The distribution of children's test scores along a "normal" curve has everything in the world to do with fairness (or a lack thereof). How "normal" is the distribution of test scores when we all know that it is largely determined by and is a measure of affluence, not academic achievement?
The truly seismic shift with NCLB is that such "normal" distributions run directly counter to the stated goal of NCLB: all children will reach the proficient or advanced level in the tested subjects by 2014. What I have not fully appreciated until today -- a major "a-ha moment" -- is that this is really, really, really not possible. I'd always seen the goal of 2014 as a misty-eyed attempt for the nation to become Lake Wobegon, where all the children are above average. In short, it was just plain stupid and criminally naive to say that all kids could reach the proficient or advanced level, including kids with IEP's for whom it had already been determined that grade level proficiency ain't gonna happen ever. That's why they have IEP's - to recognize and compensate for the fact that they are not at grade level. Hello!
But, with this newest insight, I see that 2014 is not only stupid and criminally naive, it just plain won't ever happen because the very thing that is used to determine whether or not kids are at grade level -- the standardized test -- has built within it at its very core a mechanism that will always produce advanced, proficient, and not proficient students. Not sometimes produce. Always produce.
How unclothed does the Emperor have to be before we call him naked?
"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972
Sunday, May 21, 2006
2014 Cannot Happen
at 9:58 PM
Peter Campbell is an educator, academic technologist, and parent. He holds a BA from Princeton University and an MA from New York University. He has been involved directly or indirectly in education for more than 25 years. He currently works for Blackboard, Inc. as a Regional Sales Manager in the Collaborate division. Before joining Blackboard, Peter served as the Lead Instructional Designer and the Director of Academic Technology at Montclair State University in New Jersey. Immediately prior to his job at Montclair, Peter served as the Product Manager for an educational start-up (Learn Technologies Interactive). In this role, he oversaw the design and development of a K-12 learning management system, e-learn.com. His passion for education was forged back in 1987. He began teaching for The Princeton Review, then moved to Tokyo and taught English at a Japanese high school for two years. He later moved to New York City, where he worked as an adjunct in the speech department at Manhattan Community College. He went on to teach writing at the U of Missouri in 1995, and it was there that his interest in educational technology was born. Views expressed here are solely those of Peter.