Friday, June 28, 2013

Joan, Katy Abbott and I had a very stimulating interview with Daniel Hornberger who is doing a documentary film tentatively titled STANDARDIZED.  He is planning to tell the story of how the standardized testing movement is destroying public education.  He has a number of very significant individuals who have been taking part in this project.  Be looking for more information toward the end of July about when this very important documentary will be released.

While we were in the Philadelphia area Joan and I did a workshop at the Abington Public Library which was attended by 20 individuals.  We tried something very different at the workshop and it was a success.  We did a National Cookie Tasters Testing and compared the results of the cookie tasting with the national norms we had gathered.  It gave us an opportunity to really talk about the Myths of Standardized Tests, with some first hand experience.  It made it much easier to talk about sampling issues and the other myths we discuss in our book.  The audience was really engaged and the questions were really pointed and direct.  We expect to continue to tweak the activity to make sure we get the focus were it needs to be which is on the harm the current testing practice is having on our nations educational system.  I found the group very responsive to the idea that the current testing going on is the civil rights issue of this century.  We also discussed what can be done at the local level to get the conversation underway to put a stop to this comparison to nowhere!

We thank the librarian Mimi Satterthwaite for making the presentation possible.

Phillip and Joan Harris

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Indiana Coalition for Public Education had a public meeting last night to discuss the state assessment that begins this week.  The title was "ISTEP What Does It Tell Us".  We had an Assistant Superintendent, Teacher, Parent, Educator, Faculty member from I.U.

Essentially, the standardized test didn't really seem to tell them much of anything that they didn't already know.  We were given a history of the standards movement which has vacillated between being progressive, student-centered to more rigid and content driven over the last one hundred years.  The difference now is the addition of the high stakes testing and the multiple uses for which the test results are being used.  One of the panel members characterized the test as being the most magical test in the world as it can be used to evaluate, diagnose, place students, judge teacher effectiveness, and school quality-all with the same number.

The Assistant Superintendent was asked how she felt about parents opting their children out of the state assessment program, and she couldn't understand why anybody would do that.  Since testing has become such a major part of the curriculum parents should have the same option of requesting their child be exempted as they do for other curriculum areas.  Another panelist commented that the lack of an opt-out for parents is the "ugliest" part of the state assessment program.  Conversations like this need to be taking place in every community.  We need to have an informed public.

The Community Conversation can be seen on the local CATS network.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Joan and I did a workshop for the local League of Women Voters Wednesday January 16th and it was a great success. We had a group of really interested individuals in the testing subject and they had some really good questions. We are building a knowledge base with a core group of individuals who are beginning to understand the real truth about the standardized testing program in the State of Indiana. We have a new power point presentation that if anyone is interested just let us know. We are looking forward to continuing our work in educating the general public about the problems, flaws and misuses of the standardized tests scores.