Recently found … 09/07/2011

  • tags: educational reform testing assessment

    • Using tests to assess our kids’ memory of rote facts may have been important in the pre-industrial or possibly even the industrial era, but not now.
    • The fact is that we forget most of the facts that we cram into our heads to prepare for tests. Instead, what many of us get from school is the false message that some of us are smart and some of us are dumb, that remembering a few pieces of well-placed information is significant when the reality is that it’s not.
    • The real skills that we need to teach our kids are how to use knowledge in new, innovative ways and to adapt to new circumstances. Teaching our kids to think creatively and instilling in them the confidence to listen to the voice inside of them that is pushing them forward in their lives is how we can best prepare them for an unpredictable future in an ever-changing global landscape.
    • Creativity and confidence are the secret to success. They always have been, and they always will be.
    • If we stop preparing our kids for a bygone era by prepping them for the next test on state capitals and instead promote their creative thinking skills and self-confidence, then we will have prepared them for the most important test of all: the test of life.
  • tags: educational reform NCLB testing

    • We allowed the proponents of NCLB to control the discussion from the beginning. They wrote the language, sent out the media notices and explanations, wrote the definitions of AYP, Highly Qualified and leaned heavily on the fact that none of us would dare protest anything to do with a name that implies we would be providing a high quality education for every single child in America. They were right. We chose not to speak out, not to fight against a system we knew from the beginning would set us all up for failure, and instead, in our best Dudley DoRight impersonations we set about to change the way we taught and measured and tested and graded and thought.

       

      We knew from the outset that NCLB and its goal of 100 percent  – every child proficient in every area as determined by a single test on a single day each year – was patently, blatantly and insidiously absurd, but we took no concerted action. We knew Adequate Yearly Progress was a sham, and we literally and figuratively rolled over and tried our best to meet whatever impossible goals they set for us and our students. We knew that Federal law in NCLB was a violation of Federal law in IDEA but we went along with the insanity of testing Students with Disabilities based on chronological age rather than by IEP.

    • Oh sure, some of you stuck your necks out and said something to the effect of “NCLB forced us to take a closer look at ourselves, and we are better off for that” in spite of the fact that it was our students that were suffering the consequences. What balderdash. What hubris. Our kids were the ones whose education was stilted by our submission to the belief that one test could effectively distill and determine the depth and extent of an entire year of a child’s education.
    • I struggled with the rest of you as to why NCLB would go to such great lengths to make public education appear to be such a failure, to set up a system that would guarantee failure for practically every public school as we advanced toward that magical 100 percent level and provide no tangible rewards for success and such punitive actions for not meeting arbitrary goals. On top of all of that, I failed to recognize why our nation’s legislators so nimbly avoided even the discussion of reauthorization to change what everyone knew was a failed policy. One day it finally hit me.

       

      They didn’t want to change the policy, because the policy was designed in theory and in fact not to aid education but to create an image of a failed public school system in order to further the implementation of vouchers and the diversion of public education funds to private schools.

    • We failed in our obligations to protect our students from one of the most destructive educational policies since “separate but equal.”  We did not educate the public on the myth and misdirection of Adequate Yearly Progress, and we allowed closet segregationists to direct the implementation of policies that we knew would result in our being the guys in the black hats responsible for “the failure of public education.”

       

      Now we are paying the price. AYP is here to stay in one form or another, and the vast majority of our parents and public really believe the propaganda that it actually measures a school’s educational progress. If we try to convince them otherwise we are “making excuses.”

    • I hope the generation of teachers and administrators that follows has learned something from the failure of our generation to ward off those determined to destroy public education. We didn’t stand up to be counted, we didn’t stand in the schoolhouse door and tell them they couldn’t do that to our kids, and we didn’t educate the public about what a gigantic failure another one size fits all education policy would be. In the words of that great educator and philosopher Jimmy Buffet: “Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa.”

       

      We have all been left behind.

  • tags: educational reform learning teachers

    • It has become more and more difficult to consider the role of joy in our schools. Teachers have been told other things matter more: test scores, new curriculum, district initiatives and other data that suggests deficiencies.

       

       

       

      Is anyone measuring for joy? A joyful learning environment might be the most important thing you create for a child. If indeed the much used phrase “life long learner” is a major goal for schools could joy be an ingredient for that?

       

       

       

      Maybe we ought to start counting smiles. If at the end of the year, you can honestly say your students leave as joyful leaners, you’d be among the best teachers I know.

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