It's the Assessment That's Broken

The Washington Post had an article the other day about the common state standards that are an important component of Education Secretary Arne Duncan's education plan.  As I was reading this short article a couple of things jumped out at me:

No set of standards has much meaning without equitable resources to ensure that teachers are trained well enough to reach kids who live in widely different circumstances.

Hard not to agree with this.  Standards don't make for a quality education... the teacher matters.  It's like saying quality ingredients make a good meal.  They are certainly a component but quality ingredients assembled by a master chef is what makes a good meal (among other things, right? atmosphere, company, etc.).  I'm not opposed to having a core set of standards.  I think that this is most likely a good thing.  I do worry about how we assess whether or not we are meeting those standards... the article continues:

Another issue is the next step. After states adopt the standards, then what? Well, it is likely that what comes next are expensive new standardized tests that will only further the education world's current obsession with these assessments. The big winners here will be test-creation companies.

So true.  We seem to be so obsessed by the quantitative that we forget about everything else.  Let's be honest, at the end of the day does your school really care about much else than the test score? (I know this is a poor choice of words, but I hope you get my point)  As somebody who really values the creative side of learning and learning for the sake of learning, I'm really disheartened by this trend.  Let's have high standards and expectations, our students deserve that, but let's re-evaluate how we assess whether or not we are achieving our goals with measurements that include a mixture of qualitative and quantitative methods.