Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Why don't we care more about things that matter?

Another icy day, another early dismissal.  According to one administrator's calculations, we've lost 23.5 instructional hours this year due to early dismissals or late arrivals.  Oh, and the weatherman is predicting 5 - 10 inches of snow tomorrow night, so we may be adding 7 hours to that on Thursday.

With the standardized testing season opening in April, this is hardly good news for students (and teachers) who are trying to get an entire herd of students over the proverbial bar.  It also seems to imply that there may be some restructuring of some schedules to make sure that all of the herd hears the good news of how to prep for the "big test" using multiple testing strategies for academic success -- special outlining, highlighter usage, and whatever works -- all to create the best possible testing environment for each student.

Bottom line -- who the heck cares?

 What do you THINK?

In a study published in the Boston Globe last week, Developmental Psychologist Susan Engel, from Williams College, presented her research regarding the value of standardized testing, relative to the concepts most valued by society.  Engel has reviewed more than 300 studies of K–12 academic tests, and made a discovery that may shock society, but certainly does not shock those of us in education.

According to Engel, " Most tests used to evaluate students, teachers, and school districts predict almost nothing except the likelihood of achieving similar scores on subsequent tests. I have found virtually no research demonstrating a relationship between those tests and measures of thinking or life outcomes."

So what actually are the topics most valued by society?  According to Engel, there are seven.

1.  Reading
2.  Inquiry
3.  Flexible Thinking and Use of Evidence
4.  Conversation
5.  Collaboration
6.  Engagement
7.  Well-being

Go ahead, read the article.  Consider the alternative assessments suggested, to get a more complete picture of what is happening in our schools.  What do we really want our kids to be able to do when they graduate -- or even next week?  How do we plan to teach them the necessary skills?  

And where will we find the time, especially if it continues to snow?