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

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Competency-Based, Proficiency-Based, Personalized Bullshit

Neil Postman delivered an address at the 1969 NCTE Conference entitled "Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection." He advocated for an education that prepared citizens with keen "crap-detectors," or the ability to discern the bogus from the legitimate, the inane from the meaningful, the delusional from the real.

Heidi Sampson is one of those individuals who obviously was educated by parents and teachers who believed as Postman believed; she has a keen crap-detector, and she is using it for good purposes.  Here's an excerpt from a 2015 letter on her experiences detecting some awful crap being sold as education solutions--I hope you will read the entire letter:
Maine’s Education and Cultural Affair Committee commissioned a 2 year study to be conducted on this issue.  David Silvernail and the USM Center for Education Policy, Applied Research, and Evaluation posted their work April 30, 2014 titled Implementation of a Proficiency-Based Diploma System: Early Experiences in Maine. Although this work was funded by the Nellie Mae Foundation, which strongly advocated for proficiency based education this report is not a glowing report. There evidence of success is lacking:  “After an extensive review of the literature, it became evident that, while there are many conceptual pieces describing what a standards-based or proficiency-based education system should look like, there are few existing conceptual models that envelop all of the requisite elements for successful implementation. Furthermore, there is limited empirical evidence of the effectiveness of these systems, which has resulted in school districts having little historical information and no clear evidence to guide them in developing the new diploma systems.” (pgs. 16-17).

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