Now that we have endured more than a dozen long years of No Child Left Behind and five fruitless, punitive years of Race to the Top, it is clear that they both failed. They relied on carrots and sticks and ignored intrinsic motivation. They crushed children’s curiosity instead of cultivating it.* They demoralized schools. They disrupted schools and communities without improving children’s education.

We did not leave no child behind. The same children who were left behind in 2001-02 are still left behind. Similarly, Race to the Top is a flop. The Common Core tests are failing most students, and we are nowhere near whatever the “Top” is. If a teacher gave a test, and 70% of the students failed, we would say she was not competent, tested what was not taught, didn’t know her students. The Race turns out to be NCLB with a mask. NCLB on steroids. NCLB 2.0.

Whatever you call it, RTTT has hurt children, demoralized teachers, closed community schools, fragmented communities, increased privatization, and doubled down on testing.

I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.

The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:

How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?

How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?

How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?

How many public performances did the school offer?

How many children participated in dramatics?

How many children produced documentaries or videos?

How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?

How many children learned robotics?

How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?

How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?

How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?

How many children performed service in their community to help others?

How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?

How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?

Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?

Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.

My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.

This is only a start. Add your own ideas. The sky is the limit. Surely we can do better than this era of soul-crushing standardized testing.

*Kudos to Southold Elementary School in Long Island, where these ideas were hatched as I watched the children’s band playing a piece they had practiced.

64 Comments Post your own or leave a trackback: Trackback URL

  1. Gretchen Lampe says:

    The ASCD has published a continuum graphic that illustrates educating the whole child. It shows a safety need of support that breaks down barriers for learning for students.

    Wouldn’t it be great if the current accreditation for schools required services be available for students along with access to arts, physical education, music, drama, and exploratory programs? Then accountability could be built on access and equity. Only when we have access to programs and services can students have a chance of being truly successful life long learners and informed citizens.

    • Diane is not talking about access to programs and services.
      She is talking about reconnecting means and ends in education without endless proliferation of programs in character education, social and emotional learning, interventions for this or that problem, and endless testing under proctored and secured conditions that assume teachers and students are dishonest and unworthy of trust.

      Guilty until proven innocent. What a strange premise for education in the United States of America.

      Getting rid of those tests and stack ratings of human beings (as if a high test score makes you a better than others) is the first step on a road to recovery from the “reign of error” and the lost decades of misdirected investments in education.

      Perhaps because those policies have no moral compass they have been wrapped in mighty and fierce and muscular posturing about rigor and the need for a strictly academic curriculum and world dominance–Atlas-like–in a global economy.

      Add the treatment of math and ELA not as tools for learning, but as the only reason for public investments in education as well as the cash cow focus for profit-seekers and you have created a really pathetic vision of education..world-class in its stupidity and capacity for navel-gazing.

      • kathyirwin1 says:

        Laura C. is making a very important distinction here. Access To has nothing to do with the moral compass being outlined here, and it is a precious moral compass. Access To is what the technocrats enjoy quantifying until the numbers obscure the child, her gifts and their discovery + nurturing. Democracy is very much NOT about children made invisible.

    • So I Am says:

      I agree, there is not enough access to these programs fostering total learning. Also passing and mastery of skills needs to be given back to teachers that teach. If teachers are able to address at least 5 of the basic standards and teach it well t would be more beneficial to the student. We have to much curriculum that is a mile wide and an inch deep. As a result students become board with there classes because there background knowledge is so shallow in mastery they can’t make the next exciting connection.

      They get stuck and turn to peers who reinforce what is easily understood; if you cause a seen , blame others, and act like you don’t care or that the teacher didn’t make material clear, then the whole process is slowed down, and teachers will cave to administrative demand to pass high school students onto the next level. The students know all they have to do is pass the state standardized test at a minimal level. To the students it is not that important unless you know what you want already.

      Most students aren’t provided enough vocational or hands on experience during their educational career to know what it is they want. As a result they are not ready to take school seriously. A lot of teenage students desire being famous over mastering anything as being more important.

  2. johnmdc says:

    The list of what we should be looking for is a beautiful expression of what education should be for all our children, nit just those fortunate enough to have access to better education because they reside in wealthier communities.

