Earlier today I wrote a comment to a post by Diane Ravtich that read:
I think the opt out movement needs to focus on developing viable alternatives to standardized testing. Otherwise they will be characterized as “anti-accountabilty”. And they COULD use the CCSS and “big data” to help them.
The post included a link to one of my posts from earlier today, and my post, in turn, elicited this comment from Dwayne Swicker:
“And they COULD use the CCSS and “big data” to help them”
Please explain how.
This gave me a chance to reduce some of my recent thinking to writing… and reminded me that I really need to spend some time in the coming weeks getting my thoughts on technology applications down on paper. Here’s what I wrote in reply to Mr Swicker’s query:
If we want public school diplomas in ALL districts in ALL states to serve as proof that students mastered skills we agree are essential, we need something like the CCSS… otherwise kids in TX will believe dinosaurs and men lived on earth at the same time and kids in some districts or some states will get a diploma that is worthless… We COULD use the existing CCSS— which, “reformers” protests notwithstanding is a de facto national curriculum— as a framework for teachers to build on to develop an organic “wiki-curriculum” that would be the basis for defining what EDUCATORS expect students to know and be able to do in order to earn a diploma.
The possible uses of “big data” require more space than is available here (and more knowledge of algorithms than I possess)… but if Pandora can identify with fairly eerie consistency what kind of music I like I think it is possible that some kind of learning program could be designed to format lessons in a fashion that match the learning styles of individual students… We’ve unwittingly made a deal to trade our personal preferences in order to gain access to the “free” internet and those preferences result in marketers developing personal profiles on each of us who take advantage of the resource… This kind of “profiling” could be used to help us engage students.
I believe we’re missing the boat on curriculum development and technology applications. We’re using the CCSS and technology to prepare kids for standardized tests that reinforce the early 20th century model for schooling that batches and compares students in age-based cohorts. We COULD be using those same tools to individualize instruction to ensure that each student given sufficient time can meet the expectations educators set so that when they leave school they can find their way in the world. We have the capacity to have time be a variable and learning be the constant instead of the other way around.
At some point I’ll elaborate more on the these topics.
Tom Friedman, who is an unapologetic and unequivocal supporter of “school reform” wrote a column today about the skills Google seeks in its applicants…. and there appears to be NO connection between what Google wants and what schools are currently measuring. Friedman writes that “Google (has) determined that “G.P.A.’s are worthless…(and) the “proportion of people without any college education at Google has increased over time”. Google, instead, looks for five attributes
- General cognitive ability, which ISN’T IQ… it’s learning ability
- Leadership, by which Google means knowing when to step up and when to step back
- Intellectual humility and ownership, which is the willingness to provide a solution but accept another’s if it’s better than yours
- Coding skills
- Expertise, which is least important since most people who possess the first four skills can gain expertise over time
All of this led me to write this comment:
So, Mr. Friedman… if degrees are not a “proxy for ability” and the world values “soft skills”… why on earth are you and your friends in the advocating high stakes tests that measure ”college readiness” as a proxy for quality schooling? If we REALLY want to prepare students for the future, instead of spending billions on tests and content standards we should be finding ways to foster “leadership, humility, collaboration, adaptability, and loving to learn and re-learn” in our students.
Stated in education policy terms, how does the common core deal with any of these desirable qualities? How does traditional schooling deal with them? How do the traditional credentials we issue in education relate to them? And the lsat question: Why are we using early 20th century models to prepare for a 21st century workplace?
I was interested and enthusiastic because ANY steps toward providing more bandwidth and technology tools to economically deprived students can only be hailed as good news…
I was dismayed because $750,000,000, while a lot of money, won’t begin to scratch the surface of what is needed in schools let alone what is needed in neighborhoods… As noted in earlier posts, providing schools with bandwidth is only helpful if the infrastructure in the school can take full advantage of the ocean of data that streams through…
What adds to my dismay is my skepticism regarding the “donations” from the corporations. I trust that someone who is equally skeptical and who tracks technology products will assess the efficacy of the “donations”… but something tells me that the I-pads that are donated with either be loaded with Pearson software that will require some additional costs OR they will be I-pad 2s which are unmarketable and will soon be unsupported. In my career I’ve witnessed both kinds of “gifts” from corporations— gifts that were announced with great fanfare by Governors in the states where I worked and gifts that few if any school districts accepted given the strings attached or the quality of the products. I hope I’m wrong about this… but my experience with technology gifts leads me to believe otherwise. Stay tuned….