(Warning: Elitist, preachy, liberal, rantish stuff ahead.)
Lately, I can’t seem to get out from under the feeling that a) this country has pretty much lost its way and that b) at the end of the day, our education system carries much of the blame. No question, my parenting lens is coloring some of this; I’ve been reading Umair Haque and Climate Progress and the occasional Thomas Friedman essay, and I’m simply getting depressed at the picture of the future that’s being painted. And, I’m even more distressed at not being able to know how well my kids will be able to deal with the boatload of crap that is coming their way. Let’s just say things feel pretty dire right now, and to me at least, it seems like our society is offering up one part denial, one part lack of interest and one part ignorance in response. The first is a choice, but those second two? I blame our all consuming love affair with the test.
It’s bad enough that we’re bleeding kids to the tune of 7,000 a day from the system, 2,500,000 1,200,000 a year. (See note below.) That’s not all due to the test, certainly, but much of it is due to being subjected to a curriculum that is driven by the one size fits all outcomes that we’ve set up for them. Read Seymour Papert’s list of 8 Big Ideas for Constructionist Learning and ask yourself seriously how much of that goes on in your school. My guess is not much, and the primary reason is we don’t value that stuff more than we value making sure kids pass the test. We don’t give kids time to go deep, we don’t honor failure, and we’re not about “learning to learn” as much as we are about “learning to know.” So many of our kids are disengaged or simply not interested in learning because they see no benefits past the exam. Are we really surprised that so many adults in our society aren’t learners? So many teachers, in fact? That’s not our emphasis in schools.
Similarly, is anyone surprised that a huge swath of our population can’t speak intelligently about the larger issues that face us? No doubt, the financial mess we’re in and climate change and the Middle East and the rest are complex, fast changing issues that can be difficult for anyone to keep up with. (I’m no exception.) But again, have our schools really been cultivating the learning dispositions needed to grapple with those topics as they evolve? We give a lot of lip service to problem solving and critical thinking and the like, but I’m not convinced that those and other really important skills and literacies are showing up meaningfully in more than 10% of classrooms in this country because in large measure, they’re not on the test. It’s about content and knowledge, not learning.
Here’s the deal: Right now, the test is forcing us to spend too much time on stuff that we don’t really need to be spending time on any more. I used to joke about open phone tests, but I’m not joking as much any more. I keep looking at my kids’ tests, especially Tucker’s state NJ ASK stuff and see way too much stuff on there that he could answer with his phone. Not getting it.
And it’s not getting better. I just spent a couple of days out in Seattle working with a group of pretty amazing educators helping to write problem based curriculum that aligns with the Common Core. Their main motivation is to engage kids in learning, and I got a chance to observe one of their modules being implemented in a local high school classroom. It was good stuff. But in general, what bothers me about the Common Core is what bothers me about the traditional curriculum as well, namely that there is still way too much emphasis on things that I just don’t see as all that important in the information and knowledge filled world in which we live. I totally get that there is not one part of most K-12 curricula that isn’t relevant to some kids in the system, but the idea that every child has to get every part of the standard curriculum is silly. And even more, there is still a decided lack of emphasis on the types of skills and dispositions and real world knowledge and thinking that my children are going to need to best exist in a world filled with what more and more appears to be some pretty dire problems.
So I’ve been building a list of my UnCommon Core, the things I think we can expect every child to understand regardless of interest and passion. I know some will read a liberal bias into this, but I find these hard to argue against, to be honest, regardless the political viewpoint you bring to them. So here’s a baker’s dozen:
1. Living softly on the Earth (Our global impacts.)
2. Gender equality equity (Note #2) (With a particular emphasis on the objectification and sexualization of young girls and women.)
3. Developing expertise (Understanding what it means to go deep intellectually)
4. Public participation (Both online and off)
5. Managing, analyzing, synthesizing and sharing multiple streams of simultaneous information (Thank you NCTE)
6. Physical fitness and health (Real fitness. Real health.)
7. Consumerism and finance (Understanding the systems of money)
8. Networked online learning (And all that goes with that)
9. Reputation management/becoming a trusted source/online safety
10. Participating in a democracy (Online and off)
11. Embracing and learning through change (Too much of schools is about stagnation.) (Added after original posting.)
12. Embracing diversity (Our changing cultural influences)
13. Problem solving and programming solutions
I’m sure there are others…feel free to extend the list.
