Sunday, April 18, 2010

Measuring Student Achievement: Ten questions

Governor Crist of Florida (where I live) last week vetoed a piece of nonsense that linked teacher's salaries to "student achievement." I imagine his veto of his own party's bill was about politics and not about education, but let me ask some education questions that are never asked:

1. Why do we need to measure student achievement?
2. What would happen if students were not measured or graded at all?
3. Can we imagine an educational system in which students were seen as consumers and they could consume what they wanted to consume -- letting them learn what they'd like to learn?
4. Why do legislatures think they understand what children need to learn?
5. How well would these legislators do on the very FCATs they mandate?
6. Do legislators regularly take multiple choice tests?
7. Why don't we measure legislators with multiple choice tests?
8. If adult achievement involves actual acts of labor (i.e. doing things) why not measure students in the same way?
9. Why is it so hard to re-think the idea of student achievement, and imagine it as having students actually achieve real things, real abilities, that can be seen and demonstrated and judged in the same way that the actions of adults are judged?
10. Can we imagine school as a place where students pursue their interests and demonstrate real achievements, and not have t o work at improving meaningless test scores masquerading as achievements?

I just thought I'd ask.