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Hell, No, We Won’t Bubble!

Of all places for a revolution: the state of Nebraska has decided not to use standardized tests to evaluate their students. Rather than give kids the traditional multiple choice exams to assess their reading and math skills, schools around the state are allowed to decide for themselves how to best demonstrate student learning through the use of portfolios. And what’s more amazing, the feds have approved it. The Nebraska Commissioner of Education certainly has the right idea!

"I don’t give a damn what No Child Left Behind says," Christensen said. "I think education is far too complex to be reduced to a single score. We decided we were going to take No Child Left Behind and integrate it into our plan, not the other way around. If it’s bad for kids, we’re not going to do it."

Of course, this approach is neither cheap nor easy. But assessing student skills by actually having them demonstrate their reading abilities and solve math problems rather than pick an answer out of a line up makes a lot of sense. What makes this kind of assessment really unusual, however, is that it actually puts some faith in the teacher.

Christensen said Nebraska’s system is unusual because it rests on a revolutionary concept: that teachers know better than tests whether students are learning, and that they can be trusted to make that happen. "Educators have never been in control of their craft," he said. "What makes our system work is it speaks to the heart of teachers."

Update (later that same day): Ooops! Sorry. Forgot to include the link to the story. Must have been really asleep this morning! :-)


  1. aschoolyardblogger

    Thanks for the post! In essence this is what NCLB is really about – looking at each student. It is the kind of news I have been looking for. It means NCLB is working! I remember writing somewhere wondering where the brave guy is who gets it, in Nebraska. Very nice!

  2. Chris Lehmann

    Wow… where is the cite for this post? This is wonderful news!

  3. Tim

    Sorry. Forgot to include a link to the story. The entry has been corrected.

  4. shari

    So how does Nebraska get out of this whole thing and why don’t the other states follow suit?

  5. Tim

    Nebraska has someone at the state level who actually understands teaching and learning and, from the sound of it, someone who also isn’t afraid to stand up for principle. They don’t get out of the requirement to assess student learning (and they shouldn’t). They are just doing it in a way that makes sense.

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