And here’s the thing…we can teach math and science and even Shakespeare in those contexts, not as discrete, never the twain shall meet disciplines or units that are mostly aimed at checking the test prep box. If you don’t believe that, have you seen the vision for school that MaryAnn Reilly is working on?
Students do not take traditional courses tied to seat time or discrete disciplines and are encouraged to work virtually, as well as in person. Utilizing Option 2 (N.J.A.C. 6A:8-5.1(a)1ii), personalized learning plans are developed with students and their parents/guardians that fulfill the Morris School District graduation requirements while emphasizing studentsâ€™ interests, emerging as well as established. These experiences can result in: project-based courses, virtual offerings, community-based internships, college courses, and capstone projects.
Like MaryAnn and her cohorts are doing, I think it’s time to start thinking uncommonly about education, for the sake of our kids and our futures. What do you think?
(Note: I miscalculated the number of dropouts in the initial version as 7,000 per day, not 7,000 per each school day. Apologies.)
(Note #2: As per the suggestion of Alec Couros.)
Doug Belshaw says
Good stuff, Will – I worry about this too over in England. My son’s off to school next year (he’s currently in school nursery) and I just forsee an exciting, creative few years at Primary school followed by test, test, test once he gets to be about 11. Depressing.
So, for me, these issues are very pressing. It’s a reason why I’ve co-kickstarted Purpos/ed in an attempt to force a public debate of these issues.
I think your mention of Shakespeare is telling. The tabloid media distort our progressive message to such an extent if there’s even a hint that the system may be different to that which their parents/grandparents endured.
Will Richardson says
Thanks, Doug. Tradition holds sway with a lot of this. I think it’s interesting that “reformers” are really just thinking about the same stuff just making it better. They can’t see a path to real change. Lately I’ve been swayed by a Buckminster Fuller quote: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Most people don’t like that concept.
Doug Belshaw says
I think that’s a great quotation – the adjacent possible. 🙂
I’m a moderate conservative (no, it’s not an oxymoron!), and I agree wholeheartedly with your post.
Amy K. says
As a teacher and parent, I just want to say that I really appreciate this article. Thank you.
Tony Baldasaro says
The middle school that I used to work at recently went through a required NCLB restructuring process. The chair of the school board said the purpose of the restructuring was to “increase test scores”. (sigh)
If I were to add one item to your list it would have something to do with collaborative leadership. The idea that leadership is really enhanced by insightful and meaningful collaborations with others. I argued (unsuccessfully) to remove the word “competitive” from our local school’s mission statement and replace it with the word “collaborative”, because in the web 2.0 world of crazy information and the ubiquitous ability to connect, I think we need to teach kids how to lead through collaboration more than competition.
As usual, great stuff.
Will Richardson says
Yeah…I would agree that leadership ought to be in there somewhere. The shift away from competition is not subtle, for sure.
Dory Morris says
I agree with your observation that we need to add collaborative learning rather than competitive learning to our wording of schools. When I was going through school, I was always bored with my studies, ensuring that I would not try harder because I was not challenged. Now that I have my own children in school, I find I am worried about them being challenged and them getting beyond just learning and regurgitating. I am currently going for my Ed.D. and am learning about knowledge management, something that encourages the collaboration and innovation that I feel our school systems lack. I find that I have learned more through collaborating with others to gain their points of view than just trying to “one-up” those I work or interact with.
paul shircliff says
I agree with your analysis, thank you for verbalizing it. I have been talking about learning to learn for awhile and how that is not what we do in school. I need to look deeply again at the 8 Constructionist ideas. Every year I incorporate more of those ideas as I grow as a teacher. This year I noticed more students, especially my Seniors, have great difficulty with them. They just wanted to know how many points to get an A or exactly what they had to do to get the A. A few enjoyed embracing failure “hey let’s try this next” and we even had one fireball in class that was exciting to everyone (tissue paper hot air balloon). I agree with someone who said we do not need an evolution of education but a revolution. We need dynamic & large changes, but education is a monster that changes little & slowly. Be the change you want to see and make your little corner of the world a better place.
Fred Bartels says
Did you see Nick Kristof’s op-ed piece last weekend?
Very much in tune with what you are saying.
Also, have you read The Spirit Level. Very interesting work about inequality from some epidemiologists.
Take a look at this graph relating drop out rates and income inequality.
Until we reverse the growing economic inequality that started back in the 1970s I think we will find we are treating symptoms and not the root problem.
