professornana (professornana) wrote,

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On the outside looking in

Here is a telling quote from an article yesterday about the OPT OUT movement, one that seeks to end the vicious cycle of testing and teaching to the test. The article is here:

“If a test is done right . . . there is no more efficient, less expensive, no simpler way to get a snapshot of whether students are effectively learning,” said Sandy Kress, a Texas lawyer and former Bush aide who has been working on school accountability issues for 25 years and helped write No Child Left Behind.

“It should be a tool to understand where students are, where achievement gaps exist, provide diagnostic information to teachers and parents,” said Kress, who lobbies on behalf of Pearson, the education publisher that writes K-12 tests. “It’s one, objective piece of data that can push and assure quality.”

This is just on example of the conflict of interest in education. Folks with ties to testing companies and textbook companies are lobbying for more tests and new texts and all manner of things that draw funding away from students and teachers and classrooms.

Read the article and you will find this paragraph almost at the end:

"In attaching consequences to standardized exams, policymakers adopted ideas from the corporate world, where success is rewarded and failure is punished. The theory was that students would have incentives to learn, educators would be motivated to teach and academic achievement would improve."

Yep, a corporate model. But is it really true in the corporate world that success is rewarded and failure is punished? Not always, I think. Sometimes luck, fortune, fate, whatever plays a role. Sometimes failure is rewarded (remember the bail out, too big to fail?). Why, then, the need to use failed corporate policies? Largely, it is because the roots of the reform movement are from OUTSIDE education. Folks building these grand new programs are from the corporate world. Most have spent little time in a classroom. And that is why the curriculum is developmentally inappropriate, poorly written, and now will be assessed by even poorer measurements if PARCC is to set the example.

I will say again, kids are not PRODUCTS. They are delightfully idiosyncratic humans who have the potential to be and to become anything. However, in the hands of the corporate world, they are deemed little more than raw materials to be molded and pressed (pressed down more likely) and spit out into a world where they will not be valued for their independence and their thoughtfulness but rather for their ability to fit pegs into holes. Is it any wonder why there are so many dystopic novels?

Many kids are taking tests this week. Scores will be published; schools will be ranked; teachers will be pink slipped. And you know what is lost in all this? The CHILD.
Tags: testing
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