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Reforming Education

September 8, 2011

So, I was “Googling” around searching for good education articles to post when I came across this article on Forbes.  The blurb below is part of an article titled: “The Single Best Idea for Reforming K-12 Education: Part 2.  The author describes what is bothering her in education today, read it and see if you don’t totally agree!

As an elementary school teacher, one of the most frustrating aspects of the last ten years of educational policy for me has been riding through the negative consequences of the factory model of education: the switch of focus from people to scores (with accompanying specious rhetoric that ‘it’s all about the children’), the narrowed and over-standardized curriculum which claims to make instructional decisions for me but does it badly, and extensive, time-consuming documentation of my implementation of others’ ideas of what’s best for my students. (Not to mention time-consuming, mandatory “data analysis” of standardized test scores and standardized practice-test scores, district-mandated spreadsheets which tell me more or less the same thing that seeing and listening to the students’ daily work tells me!)

But the most frustrating aspect of the last ten years of education policy has been reading and listening to business leaders and economists who have succeeded in leading the American public to redefine “achievement” as “test scores” and who have convinced our superintendents and administrators that the way to said “achievement” is through scripted, test-targeted curriculum and learning materials. They say this bald-faced, ignoring or not hearing the many teachers who protest that chasing test scores is not the same as building and nurturing a culture of learning, and that generating test scores is only one kind of achievement. The desire to quantify our work has led our leaders straight to the effect you mention in your article, where the quantifier becomes all and distortion of the actual work is the result. [spschoolmarm]

Having been at 2 different elementary schools over the past 3 years as both a special education teacher (which I am now) and as a general education teacher (which I was last year) I can tell you that [spschoomarm’s] argument holds water with me.  Our students are reduced to numbers plain and simple.  I have had the good fortune to work with my two latest principals who both do really care about each student, but…and this is a big but…they care about the test scores more than anything else.

Test scores are driven from the top and they funnel all the way down to teachers.  That we measure a student solely by standardized test scores is anathema to all that good inquiry based teaching stands for.  Why won’t those in the halls of Congress listen to the thousands of teachers who continually voice their frustration over this matter?  If you have any ideas, let me know.

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