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View Diary: Book Review: Linda Perlstein's "Tested" (92 comments)

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  •  Over the long haul, here's what happens (12+ / 0-)

    As the environment in schools becomes less creative and more regimented, the creative, caring teachers will simply leave the profession, leaving behind those who work best in regimented settings. If that scenario comes to pass, then education in this country will be all but dead, along with the Jeffersonian ideal of an "informed citizenry."

    In my more cynical days, I think this is exactly what NCLB was designed to do.

    I fear for the future of higher education, as well, since there are hints that this "accountability" approach will soon be extended to colleges and universities.

    •  Yes (8+ / 0-)

      As a college professor, I've been watching for that.  And there are already rumblings in the Congress and in state legislatures.

      •  There are rumors in my state (5+ / 0-)

        of common syllabi across all state institutions.

        When the system no longer needs my professional judgment and creativity, I'm out.

        They can probably hire a script-reader for less.

        •  When the Teachers... (13+ / 0-)

          ...are not trusted in education, but the legislators are, education itself becomes impossible.

        •  The Florida Constitution (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AaronBa, ladybug53

          requires "uniform" system of K-12 schooling.

          SECTION 1.  Public education.--

          (a)  The education of children is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. It is, therefore, a paramount duty of the state to make adequate provision for the education of all children residing within its borders. Adequate provision shall be made by law for a uniform, efficient, safe, secure, and high quality system of free public schools that allows students to obtain a high quality education and for the establishment, maintenance, and operation of institutions of higher learning and other public education programs that the needs of the people may require.

          The children in Liberty City are entitled to the same schooling as the children in Coral Gables.

          •  Well, it should be uniform--sort of (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AaronBa, Heiuan, fiddler crabby

            I agree that it should be uniform--as far as quality is concerned.

            However, the idea of everybody everywhere studying the exact same thing at the exact same time is ludicrous. Children aren't a mass-produced commodity--every single child has his or her own needs, and progresses at his or her own pace.

          •  What they're entitled to (0+ / 0-)

            and what they get are vastly different things.  Read up on Jean Anyon's reports and results.  The meat of the article are on page 13.  (warning:  pdg file)

            The apocalypse will require substantial revision of all zoning ordinances. - Zashvill -6.25 -5.69

            by Heiuan on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 08:01:27 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Uhh.... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          AaronBa, fiddler crabby

          They do. If your state university is like the one where I am attending and working as a TA, they already have a slave-labor class waiting to step in and follow the given syllabi.

          We're called graduate students. We're desperate for the experience (and the insufficient pay) to help us get a job after we're done. We don't expect to be teaching our own free-standing courses, just following something that at worst isn't far from a script.

          It's easier on the budget to pay me $8K a year to deal with all of the students and do all of the grading than it is to pay a real faculty member to do it.

          •  I remember those days. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            AaronBa, Heiuan, Philoguy

            And how we were told to always say that we cared more about research than teaching.

            Grad students really are treated shabbily, and so much of that treatment is driven by budgets.

            However, I'm at a two-year school. No teaching assistants here. We all fully teach our own classes -- five each semester.

            We're open admissions, too -- which I fully support -- but it means that we're getting the least-prepared students, so teaching here is very labor intensive.

            We're also among the lowest paid faculty in the Southeast.

            Low pay, low funding (we've never been at full funding levels), ill-prepared students -- and now we most likely will have the further burden of NCLB-like testing and increasingly narrow standards because somehow someone got the idea that we'll slack off unless there's a big stick hanging over our heads.

            I love (most of) my colleagues. By and large our faculty works very hard with very few resources, and are committed to helping students change their lives. So when I hear about "efficiencies" and "accountability" and "standards" coming from people who have no idea what we do every day, I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. In the sixteen years I've been doing this, it's become much harder for me to do my job. When I started, the Legislature and Board of Regents pretty much left us alone. They trusted us to do what needed to be done, and we did a pretty good job.

            But that's all changed, and I think it's going to get worse before it gets better.

            I don't know why they even bother to hire people with  graduate degrees. It's becoming increasingly obvious they don't really care that we're good thinkers and are full of interesting knowledge.

            •  WTF? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              How do you introduce high-stakes testing in college?

              I mean, beyond some sort of core curriculum, there's no way people have the same set of classes--so the knowledge base can't possibly be uniform.

              Of course, reality has never been a problem for the idiots currently in charge, so I'm sure they'll find some way to bollock up the system and ram it through.

              •  A very good question. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                lone1c, AaronBa, Philoguy

                Right now our students take an exit exam sometime during their second year. We're a two-year college. I know -- it doesn't make sense. Every couple of years we get permission to try a new test. At no point do we explore the possibility that there might be a larger problem than simply "this is the wrong test."

                These scores are aggregated, and become part of the funding formula for the next year. If our students don't do well, we don't get funded fully. Strike two against making sense.

                Of course, we don't get full funding anyway. In my decade and a half here, we've usually gotten only about 80% of what we're supposed to. Strike three.

                Now they're talking about merit pay, conveniently ignoring a huge body of research that says it simply doesn't work.

                •  My sympathies (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  fiddler crabby

                  I'm lucky enough to work in a discipline (engineering) where it's possible to assess progress objectively (through homework sets, projects, exams if necessary). I'm not a fan of "closed-book tests"--it usually doesn't really measure anything useful in the real world.

                  However, the notion that your pay and funding is tied to scores on a single test frightens me. If there was some sort of reference point (in other words, have students made progress since the entrance exam), it might have some utility--but not a single test like that.

                  •  There are other things in the funding formula (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    so the exit exam isn't the only measure. But scores have been trending down slightly, so we came very close to getting a big hit last year.

                    So many things are working against us:

                    Tuition increases mean fewer adult students, who tend to achieve at higher levels than traditionals.

                    Increasing numbers of non-native speakers. I'm glad they're here -- our mission is to serve the community -- but this needs to be accounted for in our statistics.

                    NCLB gives us less to work with when students come in the door. Students seem even less prepared to do college level work, and are more often resentful when asked to do anything other than rote memorization.

                    A push to improve retention/graduation rates, which ignores the realities for a good number of our students: they're working more, taking longer to complete degrees, and because of open admission, many who enroll aren't really sure if they want a degree. Add to that the emphasis on online courses, which have dramatically higher attrition rates than traditional courses.

                    Many of our mandates are inherently contradictory, but somehow the faculty is supposed to make it work.

                    •  That's because they are. (0+ / 0-)

                      Students seem even less prepared to do college level work, and are more often resentful when asked to do anything other than rote memorization.

                      College-level work requires that students be able to utilize critical thinking skills.  Students are taught to regurgitate standard answers to standard questions.  They are taught to give "the right answer" instead of learning why an answer is correct.

                      There in no longer a focus on teaching children how to ustilize higher operation thinking.

                      Somewhere, Socrates is appalled.

                      The apocalypse will require substantial revision of all zoning ordinances. - Zashvill -6.25 -5.69

                      by Heiuan on Mon Jul 30, 2007 at 08:08:40 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

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