A manifesto appeared in support of a “new” approach to testing signed by a seemingly random list of educators and instructional materials developers. It is frankly a little bizarre. So, I looked up the federal grants they mention which support assessment. Now, I understand why this collection of people is trying to build support. It is the federal department of education’s response to the Common Core testing fiasco.
I am not really opposed to at least some testing, especially if it is used to help students and teachers improve instruction. When I used to be involved in testing, I was intrigued by the possibility of using technology for innovative learning–especially simulations and critical thinking. These end of year marathons for which our district began to prepare 4o days in advance are, however, something else.
This new vision puts an emphasis on individualized learning. Every student moves at his/her own pace. Computerized testing periodically provides feedback. This means cumulative data records must be kept on each child.
It troubles me. Children learn from each other. Teachers facilitate that learning. Computers are machines, not teachers. Yet, I want computers in the classrooms. I want children to have easy access to information, simulations, complex problems and alternative solutions.
We can’t be afraid of the unknown. We have to experiment–yes, even with our children. We cannot move blindly forward either. Technology is creating change all around us that we all recognize. Our phones are attached to us and too often control us. Their convenience is addictive but not necessarily productive. I am sitting here at 7:30 in the morning with my computer on my lap. I should be outside! Who is in control, me or the machine?
So here is the manifesto. We will be OK as long as we are watching, thinking and in control.