Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Valedictorian Speaks Out

I love when she says "we have to learn this for the test" is not good enough.  It isn't, is it?  With standardized testing, we are teaching are kids how to fill in the bubbles - how does Prentice Hall (The maker of textbooks and the Minnesota test) think I should answer this?  We have to waste time teaching kids to think like test makers when they could be writing about their beliefs and standing up for them.


TeacherScribe said...

It's interesting that you posted this. I was just listening to a presentation that Michelle Rhee (school chancellor for Washington DC) gave at Duke.

She talked about one great teacher that she visited on the spur of the moment.

The teacher was giving a lesson on a story about a class that plays a magical flute and is transported back in time to ancient Greece. She had her students look up at the walls and see all the posters of the Greek gods. She then asked them which god they'd appeal to to help them travel back to the present.

As each student gave their response, Rhee was amazed at how each student expounded on their reasoning and how the teacher wove their answers into what they were studying. The teacher made the god of children, the god of music, and Zues all tie in. Rhee said that every answer was much better than her ever lame answer of the god of travel!

Rhee told the audience here was great learning and that every parent would like to have their child in this teacher's class. There was no wrong answers. The students were engaged. The students were challenged. They thought critically and were given time to support their ideas.

It seemed ironic to me that in the next few minutes Rhee launched into her love for high stakes standardized testing for her district.

I'd like to see her answer these question:

1. What would happen if those students didn't perform well on a test. But she went on record as saying it was excellent teaching. I'm not convinced excellent teaching ties into high stakes testing.

2. Do those high stakes tests have 'no wrong answers'? Do they allow for engagement and discussion?

EDK said...

Of course testing is important. We are tested in our lives every day. Not only for intelligence, but for reasoning ability, courage, fast thinking, physical abilities, and on and on.

Through this testing, our standing is determined - yes, on the job, but also as community members, marriage partners, friends, drivers. Well, you get it - everything is determined by testing, although not, perhaps, standardized tests.

Assorted versions of testing in school prepares us for life, but I still assert that the ability to THINK, to REASON, are the most important aspects of an education.

Yet, if you don't have the standard facts, the ability to read and comprehend, the building blocks of thought, as it were, how do you reason or think with any effectiveness?

From the standpoint of what is good for the child, both testing and learning are important. Both have merits.

From the standpoint of the educator, I think it would be fair to use both test scores and evaluations for determining job effectiveness.

Using one or the other would be something like a cartoon I saw recently. Two men were pictured, one large and muscular and one roly-poly. Both weighed the same. Judging by weight alone, they were equal. Yet one was fit and one was not.

Nothing can be determined truly unless all factors are considered.

ME said...

Thanks for the comments! :)