  3. “The best education for the best is the best education for all.”

    —Robert Maynard Hutchins.

  4. Ruth says:

    Sign my kids up! Sounds perfect!

  5. Matt Metzgar says:

    I would add that having local teachers test students, as opposed to a central agency testing students, is still “authoritarian” as the students have no real say in the assessment itself.

    Better to have some type of democratic assessment or co-assessment where students can be an active participant in both learning and assessment:

    http://ltj.sagepub.com/content/18/4/373.abstract

  6. LindaL says:

    Diane, as always your ideas are wonderful. Unfortunately, they will never be manifest until we can get the education system away from corporations and individuals who see schools as their cash cow. These are the same individuals who probably enjoyed the education you speak of. It is so sad a disheartening.

    • In the best of all worlds this type of evaluation paradigm would be real. Now that public education is a target for corporations, the current system of demoralizing teachers with the goal of destabilizing the profession will prevail unless the public stands up and says “enough is enough.”

  7. What great thoughts..and so basic! I am looking forward to sharing your powerful words with my fellow educators. I hope you can have this published for others to read. By the way, my son and his wife live in Southod and we visit often. Look forward to visiting the school.

  8. Sue Corbin says:

    ALL children should have the chance to do ALL of these things. Great list! But I’m not as concerned about how many children as I am about how it changed these children’s lives. How did they grow as human beings? What did they learn that will help them to thrive in their lives?

  9. annette says:

    How many children read books for pleasure? Use the school library voluntarily? Is there a school library? How well is it stocked?
    Are there science labs? equipment? Opportunity for children who are interested to do projects after school? Can children garden or grow plants indoors?
    Do children have an opportunity for outdoor play and exercise every day?

    • Danielle says:

      I would add something about a minimal (and define it) use of automated technology, such as Study Island, Achieve 3000, and the like. It is unacceptable when programs for students who need reading support do not include literature and books – and I am talking about in one of the richest and “highest achieving” districts in the country. Sticking kids in front of a screen, especially to teach reading and develop a love of reading is not appropriate or best practice… but it sure is a quick way of creating a lot of data.

  10. Joanna Best says:

    I like it!

  11. Joanna Best says:

    Having friends who work in finance, I have actually heard them say “I worry my son won’t receive as good an education as children in South Korea.”

    yikes.

    I think folks whose jobs it is to think about money simply approach the nut of education through a different lens. Too many of them have had enormous influence in the last decade, I think, and too many of them operate out of fear.

    Fear should not be the guiding principle in planning policy.

  12. politics and money do not see these things. They see “who is marketable/employable” or “who has and who has not”. Where they should be applying monies to smaller schools, they equate larger size with success. this is not necessarily so, but as the old axiom states: “Money talks, BS walks.” so far, we have only seen the BS side of the spectrum where education “reform” is concerned. Non-educators doing what only educators should be doing, moneychangers investing in a scheme that milks them of their investment monies but still believing that they can make a sinking ship float. They are on a financial Titanic and not a one realize it. privatization is their iceberg, but they do not see it. They are the blind being led by the blind.

  13. “Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?”

    See the Youtube video and read the position paper (with footnotes) produced by the students of Boulder, Colorado’s Fairview High School to see what would be an exemplar of student work which might be used as such an assessment.

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1tbDg-SEqpYrBUwixGh4wuMu6B0YYnfftt6u-cI5dWmQ/edit?usp=sharing

  14. Misterv says:

    Diane,
    This would be true education reform, plain and simple. I love your ideas. A few items I would like to see on a teacher evaluation system:
    1. How does the teacher give opportunities for his/her class to participate in a community service project?, e.g. Toys for Tots, serving at a local soup kitchen, writing letters to Veterans, etc.
    2. How does the teacher give opportunities for students to participate in the classroom and school culture?, e.g. creating a Classroom Constitution, making hallway posters about bullying, being a bus safety officer, etc.
    3. How does the teacher allow for students to take ownership in their learning?, e.g. evidence of student choice in a research project, classroom debates, allowing students to teach peers about a topic of interest, etc.
    4. How does the teacher make a positive school-to-home connection to support student learning, e.g. phone calls, parent-teacher conferences, emails, Back to School night, blogs, etc.
    5. How does the teacher promote fun and a love of learning BEYOND the common curriculum?

