Saturday, December 15, 2012
Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Emphasis on high-stakes, standardized testing in the United States, dates back to the mid-1800s and parallels what was happening in England during this period. At that time, decision makers used high-stakes testing for purposes of accountability and “the stakes were much higher for teachers than for students…. Indeed…there were no repercussions at all for students” (Wiliam, 2010, p. 109). Wiliam went on to note that in the United States between 1910 and 1940, the norm was for students to attend school until they were 18, and it was “inappropriate to assess students against standards intended for the small proportion going on to higher education” (p. 109). In terms of 21st-century school accountability, a research study conducted by Stranahan, H. A. Borg, and Borg (2009) concluded that schools ought to be held accountable for the quality of the education they provide, whereas the school’s performance grade is best determined by how much students’ test scores improved over time and not based on the aggregate level of student scores in a year. This conclusion is contrary in theory to the guidelines outlined in the Federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
Through current research, Amrein and Berliner (2003) found that the importance placed on high-stakes testing denies students’ “opportunities to direct their own learning as they “become less intrinsically motivated to learn and less likely to engage in critical thinking” (p. 32). Moreover, in a recent Texas study, McNeil, Coppola, Radigan, and Heilig (2008) found that too often in-class curriculum takes the form of standardized test drills that “drifts towards ensuring that students can answer the questions that will appear on the tests…. This narrower, more rigid curriculum affects students and their motivation to complete school” (p. 28). These authors found that “teaching to the test” had a negative effect on students’ desire to complete school. In addition, a lack of motivation often led to students repeating a grade because of poor standardized test results. The authors concluded that as a result, “students who are required to repeat a grade lose face in front of their parents, community, and peers” (McNeil, Coppola, Radigan, & Heilig, 2008, p. 30). In a recent study by Williams (2003), she concluded that high-stakes testing erodes students’ enthusiasm for learning, and that motivational assessment strategies, based on predominantly formative and relevant lessons, were more effective and meaningful. In addition, high-stakes testing de-personalizes the learning process by placing the primary “focus on standards, accountability, and assessment rather than providing a multicultural education” (University of Phoenix, 2012, “Week Eight Lecture Notes,” p. 1).
According to Gunzenhauser (2003), “the default philosophy underlying high-stakes testing is a philosophy of education in which tests designed to be part of a system of accountability drive the curriculum, limit instructional innovation, and keep educators from establishing their own priorities and vision” (p. 52), which inevitably results in conflicts regarding these tests’ effectiveness as assessment tools. Gunzenhauser went on to warn school communities not “to settle for the default philosophy of education associated with high-stakes testing” (p. 58). Another significant drawback of placing too much importance on standardized test results is that various studies have shown questions on these tests are inherently bias. Freedle (2006) found that questions on both the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) were “racially biased in terms of mean correct responses because they make the false assumption that all examinees have had equal opportunity to learn the concepts and materials used in the test” (p. 187). In addition, Freedle noted multiple examples of ethnic bias in the SAT in terms of vocabulary, which led to “false conclusions regarding racial and ethnic differences” (p. 187). The author concluded that these particular standardized “test results influence racial theories of genetic superiority and inferiority… [and that these] tests can distort the true ability of large groups of disadvantaged students” (p. 225). Ultimately, such biased results and their interpretation negatively influence the educational and career choices students have who are affected by these standardized tests. In other recent research, Boaler (2003) noted in a localized study that standardized testing caused barriers for many California math students by disrupting the classroom learning process because teachers were mandated to “teach to the test.”
Even though many private/prep schools, colleges, universities, and graduate schools use standardized test scores for placement purposes, unless these institutions place less emphasis on standardized testing, allowing admission decisions to be based more on personal attributes rather than impersonal test scores, the injustice of the current system will remain. In terms of high-stakes testing determining school performance, decision makers need to re-evaluate the accountability criteria used to measure such assessments, placing more emphasis on classroom effectiveness and the learning process, while de-emphasizing grades and test results.
To address the needs of 21st-century learners, there needs to be measurable changes made to the way in which the current educational system assesses student progress and achievement. High-stakes, standardized testing needs to be de-emphasized in our schools, allowing the learning process to be the priority, rather than relying on the impersonal, and often times inaccurate, interpretation of test results. This represents an educational change in policy and practice that would promote a better and more effective learning experience for the 21st-century student.
