLAN is an Australian designed data-driven device used in classrooms to direct curriculum traffic towards lower-level mediocrity. 
NAPLAN is a form of state-driven child abuse forced on all schools to create tension and stress on children going about their normal learning activities.
NAPLAN is part of the State Theory of Learning : FEAR and DOMINATION  motivate learning better than anything else.

There are many definitions of  NAPLAN.  It is being used in Australia to divert school leaders and their teachers from the proper exercise of their craft and it prevents pupils in schools from applying full learnacy techniques to their personal cognitive development.

It is a nasty, nasty business. Its origins are soundly embedded in the profit-making motive of big corporation’s publishing, syllabus programming and the use of digital devices businesses. As stated by one who knows*, it is worth billions and billions of dollars.

It is important for political controllers that the stories behind the introduction of NAPLAN remain hidden.  Sensitive to its potential to damage the mental health of children, especially the seven and eight-year olds in Year 3, captured schools were forbidden from informing parents of their right to refuse to undertake the test;  and schools are still also forbidden, in most states, to express their professional views on high stakes testing if the comment is antipathetic to the program.

State Driven Child Abuse.

In parts of the US, the high stakes tests, close relatives of the NAPLAN kind,  are called Common Core Tests.  Here is one reaction to its influence on children’s health.  The teacher Beth Dimino mentions ‘Common Core Syndrome’,  a legitimately recognised affliction that such tests cause to children’s mental health.  The Australian version “NAPLAN Syndrome” is just as toxic, or more so.

Later in her talk, Beth Dimino mentions ‘Mommies” in a special way that many US folk have, of referring to parents of school children. She is directing her comments at the Superintendent of her School District.

Teachers and parents reading this Treehorn will also be impressed by these sorts of teachers who  are prepared to stand up for kids.  Here’s another who says….

“I will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking,” continues her letter. “I can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a state-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. I have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.”

For children’s mental health, let’s hope that something like this happens somewhere in Australia soon.


*Rupert Murdock. It’s worth $500millions per year to his businesses.



Treehorn:           Why can’t we kids have a pupil-centred, achievement-oriented, shared-evaluation as part of the learning process, holistic-learning-based-curriculum?  Why? Why?Why?
Testucator:        We prefer the profit-based, stress-laden, teacher-squirming, unreliable test program, thanks to Murdoch & Klein.  We won’t change it. We tell you what to do.
Treehorn:           Why can’t you replace tension with challenge, fear with encouragement, ritual with creativity, teacher-bashing with professionalism, subject-hate with love-of-learning, time-wasting-tests with shared-evaluation ?

A testucator is a pretend schoolie who is unable to understand the theories and practices of learning. Unable to share positive evaluation of  children’s learning efforts,each  ignores children’s rights to healthy cognitive development.and just test them from time to time for peculiar purposes..



Phil Cullen  41 Cominan Aveue  Banora Point  Australia 2486  07 5524 6443