Education, From The Capitol To The Classroom

Mailbag: Is Education Becoming Too 'Corporatized'? — Plus, Keeping Testing Secure By Decreasing Security

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There’s no shortage of opinions on President Obama’s decision last week to take executive action and offer states waivers from requirements of No Child Left Behind. (We curated some of them last week.)

Here’s another, from B-town Errant blogger Douglas Storm to lead off our best-of-our-comments-section roundup:

NCLB is simply a device to create and declare failure, as are most “standards”. That is politics — controlling “measures” is controlling the population. I think that it’s naive to think ANY president intends to do anything but follow a corporate model towards privatization on a greater and greater scale.

In a similar vein, commenter ‘h4x354x0r’ offered his own, er, modest proposal? about the Obama NCLB announcement:

NCLB was never intended to improve education. It was intended to make it appear public education was a failure, so that vouchers could be implemented instead. It’s been working splendidly so far; this is it’s first speed bump on the road to ending public education. But I have little doubt that the “punishment mentality” nation will, in the end, eat it’s own children to avoid the real cost of educating them.

Have a reaction to these comments? Feel free to leave a comment of your own.

Also, we heard lots of feedback on the idea that making standardized testing less secure could actually help prevent Atlanta-esque cheating scandals in the future. Here’s some comments section reaction to the idea of making a large bank of questions public, and selected a few of the questions at random for computerized testing:

From Josh

This goes back to the point of a standardized test: is it to test knowledge or critical thinking skills? If the tests were meant to see how students can think on their feet, then having all the questions published beforehand defeats this purpose. Memorizing test questions and answers also doesn’t necessarily count as acquiring knowledge.

From Kyler Laird

FAA (aviation) exams are given this way. The questions (and answers) are public and, indeed, there are companies that do weekend crash courses to shove them all into a student’s head. (I took one.) With a large enough database, it shouldn’t make a significant difference that the questions are available; the knowledge is still required.

And from Kstoer

As a teacher having the assessment of material available to me certainly increases my effectiveness. If I know what kind of question my students may have to answer I can prepare them–I’m not teaching to the test I’m teaching them the material that the state has asked me to teach. I’m teaching them how to study, how to be successful, and even how to jump through hoops that college applications, employers, and the government always seems to place in front of them.


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