Will Richardson says
Thanks, Fred. Great links. It’s going to take some time to work our way out of this, and I don’t think it’s going to happen until we get some leaders who can fully wrap their brains around the huge transition that’s already occurring. I don’t think a lot of these challenges can be met with traditional thinking. And as Paul Krugman points out today, there are lots of competing agendas…mostly political. Get used to it.
Ric Murry says
Always good seeds for further thought.
I’ve concluded that the best indictment on education (public, private, and otherwise) in America are the recent actions of “leadership” from democrat/republican, liberal/conservative, or any other category one wants to thrust upon these people, in politics and the imperialistic approach of private sector businesses to take over public services.
Chris Goodson says
YES! I’ve been saying these same things to people as have many others. The problem is that we often talk about this with other educators, who usually agree and understand. We really need to be telling this to people OUTSIDE education. We need to be giving this talk to Rotary Clubs, Chambers of Commerce, friends, neighbors, and, God help us, politicians. They need to understand that one test on one day is not the be-all and end-all.
Will Richardson says
Again, the question to me is how do we get traditionalists to think innovatively, especially when it comes to kids? I’ve presented to the local Rotary…they looked at me like I had three heads. I’m open to strategies…
Doug Purdy says
More scary still is the disconnect I find with my students when I do teach them with hands on problem solving activities. They have become tuned to chapter, chalk, and talk and fail often when given a task to do or a problem to solve. They have become comfortable with working at the lowest level of Bloom’s Taxonomy. They know how to work that system and get good grades by essentially moving information from one place to another. Whether it is on the web, or with a book. I also find that they are getting shorter and shorter attention spans due to their technology use. Try Googling “The Shallows” to see what I am talking about. There are a lot of awesome teachers doing their best within the system at my school, but to be sure we are shackled by both or testing requirements (now soon to be used to evaluate our jobs) and our educational history having been modeled after the factory system of the industrial revolution. I hope we don’t need to reach the bottom before we have a reboot that redesigns education outside the current paradigm.
Will Richardson says
Right…but the problem I have with “The Shallows” is that it doesn’t have to really be that way, does it? It’s not the Internet’s fault…it’s our own. And I really believe that despite the attention challenges, these habits and dispositions can be taught and nurtured in our kids. We just have to work through the strategies to do that. Not easy I know.
Bob Madden says
Love the post and the ideas behind it. It reminds me a lot of Deborah Meier’s Habits of Mind. It’s posts like these that make me want to start my own school. Still have a lot to learn, but when I think about the wasted time going on currently and see how we should be spending it put so well, it gets harder and harder to justify not taking that leap.
Cindy Jennings says
Amen. Preach on.
Mary J. Johnson says
I can’t help but think that large numbers, even a majority, of parents would agree with your excellent post. These same parents shop for schools that have high test scores. In other words, while they believe in the “uncommon core,” they are also convinced by the dominant testing culture that their kids will succeed (get into the best colleges, win awards, find their names in the newspaper, score well on SAT tests, etc.) only if they attend “high-achieving” (aka teach-to-the-test) schools. Perhaps they simply cannot find an “uncommon core” school.
Will Richardson says
Maybe we’re getting somewhere on that front…
Alec Couros says
Great list – thanks for sharing these Will. I’ll definifitly be referring to this.
Semantic point – do we want gender equality, or gender equity. Equality is sameness, while equity respects diversity and strives for fairness.
Will Richardson says
Agreed…I changed it in the post. (Love that cross out function.)
Dory Morris says
Your semantic point is something that I had never thought of, thank you for pointing that out. I believe that we need to respect our differences, while achieving common goals. I think we began with equality due to the “same job, same pay,” but now I believe we do need to move beyond and strive for equity.
Suzie Nestico says
Thank you for writing this, Will. I have many posts in draft form that mirror some of your thoughts, here. I had to laugh in reading Jon Becker’s recent Twitter post(which ultimately lead me here) calling this your “Debbie Downer.” That is the very reason many of my own posts have remained in draft form. I certainly don’t want to be perceived as negative and pessimistic. But truly, I am horrifically worried for the future of our country.
Like you, I am a parent and also a teacher just next door in PA where the demise of our public education system is quickly approaching. I thought I could make a difference. And, to a degree, I do for my students. But overall, the problems with the system are so vast. Feeling a great bit of despair at the moment and beginning to wonder if I can really keep doing this. The shoe just isn’t fitting anymore. I am not a test-taking, bubble-coloring kind of teacher, nor am I much of a conformer, which could potentially hurt me if I stay within this grossly undervalued system.
