This is a future I believe is possible given the systems and structures being promoted by technocrats like Gates. This is NOT the way the system has been described by Bill Gates or any of his representatives. They tend to use the language of feedback and collaboration. But as I have been asking, if collaboration is the goal, why must this be embedded in an evaluation process, which has the goal of determining who ought to be fired?
Across the country, many local school boards, superintendents and principals have been speaking out against excessive testing. Parents, teachers, students and community groups should work with them to reduce the number of tests and any stakes attached to them. Those who still support the status quo need to be educated and, if necessary, pressured. In cities with appointed school boards, political pressure often will need to work through other avenues.
Across the nation, a rebellion is brewing against testing overuse and misuse. But just saying "no" isn't enough. In fact, high-quality feedback from assessment is vital to teaching and learning. Students, teachers and parents need to know whether kids are making progress. Communities and taxpayers deserve to know if schools are serving children well and children are succeeding. To win change, activists must offer proposals for better assessment systems coupled with demands to end harmful practices.
Over the past few months, I've been involved in dialogues and public meetings aimed at furthering the testing reform movement. Our conversations focused on how to win key goals: less testing, lower stakes, and better assessment practices. In this post, I focus on basic goals and strategy for launching a campaign. In subsequent posts, I will discuss the importance of pushing for high-quality assessments, and then propose tactics to educate the public, develop strong coalitions, and persuade policymakers.
Kirp then dissects the dramatic turnaround of the entire school system of Union City, New Jersey, and he shows how we can build great schools on the strengths of our democratic culture. Its answer did not come from technocrats from the outside, but from a local culture of "abrazos" or caring. Rather than firing our way to the top, Kirp shows that school improvement must come from trusting relationships. The secret sauce of Union City's success is "respeto," or respect.
Bill Gates has described himself as a technocrat, so perhaps it is natural that he would fixate on some piece of technology as the missing element. But the real things that are missing are the time that teachers need to work together, and the understanding that this time will be most fruitful when teachers are given the autonomy to tackle the challenges they face, rather than micromanaged and driven by test score data.
Teachers - and union leaders -- may feel as if they should get on board, to try to steer this process. However, I think this is a ship of doom for our schools. I think its effect will be twofold. It will create a smoother, wider, more easily standardized market for curriculum and technology. This will, in turn, promote the standardization of curriculum and instruction, and further de-professionalize teaching. The assessments will reinforce this, by tying teachers closer to more frequent timelines and benchmark assessments, which will be, in many places, tied to teacher evaluations. And the widespread failures of ...
this highlights for me, the moral dimension that Merrow ignores, when, at the end of the film, he proclaims this experiment a success. How can we accept that a third of the schools in New Orleans have been consigned to the status of dumping grounds for the other two thirds? How can we celebrate the creation of a system that allows schools to wall themselves off from students who are the most damaged by poverty and violence - and relegates those students to schools that cannot possibly succeed in this competitive scheme?
The kids who come to school with less get less from school. Closing the achievement gap with high-stakes, test-centric teaching combined with low resources, few opportunities and a lack of support has failed. The best way out is to close the mushrooming opportunity gap, create more equitable opportunities and gauge how well states and districts are doing to create those opportunities. Achievement follows from opportunities to learn.
So what is wrong with these machines and this mechanical "personalization"? The modern versions of the teaching machines are certainly more sophisticated than these dinosaurs of the 1950s. But they have more in common than just the promises made on their behalf. If we look over the shoulders of children in computer labs today, most of the programs are variations of those described by Dr. Skinner. Students are given a short text or math problem and must provide the correct answer. Often there is a game or snazzy cartoon characters who dress up the process and make it more fun, ...