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"Debunking the Case for National Standards" by Alfie Kohn

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An article written by Alfie Kohn in Education Week, Jan 2010

EDUCATION WEEK

January 14, 2010

Debunking the Case for National Standards

One-Size-Fits-All Mandates and Their Dangers

By Alfie Kohn

[This is a slightly expanded version of the article published in
Education Week’s annual “Quality Counts” issue.]

 

I keep thinking it can’t get much worse, and then it does.  Throughout the 1990s, one state after another adopted prescriptive education standards enforced by frequent standardized testing, often of the high-stakes variety.  A top-down, get-tough movement to impose “accountability”– driven more by political than educational considerations – began to squeeze the life out of classrooms, doing the most damage in the poorest areas.

By the time the century ended, many of us thought we had hit bottom – until the floor gave way and we found ourselves in a basement we didn’t know existed.  I’m referring, of course, to what should have been called the Many Children Left Behind Act, which requires every state to test every student every year, judging students and schools almost exclusively by their scores on those tests, and hurting the schools that need the most help.  Ludicrously unrealistic proficiency targets suggest that the law was actually intended to sabotage rather than improve public education.

Today we survey the wreckage.  Talented teachers have abandoned the profession after having been turned into glorified test-prep technicians.  Low-income teenagers have been forced out of school by do-or-die graduation exams.  Countless inventive learning activities have been eliminated in favor of prefabricated lessons pegged to numbingly specific state standards.

And now we’re informed that what we really need . . . is to standardize this whole operation from coast to coast.

Have we lost our minds?  Because we’re certainly in the process of losing our children’s minds.

To politicians, corporate CEOs, or … more

1 review about "Debunking the Case for National Standards"...

A Quick Tip by lyssachttr

  • Jan 31, 2010
  • by
This article raises some extremely valid points about standardized testing and how kids learn. Very compelling.
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