I guess, since today is the 7th, this will constitute my summary statement
on equity in assessment.
I believe that we are on the verge of a paradigm shift in our thinking
about how and what students need to learn. The entire debate on standards
and assessment has to do with impositions from outside of the education
community - the economy, businesses, universities, politicians, community
groups - upon what was once the educator's domain. No longer is the
classroom closed from the eyes and ears of the world. We, as educators
have been forced to recognize that our students are leaving school
inadequately prepared for interacting on any of the levels above.
Previously, we have blamed the students for their failure. As those
numbers of failing students increased, we could no longer blame them, but
were forced to look at the system and then ourselves as educators.
We found that the classrooms across the country were engaging students in
all kinds of activity. There was not continuity, no structure, no sense of
balance or accountability. Fourth grade work in one classroom was twelvth
grade work in another. A grade of A in one part of the country was a C or
D in another part. Students who thought they were smart, found that their
skills pailed in comparison to other students from other areas. As these
students moved into the world, they were unable to compete. However,
within this chaos, there were some constants:
Poor, urban and minority students were being taught differently from
students in suburban and/or middle and wealthy students. This is still
Expectations were higher for students who are classified as non-minority
than for those who are considered minority.
Teachers were more qualified and more energized in suburban schools where
the population is more non-minority than minority.
More state-of-the-art technology existed in suburban schools and than those
in urban areas.
Students in suburban areas were more than likely exposed to a second
language than minority students and in urban areas in the country, and at
an earlier age if at all.
Students in suburban schools are not only taught math, science, reading,
etc.through involvement in projects and programs but also through music,
art, the fine arts, physical education, civics and all of the other areas
debbie wrote about. One should not negate the other.
Assessment is a teaching tool. It enables the instructor to gauge and
guide the student in the learning process.
My words are not to imply that all suburban instruction and resources are
great and all urban are not. However, there is tremendous imbalance.
Hopefully, as we gain more understanding in how to meet the needs of all
students, we will also learn to facilitate and manipulate the educational
environment and experiences so that they themselves (these experiences and
the environment) become of sort of incubator for basic, rich core
knowledge within a framework of rich music, art, drama, physical education
and lll of the other aspects of the development of a smart, well-rounded
and globally equipped individual.
I have enjoyed participating in this debate and wish to thank Kathy and
Susan for making it possible. Signing off.
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