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Thinking Different

We need more local school officials and parents who think like this woman.

“Accountability is a good thing. Learning standards are a good thing. But is focusing on one test a fair measure of student success? I think that answer is, ‘No,’ ” said Laura Salomons, a School Committee member since May and a mother of four.

Salomons has submitted a proposal that seeks community support for allowing teachers to avoid tailoring their lessons to the MCAS. Instead, she would like to see teachers directed to instruct students on skills the district has deemed necessary for survival in the 21st century, including critical thinking, invention, problem-solving, and multicultural collaboration.

“I have come to the conclusion that we, as a school district, may be overly consumed with doing well on MCAS,” Salomons began in her eight-page proposal. “The focus is a detriment to reaching the school committee and superintendent’s goal of ‘providing students with . . . learning opportunities that encourage lifelong learning skills and that support a student’s artistic, social, emotional and physical development.’ “

Let’s face it. We do need to assess student learning. We certainly need accountability for teachers and schools.

What we don’t need is the idiotic concept embedded in No Child Left Behind which assumes every student, every classroom, every school is exactly alike.

And the even worse idea that our current educational structure and curriculum is still going to work in a world that is completely different from the one in which it was created.

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4 Comments

  1. Amen! We could use her here!

  2. I say we just take the NAPE in Reading and Math every couple of years and be done with it. Let’s do a national skills-driven test that sets a floor for expectations and move on.

  3. I agree that we should not measure students knowledge and ability on one test. I am a college student studying to become a teacher and I agree. I am not good at taking standardized tests. I do okay, but I do not believe that one test shows my knowledge. I believe that testing does need to be done and that testing helps teachers see where students struggle and where the teacher needs to start and what the teacher needs to do. Students should be tested, but should not have so much empasis on one test.
    Students need to learn important skills to survive in the world and not be taught things only to pass the test, but a good teacher can teach those skills and still have the students do well on the test.

  4. NCLB, I think, isn’t unlike taking a temperature. Would we accept a doctor’s diagnosis if he or she only took our temperature?

    Sure, if your temp. is high, you might be sick. But while it tells you something, it’s hardly the complete picture.

    As you note, Tim, our edu. structure and curriculum is still in so many ways geared towards… taking temperatures. Portfolios? Oh, that’s like a blood test. Essay questions? Height and weight… you could expand the analogy as far as you like.

    I think the answer is something akin to holistic health care. Let’s look at the whole person, let’s take measure and let’s chart progress. If you agree, how do we get there?

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