Saturday, March 22, 2014

Destroying Our Schools in Order to Save Them

Anyone who has children in public schools knows the increasing reliance on standardized testing and "Big Data" to set education policies is driving away skilled teachers, turning our classrooms into education factories, and killing public education (which I suspect is the real goal of these policies).

The other day I raised the issue of changing one's mind based on evidence, and how rarely that seems to happen. Well, education researcher and activist Diane Ravitch is someone who managed that trick when faced with overwhelming evidence that the "Education Reform Movement" she used to advocate for has been a spectacular failure and is undermining public education in the United States, to the immense profit of a select few.

In a post today on her blog, Ravitch quotes an article examining the effects of testing-mania on a school district in Lafayette, Louisiana (Louisiana being ground-zero for school reform post-Katrina):
Bureaucracy created by the current data-driven accountability system is a major source of teachers’ frustrations. The state and districts are consumed by a school letter grade, the formula for which constantly changes under State Superintendent John White and BESE. For example, high schools are now judged on the ACT scores of all students, regardless of whether or not they are going to attend college. We now require students to take not only the ACT but also the “Practice ACT” plus hours of ACT test prep. This numbers game does little to help struggling students academically or emotionally. It is yet another mandate that allows adults sitting in offices to say they are helping “the kids” and holding schools accountable, while Johnny still can’t comprehend what he’s reading. This year in Lafayette, a typical sophomore will take 25 district and state standardized tests, consuming 25 percent of the school calendar for the sake of “data.”
In elementary schools in our school district in North Carolina, all 3rd graders have standardized assessments three times every week as part of the newly-implemented "Read to Achieve" program.  These assessments reduce time available for actual instruction, place an additional (and significant) paperwork burden on teachers, and take the ability to evaluate student progress away from the people who actually interact with students on a daily basis. And this doesn't even include the End of Grade Tests and other standardized assessments that were already in place.

Ravitch's blog is a good place to start reading about the "Education Reform Movement" being foisted on our public schools, the interests behind that "reform," and the real-world effects of these policies.

No comments:

Post a Comment