Skip to main content

New trends are constantly sweeping across the education field in America. Unfortunately, they often amount to little more than buzzwords and jargon that get thrown around in training sessions: things like “student centered education,” “Creating life-long learners,” “Engaging critical thinking skills,” and the newest - “Data driven instruction.”

While these jargony phrases all have reams of studies “proving” their effectiveness and often really do have good ideas and practices at their core, just as often they are empty catch-phrases that just  give new names to stuff we've already been doing.

But data-driven education is different. It seems more pervasive than previous trends I've seen and, while it sounds like a good idea in theory, it is destructive to real learning when put in practice in the classroom.

To boil it down, what data-driven instruction means is that teachers should use actual data from student testing to drive their classroom instruction. It is more scientific and less subjective. You look at  test results to see what specific skills and knowledge the students did well in and which they have not mastered, and use that data to plan upcoming lessons.

So what's wrong with that? Three main things. First, actual teaching time is drastically reduced because of the almost constant testing. Second, It Does Not Work. Third, it wastes teacher time that could be better spent in other ways.

Let me take them one at a time. Every week at my school, every teacher in the 4 core subjects, (math, English, science and social studies) gives a pre-test, usually 10 questions covering the TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills – the specific things the students should be able to do or know that will be tested in the  state standardized tests at the end of the year) that will be taught that week. At the end of the week, they get another 5 to 10 question test to see if they mastered the material.

Those quizzes generally take 10 -15 minutes each, so 20 to 30 minutes a week – about 10 percent of our instruction time, or over the course of the year about  15 to 18 hours of testing. They are in addition to any quizzes or unit tests we normally give. Then, every 6 to 9 weeks, we have a week of benchmark testing, which seeks to simulate the end of year exam, so the students are given 4 hours, of 4 subjects, or 16 hours of testing every six weeks – or another 96 hours a school year of testing. Taken together, they amount to roughly 110 hours of testing per school year.

I've found that I can either use my time teaching kids, or testing kids. They don't learn by taking a test. The amount of instructional time lost to this increase in testing is ridiculous. It would not be a bad use of time, if it was done for a good reason, but it  is not.

Which brings me to point number 2. It doesn't work.

Let's take 8th grade social studies for example. I could just as easily pick any grade level or subject though. There are roughly 110 TEKS in 8th grade social studies. So even those 4 hour benchmark tests only include one or two questions each on less than half the TEKS. And some of the TEKS cover an enormous amount of material. For example, one TEKS is “The student will understand important dates in U.S. History.” There may be one multiple choice question on that TEKS on a benchmark and if most students get it right, well, our data has shown us the students have mastered that TEKS and we don't want to waste time teaching it for the next six weeks. But if most students miss that one question, well our data tells us they haven't mastered that TEK and we have to reteach it. So it may be an easy question – like what famous document was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776, or it may be something more obscure like the year of the Battle of New Orleans. The point is, we are supposed to make a huge generalization based on how students answered a single multiple choice question.

You might think, but as the teacher in the classroom with the students every day, don't you have a better idea of what lessons the students “got” and which ones they didn't? Of course I do, but that would be “subjective” and data-driven education dictates that we use the objective data – the single multiple choice question, and not what we observed with our own eyes spending 36 hours in the classroom with the kids the last six weeks.

Which brings me to point 3, the enormous amount of time wasted analyzing this incredibly sketchy, meaningless, data.

For a 60 question benchmark test, given to 7 classes, perhaps 160 kids. The teacher then has to break down how each class did on every question and which TEKS that question tested, calculate the percentage of students that answered the question correctly and then create a re-teach calendar for the next month on which TEKS need to be re-taught and which day that will happen. It takes hours and hours. But that's only the beginning. Then we have to analyze each of those 140 students' tests individually, analyze which TEKS each student performed poorly on and create a tutoring schedule individualized for that student. And remember, there are so many TEKS, many were not tested on that benchmark, and the ones that were tested, were only one or two multiple choice questions.

So, when you hear a school principal start talking about data driven instruction, it's not just some harmless jargon, it's a way of collecting sketchy, mostly meaningless data, chewing up hours of teachers' time that could be used to actually plan better lessons, testing students over and over, until they are sick of it and treat the tests like a joke, and deciding what needs to be taught based on one or two multiple choice questions instead of relying on teachers' ability to observe students they've spent dozens and dozens of hours with in the classroom.

Worse, it forces teachers to “teach to the test,” then entire school year becomes about preparing students to pass the multiple-choice test given by the  state at the end of year, not about truly learning, just about how to answer those test questions.

Originally posted to rhetorical tool on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives and Community Spotlight.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Data driven instruction is a good idea. Pre and (11+ / 0-)

    post tests are a good idea. The problem is that we are using the wrong data, analyzed by the wrong people, for the benefit of the public and not students.

    •  Good assessment is crucial (11+ / 0-)

      But data-driven instruction just provides random noise, not real data, because with 110 teks, there is no way to ask more than one or two questions per tek and no questions for many teks. Basing the next six weeks of instruction on a single multiple choice question is ludicrous, but that is how it turns out in the real world.

      I'm reading "Teaching  the Best Practice Way" by Daniels and Bizar right now, and I just read a passage that goes
      "Standardized tests are of little use in guiding student learning. They distort our expectations of individual kids and they lower the standards of teachers as they drad teachers down to ... the level of test-coaching."

      •  It wastes time, too... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        boji

        for students and teachers, both inside and outside the classroom. You've covered the classroom side thoroughly in your diary, but the whole "data-driven" process also consumes large amounts of prep time for teachers. We just finished our latest "benchmark data analysis" (from our local district benchmark tests, used mainly to get ready for the state-wide tests that really count.) We had to sift through test data and design "remediation plans" to incorporate the results into our lessons.

        While this sounds reasonable on the surface, what it really means is that I spent about five hours pouring over Excel tables to do analysis of aggregate answer data and alignment to Common Core standards, all to get to a set of results that were either useless for one of several reasons (too small a sample size, poor alignment of question and standard, etc.) or told me things I already knew from my own assessments and student work.

        That's not even counting the implementation of our "remediation plans" that are expected to include material aligned directly to the state tests: i.e., we're expected to use daily assignments to give the students test questions as prep. We're also doing both a pre- and post-remediation round of internal testing before we get to the state testing in late May. That means we'll be losing about eight class days (out of twenty) to test prep of one kind or another. So we end up wasting not only five hours of my prep time from the top, plus the additional prep time every week that now must be devoted to prepping test questions instead of lessons. Add on the loss of class time and student frustration with piles of test questions and you have the recipe for sucking the life out of any classroom.

        But, of course, that's part of the point, isn't it?

        Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory, tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat. Sun Tzu The Art of War

        by Stwriley on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:45:56 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Am Not An Expert On Education (10+ / 0-)

    I went to college a ton. Heck as a TA in grad school I taught a class or two. But I don't know what we do with primary education. I really don't. I just recall I wasn't tested into the ground in the 70s and 80s.

    Sure we had tests. But seemed it was more assignments that were graded.

    I don't have any kids. But when I read what you wrote above it makes me sick to my stomach. I would not want my child in that school system.

    When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

    by webranding on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:06:39 AM PDT

    •  It sounds utterly stultifying (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      k9disc, psnyder, LookingUp

      No child or teacher could possibly be engaged in learning under this system. I am sure if schools had been doing this when I was in school, my parents would have had us out of there in a heartbeat.

