4 people think this is good

    Lil' Miss Moonshine Prem Lakshman Liz Dwyer Ben Goldhirsh

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  • Liz DwyerLiz Dwyer

    Opting out really only works when you get a mass of folks doing it like this so kudos to them for sending a clear message that testing 4-year-olds is pretty insane. Also, fascinating that the article says the school "reserves up to 10% of its spots for kids with a parent in jail," and "Kids get a quiet time nearly most days, where they can snuggle up with a teddy bear for nap or read a book quietly. Teachers write multiple-page narratives instead of giving report cards." These are exactly the kinds of practices you find in elite private schools, so I'm so glad to see them in a school serving this population.

    And I love that the parents said they "chose the school because the project-based, more creative forms of learning develop critical thinking skills better than the required tests, which parents were shocked to learn about." That's the kind of instruction we should all want in our schools.

  • Ben GoldhirshBen Goldhirsh

    super interesting. the testing discussion is a big one. I think a topic that often doesn't get addressed is what forces are driving this from the origin - e.g. if colleges are requiring tests so they can evaluate students at scale, that's going to permeate the system. I think the big questions revolve around how can tests be revisioned as valuable evaluations that support improvement. I'm curious how art schools work on this front when I imagine the knowledge/skills that are being developed don't fit into any particular area. Anyhow, sorry for the rant. You seeing anything interesting on this front in Detroit?

    • Liz DwyerLiz Dwyer

      The testing issue is definitely big--insert shameless plug for the "Redesign the Standardized Tes"t section of the Fall issue of GOOD magazine that's on newsstands right now! :)

      An interesting trend over the past year is that growing number of colleges are downplaying the SAT/ACT in admissions because the scores tend to tell more about whether a parent could pay for their kid to take SAT prep classes than what they can actually do. These kinds of tests also aren't designed to provide any kind of real feedback that helps teachers or students improve in real time, either.

      Folks say they should be used to evaluate teachers--and under the models being rolled out now, art teachers would be evaluated with, for example, the English teacher's scores, even if they didn't teach those students.

      I'm reminded of what David Magill, the head of the University of Chicago Lab School, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel sends his kids, said about using standardized tests to evaluate teachers: "Measuring outcomes through standardized testing and referring to those results as the evidence of learning and the bottom line is, in my opinion, misguided and, unfortunately, continues to be advocated under a new name and supported by the current [Obama] administration.”

      I'm also reminded of this quote from Robert Reich: "Paradoxically we're embracing standardized tests just when the economy is eliminating standardized jobs."

    • Chris ThinnesChris Thinnes

      Great questions! I wonder whether--

      1. the assumption that "colleges... requiring tests so they can evaluate students at scale" is valid (those don't seem, at all, to be the forces driving the tests that are the subject of this post)

      2. whether the question "how can tests be revisioned as valuable evaluations that support improvement" refers to students', or teachers', improvement? I think the common call among education professionals -- teachers, as distinct from policy makers -- is to use alternative and more authentic assessment to inform and support students' learning, as distinct from measuring the success of a 'system' or, less valid yet, the effectiveness of teachers.

      • Liz DwyerLiz Dwyer

        I'm very interested in the development of alternative and authentic assessments. What do you think of the digital badging that Mozilla and MacArthur are working on?

        • Chris ThinnesChris Thinnes

          I know embarrassingly little of more recent developments, following the earliest ideas and proposals, so to comment is only to blow hard. That said:
          There's a part of me that would rather that game designers embraced learning theory rather than that educators embraced gaming theory. On the one hand, to whatever degree the badges are intended to incentive engaged learning, I don't think that's any less bunk a proposition than grades, scores, or any other such extrinsic motivator or reward, though this certainly has a happier face than a letter grade or percentage. On the other hand, to whatever degree the badges are tied to meaningful, authentic performance tasks that demonstrate mastery, transfer, deeper learning, etc. -- and are assessed by humans who have a relationship with the child who is being assessed -- I think that could be a good thing -- and certainly better than current, flawed, and misused high-stakes MC tests. I also worry about any system that is projected or proposed as a national system for the assessment of students at the national level: the use to which such systems are put are most often to make comparative judgments about students -- whether it's between districts vying for federal dollars, or between nations vying for systemic bragging rights, or between students vying for placement in a college or a job -- and the only purpose in which teachers are genuinely interested in assessment is for the purpose of supporting a child's learning.