Deborah Meier, writing on Education Week’s blog, Bridging Differences takes a bigger look at testing from a teacher’s perspective, with school reform on her mind. But the assessment of testing is worth the read. A few excerpts:
When Is Achievement Really an Achievement? – By Deborah Meier
If only everyone stopped using the word “achievement” as a synonym for scores on tests. It’s a sleight of hand that justifies so much that’s gone wrong. We’ve meanwhile discounted the work of real live children as “soft” data.
We school teachers… invent formulas to help students score well, e.g., selecting “the main idea” or the “best title” for a short reading passage. (Although, no actual publishing house would ever use the “right” titles.) In consequence we agree to direct students to the learning of “test-like” tricks–the higher the stakes the more we conform.
As a teacher, I was intrigued by the outliers–scores that seemed surprisingly high or low for particular students. I could learn something useful by going over the test with such students. But I couldn’t catch an outlier if I didn’t already know the students.
When my 3rd grade son’s teacher told me he needed a remedial reading class, I knew she needed a remedial teaching class. She had never once read with him. He was a sophisticated fluent reader, who had his own odd theories about how best to answer tests.
Meier’s passion is for schools, so she asks:
How can we use schools as places where teachers, parents, and kids engage in serious intellectual challenges, respectful of their own histories and inclinations, buttressed by the vast knowledge and know-how of many others, past and present? Plus, the confidence, perseverance and curiosity to push beyond their boundaries.
While the institution continues to debate this answer, homeschooling families figured out their answers and have been putting them in practice for decades.
Read the whole article here.