This is a great, reflective post from a university professor on how high stakes testing continues to damage students, our educational systems, and student capacities to effectively write at “college level.” The last two paragraphs summarize:
First, college professors like myself should realize that their teaching is being changed for the worse by standardized testing. The brains in our classrooms are shaped by the SOLs [mandated standards & testing] just as much as they are shaped by Google, and we have to clean up the mess. Many more students come in unprepared for writing at a college level, but also unprepared to focus and apply their own interests to a topic. Naturally, I believe the best place to realize their interests and gain that preparation is a small liberal arts college, where people like me have a passion for teaching as well as the time and support to focus on a lower number of students, and follow them for 3-4 years.
Second, I would remind those educational “conservatives” like those at the Fordham Institute who championed Core Knowledge when E.D. Hirsch was derided for his traditionalism, and now rise to the defense of the research paper that I appreciate that your right hand is fighting hard to preserve valuable aspects of the “industrial model” of education: broad factual knowledge, rigorous arguments based on legitimate scholarly authorities. Unfortunately, you don’t realize that the true enemy of these cherished elements of education is … your left hand, which is pursuing awful test-based accountability. The research paper was in hiding and on life support long before Cathy Davidson came along, and it was not driven mortally wounded from K-12 education by blog cheerleaders like Heffernan and Davidson, but by the very Reformy Idols that you celebrate.
We must end the widespread, damaging policies of high stakes testing in K12 education and restore both respect and autonomy to the educational profession. This does not mean a simple return to the pre-NCLB status quo, however, we DO need systemic changes in the ways we educate our society. High stakes testing should not and must not, however, continue as the principal instrument of curricular change. We have suffered long enough, and our students continue to pay the price. The madness must end now.
– Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone
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