    Just a few off the top of my head.

    Notice none of these examples can be evaluated by a simple test score.
    Notice none of these examples are political.
    Notice none of these examples would give money to a textbook or computer software company.
    Notice all of these would make the world a better place.

  15. mrobsmsu says:

    This. Is. Beautiful.

    Thank you.

  16. David Gamberg says:

    Wonderful Diane. So glad that our elementary school played even a small part to inspire your brilliant thoughts!

    David

  17. NY Educator says:

    How many students participate in classroom, school or community governance?

    How many students aged 18 and older are registered to vote? How many students 18+ and graduates have voted in a recent election?

    • gloria41488 says:

      Yes, so important! How can we expect young people to participate in self-governance if they have never experienced it, or seen it in action? I’d also ask whether participation in classroom, school, or community governance is reflective of the whole student community — all abilities and backgrounds. Good suggestions!

  18. gloria41488 says:

    I love this. To add on: How many students participated in a collaborative discussion on a topic of interest to them? How many questions does each student pose (not just answer) in a typical school day? How often are conversations about curricular topics initiated by students?

  19. wdf1 says:

    Another measure —

    Do the percentages of demographic subgroups (especially of lower income, ELL, and special ed students) participating in the above mentioned activities match the overall participation by the student body as a whole? If not, why not?

  20. Bob Shepherd says:

    What a beautiful recipe for moving away from the philistine, unimaginative sterility of ed deform. Thank you.

    It’s take to take back our schools.

  21. SomeDAM Poet (Devalue Added Model) says:

    “No Child Left Out”
    –versification of Diane Ravitch’s vision of better education for all

    No child left out, no child denied
    A chance to bloom as they decide

    No child denied a chance to play
    An instrument, on concert day

    No child denied a chance to sing,
    In chorus for the year-end fling

    No child denied a chance to write
    A poem about a winter’s night

    No child denied a chance to act
    In Fiddler on the Roof or Cats

    No child denied a chance to draw
    A human hand or monkey’s paw

    No child denied a chance to tell
    A story about a wishing well

    No child denied a chance to dance
    If only given half a chance

    No child denied a chance to code
    A robot’s movement down a road

    No child denied a chance to do
    Experiments with super glue

    No child denied a change to test
    A bridge they built with sticks and zest

    No child denied a chance to run
    And have some other sporting fun

    No child denied a chance to be
    The realization of what they see

  22. Katarina Ilic says:

    This is do-able. This is real living and real living is learning. There is not one thing on that list that isn’t completely reasonable. Having more volunteers in the classrooms to engage students in conversations about various topics is also a good idea. Children learn through discussions. There has to be room for the topic to evolve from their “spot” and not be premeditated and driven completely by the teacher. There needs to be room to respect a maturing person’s phases of development because we all know that a semester or even a year is not always an accurate reflection of the total person. Grades give the children an identity that they will respond to either positively or negatively. Neither response is helpful to the process of personal development.

    I know this is do-able because I teach this way. I am a former university instructor who is a homeschool parent and I teach in cooperatives. I teach classes and I don’t give grades. My students do all the kinds of things you have listed here. I know that you are ardently anti-homeschooling, and I respect your die-hard support of public schooling because it needs a champion like you. Truly. You will be glad to know that one of the few texts that I like and always use is your “American Reader – Words That Moved A Nation.” . The depth of discussions I get with even my 11 and 12- year-old students is very gratifying for us all and our text is part of that process.

    At seven-years-old, my son was playing with children in homeless shelters in the inner-city. He has been to the symphony many, many times. He played the piano. He is on a robotics team. He has friends in the homeschool community, friends in the neighborhood, friends at church, friends in other countries with whom he regularly shares ideas about software, robots and Lego.

    He’s experienced the hard knocks that all kids get, but he gets a chance to reflect, to heal and not evaluate himself with an arbitrary grading system. He doesn’t smirk when we talk about virtues. The kid who beat him up a few years ago is the same kid who invited him for pizza this past Sunday. Forgiveness is essential to life. That is reality. Not grades.

