Thursday, February 8, 2018

What Test-Driven Schools Won't Do

The Network for Public Education has released the latest of its series of videos in support of public education. This particular video features Jesse Hagopian, a Seattle teacher and activist. 

It's a short but stark reminder that corporate test-driven schools push out the needs of students by silencing the people best positioned to respond to those needs within the school setting-- teachers. He sets the stage with a stark story from early in his career to contrast with a system that requires "teaching to the test rather than teaching to the student" and turn schools into "assembly line production."

It's good to be reminded. There have been so many issues raised in the education debates, and so much of the focus these days is on issues like the growth of charter schools and the increasing reliance on computers to deliver an education-flavored product that this issue can fade into the background. But it has been a problem since the first days of No Child Left Behind-- a devaluing of the teacher role and a focus on "teacher-proof" teaching with just one goal-- to raise scores on a single standardized test.

The result, as Hagopian points out, is schools where "some company somewhere has more say over what's happening in the classroom than the educator standing before the students." But by sacrificing teacher autonomy and the freedom for educators to use their best professional judgment, we ultimately make schools less responsive to the students. Test-centered schools are upside down schools, where the students exist to provide data and test results for some corporate agenda, rather than rightly occupying center stage in the school.

The video is just two minutes long. Watch it. It is worth your time.

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