We have to stop pretending

So I just came across a post by Rodney Turner (who came across a post by Beth Still–who came across a post by Scott Mcleod), listing five things we have to stop pretending in Education.

Here’s my addition…

We have to stop pretending:

  • that acronyms are necessary to make an Education initiative or tool official. (See this list.)
  • that teaching special-needs and under-served students is in any way similar to teaching average and above-average students.
  • that we actually know what good teaching looks like.
  • that standardized testing is a decent and useful way of assessing kids.
  • that any of us really know what we’re doing. (We’re just doing what we think is best.)

Feel free to make your own list and tag it with #makeschooldifferent.

The Glowing Scantron

There is only ONE THING I hate more than numbered list titles–you know: 12 Great Apps for Engagement! 27 Reasons This Dog Is Having A Better Day Than You! 195 Ways Evernote Can Change Your Life! Seriously, I despise numbered titles. Just give me a good, old-fashioned article or blog post without the uber-convenience of numbered headings; your lists are dumbing down what could be good writing.

So, back to the thing I hate MOST: computer-based, high-stakes assessment.

Join the club, right? I know that this is a hate that’s pretty widespread and easy to support. But here’s my specific problem with testing: it’s a technology priority. All chromebooks go bye bye and get handed off to a silent lab of testers. All computer labs are shut down and become a place of gloom and doom. Great learning with technology stops and the tech becomes, once again, a typing and clicking machine–no longer a transformative tool. Desktop support becomes the testing troubleshoot squad. Teachers start saying things like, “Those third graders really needed time on the computer so they could learn how to type better for the assessment.

I could barf.

The thing I spend all year championing is suddenly a device of doom–an insular world of judgement and right and wrong, a multiple-choice machine, a locked-down, secure-browsered testing tool. What–three weeks ago-was a path to information, a global community, collaboration, and creativity is now, basically, a glowing Scantron.

And, dear SBAC, no matter how interactive you make that glowing Scantron, it’s still a standardized test. Having the ability to drag and drop an answer or hover for definitions of words does not (not not not not NOT) make a test more valid or accurate or real-world or ANYTHING. It just makes it harder to TAKE the test, because–now–in addition to content literacy, kids need pretty extreme amount of computer literacy in order to SHOW their content literacy.

This is not a new thought by any means. But, I figured it couldn’t hurt to add my opinion to the giant stack of negative opinions of this thing. One day, that giant stack of opinions will fall over on someone’s head.

Until then, carry on, minions of the glowing Scantron.