    I would add to this list, and in fact, put it on top of the list: Children and young people should regularly have the chance to talk with people of all ages, and especially the much older generation. The reasons for this are too many to count and probably too obvious to the people who read this site. Speaking and interacting with a much older generation is probably one of the most powerful teaching methods out there. Sadly, it is the last thing that public school reformers are going to consider worthwhile. Is it possible to have a “successful” education system when the wisdom of elders is not even part of public consciousness? When people compare our education system to Asian school systems, they forget that the Asian school system functions within the Asian culture. Our school system is failing along with our shallow and materialistic culture.

    When the local public school decides that they don’t have to bribe kids with fake money for “being good” so they can buy prizes at the end of the semester, I will consider sending my son there. When they have some other examples of “intellectual” work besides videos of kids pretending to be zombies, I will consider sending my son there. When they have a reading list that doesn’t require “Hunger Games” and other pop junk, I will consider sending my son there. I’ll stick to your text in the meantime.

  23. Eric says:

    Very timely. Currently fighting with the 3rd grade teacher because our creative and inquisitive daughter is being demonized because she doesn’t like to write. She was reading books that were “too advanced” for her and the teacher has been encouraging her to read “more appropriate” books that she doesn’t finish because they don’t hold her attention.

    My daughter who is very well spoken, is learning programming, gets outside often, whose favorite shows are the magic schoolbus and cosmos, …. .

    Today the teacher emailed me to say that we are “sending a bad message” by not forcing homework on her. I’m trying to stay calm while my blood is boiling.

  24. Thank you Diane. I would add:

    How many high school students went through vocational training to give them skills to enter the workforce after high school because they wanted and needed to?

    How many high school students went through a life skills course to help prepare them for parenting, managing finances, being successful in their relationships and marriages, and providing balance to their work/home lives?

    How many students engaged in entrepreneurial experiences?

    How many students can speak more than one language? Two? Three?

    How many students engaged in experiences that promote acceptance and tolerance of differences?

    How many students actively engage in giving back to their community because of their positive experiences in their hometown school district?

    How many students went into the teaching profession because of their positive experiences in schools?

  25. Ali says:

    So Diane Ravitch completely abandons the notion that schools have a responsibility to prepare children for college.

    • Dienne says:

      They don’t. If students want to go to college, they have the responsibility to prepare themselves, with school support.

    • linlalinla says:

      I am a product of the public education system prior to NCLB. I and many of my classmates were in classes that prepared us for college. Likewise, many of my classmates were in co-op classes that allowed them to work in the field of their choice while attending school (one week on one week off) . We all enjoyed art, singing, productions, creating magazines and self expression. We had a choice and RESPONSIBILITY to our OWN education and career choices.

    • Our current testing regime is not preparing students for college either. I know, I teach in a prestigious private college that has very high standards to get into, and professors here are always saying how unprepared the students are to handle college.

  26. KrazyTA says:

    Hmmmmmm…

    Now given that the Fordham Institute has publicly labeled the owner of this blog a “kook” [see their wild and wacky video on their critics, this blog, 1/18/2014], let’s do this weird and strange exercise called “critical thinking.” You know, like the big kids with long pants do…

    Bill Gates. The Cult of Measurement aka “Efficiency Without Excellence” [see Anthony Cody’s new book THE EDUCATOR AND THE OLIGARCH]. CCSS. High-stakes standardized testing. Class size doesn’t matter. Art, music, PE, and the like—pshaw! Teaching is a McJob. Nobody gives a XXXX what you think—Rheeally! Close reading of informational texts aka ‘closet’ reading with the lights out.

    Bill Gates. What he is trying to mandate for OTHER PEOPLE’S CHILDREN. What he himself got and what he ensures for HIS OWN CHILDREN.

    Daily Caller, 3/23/2014. “Bill Gates loves Common Core, BUT NOT HIS”—

    [start quote]

    Billionaire software tycoon Bill Gates has poured millions of dollars into efforts to develop and promote the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a set of K-12 math and language arts curriculum benchmarks and high-stakes standardized tests now being implemented in 46 states.

