by Andrew Palmer
I have been reading So What do They Really Know? by Cris Tovani. It is a great book. In it, Tovani offers a very useful assessment tool called annotation. The idea is that you have a student mark up the text with their thinking as they read. They can write directly on an article or they can record their thinking on post-it notes about a text that they cannot write on. Annotations involve the student expressing an opinion, asking a question about the text, recording a reaction, making a connection, or predicting what might happen next.
As I was reading (and annotating), she made a great point and something that continues to bug me about the mindset of educational assessment in this country. Especially the mindset of those that are not educational practitioners (in other words, foolish politicians and billionaires who think they know something about what happens in a classroom).
“I am a skeptic. I distrust outsiders who barge into my classroom, data in hand, making judgments about students they’ve never met. When data from the district and state level doesn’t jibe with what I know about my students, I am driven into a state of cognitive dissonance, often trying to rationalize why the learners in my class didn’t do as well as I think they should have. Teachers often experience a state of cognitive dissonance to examine data they don’t trust. Some react with anger or denial. When teachers don’t trust the data, they don’t use it to inform instruction or enhance student performance.”
This is the problem with the fools that run around claiming their new and precious Common Core assessments will tell me some grand thing about my students. These new assessments, just like the current standardized assessments in every state will not be embraced by teachers, students, and parents. Instead of creating useful data that actually drives better instruction, they will just be another thing that drives them into a state of cognitive dissonance. Students will hate these tests just as much as they hate current state assessments. Student buy-in to an assessment is based upon the reality of prompt, and meaningful feedback. These tests will not provide that data to the child or the teacher. They will waste millions of dollars and create more problems in our public education system.
Of course, that is not really the point, is it? These new tests are more about controlling education from a national level than doing anything to help teachers and students improve.