Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Standardization or Innovation?

Day 14 of 30 Day Blog Challenge:

"Standardization is the antithesis of innovation." This was a quote I came across Monday as I was following the #140confdm on twitter. This quote stood out to me Monday afternoon. Little did I know that it would be the basis for the school board meeting I attended that evening?

From my post yesterday, I talked about a presentation my Vertical Project Based Learning Team did for our school board. The highlights of the presentation touched upon student and teacher communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity. The team is the opposite of standardization. The artifacts of student work and exploration from over the past 10 months screamed different, innovative, real life, true learning! I had a feeling of true accomplishment and success for both my students and team.

After some discussion, our curriculum director gave a presentation on the districts performance on the WKCE test administered each fall in public school districts around the state. My following reflections and thoughts are not aimed toward our curriculum director in any way. It is his job to report the districts progress and outcomes as far as testing takes place. What I am going to share reflects my own opinions and beliefs about standardized testing and standardized basic curriculum.

My district does well, really well on standardized testing. We are one of the top districts in the state. What does that mean? To teachers and students it doesn’t mean much. Teachers know and understand that it is a snapshot of one day in a child's life. I have a hard time sitting through a presentation that highlights how well our district does on this test, after a presentation was just completed on innovation and creativity. Why does the general public put so much emphasis and credence into standardized test? Why do they work to push away innovation?

I don't care if you are conservative or liberal; the most successful people in this country’s history have been innovators. They didn't continue to do the same thing over and over again with the belief that the end result would change. From Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, they continually reinvented themselves and their product so that it was relevant to the era they lived in. Why in education do we continually fall back on the "basics"? Where has it gotten us as a country in the world of education? With continued support by elected officials from both parties, we are being told as school districts to teach to the test even more. We have high scores, but we have kids who are becoming google machines. They are full of dates, times, and other facts that can be found within the matter of minutes on a basic google search. Wouldn't you rather have a child be a problem solver and connected to the world they live in that can be the next Steve Jobs? Don't you want a child that can communicate with all types of people and creatively produce a product for their world? Teaching to the test, and delivering curriculum as the all knowing giver of knowledge is not the path to helping today's generation build for their future.

I am fortunate to have the support of my fellow teachers, administration, and a number of school board members when it comes to these beliefs. Most importantly, I have the support of my students. They care about school and they are always pushing my thoughts and actions. They are the true innovators.

1 comment:

  1. I agree Chris. In this drive thru world, standardized tests allow people to judge a school fast, no regard for accuracy or validity or usefulness. The celebrated new state tests, will give us data faster! Oh great- rotten data furnished faster. Rage against the dying of the light.