Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

More Assessment of Assessment

Pardon me for being completely unmoved by the studies that constitute the alleged "National Assessment of Educational Progress" described below by Joe. I’m just too prejudiced against national assessment and national reports cards and tests of this sort proving anything at all. If the immigration civic education trigger has any kind of bureaucratic component, I’m completely against it. Consider what will happen to nationalized assessment when Hillary becomes president; it’ll be civic engagement run amok. (As soon as I develop a stable opinion on what to do about illegal immigration, I will be sure to express it. But back in the good old days of assimilation through hard work without a safety net, insensitive public education, and intrusive political parties the federal educational/assessment bureaucracy was inconspicuous by its absence.) (I’m posting this as a new entry rather than as a comment because I can’t get the site to accept a comment right now.)

Discussions - 4 Comments

Yes, they are standardized tests, and, yes, in the end, they prove very little beyond the fact that, by their own standards, public schools don't seem to be doing a very good job.

I'd be interested to know from those who work in the field whether there's any effort to "teach to the test" in this case. Are scores broken out by school or by district? Do teachers know what their students are to be tested on?

My larger point is that the kind of voucher system typically defended by proponents surely wouldn't be any worse, and would likely be better, than what we now have in the public schools.

And under Hillary, Howard Zinn will become the secretary of education.

Yes, of course they teach to the test! Their budgets and prestige are on the line.

All that's needed are simple math, reading, writing, and history exams...the more general the better. Can the potential graduate read and write? Can they solve basic math problems? Do they know when the country was founded, and by whom? Such exams are NEEDED, and the more general they are the less they can be "taught to."

I am told by teachers; fellow students in the Ashbrook Center's Master's program as well as the high school teachers of my children (some of whom did go to school for awhile) and a few teachers who were fellow Little League parents sitting in the bleachers, (complaining at the home school mom,) that there are strict guidelines set up by the schools and school districts, to address the test - to teach to the tests. It is a silly system, even if formed by "experts" and obviously does only a very few students any good.

In the comment
presented by a teacher under Joe's post, the complaint is that if students are strong readers, they will pass the tests. If that is so, perhaps the educational stress ought to be on how to teach children how to read effectively. To me this is a matter of not giving the fish, but teaching to fish. Teach children not only facts, but stress how to read those facts and how to assess them and maybe then you have given students something useful. My home schooled kids used to pass standardized tests required by the state with the best scores, but much of my teaching was in making sure they had understood what they were reading. I made them talk to me - we never took tests beyond my oral examinations and those annually required by the state. Facts related to ideas, which made them interesting. (Except when I wandered into stories, which I couldn't help as they made the facts and ideas more interesting to me.) These were all basic, essential facts and concepts - what, yes, the standardized tests ought to be, and which I assumed to be important.

You can do that in high schools, or I did in the little private schools where I taught. The textbooks are all well and good, but get kids arguing about the correct balance of power between the branches of government or how individual rights fit with the rule of law, or how Indians and settlers saw land differently, and they'll dig for the facts in the textbooks and elsewhere to prove their points.

But honestly, public schools ought to be teaching civics, or what is the use of them?

Joe, the main complaint of public school teachers against a vouchered school system is that they, the public schools, will be left with those students who do not care, or worse, those whose parents don't care, and that would be horrible. Well, horrible for the teachers, but not for those students in the other schools full of kids whose parents do care, and who wish for an education so much that they will go looking for one.

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