|Subject:||Re: [AAACE-NLA] AAACE-NLA Digest, Vol 53, Issue 19|
|Date:||Tue, 23 Oct 2007 09:23:01 -0700 PDT|
I differ in your conclusions about The Teacher's Network Survey. The survey does not indicate perceived defects in NCLB.
The fact that 78 percent of teachers say they spend "a lot of time", whatever that means, preparing students for state testing is inconclusive because we don't have data to compare this to. Did the same teachers say they spent "a lot of time" preparing students for state testing before NCLB was enacted? We don't know. Neither do we know if these same teachers perceive either pre- or post-NCLB state test preparation as an obstacle to their students' learning. We don't know because they weren't asked that question.
In the survey 69 percent of teachers say they don't teach critical thinking. Again, what percentage said they taught critical thinking before NCLB? Was it the same? higher? lower? We don't know. Just as important, which teachers are we talking about? Other than demographic and grade level data the survey provides no data for the type of teacher who was surveyed. I would think that if you posed the critical thinking question to art teachers, gym teachers, and band teachers, that nearly 100 percent of them would answer that they do not teach and have never taught critical thinking to any significant degree.
75 percent of teachers say they don't emphasize "deep understanding." Again, whatever that means. But assuming that it means rote memorization by 3rd graders of multiplication tables is suddenly replacing "deep understanding" that pursues the particular way Johnny may or may not arrive at 9 x 9, I say, finally. In my son's elementary school flash cards are not used to teach multiplication tables. According to his teacher they are "frowned upon" by the school. Yet, she strongly encourages that we use them at home. If they don't work, if they are harmful, if they are counterproductive, why does she recommend them? So while I wouldn't categorize drilling 3rd graders with multiplication flash cards as critical thinking, I would call the practice very necessary to the successful pursuit of higher level learning, and so would centuries of experience. Unfortunately, in today's more enlightened climate this effective, elementary barbarism is shamefully performed in hushed tones, with curtains drawn.
Finally there are reliability problems with the non-scientific survey itself. For one thing, teachers with an ax to grind are more likely to take the survey than teachers who are satisfied. Thus the responses are likely to be biased toward the critical. For example, of the 5582 respondents, 34 percent are from either New York of California, two states with very strong teachers unions who are leading the charge against NCLB. But these two states represent just 6.7 and 12 percent, respectively, of the US population. Therefore the opinions of teachers in these two states are granted twice their fair weight. Conversely, relatively conservative Ohio, which has 4 percent of the US population is represented in the survey with only 1.2 percent. The opinions of Ohio teachers are therefore diminished by a factor of three. Any judicious interpretations of the survey must account for these flaws.
Tom, you said a better question to ask is, "Where is the evidence that either the NAEP or a state-specific standardized test accurately assesses the mastery of important content and skills directly or indirectly?" I agree, that really is the central question. The answer would be found in the validation reports of the exams. Hopefully national and state assessments were validated with greater scrutiny than was the Teacher's Network Survey.
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2007 14:06:38 -0700
Subject: Re:[AAACE-NLA]AAACE-NLA Digest, Vol 53, Issue 16 ?
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1
Kearney: You asked: Where is the evidence that children have been subjected
"to hours of drill and practice in test taking rather than engaging in
learning important content and skills"?
Answer: The Teacher's Network is one organization that has surveyed teachers
to find out about how they react to NCLB. One of the items of a recent
survey of some 4600 teachers across the nation was "To prepare for
state/district testing, I spend a lot of time teaching my students
test-taking skills" and 78 percent said they agree or strongly agree with
that statement. This translates into thousands of hours spent on
test-taking preparation rather than engaging in learning important content
and skills. Eighty-five percent of teachers agreed with the statement, "I
spend a lot of time teaching my students content that I know will be on the
state/district test." Most (69 percent) of the teachers agree that they do
not teach critical thinking, 79 percent do not teach in student-centered
ways, 75 percent do not emphasize deep understanding, eighty-two percent
have eliminated curriculum material that is not tested.
Kearney: You rephrased your question as, "That is, where is the evidence
that neither NAEP nor a state-specific standardized test accurately
assesses the mastery of important content and skills, whether directly or
Answer: This is actually a different question, not a rephrasing of the first
question. At any rate, a better question, I think, is where is the evidence
that either the NAEP or a state-specific standardized test accurately
assesses the mastery of important content and skills directly or
indirectly? None of the tests specify the content being assessed in
specific (e.g., reading literature by author and title, reading some
specific scientific information, reading some specific history texts, etc),
nor do the tests report anything other than level, e.g., below basic, basic,
intermediate, proficient. The NAEP/state tests clearly do not assess these
same way with the same definitions of the different levels. So in actuality
it is not clear just what is being assessed, directly or indirectly.
I hope this is helpful.
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