I’ve ranted a little about the new “curriculum resource tool” being rolled out here in the overly-large school district, another big topic for our school-based trainers this year.
The goal is to give teachers a database of practice standardized tests and other materials to use in their classrooms.
So what’s wrong with that?
It’s hard to pin down exactly what bothers me but the fact that a primary purpose of this application seems to be to pump out multiple choice tests is a good start.
Accompanying the online tool are “pacing guides” which look for all the world to me like the beginnings of a script for each topic in the curriculum.
They offer the teachers “time and sequencing guidance through the school year to ensure that students have access to the entire curriculum.”
Again, what’s wrong with that?
Well, a script implies that teachers are never supposed to improvise, which to me was always the point at which some very real learning occurred.
Another concept that disturbs me is the implication that we are moving to having all students take their standardized tests online. Which means they will also spend a lot of time practicing taking those tests online.
Again, is that a good thing?
Well, some might say it is. But even in our fairly well-off schools, computer equipment can sometimes be hard to come by.
How much valuable time is going to be sucked down by testing, preventing the computers and networks from being used for creative activities and actual learning?
In the high schools, where all our state tests (ironically named the SOLs) are given electronically, computers for instruction are basically not available for six or so weeks every spring.
Six weeks out of a 36 week school year is a large chunk of time and doesn’t take into account the time and machines scheduled for practice tests at most schools for weeks prior to the real ones.
Ok, I’ve now wandered through several different issues and moved way beyond the online database project that triggered this rant
But that’s fine since there is a common thread here.
All of the above are examples of how we waste large amounts of time, money, and resources, including human intelligence, on the care and feeding of our massive and growing standardized testing-driven education system.