On the education blog bridging differences, written by Deborah Meier and Diane Ravitch, there’s quite a bit of back and forth regularly done about standardized testing. It really is the topic du jour. You would almost think that before standardized testing no one was actually learning anything. Any talk on education now comes with talk on testing, either for or against it, and where you stand on this issue gets sort of marked on your forehead, so to speak. You almost can’t be for learning and for standardization at the same time, although many have tried to walk that line. Improvement in schools now means an improvement in test scores. The “achievement gap” has really become a test-score issue. Any initiative has to show some upward change in test scores, whether that is integrating more art programs, or integrating computers, or implementing more teacher professional development.
It really makes you wonder. Can schools really be all that innovative if the only improvements that will be deemed worthwhile are those that increase math, reading and writing scores. Is that what we’ve widdled public education down to? What would happen if colleges were to suddenly head in the same direction: standardized test scores as indicators of learning?
I don’t understand why there should be so much talk about innovation and creativity on the one hand, and so much talk about standardization and mechanization on the other. What’s the common ground? How can these worlds ever exist together?