Diana Senechal reacted to an earlier post about standardization:

When I first read Robert D. Shepherd’s comment, I asked myself, “who is this wise, knowledgeable person?” I returned to his comment and reread it several times.

He explains the core madness in all of this: that the starndards are not curricula but will be (and are being) treated as curricula.

He makes important points about autonomy and pluralism too.

I only question his assertion that the current reform movement can be traced back to the business “revolution” inspired by the 1992 article he mentions. It was afoot well before then.

I’m not just talking about the old antecedents, such as Taylorism. Much closer to the present, around 1990, people were excited about the idea that we had been focusing too much on inputs and should now focus on outputs. Checker Finn discussed this rapturously in his 1990 article “The Biggest Reform of All” (Phi Delta Kappan 71, no. 8). From his article:

“Under the old conception (dare I say paradigm?), education was thought of as process and system, effort and intention, investment and hope. To improve education meant to try harder, to engage in more activity, to magnify one’s plans, to give people more services, and to become more efficient in delivering them.

“Under the new definition, now struggling to be born, education is the result achieved, the learning that takes root when the process has been effective. Only if the process succeeds and learning occurs will we say that education happened. Absent evidence of such a result, there is no education—however many attempts have been made, resources deployed, or energies expended.”

(To get the full flavor of this quote, read the original, since certain words are italicized. I quote it with formatting here:http://open.salon.com/blog/dianasenechal/2012/03/31/the_problem_with_outcomes).

The great error of this “outputs” movement was its dismissal of anything that didn’t translate directly into results. It cripples itself because of its lack of perspective. Some of the best results require bearing with lack of results for a while–and of course results come in many forms.