Monday, October 26, 2015

too much testing? Let's get real.

President Obama and the Department of Education have finally admitted that schools and the Federal Government got carried away with standardized testing. Obama said, "Learning is about so much more than just filling in the right bubble." He called for capping the time devoted to standardized testing at 2 percent of classroom time and recognized that the Federal Government had been a contributing factor in a big mistake. Democrats and Republicans have been at odds over many things, but joined at the hip when it came to pushing the standardized tests.

Cutting back on the standardized testing juggernaut is a step in the right direction, but may I remind you that when students are doing real things, no means of abstract testing is required to measure their success.

Every school district has reading specialists to coach children to become better readers and to coach teachers to be better at teaching that important subject.  We need coaches and specialists to help teachers develop strategies to engage children's hands in doing real things for which they can be authentically assessed. I hope this blog serves as a coaching tool. It is time to get students out of desks and classrooms off their butts. The hands are our best instruments to take a new lead in learning.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with assessment. Even before the days of standardized tests, teachers had means of determining whether or not students were progressing in reading and math. Teachers observed students in real time as they became capable problem solvers and learned to get along with each other. And so the great stupidity of modern educational policy is that teachers are no longer trusted as observers and assessors of growth except through 3rd party standardized tests.

If the movement to restore sanity to American education continues at an ever increasing pace, I may get to retire from writing this blog. This article about the Joyful, Illiterate Kindergarten Students in Finland may help to explain what I have in mind. When I visited the University of Helsinki for an educational conference in 2008, I visited the university wood shop where Kindergarten teachers working on their masters degrees were learning to teach wood working to their kids. That would be the right kind of education to launch in the US.

Yesterday and this morning I took photos of lots of tiny boxes, along with small objects to indicate scale to the viewer.

Make, fix, create, and encourage others to learn likewise.

1 comment:

  1. Doug,
    I'm sure you've made this connection, but it deserves to be pointed out that what the demise of handcraft and the rise of testing have in common is the futile modern effort to mechanize everything. Because what is standardized testing but a mechanical substitute for the very human and personal judgement of a teacher? Would love to read your thoughts about this underlying tendency.