I am deeply troubled by the path our state is headed down in assessing our elementary school students, and I strongly urge you to re-think both the design of and the importance placed on state assessments. You are making it that much harder to recruit talented individuals to the teaching profession. The tests are also souring the educational experiences of our youngest citizens, the ones we are preparing so hard for college and career readiness. However, we must also invest more in breaking the insidious, concrete-walled cycle of poverty in our nation. A much greater importance must be placed on fixing the root causes of low academic performance and educational inequities.
Recently in standardized tests Category
April 22, 2013
April 09, 2013
Now, we see standardized test scores used to justify privatizing our schools. Over and over again our downtown administration starves neighborhood schools of resources and refuses to address the needs of our impoverished students. Then when these schools have low performing test scores, they are closed. Charter schools, which are private enterprises even when non-profit, are opened up to fill this void. Hence, in my career as a CPS teacher I've witnessed standardized testing used to sort, punish, and privatize. And I am saying enough is enough.
April 01, 2013
A personalized learning environment is driven by the relationships between learners and one another, and with their teacher. That is why class size is so important. That is why it is so important to honor the knowledge, skill and culture that our students bring to school - because a respectful relationship with each student is based on our acceptance of them, and our desire to help them achieve their goals, rather than force them to meet predetermined benchmarks.
March 06, 2013
Paul Thomas asks a provocative question this week. Are the poor too free? Are our schools providing students with tools and skills to foster their independence? Or teaching them to be compliant cogs in a machine whose levers of control they will never touch? Thomas describes the paternalism that has become central to modern education, as well as efforts to "reform" it even further.
March 05, 2013
Addressing the Save Texas Schools rally in Austin on Feb. 23, Superintendent John Kuhn nailed the essence of test-driven "reform." "Some people have forgotten that good teachers actually exist. They spend so much time and effort weeding out the bad ones that they've forgotten to take care of the good ones. This bitter accountability pesticide is over-spraying the weeds and wilting the entire garden." He later rebutted a key argument of market-driven "reform," reminding us that "They say 100,000 kids are on a waiting list for charter schools. Let me tell you about another waiting list. There are 5 million kids waiting for this Legislature to keep our forefathers' promises."
February 28, 2013
The contemporary "reform" movement is based on the principle, however, that educators cannot be granted the autonomy of deciding whether they commit to building trusting relationships with students or whether "In Data We Trust." The immense body of social science that describes the emotional dynamics of schooling that was to be flushed down the toilet. Test-driven "reformers" demanded that we teach primarily to the narrow part of "the Head" that processes Big Data.
February 12, 2013
Schools today are seeing an unprecedented expansion of federally-driven accountability practices. In addition to annual high stakes standardized tests, more and more students now take interim assessments for use in teacher evaluations, mandated by NCLB waivers and Race to the Top grants. Soon we wil...
February 11, 2013
Let's think about the pedagogy proposed by Bronson and Merryman. They admit that standardized testing can produce such anxiety that students must subsequently "acclimate to recurring stressors." Parents must sign off on other vaccines but not their kids' "stress inoculation." In an age of "reform," it is up to schools to decide how much to tax children without overwhelming them. They must "then allow for sufficient recovery."
February 08, 2013
I will accept that the Gates Foundation may not be able to address all of these problems directly. But according to Bill Gates' annual letter, the sheer act of measuring things and setting goals around them has tremendous power. I believe his school reform project is failing in large part because of the error he identified. It has been measuring the wrong things. If the Gates Foundation is unwilling to tackle the scourge of poverty directly, could it at least begin to actively measure and set goals for some of the things identified here?
February 07, 2013
We could choose to measure other things, of course. The idea of measurement is not useless. The trouble is that some of the things we truly value are harder to measure, and so we devolve back to the simplest metrics - test scores. This is defined as the "outcome" that we desire. But this is only one of a host of outcomes that we actually want for our students. Nothing makes this clearer than the personal decisions made by people with the MOST control over their own children's education. The schools attended by the very wealthy are not chosen for their test scores - in fact many of them do not give standardized tests at all. Neither do they use student test scores to evaluate their teachers.