This is a phenomena that has puzzled me since the beginning of my foray into issues of education. Suppose we were to develop a high stakes music exam, actually, you don't have to suppose, high stakes music exams already exist and define music pedagogy. What you have to suppose is that instead of just giving these high stakes music exams to aspiring musicians we give them to every breathing student and demand that they pass. You have to suppose that, for whatever reason, we define education around one and only one purpose, to train musicians. If we define education solely around that purpose then it would make sense that we use the same exams that the schools of music have already successfully developed, evolved and used. When we test the students with these music exams, many fail. In fact, most fail. At first we blame the students for not working hard enough. Then we blame music pedagogy. We argue that the pedagogy was designed only for the 10% or so of the students that aspire to music and not the 90% that do not. When that fails we blame the teachers and when that fails we blame music itself. We blame the very exams that defined what it was that we were after in the first place.
This is insanity. The music is not at fault. The exams are not at fault. The teachers are not at fault. The pedagogy is not at fault. The fault lies entirely with the decision that the sole purpose of education is to teach music. Likewise, these high stakes exams are not the problem.
This board (if it really cared) would drop the doublespeak and gobbledygook and focus on two words. Career ready. They would then look at other countries and realize that those countries offer their children ALTERNATIVES. If a student dreams of being a nurse they start their dream in high school. If a student dreams of being a mechanic they start their dream in high school. They are not tortured with academic subjects like algebra and calculus until they don't even feel worthy of having a dream at all. And if a student dreams of being an engineer then they too start their dream in high school.
Our system of education has become infected with a horribly wrong notion about children, about aspiration and about dreams. I have found nothing like it in any other system on this planet. In, what I hope is our darkest educational moment, we stand alone. No other country treats their children this way. I don't know how this nastiness started but it spread unchecked and has infected every state in the union. And those states hide the travesty and suffering our children endure with lies and ridiculously low cutoff scores.
And now this board scribbles a meaningless treaty to lighten their conscience. This will not end that way. Your treaty is rejected. If you want this to end then you will have to come clean. You will have to use that conscience for the sake of the children, not yourselves. You will have to show the public what has happened. Drag them and the law makers through your schools. Show them the real truth about these exams. Show them what really is happening to their kids. Show the hordes of children jammed into your community colleges like refugees. Show them what you have become and they will believe you.
On Mar 13, 2012, at 5:25 PM, Jerry Becker wrote:
> ***************************** > From Guy Brandenburg on the EDDRA2 listserve, Tuesday, March 13, 2012. Seehttp://parentsacrossamerica.org/2012/03/clear-creek-tx-school-board-resolution-vs-high-stakes-testing/ > ***************************** > Clear Creek TX school board resolution vs. high-stakes testing > > Guy Brandenburg writes that here is an excellent resolution that has been passed by Clear Creek School District, a large district near NASA, as well as several other school boards in Texas. It has been called "The shot heard around the county." [seehttp://galvestondailynews.com/story/298894 ] Why not around the country? If Texas school boards can pass this resolution, why shouldn't all school boards in the nation adopt similar ones? > > BOARD OF TRUSTEES > CLEAR CREEK INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT > RESOLUTION CONCERNING HIGH STAKES, STANDARDIZED TESTING > OF TEXAS PUBLIC SCHOOL STUDENTS > > STATE OF TEXAS § > COUNTY OF GALVESTON > > WHEREAS, the over reliance on standardized, high stakes testing as the only assessment of learning that really matters in the state and federal accountability systems is strangling our public schools and undermining any chance that educators have to transform a traditional system of schooling into a broad range of learning experiences that better prepares our students to live successfully and be competitive on a global stage; and > > WHEREAS, we commend Robert Scott, Commissioner of Education, for his concern about the overemphasis on high stakes testing that has become "a perversion of its original intent" and for his continuing support of high standards and local accountability; and > > WHEREAS, we believe our state's future prosperity relies on a high-quality education system that prepares students for college and careers, and without such a system Texas' economic competitiveness and ability and to attract new business will falter; and > > WHEREAS, the real work of designing more engaging student learning experiences requires changes in the culture and structure of the systems in which teachers and students work; and > > WHEREAS, what occurs in our classrooms every day should be student-centered and result in students learning at a deep and meaningful level, as opposed to the superficial level of learning that results from the current over-emphasis on that which can be easily tested by standardized tests; and > > WHEREAS, We believe in the tenets set out in Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (TASA, 2008) and our goal is to transform this district in accordance with those tenets; and > > WHEREAS, Our vision is for all students to be engaged in more meaningful learning activities that cultivate their unique individual talents, to provide for student choice in work that is designed to respect how they learn best, and to embrace the concept that students can be both consumers and creators of knowledge; and > > WHEREAS, only by developing new capacities and conditions in districts and schools, and the communities in which they are embedded, will we ensure that all learning spaces foster and celebrate innovation, creativity, problem solving, collaboration, communication and critical thinking; and > > WHEREAS, these are the very skills that business leaders desire in a rising workforce and the very attitudes that are essential to the survival of our democracy; and > > WHEREAS, imposing relentless test preparation and boring memorization of facts to enhance test performance is doing little more than stealing the love of learning from our students and assuring that we fall short of our goals; and > > WHEREAS, we do not oppose accountability in public schools and we point with pride to the performance of our students, but believe that the system of the past will not prepare our students to lead in the future and neither will the standardized tests that so dominate their instructional time and block our ability to make progress toward a world-class education system of student-centered schools and future-ready students; therefore be it > > RESOLVED that the Clear Creek ISD Board of Trustees calls on the Texas Legislature to reexamine the public school accountability system in Texas and to develop a system that encompasses multiple assessments, reflects greater validity, uses more cost efficient sampling techniques and other external evaluation arrangements, and more accurately reflects what students know, appreciate and can do in terms of the rigorous standards essential to their success, enhances the role of teachers as designers, guides to instruction and leaders, and nurtures the sense of inquiry and love of learning in all students. > > PASSED AND APPROVED on this 27 day of February, 2012. > > ********************************************* > -- > Jerry P. Becker > Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction > Southern Illinois University > 625 Wham Drive > Mail Code 4610 > Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 > Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O] > (618) 457-8903 [H] > Fax: (618) 453-4244 > E-mail: email@example.com