wasting bandwidth since 1999

Speedometers Don’t Improve Performance

The California legislature recently passed a bill that would establish a new system for evaluating schools in that state, one in which student test scores were weighted less heavily and added other measures to the mix.

The governor vetoed the bill, but for many of the right reasons.

Finally, while SB547 attempts to improve the API [Academic Performance Index], it relies on the same quantitative and standardized paradigm at the heart of the current system. The criticism of the API is that it has led schools to focus too narrowly on tested subjects and ignore other subjects and matters that are vital to a well-rounded education. SB547 certainly would add more things to measure, but it is doubtful that it would actually improve our schools. Adding more speedometers to a broken car won’t turn it into a high-performance machine. [My emphasis]

I love that analogy! But I digress and he continues.

SB547 nowhere mentions good character or love of learning. It does allude to student excitement and creativity, but does not take these qualities seriously because they can’t be placed in a data stream. Lost in the bill’s turgid mandates is any recognition that quality is fundamentally different from quantity. [His emphasis]

Of course, California is not the only state where an overemphasis on testing a very few basic skills has narrowed the curriculum and produced an extremely skewed picture of student learning and school quality.

At least they have a governor who is willing to challenge the idea that standardized tests are the only, or even the best, measure of educational quality. Can we get someone like that in Virginia?

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1 Comment

  1. My own favorite analogy is GPS for those who somehow think that technology is the magic that will improve performance (http://schoolcrossing.blogspot.com/2010/06/we-dont-need-educational-bells-and.html). If our education system is like a car whose engine does not run, adding technology is like hoping that plugging in a GPS will somehow cause the engine to turn over.

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