      Jon Husted is a dick.

      by anastasia p on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:37:43 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  1% solutions: NCLB & RttT (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bluebrain

      ...entrenched public schools in the test-fail-test paradigm. NCLB & RttT's billionaire designers co-opted formative assessment teachers use to guide instruction into placing all stakes on a standard score.

      Standardized test scores are being used to determine the very survival of public schools. Scores are used to determine the cost-benefit ratio of class sizes, principal effectiveness, teacher quality, in our public schools.

      Furthermore, standardized test scores are misused by corporate reformers to tout the success of their crappy education schemes. Arne Duncan, Joel Klein, Michael Bloomberg, Jeb Bush, et al. have manufactured success by manipulating scores to paint themselves as champions of kids. The reality-they are champions of the 1% doing the bidding of the privatization masters.

      http://www.thenation.com/...

    •  Most people wouldn't want their kid in a system (0+ / 0-)

      like that  if they really knew it was happening. Unfortunately the "public" this plays to are generally political types with little or any stake in the result - except to build their own careers. In some places parents are becoming aware and protesting but the media still prefers to scream about "lazy" & "incompetent" teachers as if there were some way to actually make this approach work to the benefit of students.

      At my granddaughter's school these past 2+ weeks there have been no actual classes - just testing & practice for testing. The kids are bored, anxious, miserable & some are starting to act out just to get out of the room. It was bad enough with NCLB in 06 when I retired. It appears to be worse now.

      Where are we going and what am I doing in this handbasket?

      by gelfling545 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:09:33 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  And what about the end result? (0+ / 0-)

      I'm seeing more and more adults who can't function without constant supervision, affirmation, and instruction.

      I'm living in America, and in America you're on your own. America's not a country. It's just a business.

      by CFAmick on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:04:17 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The people pushing this nonsense (29+ / 0-)

    know it doesn't work and they don't care. It's part of a larger effort to privatize public education. It looks like they are getting their way, but there is push-back and there my be hope yet. ☛ The Coming Revolution in Public Education

    The free market is not the solution, the free market is the problem.

    by Azazello on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:06:55 AM PDT

    •  Unions (0+ / 0-)

      Not only is there a political push to privatize public education for profit but also to destroy unions. By devaluing teachers and schools, teacher union bashing becomes easier.

      I am not afraid of the pen, or the scaffold, or the sword. I will tell the truth whenever I please.--Mother Jones

      by bluebrain on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 10:22:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And what is most painfully stupid about that is (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bluebrain

        In many of the poorest performing states, teacher unions are toothless and blind. Take the right to work states- unions exist there simply as a vehicle for liability insurance and keeping teachers informed about educational issues.

  •  It is to create the "Appearance" of "rigor" and (22+ / 0-)

    "Scientific Progress on the March for Power!"
    ...in that you (or someone, preferably you) can now enter numbers into an Excell Spreadsheet at the building level, and then analyze, by the usual methods of leaving out data that doesnt fit well (Rogoff and Rogaine.. thank you Stephen Colbert) and tell which teachers are "good" and "bad" This extra time taken out to analyze dubious data will be used against the teachers who do it. Scores will be going down, since they will have to use 10-25 percent of the school year to do it. Perfect. Nice work.

    This, of course, in addition, is a HUGE conflict of interest. Since our budgets have  pared us down to Skeleton Crew status, there is no one left to enter, manipulate and analyze data, so.. voila! The Teachers can do it!! There will be NO incentive to massage the numbers, and if it happens, we can then go AFTER those damn cheatin teachers trying to Ragu and Petamaine (Thank you Stephen Colbert) the data! Problem solved! No more unions.

    And that, Mr. and Mrs. Public is the real agenda. Discredit, embarrass, harass, demean, tie up with trivial pursuits, make the slaves kill themselves in their need to stay on the island due to a REALLY crappy job market and NO business opportunities.

    This is all part of the Koch Brothers and Mr. Pete Peterson and the other 248 oligarchs of America's scheme to completely destroy Public Education, and it has all the hallmarks of working. In the name of SCIENCE. Who could be opposed to that?

    Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

    by OregonOak on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:08:39 AM PDT

    •  it's also part of (12+ / 0-)

      the mentality that no one wants to spend a dime on doing something for someone without "proof" that they are "getting their money's worth."

      I know, because this data-driven instruction is nothing more or less than what therapists like me have always had to do.   When we initiate something like speech-language therapy with someone, we have to get a baseline of their performance on whatever it is we think needs fixing, then set a goal, then provide intervention all the while measuring whether the person is progressing toward that goal or not.  It's been this way ever since I was trained in the early 70's, and when the special ed law (now IDEA) came into effect, speech therapists had no problems adjusting because we were already doing it.  Special ed teachers were not so easy to make the switch.  And now regular ed teachers are having to try to fulfill some distorted version of this.

      And what happens is that daily data points for therapy sessions generate a lot of "noise."  If I am working on word retrieval with a stroke patient, I don't want to use the same set of items every session, that would be bad therapy.  But then my data will look screwy because I can't control for stimulus difficulty level (which is pretty idiosyncratic for each person so it's not like you can just use a graded set of stimuli).  Now Medicare seems to recognize this and you only have to give data every 10 sessions.  But our state Medicaid wants data every single session with detailed notes on progress toward goals and barriers to progress etc.  And what that does, is it makes therapists use cookie-cutter activities that are easy to get data from, rather than some of the rich social-interactive strategies that may be harder to quantify.  In the end, everything CAN be quantified but it is way too much of a pain in the ass to figure out how to do that.  Unless you had a grad student videotaping each session and doing it for you.  Like people who dream up this stuff must have.  But the constant drive to engage in activities that can be easily quantified and tracked leads to therapy that I think is much less than what it can be if I'm left to just do my job and use my brain and my knowledge of the therapy process.  Beginners in a field might need to do some of that but once you know what you are doing it just gets in the way.  

      But all of this is because they don't want to spend any money on these services, they want to find excuses not to pay for services, and everybody wants proof of effectiveness of services because god forbid we waste a nickel of money.  When in reality, as a therapist who has treated people long-term (kids with autism, Down syndrome stay in therapy a long time), people don't make steady consistent progress and lots of time not much happens in therapy--sometimes for months.  And then we get a breakthrough and all that "wasted money" turns out not to be wasted after all.

      I had one child with Down syndrome that could not read anything but the word CAT at age 8.  The guardian begged me to add reading to my therapy because "school was not teaching her to read."  I spent one whole year and got her to learn 30 words.  This cost quite a bit of Medicaid money, maybe 8-10 thousand dollars.  So, doesn't look so good, right?  But then she read a sentence, then next thing you know we were reading adapted novels like Black Beauty.  And now she reads 5-th grade level books if you help her with a few words here and there.  And her speech got incredibly more intelligible because of the slow reading (she talked too fast).  And recently her case manager commented on what a huge vocabulary she has in conversation.  She can recite the Pledge of Allegiance from memory because she could learn it by reading it, whereas she can't remember anything she hears past a 4-5 word sentence at a time.  

      •  Nice story.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Sunspots

        I teach and the key questions are about common misunderstandings of important concepts.  Those data help you retest students.  And some of the data driven teaching is based on the concept of flipping teaching.  Having students do homework to learn concepts on their own, with something like khan academy, and then testing or evaluating the homework electronically to check what things folks are confused by and reteaching these concepts.  This type of teaching can be very effective in some fields which are concept heavy.  But history or reading English stories and evaluating their meaning?  Perhaps not good.  Dates in history can be taught in some fun ways too.  I cannot completely reject databased evaluations, but folks need to spend quite a bit of time figuring this stuff out to make it more effective and not a random noise generator.

