professornana (professornana) wrote,

Some final myth-conceptions

I want to circle back to this blog of a few weeks ago, the one that highlights the misconceptions the unenlightened (like me) possess about CCSS. I already addressed the first two. Now, let's turn our attention to the final two, shall we? Myth 3 is that testing cannot measure what matters. I must admit when I read the paragraph defending standardized testing I was dizzy. Quite rapid turns of logic will do that: make you so dizzy you might lose direction. Not me; I have a built in compass when it comes to testing and the limits thereof. Testing does not and cannot measure critical thinking at least not in a multiple choice format which seems to be the default for most testing in this day and age (cheaper to grade, right?). How can a test measure the fact that Lucy now loves graphic novels and reads them voraciously, adding something new to her reading diet? How can a test measure what Nick has written in a note to me about a book he just read that moved him to tears and to action against bullying? How can a test measure writing? How can it measure empathy? How can it measure accurately what I taught versus what kids might have learned (and sometimes those are two different things).

Testing can reduce all that is said and done in the classroom to a NUMBER. I have the same problem with this as I do lexiles and levels used to indicate the VALUE of a book. Numbers cannot do that for books, and they most certainly cannot do that for kids. So, I will not, as the author of this post suggests at the end, CELEBRATE tests. I will instead celebrate the teachers who know that numbers can lie, who know that kids cannot be so easily measured (and so easily dismissed, I think).

The final myth here, that standardization is bad, sets up yet another straw man argument. I do love how many scarecrows are being born out of he discussion these days. I am a huge Ray Bolger fan, and so I tend to laugh at these argument though I suspect there are some professors of logic who are going bald from tearing out their hair over the faulty logic being used. STANDARDS are not the same as EXPECTATIONS. I have expectations for the kids in my classes, even now that I work with graduate students. There has somehow been an insinuation that, without standards, kids are not learning at all. Standards are apparently the miracle cure if you listen to those proponents. I see standards in a different light. Since these standards were written in isolation and from the top down and then handed as a fait accompli to teachers, they are worse than useless; they are dangerous. They fail to address developmental issues. Instead of broad statements, they are rather narrow in what is considered essential.

I was interviewed yesterday by a reporter from AARP (an organization of which I am a card carrying member) who was asking about high school reading lists from long ago versus today. Of course, CCSS entered into the discussion we had. With the "exemplar" texts, there is an even further narrowing of lists, canons if you will. I know the argument: these are simply some examples. Teachers are welcome to utilize other texts. Those texts, though, have to meet standards, too. How can teachers, already busy dealing with new curriculum and assessments be expected to go beyond what is provided? How many hours can these frazzled folks put in trying to add materials that speak to kids today? The answer is that many teachers are putting in all the time they can find to ensure that kids are more than a number and that a book's number does not limit is audience or its use in a classroom. To them, I say HUZZAH! And EXCELSIOR! And SpeakLoudly!
Tags: ccss, myths, testing
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