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Re: eliminate public education



George Cunningham wrote:

> Ken,
>
> I find it interesting how people who criticize standardized tests always
> have to preface the discussion by proclaiming how well they, themselves do
> on such tests. If these tests are so awful, why do they go to such lengths
> to tell us what a wonderful reader, test taker, intelligent person they are.
> Isn't this all meaningless if the test are no good?
>
> George K. Cunningham
> University of Louisville
>

No, Goerge, you totally misinterpret. I point out that I don't view the test
scores as particularly meaningful, and include my hiugh scores to prove that I
am not taking my position to justify my doing badly on same. Were I taking the
position I do, and had scored, asy, only 530 total on SATs instead of
around1500, I could justifiably be accused for my position.

I have previously noted my expereience of being able to raise the scores of
others significantly in short periods of time. That doesn't necessarily make
me an excellent teacher (although I think I am, for toher reasons, in my
regular classroom), but merely illustrative of the fact of how easy it is to
prep for such tests, which to my mind challneges the validity of any inferences
being drawn from their scores.

In answer to your final sentence, you are the one syaing the tests are "no
good." The position of mosts of us on this baord is that overreliance upon
them is distorted and leads to very inaccuarte conclusion (inferences) about
the pople who generated those scores. I am perfectly willing to use socres on
standardzied tests as one (very) small piece of information, but I certainly
consider them not of particularly wieghty value. Even were they reliable,
which in my expereince of preparing people to(re-)take them, they are not, an
instrument can be highly reliable and yet still invlaid. For the purposes for
which many would such tests, I believe the inferences to be drawn are NOT
valid. And I would make that statement about my onw test socres, even as I
also acknowledge that my uniserivty (Catholic) largley chose to give my my
scholarship based on my GRE scores.

