In the context of a conversation about 1:1 technology learning initiatives and school reform, the author of the Left Lane Ends blog asks:
So, where do we begin? …I am in full agreement… on the need for a dramatic changed [sic] in the process that entangles our education system. Yet I also believe that it is only through tried attempts, both good and bad, that we will ever come to realize our goal of reforming curriculum.
We begin, I think, by defining what we believe is high quality teaching and learning. And that, unfortunately, requires a major revolution today.
It is almost impossible for people (at least the Texans I mostly have contact with currently in 2006) to discuss education without assuming that we must have standardized measures of student performance. Many people cannot even conceive of the day (which was not too long ago actually) when students went to school, teachers taught, and everyone was not freaked out over statewide assessments and tests.
I am going to take this issue head on in my keynote at the TCEA CAMP-SIG meeting in Austin in two weeks on February 8th. The title of my presentation is “Cultivating Digital Literacy Through Blogging and Podcasting.” What I plan to start with is the HUGE contradiction that exists in the minds of many, but perhaps mostly our business community, in simultaneously advocating for a vehement focus on student test scores alongside calls for 21st century digital literacy skills for the workforce.
These ideas are congealing for me as I write more on my doctoral dissertation, which is focusing on the ways we define “success” in 1:1 laptop initiatives like TxTIP. For most people I think (legislators included), it is an article of faith that raising student academic performance as measured by standardized test scores should be the goal of any school reform initiative: those which involve technology or others.
I disagree. Raised test scores should be a byproduct of our primary focus, which should be cultivating learning environments rich in 21st century skill development. Our myopic state and now national level focus on test scores is producing student and teacher casualties all over the place, and is NOT creating the sort of public education system we need for our nation or I want for my own children. And isn’t the lens of viewing what we want for our own children the most basic and persuasive framework for analyzing education?
We need, as a body politic, to reconcile our goals of wanting student achievement to improve, and simultaneously wanting students to acquire digital literacy skills. I am not exactly sure why, but this is a major NO KIDDING fact that somehow seems to elude our state legislators in Texas. When legislators tell school districts, “Do everything you can to improve student test scores,” everything beings to roll downhill. Principals have a myopic focus on test scores, and they attempt (usually successfully) to force their teachers to have the same perspective in the classroom on a daily basis. This legislative formula, now embodied in our former governor and now President’s NCLB program does NOT naturally lead to the following educational outcomes:
- Students engaged in collaborative learning projects.
- School curricula and student assignments situated in meaningful and engaging contexts of problem-based learning.
- Students and teachers creatively tackling problems with out-of-the box thinking.
- Students developing a love of writing, a love of learning, and an intrinsic desire to keep “doing school” because it is so engaging, fun, and worthwhile.
I, for at least one, have absolutely HAD IT with policymakers who seem to have the attitude that they don’t really care about these negative educational outcomes, because all their own children and grandchildren are either in private schools (outside the punitive reach of the state education agency’s “cat ‘o nine tails” accountability system) or in home schools. In fact, I think for our upcoming elections, as voters we should know exactly where the students our federal and state legislative candidates go to school.
Toward this end, I have started an open wiki (http://texaseducation.wikispaces.com) others can contribute to also in finding answers to these questions.
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On this day..
- Educational Technology Updates for January 2018 - 2018
- App Smash: Google Slides to Explain Everything to YouTube - 2016
- Thanks to Donors Choose Supporters of Classroom Sphero Project - 2015
- A Saturday Filled with Media Creation and #playingwithmedia - 2012
- Audio Podcasts Online for Technology Leadership: PLNs, Vision & PD - 2011
- Screencasts about finding copyright friendly media and using VoiceThread - 2010
- Latest Facebook Situation in Nashville Highlights Need for Social Media Guidelines in Schools - 2010
- Google Docs is NOT "clunky old PC software" - 2010
- Creativity, Interruptions, Boundaries and Leadership - 2009
- Reflections on EduCon 2.1 via an EdTechTalk Webcast - 2009