Oh, no! Dana Goldstein visited Memphis, where she found that arts teachers are using portfolio assessments.
I suppose that is a step up from online standardized tests and the old-fashioned machine-scored computerized tests, but it is still a very bad idea.
The whole premise of testing is that teachers cannot be trusted to reach responsible judgments about student work.
And the purpose of the assessment is not to help students but to devise a numerical rating so teachers of the arts may be evaluated and held “accountable” for student progress. If the student is drawing better pictures, the teacher must be a better teacher. If the student work does not get better, the teacher is a bad teacher. He or she will be rated ineffective and may lose tenure or compensation and may be fired.
If we cared about teacher professionalism, we would let teachers teach without tying their work to test scores or portfolios.
If we cared about creativity, we would let students engage wholeheartedly in the arts without measuring whether they are getting “better” at what they are doing. Almost no one learns to play a musical instrument and gets worse by the day; and if they do, it is because they didn’t practice, didn’t care, and didn’t try. If they try, they will improve. And any teacher of the arts will know that they are trying and improving without need for an assessment to prove it. To “prove it” to whom? To a supervisor? To the state commissioner of investigation?
Let’s face it. None of this assessment mania is about kids or education or teacher quality. It is about control and lack of respect for teachers.
Follow your instincts, Dana. Whether assessed by a machine or by a portfolio, the arts should be performed and experienced, not measured.