Fortunately, I teach 12th grade (American Government/Principles of Democracy), so I do have some leniency and freedom regarding curriculum because Keystone Exams, or the “Get Out of Jail” free exams have not been fully put into place. Yet. But they are coming.
Until they do, I keep trying to look forward and I am fortunate enough to have an administration that allows me autonomy in my curriculum, but ultimately, the constraints will come form the… government. The very subject I teach.
I am in the process of writing curriculum for a new course I will teach next year, loosely called 21st Century Global Studies. The course combines digital literacy, digital citizenship and participatory citizenship. Thank you for sharing your UnCommon Core. I feel much better now knowing that to date, I have touched on your UnCommon Core Standards #’s 4,5,7,8,9,10 & 12 in what I am currently developing.
It makes all the difference when we know there are others that share similar frustrations and thoughts. Thanks for sharing these. Apologies for taking up so much of your comment section… I just feel strongly about it.
p.s. – is there a reason #11 was skipped? Just curious.
Will Richardson says
Thanks for the sincere thoughts, Suzy. Really appreciate your reflections.
As to #11, just missed it…I added it in a comment below. Thanks.
Will Richardson says
I’m going to add a #11 (which I seem to have missed) that goes something like “Embracing and learning through change” or something like that. Too much about schools is mired in stagnation.
Carl Anderson says
Have we finally entered Technopoly? Have we passed it’s event horizon? Is there any way to possibly change course or are we doomed to continue our wayward drift toward the statistical black hole?
M. Walker says
I believe in what you are saying here, AND I work in a district that prides itself in the number of students who take and do well on AP exams.
The answer you gave to my tweet regarding how we measure learning to me is key. We have to educate people that the letter grade and the RIT score do not mean as much as the portfolio, performance or application. I think it is unrealistic to say “we’re not going to have any assessment of student learning.” We just need to make it meaningful, and true to the 8 Big Ideas and Uncommon Core!
Dan Boyle says
I have to say that I read this post with a great lump in my chest. While I realize that your posts frequently cover the problems in education, you ordinarily have a certain degree of hope inside of them, some little nugget that we can hold on to moving forward. I appreciate your “unCommon Core” as step in that direction, but I sense that you need a little pick-me-up, and so I would like to say that even though change takes time, change does happen.
If, by reading your blog post, five new people (not your current collection of acolytes, of which, I am proudly one) are convinced that we need to change the direction of education, and they each convince five more people tomorrow, and so on, change will come. It may come in fits and starts, but the change we want is inevitable.
We can’t keep hemorrhaging students at the rate you suggest and “be in business” for too much longer. We have to keep hope alive, because if we don’t, then we have failed our students, and I refuse to believe that we will let that happen.
Patti Grayson says
Thanks, Will. As an educator and a parent, I always want to encourage you to “keep the faith” because your passion and persistence on this topic has more of an impact than you realize. I know you must feel like you’ve been a broken record for more than 10 years now, but new people are “finding you” every day, and the message is one that bears repeating…
I cried a little inside when I reviewed my ERB scores yesterday. I can’t imagine what world-changing great things will come from those high-scoring kids who excel in memorization, and just want to know the right answer to put on the test. No, I’ll be watching the ones that are always challenging, questioning, and thinking outside the box. They try, they fail, they learn, and they try again. They are the ones I’m counting on to address today’s complex issues.
Alec Patton says
Will – this morning I was drafting the introduction to a publication about ‘schools for the 21st century’, so this post feels even more apposite than it would under normal circumstances.
I think the whole post is spot-on, but I think there may be a contradiction within it, one which I’ve grappled with in the past, and haven’t been able to resolve:
First of all, you make the point that the most compelling reason to make sure kids get a rich education is that global warming is already beginning to affect us, and we need to focus not only about mitigating it, but also about responding to it. I agree 100%.
You also make the point that the internet has radically devalued memorisation and regurgitation of information as useful skills. Again, I agree 100%.
Here’s the thing: it seems to me that when the era of cheap energy comes to a close (which must be coming soon) the first thing to close up shop is likely to be the internet, since it’s a massive energy consumer that you never turn off (and just about everything you hook up to it guzzles energy too).
I suppose I’m seeing your sense of hopelessness and raising it tenfold, but it feels to me like the global stability and abundance of energy that the internet requires is just not something we’re going to be able to take for granted in a few decade’s time – and in that case, I don’t know where that leaves the assumption that the internet has permanently changed the nature of human knowledge.
