John Oliver gave America another bracing burst of enlightening laughs/tears last night in a segment excoriating the nation's explosion of standardized testing. It's madness: the average student takes 113 standardized tests by the time he or she graduates high school, and teacher evaluations have been linked to the test scores in a way that defies logic. One teacher featured in the segment actually received a negative evaluation after his student got a perfect score on a test.
According to Oliver, the endless standardized testing and mounting pressure to score higher has spiraled so far out of control that many students are vomiting during tests due to the stress, and some guidebooks even instruct teachers on how to handle kids who blow chunks mid-test.
"Something is wrong with our system when we just assume a certain number of students will vomit," Oliver says. "Standardized tests are supposed to be an assessment of skills, not a rap battle on '8 Mile' Road."
In the end, of course, it's all about the money. Oliver sets his sights on the companies that profit from creating these tests, the foremost being Pearson, which gave students a psychedelic test including questions about a hairy pineapple without sleeves, or something. "Pearson are the educational equivalent of Time Warner Cable," Oliver explains. "Either you've never had an interaction with them and don't care, or they have ruined your fucking life."