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Discussion: (5 comments)

  1. GoneWithTheWind

    The U.S. “model” of public education is flawed. It has evolved over the last century to serve educators and not students. This was largely the result of unionizing teachers. The current model is essentially a lesson plan driven system that checks boxes until all the boxes are checked. The tests rather then being an evaluation of student knowledge or even as a learning tool is instead reduced to being taught to insure that the educator looks good. Each day/class period consists of assigning the student a reading/study task to be completed tomorrow and then reviewing the reading/study assignment that was assigned yesterday. Teaching rarely takes place. If the student choose not to complete the assignment there is rarely any identification of this fact and even more rarely any remedial study required. It is essentially allowing each student to educate themselves if they so choose OR merely use the school as a social club to hang out with their friends. Those students who do succeed in this flawed model do so primarily because their parents take up the slack in the system and become the educators and make sure their children complete assignments and learn the intended lesson.

    A better model would be something closer to the Old (not the current) English boarding schools. In this model the subject was taught in the classroom, discipline was strictly controlled and the classes were single gender to prevent disruptions. Assignments for supplemental reading/study was the norm BUT so was the followupp the next day to insure that each student did the assignments. And when assignments were not completed satisfactorily (important point; not just completed but completed satisfactorily) there was a follow-up by the teacher to get the student to do the work or face punishments up to and including being expelled. The teacher was required to teach and to insure self study took place. This model also allowed and in fact lent itself to greater learning since the class time and individual study time was maximized and controlled. Students learned more and advanced into higher level studies in earlier grades and graduated from high school with the equivalent of knowledge we now expect from a four year college.

    If we continue with the inferior model for education we will continue to get inferior results.

  2. 98abaile

    God forbid they ever teach the three Rs, test students on academic ability and hold teachers accountable for the results.

  3. I’d like to see the high stakes be applied to the adults for the next five years, rather than the students. Teachers need to take time to align their curriculum, and schools and districts need to take time to provide classrooms with the resources and support they need to undertake such a dramatic shift in practice. The tests can be rolled out, and the scores shared with educators at all levels of the system, from teachers, to the Federal Government. Over a period of 3-5 years, students scores would be expected to significantly improve, but students wouldn’t be harmed while the adults are still figuring out how to make this massive change. By 2018 or 2019, high stakes for students could kick in at the middle school level, beginning with students who had grown up with the new tests.

  4. Julie Hiltz

    I am a classroom teacher and support accountability. However, let’s be fair and recognize that high stakes tests are not designed to measure teacher effectiveness. High stakes tests do not provide feedback to teachers so they can improve their craft. They are designed to be efficient measures of student mastery of specific material, but not an all-encompassing measure of what a student or school can do. These tests also do not correctly measure the abilities of special needs students.
    An ideal assessment of student learning would be a portfolio that demonstrations the year’s worth of growth by a student. Portfolios, however, take a lot of time to develop and interpret and can’t easily be graphed or compared classroom to classroom, much less state to state.

  5. MRatzel

    The big difference between the things you are mentioning, at least to my eye, is this. High stakes testing might give you data about how a system is performing, but it doesn’t give the classroom teacher much information. It really doesn’t help students know where they stand. And I think parents are lost in knowing how to respond. I don’t get why we would want to invest millions/billions in a system that fails to help teachers, students and parents. I’d argue that assessments must first prove their value to those consistencies before we invest in them….because if they fail teachers and students and parents, what value do they have?

    Instead, I believe, the much more impactful kind of test is one that structures higher-level thinking. Take an end of the year test for example, one teacher gives a 100 question multiple choice question over important vocabulary words, identifying the names of literary structures, etc etc etc. The other teacher gives a different kind of test…one where students have to read 6 articles that have different perspectives on an issue and they must formulate and write a persuasive multiple paragraph essay, including in-text citations. Both are given in the same amount of time.

    You would get very different kinds of information from each teacher’s assessment. I would argue that you would have a much better sense of a student’s ability to read, think, synthesize, analyze and write with the 2nd assessment while the 1st assessment will give you a much better understanding of a student’s familiarity with concepts, important vocabulary and important literacy devices and authors.

    It’s not an either or situation to me. Both are valid ways to measure end of the year progress….and both give very different kinds of information. And I’m betting that both would give you much better information for a classroom teacher could use than a statewide standardized test.

    As a teacher I’d much rather have either teacher-designed assessment. It would give invaluable evidence to students, parents, the community and the teacher about what a student can do now…..imagine contrasting this end of the year writing to a piece of writing that had been collected from the beginning of the year.

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