Re: Equity in Educational Assessment

Date: Mon Mar 06 2000 - 11:46:15 EST

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    I agree that there seems to be an imbalance happening and we are losing the
    intent of the standards and in some cases, good instructional practices.
    Teachers are feeling the need to "cover" instead of go in-depth with
    content because of the value being palced on state and national level
    assessments. I also am seeing classroom assessment not valued and often
    there is a great misunderstanding about quality classroom assessment.
    Quality classroom based instruction receives lip service because the
    educational community is spending so much time focusing on state/national
    level assessment.

    I am also very concerned about the emphasis being placed on reading,
    science and math. Of course I want all students to excel in these areas
    but what else does our society need to help our students understand and be
    knowledgable in for the next century? If the standards movement succeeds,
    we will have all students with high levels of skill and understanding in
    reading, science & math. Is that all our society and the world needs of
    its citizens? In a time when our nation's social fabric is unraveling,
    student's are feeling alienated from adults and their communities,
    invention of new technologies create advances along with ethical and moral
    dilemmas, a materialistic culture that is
    finding its way around the world that is quickly shrinking and resources
    being depleted at an astonishing rate, do we really think being proficient
    in reading, science and math is enough? Shouldn't we also be showing a
    value for other "noneconomic" driven skills? How do we help students
    connect, form relationships, learn about their place in the world, find
    themselves, learn to appreciate and value those who do not share their
    beliefs, learn to relate to and value people for various economic status
    groups, help heal others and the environment, help prepare students to lead
    sustainable lifes within communities? Is it only about preparing students
    for the world of work? No other century is going to demand the skills of
    dealing with conflict, relationships, understanding diversity and learning
    how to respond to a stressed planet.

    I also would like to ask the question-When will we learn to appreciate and
    understand each person has skills and qualities that society needs? Why
    do we make those folks such as custodians or struggling artists feel like
    their work is less important than those in pro-baseball or engineers,
    lawyers, educators,etc.? Don't we need them all? I am not supporting
    maintaining the status quo in education or supporting the idea that "Johnny
    is doing the best he can because he comes from Johnny's family" It is this
    very mentality that caused me to not only accept but embrace the standards
    movement with fervor.
    As I watch implementation unfold in the classrooms, and watch the political
    and social agendas begin to take hold, and recognize the impact of high
    stakes assessments on students,etc., I am seeing the focus on equity begin
    to carry a different spirit and intent.

    My question remains- If all students meet or succeed in the core academic
    standards (reading, math & science), will this be enough? Will academic
    knowledge, processes and skills in the core areas be enough to help heal
    the social fabric within local communities, the society & world? Will
    students meeting or exceeding these standards mean they are experiencing a
    decrease in their feeling of alienation? Will these standards help
    students form relationships, feel valued and connected to society or create
    more of a divide by placing such an imbalance on the role & value of
    state/national assessments that rank and categorize students, schools and
    communities according to a set of narrow economic based values. I have
    watched educators who are strong enough to question these narrow values be
    severely and publicly reprimanded.
    Are we still paying attention to democratic principles? Are these
    principles still important to our society? Our society is moving beyond the
    easy measurable, quick fix solution, when will the politicians understand
    this? I hope we all rethink education's place soon, for our children's

    Debby King

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