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View Diary: Seattle teachers refuse to give flawed standardized test (121 comments)

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  •  Your child,... (3+ / 0-)
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    Dogs are fuzzy, Linda Wood, nextstep

    ...Tom in Topeka and Dave in Des Moines (to say nothing of children in China and India) will ultimately be competing for the same jobs.

    In my opinion, it is immoral to lead Tom to believe he is doing well (and hence doesn't really have to work harder) while Dave, whose local school district has higher standards and is setting the bar higher, is urged to meet higher minimum standards. By the time Tom realizes he can't get a job because all the Dave's took them, it's very difficult for him to recover his life.

    Tom and Dave and your child may have different skills and interests. But any of them that can't add two fractions with dissimilar denominators, compute compound interest, solve a simple system of linear equations, understand basic economics, read and understand their auto insurance policy, and compute the area of common two dimensional objects lack the necessary education to function at full potential in society as adults. All of these skills are easily tested by standardized tests.

    When Federal funding is involved, as it has become for some reason, in education, taxpayer Cathy in California now has an interest in how effectively her dollars are being spent in educating Tom and Dave.

    Once Federal funding is involved, standardization is, I believe, inevitable -- just as the requirements for Interstate Highways are set by the Federal Government because they fund them.

    •  I would suggest to you (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dogs are fuzzy

      That 95% of the adult population is incapable of performing the list of tasks you suggested.  Where would you guess Americans, as a whole, twenty-forty years removed from 8th grade, would land on such a test?

      How did you pick those particular skills, in any event?  You're just arbitrarily raising some skills above others.  People once widely believed it was important for an enlightened mind to be able to read and compose in Greek, Latin, and French, rhetoric and oration, and perhaps master Newtonian physics, etc., and that foreign travel was absolutely essential to becoming a well rounded person.  Would you suggest we scrap the current system and return to an entirely classical education?  I can certainly envision gigantic benefits of doing so, but who am I to choose what every other child in America should learn?

      Lastly, do you have any evidence, at all, that doing well on standardized tests has any correlation to later success in life?  Every statistic I've seen suggests that the number one factor is your class and wealth - i.e., to whom you are born.  Trust me, you can do AMAZING on standardized tests your whole life, and still face long periods of joblessness and despair.  

      •  Well... (1+ / 0-)
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        Linda Wood

        ...if 95% of the adult population is incapable of performing the list of tasks I included, maybe we should just give up.

        Although many adults may have forgotten some of these skills, it comes back much more quickly if you once knew it.

        I picked skills (and it wasn't meant to be a complete list) that are useful in day to day life and jobs. At this time, reading and writing classical Greek isn't very useful for most people in their day to day life (it's a fine hobby, but there just aren't many jobs in the field). Having selected Latin as the language to take in High School many decades ago, I still run across words that I can infer the meaning of because of their origins in Latin - mildly useful, but not essential so I didn't mention Latin as an important skill.

        If someone of average intelligence can't add 1/8 and 1/4 when faced with those question on a standardized, or non-standardized, test or in real life, their education left them handicapped. If they are able to do that calculation, they can do it on a standardized test.

        Increasingly, technology and specialization makes education more and more important. When 90+ percent of the labor force worked in agriculture before mechanical tools (steam tractors for example) became available, there were plenty of jobs for those without an education. Now only (IIRC) 2 or 3 percent of the labor force works in agriculture in the US (and a larger, albeit still fairly small, percentage of those jobs probably require a basic education). Manufacturing came along and was able to employ many of those with little education who would have worked in agricultural jobs previously. However, manufacturing jobs increasingly require more education. Classic manufacturing jobs could be taught in perhaps ten or twenty minutes and required little education -- computers and robots can do many of these jobs now and, if labor becomes too expensive, will be deployed to replace workers. Some jobs will be created in designing, maintaining, and programing these computers and robots but the new jobs created require way more skill and education than the manufacturing jobs replaced.

        Consider that Foxconn (yes, I know, evil) appears to be planning on deploying a million robots, designed and built in-house, to assemble iGadgets. This is to reduce labor costs and problems and, probably, to improve product quality. That is the future. As a byproduct, I speculate that Foxconn may also become a leading supplier of industrial robots -- sadly, partially due to resistance by labor in the US, we have not focused on robots in recent decades so have probably ceded this market long ago.

        Looking out at the horizon, I just don't see where the flood of new jobs that require limited education and skills are going to come from. We have a moral responsibility to insure that children get the best possible education and develop skills that are useful to society and valued highly so these children can live productive lives not on the edge of poverty. Some individuals are not intellectually capable of high degrees of educational achievement (notice I said "capable", not "are too lazy" or "don't care" or "would rather play games on their X-Boxes") and we must reserve those few remaining low skill jobs for these rather than have these low skilled jobs taken by those who have sufficient intellectual capabilities, but not the education, to hold higher skill jobs.

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