    Strangely enough, though, Common Core isn’t quite good enough for Gates and his wife, Melinda, when it comes to the education of their own three children.

    Diane Ravitch, a self-styled education policy iconoclast who tends to oppose Common Core (and charter schools, and much else), noted this irony on her blog earlier this week.

    The children of Bill and Melinda Gates – Jennifer, Rory and Phoebe – have attended Lakeside School, Seattle’s most elite, fancypants private school.

    The hallowed halls of Lakeside School are a sweet place to attend classes if you have the means.

    According to a Seattle education blog, the student-teacher ratio is 9 to 1. The average class size is 16. Some two dozen varsity sports are available and the opulent athletic facilities include “hydrotherapy spas.”

    Of course, what with tuition for the 2013-14 academic year costing $28,500 per kid (not including books, laptop, field trips, etc.), most families don’t have the means.

    Lakeside’s website doesn’t appear to discuss Common Core much.

    “The mission of Lakeside School is to develop in intellectually capable young people the creative minds, healthy bodies, and ethical spirits needed to contribute wisdom, compassion, and leadership to a global society,” reads the school’s mission statement. “We provide a rigorous and dynamic academic program through which effective educators lead students to take responsibility for learning.”

    A sub-mission statement talks about “interacting compassionately, ethically, and successfully with diverse peoples and cultures.”

    A 2011 webpage from Lakeside School does discuss how Lakeside has sort-of-kind-of used Common Core’s relatively obscure science component as a framework. The page notes, however, that Lakeside students are “generally more advanced than average” and won’t be subject to any of the standardized testing which the hoi polloi in public schools will undergo.

    Like his children, Gates also attended Lakeside before going off to – and then dropping out of – Harvard University.

    In a 2005 speech at the tony prep school, Gates fondly remembered his time and his teachers at the school.

    “Teachers like Ann Stephens. I was in her English class, and I read every book in there twice. But I sat in the back of the room and never raised my hand,” Gates declared.

    “She challenged me to do more. I never would have come to enjoy literature as much as I do if she hadn’t pushed me.”

    Interestingly, the Common Core standards Gates has funded so heavily mandate a nonfiction-heavy reading regime that devalues literature tremendously. Specifically, in the 46 states which have adopted Common Core standards, nonfiction books must constitute at least 70 per cent of the texts read by high school students. (RELATED: Under Common Core, classic literature to be dropped in favor of ‘informational texts’)

    This month, the former Microsoft CEO has been aggressively pushing Common Core. For example, Gates visited the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. to deliver a robust defense of the controversial education standards to a largely conservative audience. (RELATED: Convinced yet? Bill Gates defends Common Core)

    [end quote]

    (access original for many useful links)

    Link: http://dailycaller.com/2014/03/23/bill-gates-wants-to-force-common-core-on-your-kids-but-leave-his-kids-out-of-it/2/

    Grand Canyon. Chasm. Cognitive dissonance. Gap between words and deeds.

    Lakeside School would do well under the New Paradigm. But if we follow Bill’s strictures for the rest of us…

    Perhaps we should all demand for EVERYBODY’S CHILDREN what Bill is trying to reserve for HIS OWN CHILDREN.

    *Correction: strike the word “perhaps” in the above sentence.

    Is there any doubt that there is a greater than 98% satisfactory [thank you, Bill Gates!] chance of certainty that we don’t need 10 years [thanks again, Bill Gates!] to know if the Lakeside-path to EduExcellence is the way to go?

    “I reject that mind-set.” [Michelle Rhee(-Johnson)]

    Even a broken clock is right twice a day.

    😎

  27. H.A. Hurley says:

    Diane, you have a huge responsibility NOT to give ordinary people ideas of wanting ELITE school experiences that are solely reserved for the ELITE.
    Our children must know their place and must be taught to clammer, grovel, cry, dust themselves off, deal with massive disappointment and develop ‘GRIT’ while participating in around 13,000 hrs of Drill/Kill/Bubble-Fill during their school career.
    The Reformsters were making $M, allowing some of our children into their ELITE schools, just enough for them, and life was good…for them.
    Now, you could start a Revolution with your ELITE ideas. What would be so special about being ELITE, if all children were considered to be equal?
    Diane, be careful!
    Duncan/Obama/Gates & Co. will come down on all of us if we don’t make sure to honor their ELITISM for their children. Who ever heard of children having a well-rounded and child-centered education? Only the über rich know how to handle that.
    You have a Huge Responsibility to avoid such nit-wit ideas.

