On Tuesday, I added @dianeravitch to my twitter feed, and man does she tweet like crazy.
In class Tuesday night, we watched this speech by Diane Ravitch. One of the thinking I keyed in on was that she suggested that it’s not necessarily the testing that is the problem, but how we use the date that is generated from the testing that is the issue. We use test results in a punitive way. The consequences for “failure” (thought the level at which we are supposed to be performing is ridiculously unreasonable) are loss of funding, loss of autonomy, and government management. The measures the government take all seem to assume that all students learn using the exact same methods, turning classrooms into teacher-centered (or perhaps a company-centered) environment.
A colleague of mine had an interesting suggestion about the way the government should handle these failing schools. When students fail our classes we are required to create an AIP (Academic Improvement Plan) that details the areas in which students need help as well as the strategies we are going to use to help them get there (do note that this AIP doesn’t include anything about a studnets’ lack of motivation). These plans come after months of observation by teachers who are trained to work with students.
If the government requires us to do these improvement plans on a small scale with individual students, why not extend the same idea to “failing” schools? Because that would require more manpower and money than the government is willing to pay on schools.
On a completely different note, Ravitch’s speech talked a lot about poverty and what effect that has on students and schools. I want to address that issues, but I plan on reading Ruby Payne’s text (the title currently escapes me) first.