Factory-Model Schooling One of the ways in which we think about teaching and learning is to ask what do we want our students to learn. Although this is a great question, the answers that teachers and schools choose often lead … Continued
Poverty in Education I have been writing recently about the cost of poverty to children’s learning. How can we expect schools to do their best when more than half of the students who attend these schools are on free and … Continued
George Land’s Creativity Test Most people understand the need for children to play and create. However, by adulthood, creativity can be seen as a lonely activity for artists. Few of us may realize how central the idea of creativity is … Continued
Teachers are begging for new ways to engage students in American classrooms. Each year brings a fresh set of student eyes, an additional set of learning needs, and a call for new teaching strategies. The diversity of learning styles displayed … Continued
One of the great gifts of standardized testing was the premise of giving the same questions to many students would allow for a more reliable measure of student achievement. This reliability is gained through standardization of the test, while validity is gained by the relevance of the questions to the stated purpose of the test. In the 1920s, college admission officers leaped on this bandwagon in order to compare students from New Hampshire and Ohio, and thus was born our accountability system tied to test scores.
However, there are some problems with this logic. What if the students had not been prepared in the same way? What if there were cultural reasons why answers might differ across state lines? What if smart teachers or test-coaching companies could study the test and provide useful insight? And what if test companies manipulated the pass/fail line, commonly called the cut score, for political reasons? In a recent article in Education Next, Michael J. Petrilli discusses the illusion of proficiency and the resulting gap in honesty:
The education reform I envision is based on more accurate assessment of student learning. We have to look at the evidence for student failure under previous reforms, including the current standards/accountability reforms that ask for ever more intense standardized testing. The reforms of the last twenty years depend on the use of standardized testing to hold states, schools, teachers and children accountable. On the surface of this reform, standardized testing sounds like the most efficient way to measure student learning and hold the system accountable for its effectiveness. But instead of accountability, it has produced failure. More students are failing. More teachers feel like failures. More schools are failing larger numbers of students.