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

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The end of standardized testing, or the beginning of testing every day?

Sent to the Detroit News, May 18, 2016
(MAJOR HAT TIP to Emily Talmage. San Diego: If it sounds too good to be true. https://emilytalmage.com/2016/05/07/san-diego-if-it-sounds-to-good-to-be-true/

“The end of standardized testing" may give way to something much worse (Labor Voices, May 17). While Michigan is apparently cutting back on end-of-the-year tests, there are signs that it will institute what could be daily testing, known as competency-based education.

Competency-based education consists of module after module of programmed instruction that students work through online and be tested on, which will drastically diminish the role of teachers and increase profits of technology companies.  The new education law announced grants for the development of these teach and test machines (sections 1201 and 1204).

The Michigan Department of Education website reads like an advertisement, and cheerfully tells us that "Competency-Based Education can help all students through flexible systems that support student success and allow for reporting of student competency that reflects student learning." In addition, Matchbook Learning, a school "turnaround" organization that is very active in several "low achieving schools" in Michigan relies heavily on Competency-Based Education. 

Neither the Michigan DOE nor Matchbook seem to be aware that that there is no hard research support for this expensive investment. A document written for Michigan's superintendents notes that "… there is currently no academic research demonstrating the effectiveness of K-12 competency-based education."   We have wasted billions of dollars and huge amounts of time on useless tests. Competency-based education might be an even bigger mistake. 

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus
University of Southern California

Original article: http://www.detroitnews.com/story/opinion/2016/05/17/standardized-tests-change/84524666/

Michigan Dept of Education website: http://www.michigan.gov/mde/0,4615,7-140-28753_65803-322532--,00.html
Competency-based Education: An overview for Michigan's superintendents.  The General Education Leadership Network of the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators
Matchbook Learning: matchbooklearning.com
More information about competency-based education:
McDermott, M. 2015a. Reading between The Lines: Obama’s “Testing Action Plan”  http://educationalchemy.com/2015/10/25/reading-between-the-lines-obamas-testing-action-plan/
McDermott, M. 2015b. Common core and corporate colonization: the big picture. http://educationalchemy.com/2015/10/30/common-core-and-corporate-colonization-the-big-picture/
Robertson, P. 2015a. U.S. Dept. of Ed. and Educational Warfare. http://www.pegwithpen.com/2015/10/us-dept-of-ed-and-educational-warfare.html
Robertson, P. 2015b. Opt out revolution: the next wave. http://www.pegwithpen.com/2015/10/opt-out-revolution-next-wave.html
Talmage, E. 2015a. Dear Mark. http://emilytalmage.com/2015/11/14/dear-mark/
Talmage, E. 2015b. What is proficiency-based learning? http://emilytalmage.com/2015/04/26/save-maine-schools/
Talmage, E. 2016.  San Diego: If it sounds too good to be true. https://emilytalmage.com/2016/05/07/san-diego-if-it-sounds-to-good-to-be-true/


  1. Two very belated comments. 1) Yes there is proof that programmed instruction outperforms lecture instruction. Please see the 1975 study linked at the end of this comment. And 2) Programmed instruction doesn't necessarily eliminate teachers, since there are two kinds, teacher-directed and self-directed. In fact the study linked below shows significantly improved test results using teacher-directed programmed instruction. (Programmed Instruction vs. Conventional Instruction) http://www.wallace-venable.name/EngineeringEducationatWVU/pln-ven/pi-v-lec/pi-v-lec.htm

    1. Well, this single piece of research from 40 years ago in a higher ed setting doesn't tell us much about the value of the lucrative, dangerous scams that are being shoved onto schools and parents. Got anything more current? Got any research that involves random assignment of participants, rather than allowing for self-selection based on preference? Really.