Paul Vallas has taken over as superintendent in Bridgeport, Connecticut, while running a consulting business on the side (he just won a $1 million contract to help fix the Illinois schools).
He is concerned that students and teachers slack off after they take the state tests in March, so he has just imposed yet another round of tests for the end of year, which will precede the administration of even more tests.
You see, this is the way corporate reformers think. If students don’t have tests to face, they won’t learn anything. If teachers don’t have a test to prepare students for, they won’t teach anything. They think that no one in school will do anything unless someone at the top is holding out a stick or a carrot.
What they do not understand is the basic idea of intrinsic motivation. By relying so heavily on extrinsic motivation, the corporate reformers will snuff out any outcroppings of intrinsic motivation.
What the Bridgeport approach will do with certainty is to eliminate any time for creative activities and projects; to remove any time for exploration and un-regimented learning. It will substitute testing for teaching. It relies on coercion as the prime motivator for learning.
It is a plan that will prepare students for factory work in the early twentieth century.