professornana (professornana) wrote,

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Straw men are not only found in Oz

It seems as though some of the folks who are strong proponents of the CCSS are good at one thing in particular: using straw men to make their arguments. Here is one such atrocity:

In this piece, the authors criticize the four myths of the anti-testing backlash. Here is the first argument: Myth #1: Teachers’ instincts should guide instruction.

Notice how carefully this is constructed. Teachers are using their INSTINCTS to guide instruction. The word instinct is a deliberate choice here. It absolutely nullifies any teaching decisions to instinct and not to thoughtful reflection, knowledge of pedagogy, firsthand experience working with kids in classrooms, and so much more. Basically what it says is that teachers who do not follow tyhe script or who ask for some freedom to make decisions are not making calculated choices but instead simply giving in to their "instincts." Teachers who wish to construct their own assessments (and the authors only use the words tests here, not the broader term assessments) are just wasting time, valuable instructional time. In other words, they hold kids back (selfish beasts!). As the authors continue to talk about this first myth there is an implacation that teachers who use "instincts" are to blame for the gaps in test scores: they hold back struggling students. They suggest there are plenty of studies to support this assertion. Unfortunately, there is no such research cited here. Pity.

Standardized tests, moreover, can drive critical conversations that can "catch kids up." As if this is a football game and all we need are a few interceptions. Of course, this misses the point that the field is not level to begin with, right? This deliberate obfuscation of facts, this use of denigrating terms for what teachers actually do (instincts), this intimation that teachers (and not poverty, access to books, and more) are to blame for achievement gaps and that testing can actually repair all of the ills short circuits any real discussion that can take place. I will comment on the other myths in future posts. But perhaps we can restate the #1 myth: measuring kids using a single snapshot text is a good means of assessing what they know and what they need.
Tags: ccss, myths, straw man argument, testing
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