Posts Tagged ‘Measurement’

Much to My Surprise, McKinsey Gets It Right on School Reform

September 16, 2020 Leave a comment

Like many who decry the neoliberal “run government like a business” ethos, I tend to be skeptical of anything that comes from McKinsey Consultants. But apart from some of the examples they use to illustrate their points (the one praising KIPP is especially egregious), a slight tilt toward technology-as-the-ultimatesolution, and the implication that school is about career prep, the recommendations in this article mirror those I would make. They strongly advocate mastery learning, using a more wholistic approach to teaching, abandoning the factory school model, and– most importantly—- acknowledge and call out the need for more funding:

Achieving Sustainable Development Goal number four—to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all—will require a significant increase in investment for the students most at risk of falling behind.

Mastery learning, blowing up the factory model, redefining the roles and responsibilities of teachers, and providing more equitable funding! Sounds like a good formula for reform to me… FAR better than the test-and-punish model that currently has bipartisan support. Despite the problems cited above, this might be a direction both parties could support going forward.

Steven Singer Points to POTUS’ Testing Hypocrisy: COVID Testing for All is Bad but Standardized Testing for Kids is Good

September 9, 2020 1 comment

In a Common Dreams essay “Why Does Trump Hate COVID Testing But Love Standardized Testing” Steven Singer, an advocate for abandoning standardized testing in public education altogether, points out the blatant hypocrisy of the Trump administration. On the one hand, they don’t want to have widespread COVID tasing because it will make them “look bad” but on the other they want to ensure that the standardized tests are administered to schools because… well… it will make them look bad.

But like me in a blog post a few days ago, Mr. Singer excoriates the House Education Chair and highest ranking member of the Senate Education Committee for supporting the Trump administration:

And shame on Democrats like Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) who praised DeVos’s testing pronouncement.

Scott, who serves as chair of the House Education and Labor Committee, said in a statement:

There is no question that the COVID-19 pandemic is having severe consequences for students’ growth and achievement, particularly for our most vulnerable students. We cannot begin to address these consequences, unless we fully understand them.

Um, we do understand them, Congressman. You don’t need a multiple choice assessment to see who is failing or why. It’s due to targeted disinvestment of the poor and children of color.

Murray, the highest ranking Democrat on the Senate education committee, said: 

Especially when it comes to the disparities that harm so many students of color, students with disabilities and students whose families have low incomes, we’ve got to have data that shows us where we’re falling short so we can better support those students.

How does a single test score from a corporation like Pearson show you more than a year’s worth of academic assessments from a school?

Bipartisanship should not be the litmus test for education legislation… sanity and clear thinking should be… and when it is, the era of test-and-punish will perish. 

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When the Going is Tough, Testing is More Important Than Safety

September 4, 2020 Comments off

It is sad but predictable that Betsy DeVos is mandating the continuation of the standardized tests that she suspended last Spring when the pandemic caused schools across the country to close. Sad because she has not advocated for spending a single dollar to help schools reopen nor has she expressed any empathy for the parents who are placed in the position of having to choose whether to send their child to a school that may not be a safe environment because the government is unwilling to pay the costs to make them so. Nor has she acknowledged the peril of the teachers who are also concerned about the health risks posed by the pandemic.

What is even more sad is the reaction of many Democratic congressmen and senators who are unequivocally supporting Ms. DeVos. While the basis for their positions are high-minded based on their albeit misguided belief that tests are the best way to “measure” learning and track the effectiveness of schools and students, by decoupling the administration of tests from the provision of the funds needed to reopen schools they are yielding a potentially powerful bargaining chip in the second round of stimulus funding that is currently stuck in the Senate.

But there IS some potentially good news. If the tests continue in spite of the impact of the pandemic their credibility will be eroded even more and the link between funding and learning might be laid bare.