30 January 2012

The Wager

Let's bet on this...

Since Republicans seem to be ready to nominate America's Gambler-in-Chief, I thought this might be a good moment to make a bet with America's Governors and State Legislators.

Listening to this NPR News story today, I considered that, if our "standards" in education are to have any meaning at all, they must be standards for policy makers as well. Because, if you've ever been in any school, I mean really been there, you know the disconnect between standards and reality. "“I went to a remedial reading class for students, there was a girl there who was getting mostly A’s in her honors classes, and she was sitting in a remedial class learning how to read,” Rick Roach of the Orange County (Florida) School Board said. “She would be taking piano if she wasn’t taking that [remedial class]. These kids get put into an academic jail because some test says they can’t read. It’s just not right.”

put up, or shut up, as we learned on our playgrounds
Roach, had just voluntarily taken the FCAT, Florida's "high-stakes" 10th grade exam. “I won’t beat around the bush. The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62%. In our system, that’s a ‘D,’ and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction… It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a Bachelor of Science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate. I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities….”

And Mr. Roach's experience (hear a long interview here) led me to this idea. I want to bet every US Governor, along with every State Legislator who has supported or voted for standardized testing, supported or voted for "more rigorous" curricula, or who has supported or voted for holding back diplomas or retaining children, to take the tests. The real tests. To make this completely fair, let's do it soon (on "our" schedule, not that of the test takers), and lets give each one of these state 10th grade exams randomly chosen. So when our "leaders" sit down, they might get a test from their state, or any other state, being that we're all "Common Core" you know.
The Threat to Authenticity 

Testing cannot be anything but political and abusive [SpeEdChange]

And here's the bet. Standards being standards. You governors and legislators, you take the exam in front of you, under the conditions your students take it, and if you fail, you resign immediately.

Doesn't this seem fair? Wouldn't this prove your political point - that the ability to pass these exams is all important?

And if you "guys" cannot pass the test, well... what might that prove?

So this is a serious wager, a serious challenge. I'm quite for that if I ask the teachers of America, they'll be happy to even come in on a Saturday - on their own time - and proctor the exam. Let's get going. If you all pass the tests you'll be sending an important message to your state's students, and surely you want to do that, right?

- Ira Socol
who asks you to copy this and email it to your Governor and legislators.

No comments: