Four Lessons From This Week: January 27

In an effort to hold myself more accountable to my writing, and to reflect more often on my learning, I'm going to try to write at least once a week about what I'm learning. Here's my first attempt. Questions and comments are always appreciated!


Testing Forces Us to Make Choices 
Designing a test inherently involves choosing a subset from a larger domain of knowledge. It's impossible to test everything, even once you've narrowed your curriculum to a set of standards. New York's recent math exams provide an extreme example as half of the test items assessed only a dozen standards. These decisions to narrow what is assessed, coupled with attaching the test to high stakes leads to interesting results:


In Family-School Partnerships, Assumptions Matter
After reading a few perspectives on the importance of parents in education (here, here and here) our class discussed the various roles expected of parents. We generated a list of over 20 roles including protector, advocate, nurturer, disciplinarian, and partner in learning. Then we listed the various efforts to push or support parents in fulfilling these roles. Finally we generated another list of the assumptions these roles and efforts are based upon. These assumptions, some positive, but many negative, can be explicit, but are often subtle and always powerful in shaping our ideas of parent roles. Some assumptions that resonated with me were that parents are literate, that teachers know better than parents, that the deficit is in the home rather than the school, and that parents trust the school. Finding a way past these assumptions to recognize the diverse strengths and needs of parents has to be a prerequisite of a positive home-school relationship.


In Ed Reform, Those Who Forget History...
"Although many groups have entered school politics, especially in the protest movements of the last half century, this pluralism is misleading. The politics of education has not been conducted on a level playing field. Policy elites - people who managed the economy, who had privileged access to the media and to political officials, who controlled foundations, who were educational leaders in the universities and in city and state superintendencies, and who redesigned and led organizations of many kinds - gained a disproportionate authority over educational reform."
- Tinkering Toward Utopia: A Century of Public School Reform, 1995, David Tyack & Larry Cuban



Reaching the Needs of Diverse Learners Can Help Us Reach the Needs of All Students
"The needs of diverse learners who have until now been disenfranchised in a print- centric world can drive us to discover, develop, and apply the astonishing power of new media to expand educational opportunities. Learning is supported and facilitated by the interaction between the learner and the curriculum. When that support and facilitation is missing, “learning disabilities” arise. If the curriculum can be flexibly designed, it can meet more learners where they need to be met. It can challenge and support the vast variety of needs, skills, and interests arrayed in a diverse classroom....

Designs that increase accessibility for individuals with disabilities— those who are typically “in the margins”—tend to yield benefits that make everyone’s experience better."
The Future is in the Margins, 2000Anne Meyer, Ed.D., and David Rose, Ed.D., 

Comments

Here is a lesson to be learned...this country, state and city needs to stop testing children. Or else we are all doomed and we are going to have tons of children at high frustration levels who are unable to perform the work!
ruben_b said…
Stopping testing is a pretty broad statement. If you mean high-stakes standardized testing, then I agree we have to rethink a lot of the way we're administering tests and using them.

Just something as simple as recognizing the limits of what tests can tell us would be a powerful change from the way they're currently a part of policy. Instead we've got a lot of policymakers putting more and more blind faith into high-stakes standardized tests as the end and beginning of assessing student learning.

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