        You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

        by murrayewv on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 04:03:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  In my old age, I weary of the education debates, (4+ / 0-)

    but I'm nonetheless going to take a moment to tick you off, and observe that this:

    They don't learn by taking a test
    is certainly NOT true. Perhaps some may not -- I won't grant you that -- but many certainly will. Testing of the sort you describe is a powerful mechanism for reinforcing memory.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:10:02 AM PDT

    •  I Fall Into The Neil Postman Thought Process (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie in KY

      in his book The End of Education. One chapter is a fable. He tells the story of a city failing. No money. The students are tasked with saving their city. They are asked to clean up said city. Run a newspaper. Start a TV station. Form a theater group. They learn by doing.

      Don't get me wrong. You need to be able to read. Add. But outside of that I'd rather folks get skills they can use.

      When opportunity calls pick up the phone and give it directions to your house.

      by webranding on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:16:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Learning by doing... (0+ / 0-)
        The students are tasked with saving their city. They are asked to clean up said city. Run a newspaper. Start a TV station. Form a theater group. They learn by doing.
        I dunno. Would you want to live in a city where all the people running it had no idea what they were doing and were "learning by doing"?
        You need to be able to read. Add. But outside of that I'd rather folks get skills they can use.
        Such as? You have a 12 year old. It's 1990. What skills is he going to need to be taught that will allow him to get a good job in the year 2000?
        •  this is an age-old argument (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          dancerat, gelfling545

          between the learning-by-doing and the "you have to have adults determine and organize what kids need to learn and then help them learn it" .

          but over and over, the learning-by-doing approaches have been proven to work.   The other way can work too, but don't diss the learning-by-doing approach.  I just read about a charter public school in Kansas that was failing and losing students and they turned the school into a farm.  Now they have a waiting list and the kids are scoring at the top on the state tests.  

          You see, the thing is that you do NOT have to control children's learning.  You can set that garden out there,plant some seeds, and let miracles happen.  You give kids a rich environment and caring knowledgeable adults and something to do that gives meaning to their lives to do, and they will thrive.   Your mistake is that thinking learning by doing means learning without any knowledgeable people or resources around.  It isn't.  

          And I personally know this works because I unschooled my two children.  They are now adults and you bet they are skilled, more so than many of their peers.  They know how to learn, how to teach themselves, how to find meaningful activity, and, by golly my son learned to build  and fly multirotor drones with video cameras for his business, how to select and install security cameras, repair TV's, how to run an IT business etc.  all without ANY formal schooling and he certainly didn't learn to do any of those things from my husband or myself, we have to ask him for help all the time (thank god he is still around to help us with our tech needs.).   Yes, he had a few mentors when he was 14-15 but he actually surpassed them in knowledge and skill by the time the first business he worked for closed when he was 19.  And since then he just works for himself.  And yes, keeps on learning.  Learning is not locked up in institutions, particularly not anymore.  

          And the thing is, the learning-by-doing approach generally results in a much HAPPIER experience for kids/adults.  And happy people learn better and learn more.  That's a researched "fact."  And the "control the curriculum and learning process" approach more often results in bored and unhappy learners.  Just ask a random sample of 20  kids.   So for me, learning-by-doing wins hands down.  Yeah, you can survive the other, and you can go on to live a fine life.  I have.  But I sure wish I'd had the joy my kids got to have when they "played hooky" for 12 grades!.

          •  And how (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            UntimelyRippd

            Do you 'know' you can extrapolate that experience across a population?

            You don't. And that's an issue if I'm going to choose to invest into something, or anybody is going to choose to invest into something, because that stuff doesn't come free.

            Also, random sampling kids? Really now. Because that sounds suspiciously like the sort of teacher assessment that is being pushed. If a teacher is graded by how happy their kids are, that's not always going to be a good measurement of what the teacher is actually doing. I'd even go so far as to say that's a dangerous mindset toward education.

            http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

            by DAISHI on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:29:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Proof? Dude, "Let miracles happen" (0+ / 0-)

              I'm just gonna hang on here and wait for the miracle of a kid with a 90 IQ learning how to read spontaneously.

              How romantic.

              Tick tock.

              Still waiting ...

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:58:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Actually there is research to (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Sunspots, bluebrain

              demonstrate that students learn more and hate it less through embedding concepts in "real world" tasks properly constructed that in the "fake world of school" (so-called by Eric P. Jensen) type learning. Google "Brain-based Learning".

              Where are we going and what am I doing in this handbasket?

              by gelfling545 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:32:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Just this is what the powers that be refuse to (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Sunspots, bluebrain

            acknowledge.

            You see, the thing is that you do NOT have to control children's learning.  You can set that garden out there,plant some seeds, and let miracles happen.  You give kids a rich environment and caring knowledgeable adults and something to do that gives meaning to their lives to do, and they will thrive.   Your mistake is that thinking learning by doing means learning without any knowledgeable people or resources around.  It isn't.  
            I would add that I am sick to death of the "all children can learn" mantra. Well sure they can but construing it to mean that they will all do it at the same rate at the same in the same way with the same degree of competency is madness yet it is just what those promoting these tests as the be all & end all of learning would have us believe.

            Where are we going and what am I doing in this handbasket?

            by gelfling545 on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 07:25:10 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  another error in your reasoning in (0+ / 0-)

          your reply.

          Webranding said he'd rather folks get skills they can use.  He is absolutely right.  They need skills they can use right now.  Not in 10 years.  Because learning what they need to know right now builds all kinds of important emotional intelligence skills.  It teaches children things that are really important such as self-knowledge, how to complete projects, how to negotiate with others, and on and on.

          My kids spent a lot of time doing pony/horse activities.  Neither one of them do that now.  But you know what, they learned all kinds of invaluable things during their years of involvement with horses.  They learned they could overcome fear, (those 3 foot fences to jump look pretty scary when you aren't sure you can trust your horse not to run out),  they learned leadership, they learned to take written quizzes at horse competitions, (the only place they ever took "tests").  I could go on and on.  It doesn't matter that they don't need to know the life cycle of equine parasites now.

          And my daughter was never scientifically inclined in her unschooling and spent most of her time writing novels and doing artsy things like violin, chorus, theater, and dance,  but now as an adult she has taught herself quite a lot of science outside of her college education (which was in theater and orientation/mobility for the blind), and she has incorporated her new science interest into two of her original plays, one of which was about tardigrades.   You do not have to control learning for the most wonderful and useful learning to happen--learning that is chosen and controlled by the learner.

          My favorite quote is from Helen Hegner, editor of Home Education Magazine.  This has stuck with me; she said something to the effect:  I really am not concerned with what my children know.  I am concerned with who my children are.

          If we raise children who have emotional intelligence and access to resources, they will learn what they need to know to function in the culture/world they find themselves in.  

          •  That was my point... (0+ / 0-)

            The precise point is that you can't teach them "skills" they "learn by doing" because the workplace "skills" you will need after school aren't known. There are important concepts and ideas like,yes, scientific knowledge, reading, writing, knowledge of literature, math, etc. It turns out that these things can actually be tested and measured. And it's necessary to keep track of this because so many times people will just float by without learning anything, which is why we get students with such abysmal writing and math skills in college.

            Now, I grant you, yes, there are certain people who are just never going to learn that much in school, and there is a certain value to giving them "something to do" so they don't find the experience totally unpleasant and get some time to mature and aren't permanently scarred by the time they graduate, but that's just another form of "giving up", honestly. For many of us, school is something much more than babysitting while we grow up and learn to "play well with others."