I’d love to know your views on this (especially if they’re reassuring!).
Neil Hokanson says
My 5 children learned more from their dog dying a couple of weeks ago than they usually do in an entire school year! Here’s somewhat of my take on that at a recent blog post: http://nhokanson.wordpress.com/2011/06/09/shadow-died/ I share your frustration, and I keep trying to make a difference in my local school system. I have no answers, but I keep doing what I can.
Mary Kay Risi says
Cold comfort, but comfort nonetheless to read my thoughts and fears put so clearly. I am a teacher-librarian and cannot get my faculty to bring the kids to the library to engage in some deep inquiry and engagement with the info-verse because of the breadth of the NJ standards and the damnable tests.
How did you read my mind? Spooky. Thanks Will.
Jeffrey Jones says
Will, good stuff and as numerous before me have commented previously, spot-on.
I would add to your list writing, critically and for fun. Reading is essential, so is bending the mind a bit and putting words down “on paper”. Learning to commit to a thought/position and being about to articulate why. Even if it’s a poem.. it’s about observation and reflection.
Also, play, for the simplicity of it.
Glad Wendy tipped me off to your blog.
John O'Laughlin says
Great perspective on learning to learn vs learning to know. The reference to the constructionist learning insights adds to the value of the learning vs knowing perspective.
What are some emerging strategies to evaluate the learning versus knowledge approach?
MaryAnn Reilly’s vision sounds very much like what we’re doing with the 11th and 12th grades in Monson, MA public schools. Let me know if you want to work with us, anyone – the state has already accepted our proposal, and we’re looking at going “live” in 2013-2014 or so.
Scott K says
Ok, a couple of questions I have to ask…
1) While I agree that some information is archaic and shouldn’t have to be memorized (i.e. that Gettysburg was from July 1 – July 3) are we truly aiming towards a society where the meer mention of the concept Gettyburg would cause everybody to flip out thier phones to know what people are talking about? This idea become rediculous quickly if you imagine any dinner conversation needing technological aids in order to chit-chat.
2) Since we all can agree we want people to be able to spend more time on the high-end of Bloom’s taxonomy (Analyzing, evaluating, creating), don’t we need to admit you can’t reach these levels without spending some serious time in the lower ones (remembering, understanding, applying)?
3) How are we as a society going to compensate for the technology gap? Not just the price of a phone/laptop, but what about the continuing cost of service/connectivity, or for that matter, the availability of service connectivity (spend time in big downtowns and looking up a simple equation can become a trial of patience). What skills will we have to rely on when the power goes out or the bill doesn’t get paid?
4) What happens when are future machines break? Someone, somewhere, had to have to mental acuity to program all of these devices, to create all these wonderful websites. While today’s software allows anyone to create a website with ease, where will be the person who understands and expands on the underlying programming that it took to make that application seem so intuitive?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m a teacher (of math no less) who yearns to spend more time talking about the synthesis and application of the “archaic” formulas I have them learn about. But don’t we need to recognize that factual learning is the basis of all learning?
Doug Spicher says
You know it is funny. We are offering a course now (in two schools for now) for our on-level and above level readers called Advanced Inquiry and Innovation. Those 13 points you make and the 8 for constructivist learning are imbedded in the curricula that are taught. We use modules (this year Project Citizen, film-making, engineering and environmental issues) were the modules. Students were forced to challenge themselves, and each other. They engaged in problem solving…relevant problem solving dealing with local ideas. We use and evaluate digital media. We use hands-one experience. We didn’t “fail” at the process even though our results are maybe not what we desired. We “met with a lack of success”. Kids are encouraged to take risks and are only penalized for lack of performance. Hardly a kids heads to that class and says “I have AI again…sigh”. Most are enthused about the learning process and all that goes with it.
great post.. the denial part is what scares me the most. people know the system is broke deep down but keep hoping that something new pops up and makes it work… well, lets hope it does
David Gohrband says
(warning: I am tired and frustrated)
Will, I have followed your blog since your appearance in Teacher magazine and usually agree with you and cheer you on. I just want to know when someone is going to stand up and yell at parents to get off their seats and take charge of their child again. We are so consumed with improving our instruction and have made great strides while parents and students are doing less and we bear more of the blame! Parents want to be a friend and not hold their child accountable for anything while they make schools do more than they ever have. Then parents want to complain about the matter in which we provide these services and duties they are unwilling to perform themselves.
