The Other Side of the Coin

I read this NY Times article this afternoon and thought I’d share it here. You can see the article in its entirety by clicking here.

The article’s author mentions research that shows that although students are taking more rigorous course work, standardized test scores are not increasing. Now you have to be careful with what this all means; the article points to research that demonstrates a disconnect between the label of an advanced course and the advanced learning of a student. I would argue the diatribe directed at course configuration is incomplete. There is more than meets the eye here.

We all know that the common trend right now in the United States is the outright attack on public education, but specifically it is teachers who are taking the flack for the majority of it. Nevermind the politicians, superintendents, and board members who are involved, right? In any case, what this article fails to examine are the tests themselves. We have decided as country, whether willfully or otherwise, to accept that standardized tests prove our place in the global race for higher education. What never seems to be under attack is the quality of these tests. Instead, it is the poor work of educators who have failed to deliver the content and have it retained by all students. Give me a break. Of course there are poor teachers, but there are far more good to great teachers in this country than is ever examined or given credit to.

I simply plead the case that we need to examine these tests, and if we want to be held to the same standards as the rest of the world. In what way has a standardized test ever shown innovation, creativity, and problem solving? It is truly rare. If all these students are taking these advanced classes and are not increasing in their test scores, then there is more to it than all teachers being ineffective in their methods and techniques. The rigor of a course should always be defined by how it makes a child think, not how it prepares them to answer, “A, B, C, or D.”

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