            Also, incidentally, my family has farmers in it. It's actually hard work that needs to be taught and mentored. Otherwise, it's just a gardening hobby.

          •  Classic DKos reader bias (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            UntimelyRippd

            And my daughter was never scientifically inclined in her unschooling and spent most of her time writing novels and doing artsy things like violin, chorus, theater, and dance,

            Lots of parents aren't unschooling their kids, never will, and have no interest in doing so. What they do want is competent teachers who will ensure their kids are prepared and that they have a good education with a wide breadth of academic knowledge and that there will be a teaching staff that can handle this task. Post-secondary educators want a highly literate, math-capable, self-disciplined class of students capable of handling the work and training they will receive after high school. That is heavily unrelated to the concerns of so many DKos members who post on education treads who are mostly people who never liked school to begin with or are teacher chafing under their loss of autonomy. So maybe it is not a surprise that these policies and metrics, imperfect as they are, get put into place.

            •  The only response I ever feel like making to one (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              dancerat

              of those sorts of claims -- especially the unschooling ones -- is, "Good for you."

              As for me, I taught my son to read when he was three, and I've never regretted it. I've also never suggested that it was a data point that could be extrapolated into a prescription for national education.

              To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

              by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:50:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Nothing warms my heart like good ol' Yankee (0+ / 0-)

        anti-intellectualism, which is what you are expressing, even though you probably don't think so.

        Wait, did I say, "my heart"? No ... I think I got the anatomy wrong there ...

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:54:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  OK, I'll agree with that (8+ / 0-)

      And I do use tests and quizzes that way. But these 60 question, 4-hour benchmark tests every 6 weeks are overkill. They are often on material the students have not even had presented to them in the classroom yet, and the kids get so sick of the constant testing they don't give any efffort on the benchmarks, so the data has even less value than I indicated above. Adding another 110 hours of testing into a 180 day school year is a lot and the value of the data is so minimal, it really is a bad idea.

      •  Well, I'll agree to your agreement. (0+ / 0-)

        The benchmark tests sound stupid. There's a world of difference between pretest/posttest -- which is not intended as a learning activity, but nonetheless clearly functions as one, the psych research is not really ambiguous on this -- and tests that are random samplings of what a student knows, taken from a large "population" of target knowledge. Anyone who knows the first thing about stats knows that you might get something meaningful as an aggregate measure for the test group, but the individual student's results will tell you next to nothing.

        To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

        by UntimelyRippd on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:47:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  On a slight tangent (10+ / 0-)

    The stress and anxiety created on the students from this constant testing cannot be overemphasized. It is one thing for a teacher to be constantly evaluating student progress, but it is quite something else to use this as feedback for students or as feedback to evaluate teacher skill.

    This sort of nonsense will eventually lead to rampant cheating. Perhaps someone should consult with Michelle Rhee about whether cheating is a byproduct of non-stop high-stakes objective assessments.

    The school deform movement that is pushing this crap has only been able to go so far by turning society against teachers. Parents must be reminded of the many negative impacts this will have on their children. And it won't just be the poor urban youth (i.e., minorities) affected, because these same state-mandated tests will eventually creep in until every school throughout the state is paying its mandated fees to Pearson or one of the other Republican testing conglomerates.

    Don't forget that most men with nothing would rather protect the possibility of becoming rich than face the reality of being poor. - John Dickinson ("1776")

    by banjolele on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:12:32 AM PDT

  •  More multiple choice tests. (5+ / 0-)

    (sigh)

    The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

    by raboof on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:37:32 AM PDT

  •  The Latest Fad (8+ / 0-)

    The point of all these fads is to convince the public there's something wrong with the public school system, specifically that teachers are bad and so we need to move everyone to private schools where the kids can be properly propagandized, excuse me, taught what some people want them to know. Most of that is hooey.

    Take those questions, for example:

    What famous document was adopted by the Second Continental Congress in 1776? What was the year of the Battle of New Orleans?
    Those just simply aren't valid things to be teaching children at this point. There's no nutritive value in them knowing what document came out of that Congress or what year the Americans defeated the British troops in New Orleans.

    Of course, there's value in teaching them about the document and the meaning and ramifications of the battle. (The British solders had to run through the briars and the bushes where the rabbits couldn't go.)

    But the date? What's the point of remembering the date? You can get that from your friendly Internet search engine or just look it up on Wikipedia at any moment.

    Maybe teachers need their own Declaration of Independence. That would show some learning.

    •  Here is a great example to illustrate your point. (12+ / 0-)

      My 8th grade social studies class took the STAAR test Thursday (State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness.) As a proctor, I'm not supposed to closely look at the tests, just make sure they are working on the correct section, basically, but I couldn't help noticing one question about the Great Compromise.
      We had just reviewed this. My kids could tell you that  it was about how to elect the legislative branch at the Constitutional Convention, that  the populous states wanted it to be based on population, that the smalll states wanted each state to have equal representation and why they held those opinions. Could tell you the compromise resulted in a bicameral legislature where the House does it the big state way and the Senate does it the small state way.
      Every kid I walked by was getting it wrong because the question had three puzzle pieces, one labeled New Jersey Plan, one labeled Virginia Plan and a blank piece in the middle and asked how to best complete the diagram. Well, I did not go over the names of the two plans, since that is exactly the type of rote memorization of facts the test is supposed to have moved away from in favor of testing critical thinking skills.

      •  Thanks for the Illustration (6+ / 0-)

        I'm sure this is a common occurrence.

        Teaching is not easy. But, like many areas we think people are too expensive.

        In business, there's a constant push to cut costs by eliminating "middle managers". So, we see drug testing and video surveillance taking their place. Then we wonder why the quality of life sucks.

        It strikes me that this testing is the "video surveillance" of education. It gives you a view, but it lacks a few dimensions. It might have some value if used in a comprehensive educational strategy, but if you take it too literally, you get something way off in the weeds.

        Maybe we should invent a new methodology called "teacher-based education" where we ask the question, "What do we need to do to best support the teacher? How can we provide them with the resources and techniques that would best help them to provide quality education to their students?" We could start by asking them what they need.

        This might not be the exact right question, but I think it's far closer to the right one than we've been seeing so far.

        •  Testing is good at catching someone doing some (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Square Knot, ranton, Liberal Thinking

          thing WRONG, but it assumes that many people are doing something wrong, like video surveillance.  It does nothing to show people HOW to do something right. Like video surveillance, it only transmits a sense of dread about doing ANYTHING because it might be wrong, and the system is really good at catching people doing something wrong.

          Do we really want to spend the budgets of the governments of the US trying to catch people doing something wrong? Is that the whole point of a humane society? It sounds like hell to me.

          It fulfills Orwell's sense of dread about the future, and in our case, the present.

          Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

          by OregonOak on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:30:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  I get the impression (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ranton, Liberal Thinking

          that this(let's do what we need to do to support the teacher) is what Finland has done and one reason they are successful.

      •  year after year (0+ / 0-)

        the 10th grade MAP (Missouri Assessment Program) science test had this same question in the constructed response section: Name two types of electromagnetic energy. (Yes, I peeked)

        Year after year, students answered "kinetic and potential" and got it counted wrong even though they could name the regions of the electromagnetic spectrum in their sleep. That's what the test writer was looking for: radio waves and microwaves, or infrared and visible, etc.

        Kinetic and potential is equally valid and really a better answer, IMO.

        This is one of the biggest problems with testing.  The New York Regents, the MCAS may be good tests, but in too many states the test questions are written by morans.