  28. Barbara L. Braden says:

    The concept of alternative models of accountability is a topic I think should come to the forefront with a certain urgency. An answer to the question of how do you judge a school if no tests. And how does one find a model – or process – that doesn’t impose an undue burden on the students, the teacher and the principal. Just exactly, or approximately, are the characteristics of a good school – without the rhetoric . (I tend to classify schools as either good schools or schools that need support, recognizing limits on available resources.)

    I think of the school in Pennsylvania with only $160 for supplies, etc. Yet from newspaper accounts it appears the principal and teachers are pulling together despite the overwhelming odds. This has the makings of a good school despite horrendous obstacles. I think of a study I recently read about 50 outstanding teachers who have no need for tests. How would one evaluate a school with such a teacher; what are available resources..

    This may be arrogance on my part, but as a former superintendent, when I spent even an short amount of time at a school, I could tell very quickly if it was a good school. How did I know, have no idea, but, at least, I have met other x-superintendents who felt the same way. I was more interested in what schools needed additional support as a start.

    Alternatives to testing are desperately needed now that can withstand the claims of the privateers, that resonates with politicians, parents and the media.

  29. Yvonne Siu-Runyan says:

    Why are we not Educating for Human Greatness? There is GREATNESS in ALL of US. And yes, our students are more than test scores as are we. The lunacy is mind-numbing. Oh…maybe that is what the deformers want—to numb our entire being.

    http://www.educationrevolution.org/store/humangreatness/

  30. Jennifer says:

    I love this new paradigm. I think accountability should have 2 facets. First, the economic side–are lawmakers providing adequate and equitable funding to meet the specific needs of all students.and are districts using that funding appropriately. Second, the education side–HOW does the district provide an education that serves the characteristics that the community holds important. The Clear Creek ISD in the Houston area has started publishing such a report which can be viewed at the link. Our district, in north Texas is working on a report modeled after CCISD’s. This is an idea that will hopefully spread to more districts as well. Not only does it give the community a better understanding of school’s strengths, it can help shed a light on why accountability based on test scores doesn’t do that which can only increase community push-back against standardized tests.

    http://www.ccisd.net/docs/default-source/assessment-and-evaluation/community-based-accountability-201314-final.pdf?sfvrsn=2

  31. Cap Lee says:

    Great thoughts as those issues become, not only important in schools but are integrated as learning goals for students. As learning goals, both schools and students will be assessed based on real time, 1st class learning. Of course 2nd class learning plays a role, but the fundamental whole child concept of 1st class learning becomes the primary focus. More to think about in my upcoming book http://www.wholechildreform.com

  32. 7th grade teacher in a Texas title 1 public school says:

    Please, no metrics. Everyone would just game the system.

    Don’t get me wrong, I like the idea.

  33. Socrates of NY says:

    Sounds great. Actually most middle class students are already there, or as much as they every were. Hoow about something for poor and minority children? You’ll never get there if you allow 10%+ of the students to sit in classes with teachers who can’t or won’t teach. If we do it your way eventually we’ll end up with 1% of the kids who can create robots that can sing, dance, and recite poetry and 99% of the kids who aren’t even qualified for McDonalds. We’ll have to bring in guest workers for that.

    • Dienne says:

      Apparently you haven’t noticed that middle class kids have been losing their art, music, PE, recess, etc. too lately? It’s all about the tests in all but the most elite schools.

    • Ken Watanabe says:

      You’ll never get there if you allow + 50% of make-up teachers coming from Teaching Factory of A who don’t really know how to teach or discipline kids with special needs, and leave schools in less than three years before they know what real teaching is all about. Pity and ignorance spinning around your thought–as your name suggests.

