Standardizing education

Thu Aug 31 12:34:21 MDT 1995

Such hideous things have been going on in public schools grades K-12
for a very long time.

There are two simultaneous threads developing in education below the
college level.

1.  More "standardization" in terms of T/F, mult. choice, also known
as "objective" tests, [meaning easy to mark right or wrong, esp. when
using automated exam readers.]  These are already being required at
end of year about every three grade levels, not for determining
grades, but for "information" of administration clear to Federal
level.  State and local policies also often require certain
"competency" exams and scores before graduation.  (Of course, then we
have to fight about what goes on the test, in terms of content, i.e.
"capitalism good, socialism bad".)

2.  Less stand. because progressive educators are well aware that
those are ineffective measures of most important skills and
knowledge.  Using "portfolios" of work to assess overall progress in
written verbal skills, even using oral exams [esp. for dyslexics]

Pros and Cons:
Advantage of more stand. are cited as
a. comparing between schools, allegedly to promote "success"
b. ensuring a minimum level of competence so that "a diploma" means
something, and diplomas cannot just be given away in order to pump up
reported graduation rates.
c. possibly to compare teachers, even to wish to pay teachers for
student "success".
d. cheaper than hiring more teachers and reducing class size to
enable more effective learning, teacher-student contact and variety
of methods.

a. teachers will teach only what is on test, and only in that form,
neglecting real education, writing, thought, in-class discussion and
experience/experiment, cooperative learning, etc.
b. tests measure very little of what kids actually know and can do
c. teaching is de-skilled, classes get bigger, actual learning is
decreased, behavior problems get worse...

Note:  After decades of "educational research" into ways to get kids
to score higher sooner, and "scientific comparison" of thousands of
teaching methods and theories, there are only two things that really
make a big difference [assuming first that you do have basic
facilities and a teacher who knows something and gives a care] -

Smaller classes!
Parents who show interest in kids' education, rather than total
apathy or even undermining, which is all too common ["skulin never
did nuthin fer me", or "she's jus gunna git marreed inyway"]

I think some of this translates into a college/university setting, if
not the parental part.

Lisa Rogers
former junior high school science teacher

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