Thursday, September 6, 2007

It's just like riding a bike

Once you get back on, it all comes back to you.

First class down, and the nerves are settling. I just hope that the second one goes a bit smoother (and I don't spend 40 minutes trying to park).

In the meantime, I got this really disturbing message from a colleague crowing about how wonderful it will be if we apply NCLB-style testing to higher ed. I wanted to scream, for so many reasons. Part of it was the fact the person doing the posting knows nothing about NCLB "assessments" and how it has narrowed the curriculum. There is also this assumption that the tests really indicate what students have learned, which is far more complicated than a multiple guess test can indicate. And, if the feds (and the states) were to require testing at the college level, in what content areas would we test students? How would that affect choices of majors? Would it result in closing down certain programs? The President and others have gone on record saying that they want to streamline college majors to better reflect the needs of the marketplace. That is very dangerous in my mind, because it will fundamentally change the role of higher education in a democratic society.

I need help on this one, because I need to respond to this colleague. I have a good deal of the research (from both sides of the aisle that point to problems), and I also know about the shady deals individual states have made with the ED. I need to hear from other people what they think before I compose a response.

Any thoughts?


Laura Williams said...


The most recent story my mom had was about the fire alarm being pulled. Apparently there is a Special Ed student who likes to pull fire alarms. During the first/second day of school there was an unscheduled fire drill, believed to be caused by this student. So, the janitor put a device on the fire alarms in order to prevent this kid from pulling them unexpectedly, but he didn't protect one. And, Thursday (yesterday) the alarm was pulled again, and everyone was forced to stand outside till the school was cleared. But the great thing is that while waiting, it stormed! everyone got soaked through to the bone and there was nothing they could do to prevent it (plus, they had Open House later that night, and not everyone could change clothes).

Anyway, I was thinking I could illustrate this. But if you have any themes you'd like to address, I could ask my mom for a different story.

Edubabbler said...

I think this one is great, though the focus on the special ed student is not as important as all the other stuff in there.

Nice. I like it.

pfhenry1960 said...


I caught your diary on Dkos in Robyn's Teacher's Lounge.

I've got a long but thorough article that goes after standardized testing from multiple perspectives.

I can send it to you via email.

The article is coming out any day now in the Minnesota English Journal, which is an online publication, PDF, but I can forward that address to you as well.

I have more than 60 footnotes in it, so it is replete with all the information I have gathered over the years on the limitations, dangers and even damage done by reliance on standardized testing.

Email me at
or leave me your email at or just register there and I will get it to you.