Friday, July 13, 2012

Neither cell phones nor students are the cause of the Stuyvesant cheating scandal

Chancellor Dennis Walcott explained that cheating is a major reason that cell phones are strictly prohibited in city schools. Well, with that rational we should also be banning pencils, paper, and rubberbands. Rather than focus on inanimate objects, why not focus on the real issue at hand?

The entire testing structure is bogus and bad for kids. Students spend an entire year in schools with teachers who can and should be able to assess them using authentic measures by doing meaningful work that matters and can be worthy of the world. Assessment should not be separate from the learning that takes place in school.  

Testing also teaches kids some pretty terrible things that are a detriment to success in life such as...

1-Do your own work rather than finding the best you can to collaborate with
2-Do not collaborate with others
3-Do not connect with others
4-Do not share with others
5-Do not tap into your personal learning network
6-Do not use the best tools available
7-Do not use the best resources available

Tests are not aligned with today’s definition of “achievement” and “intelligence.” Instead, tests require us to do all the things that are called cheating in school today as per the above list. What’s worse in many schools kids are banned from using technology and resources across the year because they’re not allowed on the test.  

Not only do tests teach students the important lessons for failure in the 21st century, but they are also EXTREMELY expensive. Why are we spending all this money on doing something that few people want and we know is not good or useful for children?

Deborah Meirs reminds us that “cheating is the regrettable but ‘predictable fallout’ from the misuse of high-stakes standardized testing." So we shouldn’t be surprised when the students (or their teachers) do what the system they are in has set them up for.

My question is this:
Why are we allowing politicians and publishers to dictate and force upon children a very expensive outdated and archaic means of measurement? Teachers, parents, and students need to get up and stand up for the freedom to learn in meaningful ways using the tools, resources, and methods that will be necessary for their success rather than those that will make politicians look good and publishers get rich.


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  3. Thanks Lisa for the solid comments. Some additional thoughts:

    1) Such an emphasis on standardized tests takes the joy out of teaching
    2) Such an emphasis on standardized tests takes the joy out of learning

    I have it that the most valuable gift we can give to our kids upon graduation from high school is a love of learning. They are entering a world that now requires lifelong learning; so hopefully, they will enjoy it. How can we facilitate an enjoyment of learning? One piece of the answer, it seems to me, is to allow students to pursue their individual gifts and passions -- be it music, art, mathematics, creative writing, engineering, chemistry, biology, programming, or any other of the numerous disciplines existing in the real world.

    3) You succinctly stated another important truth re: the way we have things setup for standardized tests -- i.e. that it's not aligned with today’s definition of “achievement” and “intelligence.” Good point.

    Thanks Lisa for swimming upstream in the world of education,
    Daniel Christian


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