  34. Jim Realini says:

    In California we still have an ED Code which proscribes what is to be taught (sans Standards for Evaluation). From that curriculum Guidance the Department of Education establishes Curriculum Frameworks and currently the focus is on Common Core. The ED Code clear gives to local authorities (LEA) the direction to select appropriate curriculum. The rewriting the previous Reading and Writing Standards for Science and Social Studies into Literacy Standards for SCI/SocStud/Technical Subjects is part of this common core approach. Again there is not an evaluation system from the State as part of the curriculum frameworks/blueprints. The State is now preparing (contracting with Pearson et al) an online Evaluation for all students which no one has access to and we can only assume it will be based on the Common Core (as the contractors understand it).

    Given this Leviathan (and disconnected) approach to education I believe local school districts should adopt their own evaluation of what they want taught in their schools and disregard further State Mandates. The tests could be used as summative AND formative tools to guide PLC’s to better engage children. Evaluation of teachers is still a matter of first hand human (site administrator) observation, NOT mechanical (maniacal?) interpretation of data results.

  35. I was reading the Framework for 21st Century Learners (Microsoft is a partner organization), whose mission is to restructure education to prepare generations that will promote economic growth. Schools today are being used to help the US maintain its economic position in the world. We do this by promoting certain subjects, (math, reading, science), college educations, so we can stay on the forefront of science/technology/medicine/military innovations in the world. We stay number one, and everyone’s life and work revolves around what is best for Mother Russia……oops, I meant the U.S.

    I work with a professor who grew up in Korea. He said the main difference between public schools in the US vs. Korea was children in Korea were taught to study for the good of their nation. We used to have a public school system that was controlled mainly at the community-level. Reform has shifted control away from the community to a national control, with the almighty dollar attached to make sure we obey.

  36. artseagal says:

    Sounds good to me. How about starting off with this question, “If you were to ask a child if he/she enjoyed his/her school day? Would he/she answer yes…”? Under the current nonsense, how could they possibly say yes…”Oh yes, I love prepping for tests, oh yes, I love taking tests where the wording is so confusing that I don’t know what I am supposed to do, Oh I love not having recess or having to test prep instead of getting my PE because my pre test scores were low… So let us first ask the students whether they enjoyed their learning experience on a given day!

  37. wgersen says:

    THIS is the BEST post I’ve read in a long time! Why? Because it offers a solid alternative to the test and punish system imposed by NCLB and reinforced by RTTT. Instead of saying what its wrong with the current accountability model it offers a new one that can be easily and inexpensively imposed… unless, that is, you’ve cut the arts from your school district!

    One last item to add: accomplishing these goals would NOT require the batching of students in age-based cohorts. Because of that, these new accountability standards would help accelerate the abandonment of the factory system in place for decades and replace it with one that recognizes the inherent talents present in each and every child. BRAVO!

  38. she’s B…A…C…K!!!

    THIS is the DIANE
    upon Whom
    I rely
    to carry
    the Standard!

    YES!!!

  39. Firstgrademonkey says:

    No child left out.YES!

  40. AP Teacher in Montana says:

    This sounds great. I have one more, how do you measure when current and former students come back to my classroom, or see me around town, and thank me for my class and helping them to think for themselves. That means a helluva lot more than the percentage or students passing the AP Exam, or any other standardized test. Also I am pretty old school, mostly lecture, and it works for me. That is why I am so worried about the Common Core. In our district, we are being pushed to teach the same way, give the same assessments, but every teacher, as well as student, is not the same. Worst of all, we have been told many times that content knowledge is not important, only skills. This terrifies me, how can anyone think creatively, have a deep discussion or solve problems without a solid knowledge base.

    • Bob Shepherd says:

      “Worst of all, we have been told many times that content knowledge is not important, only skills.”

      The CCSS in ELA is a vaguely formulated list of abstract skills. It is almost entirely content free. This is one of the innumerable issues with these “standards.” Thank you.

  41. Sara says:

    How many children had access to a school library with a trained librarian where they could select books according to their individual interests?

