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Peter Greene: Why Standardized Testing Sucks

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Peter Greene here explains what most teachers know about standardized testing. It is a monumental waste of time and money. It doesn’t reflect what students were taught or learned.

He writes:

“Standardized testing is completely inauthentic assessment, and students know that. The young ones may blame themselves, but students of all ages see that there is no connection between the testing and their education, their lives, anything or anyone at all in their real existence. Standardized test are like driving down a highway on vacation where every five miles you have to stop, get out of the car, and make three basketball shot attempts from the free throw line– annoying, intrusive, and completely unrelated to the journey you’re on. If someone stands at the free throw line and threatens you with a beating if you miss, it still won’t make you conclude that the requirement is not stupid and pointless.

“And so the foundation of all this data generation, all this evaluation, all this summative formative bibbitive bobbitive boobosity, is a student performing an action under duress that she sees as stupid and pointless and disconnected from anything real in life. What are the odds that this task under these conditions truly measures anything at all? And on that tissue-thin foundation, we build a whole structure of planning students’s futures, sculpting instruction, evaluating teachers. There is nothing anywhere that comes close in sheer hubritic stupidity.”

The only point he overlooks is that standardized testing mirrors socioeconomic status and distributes benefits and sanctions along the SES curve.


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sbarendt
2447 days ago
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Houston: A Teacher Struggling to Survive in a “Model” District

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Rachel Fairbank is a first-year teacher in Houston. She
always wanted to be a teacher. She was inspired by her own
teachers. But
she is drowning in paperwork, busywork, mandates, and
directives.
She doesn’t know if she will make it. The
district does nothing to support her as a new teacher. Houston was
honored by the Broad Foundation as the most improved urban district
in the nation (reprising its Broad award from a decade ago–HISD
seems to have improved, then stopped improving, and is now
improving again). Houston is everything that Broad admires: it
gives performance pay; it fires teachers. It believes in carrots
and sticks. But the story Rachel tells is of a district that
disrespects teachers. Across the nation, teachers are leaving the
profession. Veteran teachers are leaving, new teachers are leaving.
How much longer can this continue without seriously damaging the
education profession and hurting children? She writes:
Every morning, as I gear up for another day, I wonder if
this will be the day that I become another one of the teachers who
burns out and quits. Sometimes I feel like I am running a race
against time, waiting to see what will happen first – adapt to the
demands of the job or burn out?
I went into
teaching because I know – in a very tangible fashion – just how
much of a difference teachers can make. My teachers pushed me to
realize my potential.
I am the youngest of
seven children, born into a family with few resources. I worked my
way through college, graduating without my parents’ financial
assistance, without taking out loans and while maintaining a
cumulative 3.6 average at Cornell University, a top-tier university
well-known for its rigor, and later receiving a fistful of
acceptances from top graduate programs….
The truth is that there simply aren’t
enough hours in the day to do everything that is required of me.
There is always something, whether it’s a training requirement or
writing tests or preparing my lessons or grading papers or
counseling struggling students. Some things get finished. Most
things do not.
My working life is an uneasy
calculation between the most pressing need and the requirements
that I hope can remain unfinished. Sometimes I feel like I am
always on the verge of failure, one tiny slip or miscalculation
away from either being fired or failing my students.

I find myself longing for fewer students or fewer classes
or fewer training requirements, all in the hopes that I can hunker
down and concentrate on becoming a good teacher. An effective
teacher.
In the recent report issued by the
Broad Foundation, which honored the district in the fall as the
nation’s top urban school system, the foundation makes the
following observation about HISD:

“High-performing personnel are rewarded through
performance pay, and ineffective personnel are exited. The district
links teacher evaluations to student performance, providing bonuses
to top performers. Every teacher in the district is placed into one
of four performance tiers. Before 2009, the district did not
differentiate its teachers, and only 4 percent of teachers had
growth plans. Today, all teachers in the bottom quartile are on
growth plans and top teachers mentor others.”

I look around me and I see teachers who are overworked
and stressed. To be given a staggering workload – and then to work
at a job that is increasingly more insecure – is to work in an
environment that callously churns through employees.

HISD makes a point of noting that ineffective teachers
are forced to leave the district. What I wonder is how many of
these teachers who leave are truly ineffective and how many are
made ineffective simply due to the overwhelming
workload?
When I think back to the teachers
who made the greatest impact on me, very few were the new teachers.
Most of them were veteran educators who had the experience and
skill necessary to make a lasting impact. Will I make
it?


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sbarendt
2448 days ago
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Know somebody who is avoiding vaccinating their children?

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Tell them to go read this article summarizing the case for vaccinations.

How do we know that scientists and doctors are right?

I’ve been asked about this quite a bit lately. One person asked me “why aren’t we getting peered reviewed research from other points of view?” The reason is quite simple: there isn’t any.

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sbarendt
2663 days ago
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Incredibly well written explanation of the importance of vaccination, and a layman's description of peer reviewed work.
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Sing it, Carl

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Blake Stacey has a good quote quoted at Science after Sunclipse: Sunclipse: The business of skepticism is to be dangerous. Skepticism challenges established institutions. If we teach everybody, including, say, high school students, habits of skeptical thought, they will probably not restrict their skepticism to UFOs, aspirin commercials, and 35,000-year-old channelees. Maybe they’ll start asking awkward questions about economic, or social, or political, or religious institutions. Perhaps they’ll challenge the opinions of those in power. Then where would we be? — Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World, Chapter 24. -
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sbarendt
2699 days ago
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Settled

13 Comments and 47 Shares
Well, we've really only settled the question of ghosts that emit or reflect visible light. Or move objects around. Or make any kind of sound. But that covers all the ones that appear in Ghostbusters, so I think we're good.
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sbarendt
2705 days ago
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13 public comments
lbernholz
2701 days ago
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Cameras and Bigfoot
San Francisco
krvss
2702 days ago
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So true.
shamgar_bn
2702 days ago
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Gone are the days of some of the best conspiracy theories in the world.
Wake Forest, North Carolina
chrishiestand
2705 days ago
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obligatory share
San Diego, CA, USA
aaronwe
2705 days ago
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Damn straight.
Denver
bogorad
2705 days ago
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The idea is not new, but still.
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
tfrab
2705 days ago
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Settled - XKCD
italy
hamachicide
2705 days ago
*xkcd
adamgurri
2705 days ago
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welp
New York, NY
Michdevilish
2705 days ago
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Digital proof: Poof!
Canada
chengjih
2705 days ago
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Actually, I think there are more of a certain type of ghost photos consisting of floating orbs, because people don't know how to use the goddamn flash on their cameras.
Jikee
2706 days ago
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Just like that we fix several urban legends...
jprodgers
2706 days ago
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I love when XKCD hits me with a new concept. This is great.
Somerville, MA
hamachicide
2705 days ago
*xkcd

scienceisbeauty: What scientists say in research papers vs....

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scienceisbeauty:

What scientists say in research papers vs. What they actually mean (via io9).

0_o

Don’t forget “BASICALLY”: (means, “I know I’m not making any sense, so let me state it in a slightly different way.”)

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sbarendt
2729 days ago
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1 public comment
RedSonja
2729 days ago
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I'll have to remember this for my current project.
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