        Light is seen through a small hole.

        by houyhnhnm on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:37:51 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Dates Are Important For Context (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      denise b, Liberal Thinking

      If you don't know, for example, whether the Civil Rights Act was in 1964 or 1944 - and broadly what else was going on in those two years - then you can't possibly have enough context to "get" the meaning and importance of the Civil Rights Act.    

      And looking up the date later if you think you need it is not the same as having enough context in your head NOW to evaluate what other people are saying about the topic under discussion.

      •  As a history teacher, I want my students to have a (6+ / 0-)

        sense of time/chronology instead of wasting time memorizing specific dates  It is more important that students learn causes, effects, significances, and impacts.

        Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

        by ranton on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:33:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The problem is that from the standpoint of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Liberal Thinking

        a multiple choice test, the student who puts the CRA in 1965 is just as wrong as the one who puts it in 1944. Knowing that the CRA was passed "in the mid-1960s" is enough context to understand its meaning and importance (obviously if the student were writing a paper about the CRA, they should be expected to get the year right, but that's a matter of doing thorough research).

        Writing in all lower-case letters should be a capital offense

        by ebohlman on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 07:13:10 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Point Is the Context (0+ / 0-)

        My objection is that they aren't testing what the person needs to know. Yes, it's important to know that the Civil Rights Act came in the 1960s and that it was about a hundred years after the American Civil War. That's because it gives a sense of how long a whole group of people had to wait for their rights to be (more or less) fully recognized. Just as an example. (Along with other things, some of which you pointed out.) But the exact date as 1964 or 1965 doesn't mean much.

        So, if you were going to be testing then you should be testing for that kind of knowledge. Perhaps you'd have to have orals or something. Maybe a written exposition. A multiple choice test, especially one that focuses on dates or names, is at best a crude substitute for testing the important information and understanding that should come out of education.

        Or, maybe you should have the teacher evaluate the student based on their participation in class, assignments turned in, and test results. Not only would that be more effective at evaluating the student, but it would also provide a feedback loop with the teacher, probably producing better results as the teacher became more experienced.

        Oh, but experienced teachers...um, that would cost more. You might have to give them more money and, worse than that, more respect. They might have opinions. Wow, that would undermine the whole neolithic argument that public schools are bad and teachers worse.

        So, we get robotesting.

        I agree that having the date or at least a sense of the date is valuable. But I think the test should cut to the chase and find out about what the date represents. Did the student pick that up?

    •  1814? No, 1815 (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Liberal Thinking

      When I saw that question about the Battle of New Orleans, I immediately thought of the Johnny Horton song ("In 1814 we took a little trip along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississipp.") Double checked the lyrics. Yep, 1814. But Wikipedia says January 8, 1815.

      But then I thought, "Which Battle of New Orleans?" I'll bet there were headlines calling it the battle for New Orleans in 2005. Or during the Great Flood of 1927 (or was it 1928?).

      "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

      by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:06:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Horton Has a Hoot (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dbug

        And thus we see the value of teaching students how to use the Internet rather than wasting their time learning all those dates! If only Johnny Horton had had access to Google, I'm sure his lyrics would have said 1815!

        But he probably wrote that from memory.

      •  Oh, Just One Question (0+ / 0-)

        This will require research, of course, but the song says, "In 1814 we took a little trip...". When did Jackson form up his company? It's possible he did that in 1814, even though the battle didn't take place until later. The "we" in the song could refer to when "he" took the trip, not when the battle took place.

        Well, that would be overanalyzing the situation, wouldn't it?

        •  Actually, I think you're right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Liberal Thinking

          Colonel Jackson probably formed the company in 1814. The battle was January 8, 1815. So they didn't just appear in 1815. There had to be a history going back to the previous year.

          I think the way to teach a bunch of teens or tweens the date is to play the song. Maybe get them to sing along. You'd only have to do it once. Tell them they got organized in 1814 and the battle was 1815. Even the kids who don't care about history will remember the bacon and beans part, along with 1814 and 1815.

          "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

          by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 11:38:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  We had this decades ago. We called it (6+ / 0-)

    'covering things again when everybody's homework or test grades sucked'.

    If most of the class was doing poorly on a topic, the teacher would make another pass, trying to figure out ways to make it more relevant.

    (On the other hand, I also had a crappy college prof who, instead, merely had a grading scale that made a 24% on a test an A, because he was such a godawful teacher he couldn't be bothered to try and make the content more understandable.)

  •  quizzes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Liberal Thinking, fladem, Orinoco, Philby
    Every week at my school, every teacher in the 4 core subjects, (math, English, science and social studies) gives a pre-test... At the end of the week, they get another 5 to 10 question test to see if they mastered the material.
    Probably unnecessary to do 2 quizzes a week, but one quick 5 to 10 question quiz per week to keep the students on their toes is pretty reasonable.
  •  How in hell (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranton
    The student will understand important dates in U.S. History
    does one "understand" a date? Memorize a date, ok. Associate the date with an event, possibly. Both at the bottom of Bloom's taxonomy: remembering.

    Does this mean "Understand how an event on such and such a date affected US history"? Then the phrasing "Understand how a named event affected US history" means the same thing, the date being nothing more than a convenient label for, say, The Whiskey Rebellion or the attack on Ft. Sumter.

    Maybe it means, "Understand how an earlier event affected a later event in US history". At least then the use of dates as a marker for time passing would be involved.

    At this point, the only real way to figure out what it means is to see what kind of questions it engenders on the Big Test. Without knowing that, how does a history teacher know what to teach?

    Of course, I suspect it really means nothing more than memorize the name of an event and its date, and the use of the word "understand" is nothing more than a sop to Bloom's taxonomy, because even politicians know "understanding" something is more rigorous than merely "memorizing" something.

    "The problems of incompetent, corrupt, corporatist government are incompetence, corruption and corporatism, not government." Jerome a Paris

    by Orinoco on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 01:57:47 PM PDT

  •  when my youngest (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Square Knot, ranton, JerryNA, dizzydean

    in first or second grade there was a trend called "invented spelling".  The idea was that kids should be allowed to express their thoughts and not be graded on the spelling.  The spelling would come later.  To this day (she is now 25) she is a terrible speller.

    In 1993 we moved to a district that had 1970 style schools without walls.  What idiot came up with that?

    The thing is, school districts get sold a new idea by consultants (or in olden times they were called snake oil salesmen).  The consultants walk away with millions and the schools try the newfangled idea for a few years and then when it doesn't work, they look around for the next consultant who will sell them another new idea.

    And so it goes.

    •  So True. And the experts are never consulted. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranton, JerryNA

      No one has any incentive to ask the teachers in an honest and open forum without transmitting an "expected" answer by a boss who is evaluating you, "How do you think that will work?"

       No academician ever made his bread by asking the teachers. They make Phd by committing, over and over again, a social science, which Mark Twain asserted was a crime. ("Never commit a social science")

      There is very little that "data" can tell us about classroom learning. Teachers can tell you anything you want to know, if asked.  Student learning in a classroom is so multi-variate, and the variables are interlocked and fluid that as soon as a sentient human being catches on to what "the method" is, they will figure out a way around it. So with testing. Its a scam. Only human teachers can supply the variation, the entertainment, the excitement of being with others, the necessary spark to make learning of value. Anything else is not education; it is merely training.

      And THAT is why they are striving  to end classroom education: it is an unmeasurable system. They are straining to make all education "online" remote and mechanistic, because THAT they will be able to measure, they think. Good luck with that.

