PLATTSBURGH — Doug Selwyn is one of an increasing number who oppose the use of high-stakes standardized tests. 

Still, the professor of teacher education at SUNY Plattsburgh noted, it's not enough for people to simply state what they don't want for their children; they must also discuss what they do want. 

A member of the North Country Alliance for Public Education, Selwyn has helped organize an upcoming public forum aimed at facilitating that discussion. 

The event, scheduled for 6:30 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, is the third in a series of forums on public education the alliance has hosted in the last year.


The evening will kick off with a showing of the documentary, "Standardized — Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education," in Room 200 of Yokum Hall on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus. 

“It’s a pretty powerful film … really showing the harm that standardized testing is doing both in the testing itself and in the standardization of education," Selwyn said. 

The movie features interviews with teachers, administrators, politicians, parents and a school board member. 

Perhaps what's most interesting, Selwyn noted, is that despite coming from differing political stances, ranging from the far left to the far right, the speakers all seem to agree on one thing: Standardized tests are the wrong way to go. 

Passing such a math or English-language arts exam, he continued, doesn't provide a full picture of who somebody is or whether they're college or career ready.

“There’s no evidence to support it," he said. 

In addition, Selwyn noted, no student is exactly the same, yet a focus has been placed on having everybody learn and be assessed in the same way.


"Let's stop pretending that the end goal of an education is to pass the test," he said. 

Instead, Selwyn continued, there needs to be a more realistic picture of what it means to be well educated. 

For that reason, the second portion of the forum will involve a conversation among attendees focused on answering questions, such as:

What skills, knowledge and dispositions should children have when they complete school? 

What role should schools play in serving the public good? 

What principles should guide the decisions schools make?


Something else to consider, Selwyn added, is the amount of money that is being spent on testing and exam-related materials and how those dollars could be otherwise spent. 

"One way we act on our values is the ways in which we budget money," he said. 

The alliance plans to send notes from the discussion to education policy-makers at the local, state and national level.

"The local voices are important," Selwyn said. "It’s our kids.”


For additional information about the North Country Alliance for Public Education's upcoming forum, contact Doug Selwyn at 564-5135 or visit

To learn more about the film, "Standardized — Lies, Money & Civil Rights: How Testing Is Ruining Public Education," visit

Email Ashleigh Livingston:alivingston@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @AshJLivingston

Ashleigh Livingston reports education and health news. She is a graduate of SUNY Plattsburgh, where she also serves as an adjunct lecturer.