One of my worst learning nightmares at Pleasant Valley Elementary School in 1961 was being assigned to the "pewter" reading level due to some of my delayed learning issues, while everyone else was assigned to aqua, gold, platinum. For the rest of that year, I was pewter! So much for the SRA Reading Development Series in those years. When a student is assigned a number or a color, it predestines their life.
Day 3 at ISTE had a wonderful treat, Stephen Covey. How wonderful it was to hear him speak on the 7 habits and how they apply to our schools. Of particular note was his reference that test scores are the worst form of identity theft that exists. Reducing someone to a number that will determine their ability to get ahead in life without taking into consideration their humanity, creativity, and innovative skill sets is something out of a science fiction episode, such as the Twilight Zone.
But, tell that to our elected officials that have created this boondoggle entitled NCLB. They are so sure that testing students will encourage low performing individuals to get ahead, have no idea of the human spirit, and the capabilities of people to learn differently. US Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke at a conference saying :“I think one of the most insidious things that’s happened in this country over the past couple of decades has been the dumbing down of standards for children. In far too many states, including the state I come from, Illinois, we have been lying to children and lying to families in telling them they are prepared for college and careers when, in fact, they are nowhere near ready.”
I caught this quote from an article by Maureen Downey of the Atlanta Constitution Journal. I had to read it four times and I laughed that it came from none other than our US Secretary of Education, the purveryor of Race to the Top (or as I refer to it, Slip to the Bottom). In one statement he suggests that the standards are dumbed down. Then he proposes to fix that by making every student across the country take more tests, and forcing teachers to teach to the test in order to pass some "standard" determined by the likes of politicos at various levels of society.
So, refer back to Stephen Covey's comment. We dehumanize potential when we assign a number, a score, or an achievement descriptor that does not allow some people to be creative or to get ahead, or as Secretary Duncan describes, "dumb and dumber".
Time to have an alumni meeting with the other "pewter heads" at ISTE!!!