      Figures don't lie, but liars do figure-Mark Twain

      by OregonOak on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:38:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Most teachers thought both those "reforms" were (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Square Knot, JerryNA, dizzydean

      ridiculous along with "touch-point" math (a fancy way to basically count on fingers); but when are the REAL experts, experienced classroom teachers, EVER consulted?!?!

      I have yet to hear an experienced teacher rave about the corporate "reforms" being forced on them and their students?

      Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

      by ranton on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 02:43:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "Schools without walls" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranton, JerryNA

      was supposed to be a metaphor for interdisciplinary learning.

      School administrators, sadly, do not understand metaphors.

      The thing about quotes on the internet is you cannot confirm their validity. ~Abraham Lincoln

      by raboof on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:15:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are limits to what tests can tell us (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FG, JerryNA

    There are limits to what multiple choice tests can tell us, but a lot people want us to make the results of such tests the only measure of a student's education and the only measure of a teacher's competence.

    It is tempting to do this because it is easier than trying to figure out what students ought to know or do know after spending a school year in a given classroom.

    I would like the test producers to give their tests to randomly selected high school graduates and college graduates so that the results might be compared.

    This year, after spending a great deal of time and effort on the First World War, I was surprised and extremely disappointed at my students' performance on a 50 question multiple choice test that was designed to be similar to the types of questions they would see on the year-end World History standardized test.  I was going over the results with a colleague who remarked, "Why are you so surprised?  How much does anyone know about World War I?"  He had a point, I think, that is often overlooked.

    I gave the same students a follow-up exam that was all short answer, short paragraph type questions.  About half of them did much better, nobody did much worse.  I felt better about it, but I know that no one in power gives a damn about whether my students or any other students actually understand anything about the First World War.  I doubt that any of those in power know much about it themselves.

  •  Cookie-cutter kids (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ebohlman, JerryNA, Sunspots

    I have graded standardized tests in the past - I thought it might help me as I tutor people to write exam essays - and what is most head-wringing for me is the arbitrariness of what the testing authorities have decided is excellent, acceptable, poor, etc.

    For example, on an English writing narrative prompt, a story can be dull as dust...but if it has details, a few fancy words, linkage between sentences, and a few sentences of "internal reflection" (though that is nowhere called for in the prompt), then it gets high marks.  Compare that to a gripping story that is full of evocative phrases, dialogue, play-by-play action, and a more stream-of-consciousness organization.  Because the connections between ideas are not made as obvious in the second story, it has to get a lower mark, as per the scoring requirements.

    Someone on the testing board liked Reader's Digest, I get it.  But who's to say that a kid who can write for Reader's Digest is a better writer than one who can write an ESPN play-by-play, or poetic prose?  Are the latter kids really to be branded "failing" writers?  Is it right to group those latter kids at the same writing level as those kids who have problems with grammar, word choice, punctuation, and spelling, simply because of their writing style?

    One-size-fits-all testing just results in cookie-cutter students.  Funny...I don't see a lot of factory jobs in this country for those kids to take when they graduate.

  •  How do you know (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Be Skeptical, FG

    Your way is more effective?

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

    by DAISHI on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 03:24:38 PM PDT

  •  The claim that it doesn't work is a strong one (0+ / 0-)

    given that you present no alternative approach and no evidence that any alternative approach will be an improvement. I agree though that it looks like too many tests. Also, multiple choice tests are easy to write and grade but are often less useful than other types of tests.

    •  The author's implied solution (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG, ranton, rhetorical tool, dizzydean

      is a content-filled classroom and a pyramid of content. This "classic" classroom is the only thing that educationalists agree with each other on: they hate it and think of it as the moral equivalent of war or genocide or something. The diarist is right that the only constant in Education is reform.

      Every year, Education professors are championing a reform. Given that it's always reform, one must ask, "Reform from what? Who is left to be bad?"

      Legislatures like numbers so that they don't have to understand content areas. Districts like numbers so that they don't have to evaluate teachers by observation or address issues of competence/corruption in their evaluation processes. Principals like numbers because they provide a horse race that they can win at.

      Meanwhile, teaching isn't trusted, understood, or valued.

      "...ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be." - Juliana of Norwich

      by The Geogre on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:37:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  So what's your alternative? (0+ / 0-)

    Worshipping teachers as gods?  That's what it looks like to me.  Teachers are the only people who according to progressives should never, ever accept guidance or even feedback from anyone.  No wonder Americans go for every stupid reformist scheme--the default situation is too ridiculous not to.

    You know, I sometimes think if I could see, I'd be kicking a lot of ass. -Stevie Wonder at the Glastonbury Festival, 2010

    by Rich in PA on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:23:18 PM PDT

  •  The Fatuus Ignis of Results (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ranton, dizzydean, Sunspots, vickijean

    Data can help in assessing programmatic and curricular strengths and weaknesses, but never as part of the ongoing classroom. I.e. you may come up with a compartmentalized assessment of eight major areas of cognition and material retention and test at the end. This can show which areas the curriculum is succeeding in. However, it can't work on the same population of students synchronically.

    How to put this?

    I made up ten common questions for our survey literature class. The questions hit memory, contextualizing, and analysis, and some are worded in a way that poor readers will stumble on the question and clear readers will get the easy answer. At the end of the class, I can look at which were the most missed questions to see which areas have been least successful, and thus which we can address in the future. However, if I pre- and post-tested them, then I would be distorting my pedagogy to "win" the test, and the students would give a self-consciously "test" performance. I would get no data on teaching.

    The reason that synchronic testing/adjustment can't work is that education is an activity rather than a noun. Students learn as an active verb, and this learning takes place at various rates. Ideally, we'd test when the students volunteered for the test. Since we can't do that, we settle on "last day of class" or some other arbitrary date, but some of the students will "get" the lesson the next day after the test, and others the next week.

    Finally, critical thinking, in particular, is a question of psychological maturity as well as cognitive strength, and there are good, intelligent kids who simply won't be able to divorce themselves from what they read until they're twenty.

    "...ere God made us He loved us; which love was never slacked, nor ever shall be." - Juliana of Norwich

    by The Geogre on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:33:02 PM PDT

  •  At 18 I was a Sunday School teacher--I loved my (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JerryNA

    kids--8-year-olds with much imagination, promise, and charm. But I was moving away from the Southern Baptist theology that was expected of me.

    One Sunday morning I asked the class some question to do with Old Testament Biblical history--don't remember what it was--and the kids responded in sing-song, "Jeezusss!"

    I snapped, "Don't just answer 'Jesus" to every question--think about it!"

    Their faces were shocked--and I realized it was time for me to quit.  My advice was good, but it wasn't orthodox.

    Fiscal conservative: a Republican ready to spend $5 to save a dime--especially if that dime is helping a non-donor.

    by Mayfly on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 04:51:18 PM PDT

  •  I will let an expert in ABA (0+ / 0-)

    or another data driven education model shred your paradigm of an education system with no quantitative accountability.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

    But In short if you cant quantitatively prove that your method of instruction is having a positive meaningful impact on your students.....you simply are not doing your job.

    •  well It hink the results we get in Texas (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JerryNA, Sunspots

      Pretty much prove that this trend to data driven instruction doesn't  work.
      This year the passing score for 8th grade math on the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Skills is 35 percent.
      For Social Studies it varies from 46 percent to 49 percent, depending on grade level.
      Yeah, 35 percent on a multiple choice test, where chance gives you a 25 percent chance of getting any question correct. So if you are an average guesser, but you know the answer to 6 of the 60 questions,you pass.

