Today is the first Guest Blog offerings for the summer months. I have reached out to a number of people I respect to share some of their thoughts on what BornStoryteller has been about: Education, The Arts, Arts-in-Education, Home Schooling, Alternative School/Charter Schools, Storytelling, Writing, and the other assorted things that make up this platform.
If you wish to contribute, please contact me via email (link on side of the postings).
Debra El-Ramey is a fairly new online acquaintance, but she has already proven herself to not only be intelligent and passionate about writing, but equally forceful in her views on the state of education in the United States. Her website Pure and Simple is a pleasure to follow.
National Standards: Are They Necessary?
I suppose it’s because nearly all children go to school nowadays, and have things arranged for them, that they seem so forlornly unable to produce their own ideas.
~ Agatha Christie
Many companies recruit workers with a variety of 21st century skills that are not reflected in most traditional American schools. There are wide gaps between the skills that businesses value and the skills that most youth actually have. As much as youth need to learn academic content, they also need to know how to keep learning and how to make effective and innovative use of what they know throughout their lives.
The biggest drawback to students’ acquisition of 21st century skills stems from a politically motivated obsession with National Standards. Bill Courtney gets straight to the point. “The big question schools and parents need to consider is, what is the point of education in the 21st century? He writes that, “While literacy and numeracy are important skills they are not all that matters… Education today is much more about ways of thinking which involve creative and critical approaches to problem solving and decision making.”
Bill quotes Albert Einstein as saying, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.” And he also notes that Einstein’s parents were told by his school that he was borderline retarded. Wonder how many geniuses are failing in the system today… How long can principals ignore the dire warnings about the consequences of National Standards? http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/
A Blue Ribbon Commission on Testing and Accountability recently presented its findings, which determined that: Students are not graduating high school prepared for life in the 21st century… and too much time is spent on testing without effective prescriptive feedback from students.
Some schools require demonstration of mastery by students via oral presentations, exhibits, or argument based research papers – rather than memorizing and regurgitating facts for testing. They “teach to learn.”
William Purcell, founder of the grassroots movement: TAKE A TIME OUT FROM EXCESSIVE & HIGH STAKES TESTING says this:
“It is time to rethink testing in the nation. It is time to end EOGs and EOCs and move forward to a new vision of what is really important in creating and honoring the learning communities in our schools. Too many parents, teachers, and community members see stressed-out children who turn away from learning because the tests label them failures. At best they turn into robotic bubble-sheet experts churning out ‘correct’ answers to a handful of questions and writing generic 5-paragraph babble.
“Students who survive the tests move on to college where professors increasingly find students lack critical thinking skills, and formerly ‘strong testers’ struggle without the security of a 5-paragraph answer or a multiple-choice question from which to choose the “right” answer. Millions of dollars are squandered on testing, test prep, test training, test evaluation… funds that could be better used to support student learning.
“Teachers too, are now turning from the tests and beginning to voice opposition to the rigid, robotic learning environments that are encouraged by emphasizing tests as the sole measure of students, teachers, and schools. These tests put the blame on students and label those students as failing or as level-1 or level-2… all of which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy for students.
“Curriculum becomes “teacher-proofed” as companies and consultants offer curriculum training, supplies, and materials to increase your school’s scores – almost a like drug company’s pandering pills on TV. We all need to stand up and speak out and say, “STOP TESTING NOW.” It is time to end EOGs and EOCs.” There is a better way. The end of the school year should be a time of celebration and joy for the year’s worth of learning, not a time for testing, re-testing, and testing again…”
William suggests that instead of testing children, they could demonstrate mastery of learning in far more productive and exciting ways: plays, pageants, concerts, art, exhibitions, poetry recitals, and project demonstrations.