I visited a web site about a New York education conference at which individuals joined “a leading author and architect of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), David Coleman, to understand how the Core Standards for College and Career Readiness build on the work New York State has done in developing a standards-based system and their specific implications for teachers and instructional leaders state wide.” I was agog after viewing a video of Mr. Coleman’s presentation on “how to read” Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”. I had thought the letter to have more meaning than what its words, standing alone, suggest.
I was wrong. I guess I sometimes need a whack on the side of the head to learn.
I work with a number of ambulance operations (public and private) and institutions that provide training/education to those seeking to work as EMTs and Paramedics. The path to working in the field haschanged much over the decades, but the field work has not.
In Michigan, passing standardized tests produced by a certain entity is important because they act as the State’s licensing tests. About 50% of first-time test takers fail. This has led to teaching to the test, and an industry has sprung up to assist would-be EMS workers pass the exams.
I recently took a computer assisted test (CAT) developed to prepare candidates to take and pass the exams. It has been decades since I took a standardized test and last worked as a Paramedic. I did not expect to do well but had not expected to abjectly fail. I had especially not expected to fail the section on medical-legal issues. It took a few days for my failure to sink in and then, “Eureka!”
It is a miracle, Mr. Coleman. I have seen the light. I now understand that, if one wants to pass a standardized test, one must read a text in a vacuum for such tests measure one’s ability to entirely ignore reality, disregard all one’s experiences and values, side-step all meaning and focus only on the question and answers written in black and white.
Arne Duncan, deftly avoiding clarity regarding the pros and cons of standardized tests, said “we have to educate our way to a better economy — that’s what this is about.” (Arne Duncan interview with Jon Stewart) Measurements of success apparently include increased graduation rates, decreased dropout rates and more “college ready” students.
The USA has more high school graduates, more college-degreed persons and the highest literacy rate it has ever had.
Recent census data on educational attainment (2012 Statistical Abstract) leaves me uncertain as to how “education” can better the economy. Indeed, excepting for some “gaps” that exist I am uncertain as to how education in the USA can improve very much. Perhaps Mr. Duncan meant that “private education” investment funds would be churned in markets, with each turned-over value added to the GNP/GDP total, thereby making it seem as if the economy is improving.
Don’t we know what happens when ever-increasing debt loads are incurred in exchange for “things” of ever-decreasing value?
I would feel dismayed, but I’m walking out…