      •  So (0+ / 0-)

        the Texas state education system is a complete failure and this is  somehow proof that a "data driven"  education system is is flawed? lol

        That sounds like logic which would come out of a state where 35% on a multiple choice test is considered passing.

    •  But that's the whole problem (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots

      Trying to quantitatively prove you're having a positive impact and educating kids. Consider a couple of scenarios:

      Suppose Connecticut has harder tests than, say, Mississippi. In CT, eighth graders are taught the binomial theorem and tested on it. In MS, eighth graders are expected to add, subtract, multiply, divide. So on the standardized tests, Mississippi gets 90% but Connecticut gets 75%. Not because MS kids are smarter, but because the tests are easier.

      Or suppose a high school principal knows his school will be ranked in the bottom 10% of state schools and he'll be fired for having a failed school. He's got several kids who have problems (need counseling for problems at home, need drug treatment, are non-native speakers of English, or just need tutoring because they're a little slow). If he can convince these kids to drop out of high school -- instead of getting them the help they need -- his school's scores will go up.

      "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

      by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:25:33 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not sure what your points are (0+ / 0-)

        1) Are you trying to say that due to the fact that different states have different standards that a quantitative, data driven model for education would be unable to accurately be used to evaluate teach methods?  

        If so I would like to reassure you that the hundreds of thousands of students in even the smallest of states would be more than enough to come up a meaningful model.  

        Also even still teaching methods from one state are applicable in others. Human methods for learning do not change much according to state lines.

        2) The fact that you can make up a magic situation where someone can magically game said system is not a valid argument against a system. It is an argument for better more intelligent rules to be placed within said system.

        •  I guess if I had a single point it's this: (0+ / 0-)

          It's impossible to come up with a quantitative measure that is objectively measures learning.

          "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

          by Dbug on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 09:18:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not even close to being true (0+ / 0-)

            I am not an expert in this field but nor do I need to be for this statement.

            I myself am not capable of coming up with an objective test (at least without years of training), nor apparently are you or the original author. But just because we do not have the skills does not make reasonable to proclaim its impossible.

            The proclamation is wholly egotistical and nonsensical.

            Experts within the field can and CURRENTLY do make reasonably accurate measurements of students academic performance and the impact of their educators.

            Educated professionals within the major camps of the educational and psychological professions  agree that understanding and applying methods which have been STATISTICALLY PROVEN to have positive impacts is a GOOD THING.

            Denying this is akin to being a climate change denier. It is the recourse of who are simply not professionals within the field, are scared of empirical facts, and perhaps those who themselves would not measure up.

            The scientific process works. Yelling "OMGZ what I do is so important it can not be measured. I am so special" Is a sign of incompetence no matter what profession.

            •  Strongly worded but true.... (0+ / 0-)

              still it misses the granularity of the constant testing discussed in the diary and it's value.  If the test isn't testing what is important to learn in a way that helps the student be effectively evaluated, then it isn't effective.

              You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you mad. Aldous Huxley

              by murrayewv on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 04:38:04 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  0123458 - I've got to disagree with you (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              houyhnhnm, Sunspots

              The push for standardized tests does NOT come from experts in education, in fact education experts deplore it.
              The push for standardized tests to measure performance comes from politicians and blue-ribbon commissions of wealthy businessmen.
              I'm just now reading "Teaching the Best Practice Way" by Daniels and  Bizar. Here are a few of their thoughts:

              "To this day we screen, track, reward, and segregate people using tests rooted in bad science and redolent of bigotry."

              "Since most standardized test scores correlate highly with socioeconomic status, testing will reconfirm the unworthiness of the underclasses and comfort the privileged. The predictable results justify the blaming, shaming and stigmatizing of low scoring schools and communities. After all, why should we spend more money on those people, if they can't even pass the test."

              "Instead of reading real books, the kids read and fill out sample standardized tests. The tests  literally become the curriculum."

              They argue that ever since 1917, when standardized tests  were first used to rate the intelligence of immigrant groups to America (not surprisingly "proving" that Nordic people were at the top of the scale and Africans at the bottom), standardized tests have had 2 major flaws - they assume intelligence is a single, measurable trait and that it is permanently fixed.

              •  The details of that argument (0+ / 0-)

                are moot.

                Those points amounts to something along the lines of "people are using data incorrectly and not extrapolating correct results so lets not use them at all"

                This opinion is a "baby with the bathwater" opinion.

                Additional the argument follows from a logical fallacy.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                "Hasty generalization, or converse fallacy of accident"

                Ive said it before and I will need to say it again. Creating magical situations or even finding real examples of a problem within a system is simply NOT a valid way to argue against an idea or system no matter what the context.  

                That is simply an illogical argument.

                It is an argument for better regulation and implementation.

                •  OK 012358, Let me spell out my (0+ / 0-)

                  Actual experiences in a real classroom as well as what actual education experts have found
                  * Curriculums have grown so large it  is impossible to test enough to gather a statistically significant amount of data on which to drive instruction. If there are 110 TEKS to teach, I would argue it would take about 10 questions on each TEK to have enough data to draw good conclusions. That would require students to answer 1,100 questions. It's not gonna happen.
                  * That means we are driving instruction with statistically meaningless data - one or two questions per TEK. And it means we are totally ignoring what the teacher actually observes. A teacher who spends hours every week observing students.
                  * In order to gather this meaningless, misleading data, we are testing students for more than 100 hours a year, a huge waste of time that could be better spent.
                  * In order to analyze all this data, teachers are spending five or more hours a week, again, time that could be better spent on a myriad of other tasks.
                  * All of this is done, not to improve student learning, but to improve performance on a single, high-stakes, standardized test,which has serious flaws, see my comment above about the dubious value of standardized testing.
                  * You are right in that properly analyzing meaningful data is a valuable exercise. As it is practiced in the real world, it doesn't work well in classrooms.

                  •  response point by point. (0+ / 0-)
                    1)"* Curriculums have grown so large it  is impossible to test enough to gather a statistically significant amount of data on which to drive instruction. If there are 110 TEKS to teach, I would argue it would take about 10 questions on each TEK to have enough data to draw good conclusions. That would require students to answer 1,100 questions. It's not gonna happen."
                    There are many ways to extrapolation meaningful, statistically significant conclusions from reduced bits of data per student.

                    google "sparse data analysis techniques"

                    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/...

                    http://searchbusinessanalytics.techtarget.com/...

                    Sparse data analysis techniques are commonly used among numerous professions. For some reason SOME teachers think that using complicated crazy things like "science" is a bad idea.

                    "* That means we are driving instruction with statistically meaningless data - one or two questions per TEK. And it means we are totally ignoring what the teacher actually observes. A teacher who spends hours every week observing students."
                    It may be meaningless to you but it has meaning to people who are properly trained to use it.
                    * In order to gather this meaningless, misleading data, we are testing students for more than 100 hours a year, a huge waste of time that could be better spent.
                    * In order to analyze all this data, teachers are spending five or more hours a week, again, time that could be better spent on a myriad of other tasks.
                    Quality control is a VERY VERY important aspect of any profession.

                    http://en.wikipedia.org/...

                    "their attributes include a high degree of systematic knowledge; strong community orientation and loyalty; self-regulation; and a system of rewards defined and administered by the community of workers"

                    * All of this is done, not to improve student learning, but to improve performance on a single, high-stakes, standardized test,which has serious flaws, see my comment above about the dubious value of standardized testing.
                    This is all done because the education system in its current state has no accountability and thus is currently a complete failure in this nation.  

                    In order to bring accountability to the education system reformers are pushing to add more self regulation and bring back teaching to its proper place as a true profession. Some teachers will not able to make the cutoff  which is part of the goal.

