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Re: Changing classroom practices

UM, Joe,

As a parent, I believe that what happens in classrooms gets influenced by
many things. Some for better, some for worse. If you ask me whether any
standardized tests (well designed, or not) "heavily influences" classroom
practice, the answer would be, "it depends". Historically, as Robert Linn
has pointed out, when high stakes are attached to standardized tests, the
negative consequences tend to outweigh the positive ones, and such tests
tend to lose their usefulness and dependability as educational measures.
There will always be exemplar classrooms in which creative and meaningful
learning thrives in spite of the use of standardized tests, but when, as you
put it, reforms of an "external" nature are imposed systemically, it's
rather naive to ignore the overall effect of such reforms.

Real learning may mean different things to different people, or to different
communities. I hate to agree with someone whose views are so politically
different from mine, but Milton Friedman was right: When government imposes
standards which effectively define what "real learning" is and stipulate how
it shall be measured, we end up with government-imposed mediocrity, and
stifle progress and innovation.

Allen F.

-----Original Message-----
From: UMJoe@AOL.COM [mailto:UMJoe@AOL.COM]
Sent: Thursday, February 21, 2002 6:41 AM
To: ARN-L@listsrva.CUA.EDU
Subject: Changing classroom practices

Eddie wrote about a week ago, asking for reactions to an article by Richard
Elmore of Harvard. I think it is a very important article and would like to
respond briefly.

Elmore began by describing a teacher he interviewed about block scheduling.
Elmore asked the teacher what thought of block scheduling. The teacher
thought it was the best thing that had happened in a long time. Elmore
why. The teacher said that now he could show the whole movie.

Elmore's point is that we can talk about a lot of external changes, but
unless we discuss what happens with students and teachers, there will not be
much improvement.

My sense is that many people on this list believe that what happens in
classrooms is heavily influenced by poorly designed standardized tests. I
agree that some schools are heavily influenced by these tests because the
schools are under intense pressure to improve achievement on the tests.

I also think it's critical to talk about what we mean by real learning - and
how it is measured. So - in brief, thanks to Eddie for sharing the Elmore
article. Reactions welcome.

Joe N.

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