Re: discuss-sudbury-model Educational Reform

Dale R. Reed (
Tue, 19 May 1998 12:42:37 -0700

Deborah Muise wrote:
> What a sad commentary on the public school systems!

Hey Deborah, you have not heard anything yet. You should of read(about
a year ago) the front page article in The Wall Street Journal on all of
this "Goals 2000" tom-foolery in Kentucky.

And catch today's Editorial in The Seattle Times. Dale

Posted at 06:25 a.m. PDT; Tuesday, May 19, 1998

Donít let preparation blur state test results

TERRY Bergeson, superintendent of public instruction, is worried that
problems with the new state tests could seriously erode public
confidence in schools. She should be.
The Washington Assessment of Student Learning for fourth- and
seventh-graders is designed to accomplish two goals: give an
individualized account of each studentís skills, and create a
comprehensive portrait of the relative ability of schools to educate
their students.
The test results have been touted by education administrators and state
legislators as an accurate and profoundly important tool for
accountability in public education. Penalties for low scores are
Schools that fare poorly lose respect and students; principals with low
scores suffer in their evaluations.
Under this kind of pressure, it is no surprise to learn that
"irregularities" may be occurring at schools. Irregularities like
showing test questions to students prior to the test, correcting
studentsí spelling and reading test passages aloud.
It would be easy to blame these alleged violations on craven principals
and teachers trying to save their own hides. But the nature of the test
itself and the relentless emphasis on individualization contributes to
much of the problem.
Bergeson has said that the material covered in the test reflects ideal
curricula, and that it radically differs from what is taught in many
classrooms. Teachers are undoubtedly eager to familiarize themselves and
their students with any material that will help students succeed.
The Washington Commission on Student Learning, which is responsible for
the test, created a 13-page guideline for special accommodations. Under
these guidelines, the test may be spread over a three-week period or
taken all at once. The guidelines allow teachers to test in small groups
or private study carrels; to quietly repeat directions for individual
students; to play Yanniís Greatest Hits or other calming music. More
than one-quarter of the students in the state qualify for the
Commissionís Special Population and can receive even more
No wonder principals and teachers are confused. Rules like this muddy
the difference between guiding and cheating.
Commission spokesman Marc Frazer said the rules are under construction
and are "likely to get more complicated down the road" as testing
expands to other grade levels. Whatís needed are clearer guidelines for
teachers and administrators, fewer loopholes for individual students,
less unnecessary coddling. It is the only way the test can evolve into a
true measure of learning.

Copyright © 1998 The Seattle Times Company

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