  42. rmurphy12 says:

    1 of 2 comments. I’ve been teaching in a Seattle high school for 9 years, it is my 10th year. For each program, and for each district, the following graph. On the y axis hours spent per week (month, year) by everyone paid with kids. On the x axis the cost in dollars, by $5,000 increments, of each person in that program or district. Coordinate points would have a little number which would tell graph readers how many people are at that coordinate point. For example, I cost the district / state about $85,000 a year. Minus lunch & 50 mins. of prep, I have 6.16 hours of student time a day. Off at various agencies raining regulations and whatnot on my head are people making way over $100,000 a year who spend how much time with students a week?
    A few years ago local union ‘leadership’ snuck through approval of all kinds of Arne friendly stuff so that Seattle could participate in some Race To The Trash thing called ‘Roadmap’. The conventional wisdom in Wishy-Warshy union-ville tends to be ‘let’s accept whatever baloney bubbles out of Gate$-Ill-Vain-IA, otherwise we’ll be lied about and lose.’ Oh yeah, the ‘Roadmap’ thing was for $40 million – I wonder how that money would look on my graph?

  43. rmurphy12 says:

    2 of 2: I’d like there to be the following publicly available data on EVERY not-at-a-building policy person / decision maker. For each decision which was advocated for / implemented: 1. were the steps to implement the decision detailed out (for example, with a flow chart?) 2. Where there estimates for how much time each step would take to accomplish, as well as cost estimates to pay for the time of those with the skill(s) needed to implement the step? IF #1 and #2 are no, you’re fired!

  44. Michael Childers says:

    You have great insite on what is wrong with our schools! The New Paradigm you offer is an old proven path. I remember having these options back when I was in school. Having to finish a project for the open house was how we learned to be accountable, it also showed us we could do anything if we just put forth the effort!

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Now that we have endured more than a dozen long years of No Child Left Behind and five fruitless, punitive years of Race to the Top, it is clear that they both failed. They relied on carrots and sticks and ignored intrinsic motivation. They crushed children’s curiosity instead of cultivating it.* They demoralized schools. They disrupted schools and communities without improving children’s education.

We did not leave no child behind. The same children who were left behind in 2001-02 are still left behind. Similarly, Race to the Top is a flop. The Common Core tests are failing most students, and we are nowhere near whatever the “Top” is. If a teacher gave a test, and 70% of the students failed, we would say she was not competent, tested what was not taught, didn’t know her students. The Race turns out to be NCLB with a mask. NCLB on steroids. NCLB 2.0.

Whatever you call it, RTTT has hurt children, demoralized teachers, closed community schools, fragmented communities, increased privatization, and doubled down on testing.

I have an idea for a new accountability system that relies on different metrics. We begin by dropping standardized test scores as measures of quality or effectiveness. We stop labeling, ranking, and rating children, teachers, snd schools. We use tests only when needed for diagnostic purposes, not for comparing children to their peers, not to find winners and losers. We rely on teachers to test their students, not corporations.

The new accountability system would be called No Child Left Out. The measures would be these:

How many children had the opportunity to learn to play a musical instrument?

How many children had the chance to play in the school band or orchestra?

How many children participated in singing, either individually or in the chorus or a glee club or other group?

How many public performances did the school offer?

How many children participated in dramatics?

How many children produced documentaries or videos?

How many children engaged in science experiments? How many started a project in science and completed it?

How many children learned robotics?

How many children wrote stories of more than five pages, whether fiction or nonfiction?

How often did children have the chance to draw, paint, make videos, or sculpt?

How many children wrote poetry? Short stories? Novels? History research papers?

How many children performed service in their community to help others?

How many children were encouraged to design an invention or to redesign a common item?

How many students wrote research papers on historical topics?

Can you imagine an accountability system whose purpose is to encourage and recognize creativity, imagination, originality, and innovation? Isn’t this what we need more of?

Well, you can make up your own metrics, but you get the idea. Setting expectations in the arts, in literature, in science, in history, and in civics can change the nature of schooling. It would require far more work and self-discipline than test prep for a test that is soon forgotten.

My paradigm would dramatically change schools from Gradgrind academies to halls of joy and inspiration, where creativity, self-discipline, and inspiration are nurtured, honored, and valued.

This is only a start. Add your own ideas. The sky is the limit. Surely we can do better than this era of soul-crushing standardized testing.

*Kudos to Southold Elementary School in Long Island, where these ideas were hatched as I watched the children’s band playing a piece they had practiced.

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