                    If the current system had adequate self regulation we would not have situations where an entire state had a passing rate of "35%" of a state wide test.

                    Over the years teaching more or less  lost its status as a "profession"  as part of this degradation it became acceptable to use methods which were no empirically proven to work.

                    It will take time, effort, resources,  and properly monitoring the quality of our teachers to bring the educational quality back up to where it should be.

                    Anytime you have a situation where there is such a complete lack of oversight as there had been the last many decades, quality is bound to degrade. I am glad members within the teaching community are catching on to this and doing something about it by adapting to data driven educational models.

                     

  •  Sounds to me like this is a pretty good argument (0+ / 0-)

    for longer school days, a longer year, and more infrequent but more comprehensive testing.

    I am totally on board with the view that multiple choice doesn't always test everything it purports to, but it can do a pretty decent job of distinguishing between the people who know what's going on and the people who done (that is, it is unlikely to produce many false positives).

    Oh, and the testing (and testing time) should probably be totally out of your hands--literally.

    That said, I suspect there is a fair amount we don't really understand about how grade school education works and doesn't work.

    Ok, so I read the polls.

    by andgarden on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:13:01 PM PDT

  •  Part of the McDonaldization of Education (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JerryNA, Sunspots

    Administrators and teacher-union-hating politicians would just love to turn teaching into a McJob.  

    The four dimensions of McDonaldization:

    Efficiency: Completing tasks in the most productive and proficient manner.

    Calculability: Being able to quantify the output; emphasizing quantity over quality.

    Predictability: Ensuring that tasks, results, and products are the always the same.

    Control: Replacing human efforts with non-human technology.

    So, what a surprise when we find the push for "teachers as facilitators", "technology in one-to-one settings means teachers do not have to be content experts", "standardized testing can drive curriculum" etc.

    Godammit, just give me a room with a blackboard and leave me alone!  Teachers are professionals--trust us!

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 05:39:23 PM PDT

  •  We are in the thrall of this now and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm

    I keep telling myself to just hang on and in a few years it will pass like every other "great" idea. We have to test BEFORE we teach, crunch all the data, find out that--surprise! Kids didn't know the skills or content. Then we have to complete a detailed plan to address the fact that they didn't know the stuff. Then we have to teach it and test again. Shockingly, they know more after we teach. Sigh. Thank you "reformers" and every other state or federal dickwad who thinks they know what education should look like.

    •  The problem with "This too shall pass" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Sunspots

      -- nation building, trickle down economics just to name a couple of other "great" ideas in recent years, is the wake of destruction they leave behind that does not pass.

      Light is seen through a small hole.

      by houyhnhnm on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:46:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The public needs to get ready for the coming crash (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots

    of testing scores due to National Common Core Standards. I think I'll do a diary on it but the gist is, an individual math problem is now about three-five what any reasonable person would consider separate problems (same topic)  and if you get ONE of them wrong you have failed that number problem. I couldn't do one section of the problem they gave us in a faculty meeting and I have three degrees and have been teaching a decade. The new test will make comparisons to old scores apples to oranges and I bet that the media and administrators won't explain it and will just let educators hang.

  •  I was just posting about this on Facebook (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, dizzydean

    It's so true.

    I went to a Catholic school and a public school.  The Catholic school I went to was a pretty traditional one, but I learned HOW to learn, more than I learned actual things. I learned how to research, use the library, write papers correctly, and how to conduct experiments.  I learned how to read.  We had tests, but nothing like what I experienced in public school, at which I failed miserably and eventually left. This was in the late 70s and early 80s.  It's gotten much much worse.  My 20 year old son is one credit away from graduation with math and cannot pass it.  This has done more for his lack of self confidence than anything else and it drives me crazy.  He is math dyslexic, (yes that's a real thing), and took the same class in high school 3 times trying to get this ONE FREAKING credit.  I have two other girls that eventually finished high school with what I feel are ridiculous mandatory courses.  Health?  Whatever.  They both eventually finished college, but I cannot tell you the amount of homework FOR THE DAMN TESTS they had to do.  I had one teacher tell me she was so sorry, but their hands were tied.  It's like mandatory sentencing.

    "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

    by dancerat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:08:33 PM PDT

  •  And one more thing... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Roadbed Guy, Sunspots

    My husband has always said we should teach history backwards - teach current events, find out what caused them, and then what caused that, and so forth.  From current to past, rather than from past to current.  It made more sense to me and would probably make more sense to the kids.

    "Those who can make you believe in absurdities can make you commit atrocities."

    by dancerat on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:17:44 PM PDT

  •  Follow the money (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    houyhnhnm, Sunspots

    Who is getting the contracts for these tests? I suspect that profits are the primary driver - another way to loot the public.

  •  It sounds like what happens (0+ / 0-)

    when administrators take over the classroom and treat teachers as line workers in a Taylorized mass production system. Students are merely widgets that have to be manufactured to certain tolerances or be rejected. The disdain for teaching as a profession is palpable.

    The GOP can't win on ideas. They can only win by lying, cheating, and stealing. So they do.

    by psnyder on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:20:55 PM PDT

  •  The starship enterprise (0+ / 0-)

    Is driven by Data.  That's it.  It's data driven.  It is a good way to approach writing computer programs though.  Then you just have to change the input file (the data) without changing the code.  It's a "data driven" program.

    When will the schools ever start their own "Agile" program too?

    Maybe they can go back to the "School Excellence" program, or "Put Kids First" program.  But "Data Driven" sounds cool for now.

    Republicans: Taking the country back ... to the 19th century

    by yet another liberal on Sat Apr 27, 2013 at 08:43:01 PM PDT

  •  Meh, you're fighting an uphill battle (0+ / 0-)

    at this site, based on the fairly recent tempest-in-a-teapot about how DailyKos' topics too are "data driven" nowadays.

    And are much better for it!!

    d'ohh!!

  •  The information from those tests is never (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Sunspots, dizzydean

    used to improve instruction....point 4.

    It is only used to harass teachers, compare teachers, tell parents that their child in in which percent of the class/nation, and is never used to remediate what the student is weakest in.

    A Principal  pointed out that my 6th graders did not do well on the Math test in the beginning of the school year. I told him that I had given a times table test and found them weak in basic multiplication facts and 8 students couldn't even do 2 x 3. His reply: "It is NOT your job to teach times tables. Their parents need to do that."

    And what if the parents don't know their times tables? Or don't have the ability to teach or make their child practice because of 2 or more jobs?

    It is a vicious cycle.

    He told me that he didn't want me to spend/waste time teaching times tables or even testing them on it (so no mad minute practices!)

    So I told him that all their math tests would be similarly low.

    He also wanted 25 reasons why the students (that I did NOT have last year) did so poorly on the math test when they were in the 92nd percentile last year!

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 08:54:11 AM PDT

  •  It's reductionism - the map is not the territory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean

    Single data points are not the same as the concepts, even if they have some varying degree of connection to the relevant concepts.

  •  It's a pathetic excuse for accountability (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dizzydean, cassidy3

    It is part of an ongoing effort to dumb down teaching.  

    The constant harping on teachers over the past thirty years has had a damaging effect.  We trust these teachers to be with our kids all day for half of the year, but, there is this pervasive notion that the teachers themselves are somehow responsible for some perceived decline in student success.  

    So they'll try just about anything to make the process of teaching easier, and more 'teacher proof'.

    Streichholzschächtelchen

    by otto on Sun Apr 28, 2013 at 09:23:34 AM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site