@FlyingPurpleSheepleEater I believe home schooling actually underscores the point. From my perspective, being a "teacher" does not necessarily require have a piece of paper declaring it so. A parent can absolutely be a highly qualified and effective teacher...and should be.
@happywithnewbulbs there is nothing useless about that stat. It is a reality that you may choose to ignore but that doesn't change the facts. The cost of testing is way overblown by the institutionalists who fear true accountability. Fifty bucks is actually a very high number for testing. It is actually well below twenty dollars per pupil, per administration, and coming down in cost. Regarding test prep costs, that is a straw man argument and always has been. We test in math, reading and science, which we should be teaching anyway. Testing against that practice to gain some picture of success, which can be duplicated, or failing practices which should be altered or removed, is simply a way to drive information and accountability.
I would also like to know where there is any supporting evidence that vouchers lead to profiteering as was commented above. School choice, and in some cases the use of vouchers, is the only answer to providing competitive pressure on the systems to force improvement.
The number one determinant in the success or failure of student achievement is the presence of a highly qualified teacher in the classroom. Multiple studies have demonstrated this time and time again. Studies have also demonstrated that student exposure to just one poor teacher in the early grades (esp through grade 3)will have a profound negative impact on reading skills and significantly increases the likelihood of future poor student performance and early dropout.
Unfortunately, however, high performing teachers are rewarded not by providing a higher challenge by placement in impoverished neighborhood schools, but rather by placement in just the opposite affluent suburban schools. It is perverse by its very structure so the students stuck in low socioeconomic schools simply do not have the same exposure to high quality teaching and learning environments, contrary to the comments above about any child can learn anywhere. This is simply not true. A teacher must be involved, particularly at young ages. This is the case in most parts of the country.
Regarding testing, the average cost of administering a standardized test is well under fifty dollars per student and usually under ten dollars per student. So the assertion that testing is a bad thing and that testing companies are making out like bandits is simply not true, based on facts. Also keep in mind that the average per pupil expenditure in this country is over $12,000 per year. Even on the high end, fifty dollars represents less than one half of one percent of educational cost per student.