I love being taken to task, dragged screaming through the streets by my Mom, oh, no, that was my brother — I’m the good one. I am golden and never get into trouble. Despite that, Dr. Stephen Krashen has dropped the other shoe and it landed right on my head. (1)
In a guest blog for EdWeek he points out the all too obvious flaw in my argument about national standards as presented by the Common Core: even more testing!
Yes, I am guilty, I have just endorsed additional testing for children. Santa Claus wears a fake beard, he gives out toys to naughty children and the Tooth Fairy doesn’t build a castle, she throws those teeth away!
No, they don’t. I do believe in Santa Claus but I know that even his gifts often come with bills attached. Still, to anyone who has read all of my previous 50+ posts, first, let me say “Thank you!”; second, let me say “Get a life!”, and finally I will add that you must know from completing that daunting task that I am not in favor of any testing other than the maintenance of checklists to record developmental markers accomplished. I would have gleefully taught these last thirty years without ever giving one single high stakes test had I been allowed to do so!
But Dr. Krashen is correct when he says:
The US Department of Education is developing a massive new testing program, with far more testing than ever before, and they have made no secret about it. (1)
I did not sign on for this. Eat Cuban food? Sure. Invade Cuba? No! In endorsing national objectives that can be employed effectively by educators I am in no way encouraging the subsequent adoption of increased testing, in point of fact in my post I clearly stated:
First and foremost, ESEA must go away. There is no place for the schizophrenic personality disorder that would result from teaching both to the curriculum and the test. (2)
I apologize for being unclear or less than transparent. Rather than increasing testing, I am calling for it to go away in favor of empowering teachers to do what they do best: teach. Co-terminus with adopting national standards for each grade we must also return to the belief that teachers are the experts. They must be allowed to deliver the curriculum and assess as they need to for their records or as they deem appropriate but no one should be telling them how and when to do so.
The greatest argument against high stakes testing is that it puts too much pressure upon our most fragile resource: our children. Yet my own reason for being against the tests is much more selfish — I don’t want to gather data for someone else that does not benefit my own work. When I give a test in April, the results of which will not be released until August when that actual class is three months absent never to return, those results tell me nothing. It’s just someone else’s data.
So, no tests? From my perch in Tucson, I can see the next argument as it approaches now like a massive dark cloud on the southwestern horizon above the Whetstone mountains. “How will we know if we are getting our money’s worth?” “Where is the accountability?” “What about ‘educational rigor’, how is it demonstrated?”
Personally I don’t care, I know how hard my colleagues work, but I understand the problem. How will I offer a compromise? Compromise is important, it is a viable tool, currently out of fashion in our political arena. Ok, you can have your tests, every three grades, but here is my sweet and sour offering: we also must stop social promotion. We have to stop sending children on to the next grade simply because they had a birthday.
What I propose is that children move when they are ready and they are ready when their teachers agree that they are ready. It brings new meaning to the oft maligned term, AYP. Along with establishing core standards to be completed at each level we must recognize that not all children mature at the same rate. Public education needs to change, I agree with this statement but educators should work to change it, not politicians; let them work on how to return to a reasonable dialogue in their workplace — they can fix their own house and let us take care of ours.
Thank you Dr. Krashen, for reading my words and for pointing out the facile nature of my argument. I do apologize but I have to admit I am making this up as a I go along. My articles are not products, they are syntheses and observations; not tenets but more the stuff of wishes, or prayers if you will, for the survival of public education.