"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

A seat at the table or a piece of the pie?

The feds have spelled out their plans in detail, in their technology report, in the Blueprint, and in Duncan's speeches. It is a top-down, purely data-driven system with more testing than ever seen in history, with all tests, interim, summative, and maybe even pre-tests in the fall, closely linked to national standards. If the LEARN Act is ever part of this, we will also have a skills + test approach to everything in language arts, K-12. That's what in the documents.

In response, the professional organizations are eagerly supporting this brutal approach, or saying nothing. When challenged, they say they want a "seat at the table," which I suspect also means "a piece of the pie."

Instead of leading the way in education, they are doing what they can to allow the ignorant and uninformed to prescribe educational practice.

Don't take my word for it. Read the documents. A few samples:

1. Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology (http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010)

Discussion of ongoing assessment during the school day, an unprecedented amount of control, even keeping track of how much time students take to solve parts of a problem:

"Learning science and technology combined with assessment theory can provide a foundation for new and better ways to assess students in the course of learning (xvii)"

There will be "technologies to “instrument” the classroom in an attempt to find out what students are thinking" while doing projects ("Assessing in the classroom" pp. 29-30)

"As students work, the system can capture their inputs and collect evidence of their problem-solving sequences, knowledge, and strategy use, as reflected by the information each student selects or inputs, the number of attempts the student makes, the number of hints and type of feedback given, and the time allocation across parts of the problem."

(pages 29-30: "Assessing during online learning")

2. The Blueprint A Blueprint for Reform

The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

United States Department of Education March 2010

"States may also use funds to develop or implement high-quality, rigorous statewide assessments in other academic or career and technical subjects, high school course assessments, English language proficiency assessments, and interim or formative assessments." (page 11)

3. September 9, 2010. Beyond the Bubble Tests: The Next Generation of Assessments -- Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks to State Leaders at Achieve's American Diploma Project Leadership Team Meeting: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/beyond-bubble-tests-next-generation-assessments-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-state-l.

"For the first time, teachers will consistently have timely, high-quality formative assessments that are instructionally useful and document student growth—rather than just relying on after-the-fact, year-end tests used for accountability purposes."

"Not enough is being done to assess students' thinking as they learn to boost and enrich learning, and track student growth."

The new tests will provide "multiple opportunities throughout the school year to assess student learning."

4. Various coalitions are developing tests to be given several times during the academic year: States work together to create new academic tests By DONNA GORDON BLANKINSHIP (AP) – June 23, 2010

5. The secretary has firmly supported the use of value-added testing, as was done in LAUSD and reported in the LA Times: Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks at the Statehouse Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas

August 25, 2010


1 comment:

  1. What I don't understand is why the teaching and learning narrative is being written by politicians, journalists, and the testing-industrial complex.

    I was talking to Zalman Usiskin this past weekend and he said something to me that I found very profound. He said that as a university teacher educator I had more freedom than a k-12 teacher. In fact, he wasn't sure why anyone wanted to be a k-12 teacher under current conditions.

    What I took from this interchange was that I needed to do more to stick my neck out and provide cover for my k-12 colleagues. Here's what I propose - we at the university level need to partner with k-12 districts to identify learning objectives appropriate/necessary/desired for their schools and then help in developing reliable and valid assessment measures that will monitor learners' progress to these objectives.

    When results from standardized tests come out, we need to: (1) acknowledge their existence; (2) explain when they are being used inappropriately in the narrative; and (3) offer our alternative data that shows district progress. What do you all think?