Monday, December 12, 2011

Things That Have Me Thinking This Week...December 12, 2011

Here are the most thought-provoking articles and blog posts that I came across in the last week.   There are a couple of great insights into education reform in our country and how it seems we are headed down the wrong path.  In addition, there is a blog post by a BHS student on why we should be looking at a later start time for high schools.


Why Are the Rich So Interested In Public-School Reform? - By Judith Warner in Time

Despite all of our efforts to use standardized tests to improve our schools and better prepare our students, Warner makes the point that all of the time and money put into testing has done little to address the problems inherent in schools where a predominant number of students come from poverty.
It will be interesting to see when "education reformers" realize that making better tests is not the answer. Just because they were great test-takers does not mean that creating a generation of better test-takers will turn around our schools.

Or as Warner puts it -
"The chief promise of their brand of reform — the results of which have been mixed, at best — seems to be that they can remake America’s students in their own high-achieving image. By evaluating all students according to the same sort of testable rubrics that, when aced, propelled the reformers into the Ivy League and beyond, society’s winners seem to believe they can inspire and guide society’s losers, inoculating them against failure with their own habits of success, and forever disproving the depressingly fatalistic ’70s-style liberal idea that things like poverty and poor health care and hunger and a chaotic family life can, indeed, condemn children to school failure."
When Test Scores Become A Commodity - John Keiller in Education Week

This great commentary by John Keiller, a National Board Certified Teacher from Maryland, highlights where our public education system could be headed with its narrow focus on standardized tests as a measure to gauge teacher effectiveness.  Here are a few lines that give a good sense of where Keiller is coming from:
"It is a system that turns student scores into a market and, as such, creates cheating, disreputable practices, and dislocations...Like dishonest or corrupt traders, the educators are not the victims, but rather sophisticated, savvy players. Many will get away with it and be honored for their work, as some cheating administrators and teachers were before they were caught. And many teachers and administrators who don’t technically cheat, but find ways to game the market “legally” will also be duly honored. Where could this lead? Schools could become little more than test-preparation institutes, ignoring subjects and skills that are not assessed, with faculty members who resent and distrust one another."
The Necessity of a Later School Start Time - By BHS Junior Matt Swanson

First of all, the stuff that comes from BHS students usually makes me think a great deal. This great post by BHS junior Matt Swanson is just one more example as he makes a case for a later start time for our high school.  Matt did his homework on this one, citing a number of studies that discuss the negative impact that a lack of sleep has on teenagers.  Here's to hoping that we can make some movement in this issue at BHS and improve both the health and learning outcomes for our students.

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1 comment:

  1. Very interesting thoughts on standardized testing. I was very inspired watching a video on Campbell's Law: a social science law that when quantitative measures are used for social decision making, the more apt it will be to corrupt and distort that which it is in place to monitor. The crux being that our dependece on standardized test as a measure is prone to teaching to the test. Take a look at the five minute video on Campbell's Law. Something that educators and decision makers need to consider.