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Conflicting Ideas?

May 12, 2010
One of the key issues for Saline Area Schools as we develop and define how we accomplish our mission is to instill in our students a desire for lifelong learning.  This is related to bringing innovation to our curriculum and instructional practices.  Is the call for innovation compatible with testing and accountability?

State and Federal education policy has the same issue.  As a State we are competing for Race to the Top funds.  The plans have called for “reimagining” public education, while at the same time, using the MEAP tests and other standardized assessments to determine annual yearly progress.  The message to staff is “try new approaches, integrate curriculum, take risks, etc.” is often met (justifiably) with it doesn’t fit our State mandated curriculum.

In developing new programs or evaluating existing programs, we often ask the question, what does the data say?  We want to create creative and resourceful thinkers who are effective problem solvers, but the focus on short term data analysis for justification of success or failure flies in the face of this goal.

Reform in public education is not for the faint of heart.  We are faced with difficult choices.   Our concern is to provide a learning environment for our students and at the same time we are forced to comply with policies that may not fit with the desires of our community.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Schneider permalink
    May 13, 2010 10:53 pm

    As a PhD student, Early Childhood Practitioner and a parent, I too am concerned with the current curriculum. According to MEAP scores, my son apparently is advanced in Math, however, he has difficulty explaining simple math concepts. How is that possible? How can teachers promote vital critical thinking skills if they are pressured to teach to the test? And, are teachers truly free to be innovative? I think the classroom environment is squashing a child’s imagination, beginning in Kindergarten. Take a walk down the hallway of the Kindergarten section, look and I mean really observe the artwork that is displayed. All of it, is pre-cut, prepared by the teacher, crushing any creativity that a child has, essentially restricting his/her freedom to think. Maybe, we should question and really challenge standardized testing such as MEAP. Do you think standardized testing could be prohibiting the child’s ability to interpret, analyze, inquire, problem-solve, evaluate, and examine–critical thinking skills?

  2. May 14, 2010 8:09 am

    I feel a system that focuses on standardized tests as a way to measure (of a student, building or district) success is flawed. I’m not sure I can say it prohibits critical thinking skills, but it surely does not help.

  3. Megan permalink
    May 18, 2010 9:19 am

    I received my son’s MEAP scores stapled to his NWEA scores last trimester, you would have thought they were from two different kids the results were so different. It left my confused and now I put very little stock into the results. I don’t think they reflect at all what he knows. There has got to be a better way to track a gauge progress.

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