Ken Bernstein










> > -----Original Message-----
> > From: Assessment Reform Network Mailing List
> > [mailto:ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU]On Behalf Of kber
> > Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 4:09 PM
> > To: ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: eliminate public education
> >
> >
> > George Cunningham wrote:
> > "There is an undercurrent belief on this list that poor
> > children can't learn and should not be expected to perform well on
> > standardized tests."
> >
> >
> > Let's split this into two parts.
> >
> > That poor children can't learn - I strongly disagree that people
> > on this list
> > believe that.
> >
> > That shouldn't be expected to perform well on standardized tests
> > - they start
> > handicapped, and standardized tests do not necessarily measure
> > what they can
> > learn, or even what they do know.
> >
> > In fact - standardized tests do not measure what many more economically
> > advantaged students can learn and do know. That is why we raise such
> > challenges to standardized tests.
> >
> >
> > I happen to be able to ace standardized tests. For one thing, I
> > read at over
> > 1,000 words a minute. That gives me a huge advantage, as
> > standardized tests
> > are time. Further, I know how such tests work, and know to look
> > for the answer
> > the test creator wants, EVEN IF THAT ANSWER IS NOT CORRECT. That
> > does not mean
> > that I'm a brighter, better able to learn, or even that I know more than
> > someone who lacks those particular skills- test taking knowledge
> > and speed of
> > reading.
> >
> > Too often I see you George, making these sweeping statements that
> > really do NOT
> > represent what most of us believe. If you want to "diss" those
> > who you view as
> > progressive, using the term as a pejorative, I suggest you would
> > probably be
> > far more comfortable in dialogue with Diane Ravitch than with
> > most of us. If
> > it is progressive to say that we recognize individual differences among
> > learners, that not all learn the same way, and that we thing that
> > therefore
> > both instruction and assessment should be tailored to the
> > individual students,
> > now you are describing what being progressive means to most of
> > us. You have a
> > problem with that? Oh, it is not efficient. It does not easily
> > lend itself to
> > the kinds of statistical analyses of which psychometricians are so fond.
> >
> > You will condemn such an approach as being subjective, rather
> > than objective
> > the way "standardized" tests are. Well, let's look at those
> > words. I prefer
> > to see each of my students as subject in him/herself, not an object to be
> > measured as if his/her uniqueness did not matter. You're damn
> > right I view my
> > students subjectively, but in the way I just used the term. Any
> > other approach
> > is inhumane. People are not bacteria or widgets. They deserve
> > the respect to
> > which all of us are entitled, since, as Jefferson points out, that each is
> > endowed by his creator with certain unalienable rights, that
> > among these rights
> > are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Funny, I don't remember
> > anything in the Declaration (or elsewhere among the founders)
> > that says that
> > "all men such be subject to, and measured by, standardized,
> > multiple choice,
> > machine scored, psychometrically valid, tests."
> >
> > Put it another way - go back to genesis (bereshith, to Michelle
> > and me), and
> > note that man was created "in the image and likeness" of God. You want to
> > measure how closely that image fits by a standardized test?
> > BTW, it is on
> > this point that I do not understand why Conservative Christians would EVER
> > accept such instruments as the measure of a person. But what do I know?
> >
> >
> > Have a nice day, all
> >
> >
> > Ken Bernstein
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > > Dave,
> > >
> > > I think you are failing to identify the true opponents to your point of
> > > view. Throughout the 20th century, traditionalists have asserted that
> > > students do not differ in academic ability and that all student can and
> > > should learn conventional academic content at a high level.
> > When students
> > > do not perform at this high level it is because they are not
> > motivated or
> > > they are receiving poor instruction. Traditionalism is the
> > basis for SBER
> > > and Bush's educational initiatives.
> > >
> > > Progressive educators have always maintained that students do differ in
> > > ability and that some student can't successfully learn
> > conventional academic
> > > content. This is the underlying basis for opposition to SBER
> > on this list,
> > > which I believe can be accurately characterized as predominantly
> > > progressive. There is an undercurrent belief on this list that poor
> > > children can't learn and should not be expected to perform well on
> > > standardized tests.
> > >
> > > As a Socialist you are trying to eliminate class differences and your
> > > natural opponent are the traditionalists who tend to be aligned with
> > > capitalism. But, which group is more inimical to your cause the
> > > traditionalist who believes that all students can learn at the same high
> > > level or the progressive educator who argues that poor children
> > just can't
> > > compete.
> > >
> > > The idea that traditionalists don't really think all children
> > can learn at a
> > > high level and that they cynically promote this to increase
> > failure, is, I
> > > think wrong.
> > >
> > > Consider the high school exit exam in California. This is a
> > pure expression
> > > of traditionalism. I believe that those who pushed for it
> > really believe
> > > that if everyone works hard and the right instruction is provided all
> > > students can pass. That is certainly a more egalitarian view
> > than my own
> > > progressive suspicions that it can never happen.
> > >
> > > George K. Cunningham
> > > University of Louisville
> > > ----- Original Message -----
> > > From: "Dave Stratman" <Newdem@AOL.COM>
> > > To: <ARN-L@LISTS.CUA.EDU>
> > > Sent: Tuesday, February 05, 2002 11:35 AM
> > > Subject: Re: eliminate public education
> > >
> > > > Hi, Bobbie--
> > > >
> > > > I don't agree that the real agenda behind vouchers, high
> > stakes tests, and
> > > > other education reforms is to do away with public education,
> > and I think
> > > that
> > > > believing so can be dangerous and misleading. The goal rather
> > is to make
> > > > public education achieve its primary goals from the point of
> > view of the
> > > > corporate and political elite more effectively. The key elite goal for
> > > public
> > > > education is to legitimize social inequality.
> > > >
> > > > To understand what's happening with these reforms, I think it's first
> > > > necessary to understand that the public education system is not an
> > > unalloyed
> > > > good. I mean, it is "contested terrain" in a society where
> > the goals of
> > > most
> > > > people, including of the people actually in the schools, are
> > in conflict
> > > with
> > > > the goals of the most powerful in society who have dominant
> > influence over
> > > > educational policies. The effects of the public education system in
> > > society
> > > > are decidedly mixed.
> > > >
> > > > Teachers, parents, and students want the schools to educate
> > children to
> > > the
> > > > fullest of their ability; the governing elite, however, want
> > the schools
> > > to
> > > > persuade children to accept their place in a very unequal
> > society. This
> > > > necessarily entails convincing a large proportion of young people that
> > > they
> > > > are stupid and unworthy of success or of a voice in society.
> > > >
> > > > The difficulty which the most powerful people in our society face
> > > regarding
> > > > public education is that, in spite of all the forces arrayed against
> > > > them--unequal funding, for example, and educational policies
> > and practices
> > > > which tend to retard rather than develop children's skills and
> > > > self-confdence, and myriad other factors--teachers and
> > students and their
> > > > parents succeed to an important extent in imparting to young people a
> > > level
> > > > of self-confidence and expectations and skills which are
> > greater than the
> > > > corporate economy can utilize or cope with. This is why
> > teachers and kids
> > > > have to be attacked.
> > > >
> > > > The education reforms you mention are designed not to do away with the
> > > > institution but to tip its social role more in favor of the
> > ruling elite
> > > who
> > > > wish to use the public school system for their own ends and
> > to lessen the
> > > > power of teachers, parents, and students to affect it.
> > > >
> > > > Reforms such as high stakes testing and standards do this --I mean,
> > > sharpen
> > > > inequality--directly. Privatizing reforms such as vouchers
> > and tuition tax
> > > > credits do it less directly, in part by lessening the
> > resources available
> > > for
> > > > public schools, in part by posing an outside threat to panic
> > educators and
> > > > others into accepting reforms which they know are destructive
> > but which
> > > they
> > > > hope will at least save the institution.
> > > >
> > > > Here is why I think it is very important to analyze the
> > attack on public
> > > > education correctly. We are often encouraged, including by influential
> > > forces
> > > > within the anti-testing movement itself, to believe that the threat to
> > > public
> > > > education comes only from "the right" or from
> > "conservatives." Vouchers
> > > are
> > > > used by liberal groups like the NEA as a bogeyman to get teachers to
> > > frighten
> > > > teachers into accepting far more immediately destructive
> > measures, such as
> > > > standards and other reforms (the NEA has for years even been trying to
> > > > frighten its members into accepting merit pay, one of the
> > most anti-union
> > > and
> > > > destructive of all the reform measures being proposed).
> > > >
> > > > Vouchers and the "elimination of public education," in other
> > words, are
> > > used
> > > > to push people to accept very destructive measures as as kind
> > of lesser of
> > > > two evils, when we should be rejecting all these proposals.
> > > >
> > > > When I was directing the National Coalition for Public
> > Education in its
> > > > successful fight against the Tutition Tax Credit Act of
> > 1977-78, I argued
> > > > that we who are the defenders of public education must also be its
> > > sharpest
> > > > critics. I continue to believe that. This means, I think, that we must
> > > focus
> > > > not simply on the institution in the abstract but on its real role in
> > > > society, both when we are defending it and when we are trying
> > to understan
> > > d
> > > > the real goals of its attackers.
> > > >
> > > > Dave Stratman
> > > > Editor, New Democracy
> > > > <A HREF="newdemocracyworld.org">www.newdemocracyworld.org</A>
> > > > 5 Burr Street
> > > > Boston, MA 02130
> > > > 617-524-4073
> > > >
> > >
> > >
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