My concerns are: the breakdown of the family unit, lack of motivation and discipline at home, overly accommodating schools who bend over backwards simply to make parents happy, compromising and lowering of expectations so everyone passes so we donâ€™t hurt anyoneâ€™s feelings. We talk about preparing students for the â€œreal worldâ€ but weâ€™re not. There are just so many more forces working against schools and teachers than there have ever been and I donâ€™t see it getting better any time soon.
Collaboration is a key word we in education like to use but it only works if parents and students hold up their end of the deal. Not only are they not holding up their end of the deal but no one is holding them accountable. No one has the courage to say anything (in public) because they fear public opinion and perception. And Will, we all know perception is reality.
Gary Stager says
Good stuff, Will!
You only left out “making things,” artistic expression and adding to the cultural continuum. Perhaps we can adapt the old Boy Scout adage and “leave the culture better than you found it.”
A generation ago, people said they didn’t want to have children because of fear of nuclear war. Today, I couldn’t imagine children because I wouldn’t want to send them to school – nearly any school (with a handful of exceptions).
The problem with approaching “common core” as a well-meaning curriculum improvement effort is that it’s not a well-meaning curriculum improvement effort. It’s a top-down power-grab by an unelected group of know-it-alls and it is deeply rooted in mistrust of parents and teachers to know what’s best for THEIR kids, standardization – by definition a lowering of standards, compliance and control.
Oh yeah, don’t forget that as soon as everyone is on the same page everywhere at the same time, you can replace all those pesky teachers with their health insurance with YouTube videos or computer-assisted instruction.
Will Richardson says
Agreed on the making things part.
Not sure schools are as bad as nuclear war. ;0)
Gary Stager says
There has been a much higher incidence of school breaking out, than nuclear war.
That’s undoubtedly a good thing.
Thank you so much for this post. These are exactly the concerns that have been preoccupying me this summer as I (1) take a course on blended learning, (2) read Curtis Bonk’s “The World Is Open”, and (3) think deeply about project-based learning might mean with regard to my high school English classes. I find myself intrigued and challenged by your comments re: the fact that “a huge swath of our population canâ€™t speak intelligently about the larger issues that face us”, and I think about how that might translate to my own classes. How can I better attend to “cultivating the learning dispositions needed to grapple with those topics as they evolve”? A few ideas are germinating…we’ll see where they take me.
Debra Gottsleben says
Will, first of all it was so exciting to see Mary Ann Reilly quoted. I am honored to work with her.
But I must take exception to your labeling this piece “Elitist, preachy, liberal, rantish stuff…”. You do yourself a disservice labeling your work this way. With a few changes your proposals for what every child should know should, could , and must be embraced by everyone whether they label themselves liberal or conservative.
While some who label themselves conservative may not like your first proposal that students learn to “live softly on the Earth” and instead feel that humans (read Americans)have the right to dominate over nature they had better make sure that all students are able to do a risk/benefit analysis of any proposal. Some people might be willing to concede environmental impact for economic benefit but it is still essential to understand what the tradeoffs are. Also, some might take exception to #12 embracing diversity. You may not want to embrace diversity but you still must be able to navigate a world that includes peoples of many different cultures; a gated community can only isolate you for so long.
I am both a school librarian and a parent of 2 young adults and I can tell you that your proposals are what I hoped my children would learn in school. It is up to all of us to insist that ideas like these are what form the basis of educational reform.
Josh Milne says
Will, I was assigned to your blog as a requirement for my EDM 310 class with Dr. Strange at the University of South Alabama. I agree that schools put too much emphasis on students passing the tests. I know some schools have almost a whole week where they do nothing but the state standardized test all morning, and then basically a free day the rest of the day. I know when I was in high school grades 9-12 all had the same standardized tests based on the core classes (Math, Reading, History, etc…). So if you passed them all in ninth or tenth grade, then you had to sit in the gym for hours each morning during testing as a junior and senior. We were not taught anything nor were we required to do anything while we were in the gym. We just had to sit there and wait.
One of my professors had recently mentioned a bill being passed, not sure if it was state or county, that students who fail a test (not the standardized tests) have to be given the opportunity to retake it, but the highest grade on the retake cannot be higher than a 70. I have not fully researched this so I am not completely positive this is true. If it is true I think this would be a horrible idea and would not teach students anything positive. This is only going to enable the students who do not care about their education and are happy with just getting by.