Amrein, A. T., & Berliner, D. C. (2003). The effects of high-stakes testing on student motivation and learning. Educational Leadership 60(3), 32-38. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds
Boaler, J. (2003). When learning no longer matters: Standardized testing and the creation of inequality. Phi Delta Kappan, 84(7), 502-506. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds
Freedle, R. (2006). How and why standardized tests systematically underestimate African-Americans’ true verbal ability and what to do about it: Towards the promotion of two new theories with practical applications. St. John’s Law Review 80(1), 183-226. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds
Gunzenhauser, M. G. (2003). High-stakes testing and the default philosophy of education. Theory Into Practice, 42(1), 51-58. Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.apollolibrary.com
McNeil, L. M., Coppola, E., Radigan, J., & Heilig, J. V. (2008). Avoidable losses: High-stakes accountability and the dropout crisis. Education Policy Analysis Archives, 16(3), 1-45. Retrieved from http://Epaa.asu.edu
Stranahan, H. A., Borg, J. R., & Borg, M. O. (2009). School grades based on standardized test scores: Are they fair? Journal of Academic & Business Ethics, 1, 38-56. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds
University of Phoenix. (2012). Week Eight Lecture Notes. Retrieved from https://classroom.phoenix.edu/afm214/secure/view-thread.jspa?threadID=46951652
Wiliam, D. (2010). Standardized testing and school accountability. Educational Psychologist 45(2), 107-122. doi:10.1080/00461521003703060
Williams, N. M. (2003). Thinking outside the bubble. Educational Leadership, 61(3), 82-83. Retrieved from https://ehis.ebscohost.com/eds
Monday, August 27, 2012
The use of a rational metatheory in education would have the potential to bridge the gap in theoretical approaches employed by educators and encourage sound educational practices in schools, provided that such metatheory helped to clarify philosophies and not cloud them in ambiguity. In terms of science curriculum, Schulz (2009) suggested that metatheories should "serve to reinforce science education's growing sense of academic autonomy and independence from socio-economic demands" (p. 1). In order to effectively implement sound and research-based educational practices in schools, this fundamental concept noted by Schulz can be considered cross-discipline. In addition, as with other school philosophies, theories, and practices, there needs to be adequate buy-in and support. Schulz (2009) later noted the need for rational and effective metatheory to be a "curriculum-based argument and a grounding argument" (p. 2). Through periodic research and discussion, rational metatheories can help schools reassess strategic plans and goals, while reaffirming what is done in the classroom as being appropriate for 21st-century education. It is the institution or district's responsibility to take such self-reflection and note how best to apply the key philosophical and theoretical concepts to each school's specific environment and community. If done with professionalism, thought, care, and forward-thinking, educators would have a realistic opportunity to effectively bridge the gap between educational approaches and practices.
Schulz, R. (2009). Reforming science education: Part II. Utilizing Kieran Egan's educational metatheory. Science & Education, 18(3/4), 1-23. doi:10.1007/s11191-008-9168-0
Philosophies and theories of education influence teaching and learning in schools in various ways. However, a potential pitfall to avoid when attempting to implement any educational philosophy or theory is to focus too much on the "-ism". As Dewey (1938) noted, "any movement that thinks and acts in terms of 'isms becomes so involved in reaction against other 'isms that it is unwittingly controlled by them" (p. 6). Regardless, educational philosophies and theories have developed over time and often have evolved based on research, trends, and cultural attitudes of the day. As an example of how educational theory correlates to our current society, there is a needed emphasis being placed on digital literacy within the classroom. This includes both teacher training and appropriate use policies for students. We live in a digital age in which students have grown up with computers, hand-held devices, the Internet, Google, social networking, etc., and it is the responsibility of modern educators and administrators to guide students through this maze of technology and digital information. In addition, changes or advancements in educational philosophies and theories often dictate how teachers manage their classrooms and deal with individual students. Today's schools are more concerned with educating the "whole child" and focus more on student involvement, rather than lecture-based classroom dynamics. Current research promotes "'learning centres' and...teachers as 'reflective practioners'....[However, this leads to] a paradox between freedom of choice and regulation" (Smeyers, 2006, p. 17). With this statement, Smeyers recognized that the development of educational philosophies and theories often introduces new questions or concerns.
The function of school is to educate the constituents to the best of each site's and district's abilities, so that students are prepared to be effective and positive contributors in today's and future societies. To this end, schools must not only offer quality instruction of core academic essentials, but institutions must also educate the "whole child" via multicultural and diverse methodologies and curriculum. This includes emphasizing the arts, fitness, and other non-traditional offerings, while enriching students' education through "real world" application and group-activity type problems. Families reasonably desire that "academic institutions have an expectation that teaching will be done well; [and that] teaching is a critical function of the institution and the societal mandate" (Emerson & Records, 2008, p. 363). Schools have a responsibility to foster and produce "individuals who are knowledgeable and appreciative of diverse cultures with skills to function effectively within the different cultural groups...[and to offer] an equitable education for everyone regardless of ethnicity, race, sex, or age" (University of Phoenix, 2012, "Week Five Lecture Notes," p. 3). To accomplish this, schools must support teachers and expect them to act professionally and with integrity as adult role models for students. The quality of education is in direct correlation with the quality and enthusiasm of instruction. Teachers need to be excited about what they teach. In turn, the hiring/re-hiring and retention of quality educators must be a top priority for School Boards and administrators. Enthusiastic and forward-thinking teachers will only inspire students to think "outside the box", while hopefully igniting a spark in each child to want to learn and be solid citizens.
Dewey, J. (1938). Experience & education. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Emerson, R. J., & Records, K. (2008). Today's challenge, tomorrow's excellence: The practice of evidence-based education. Journal of Nursing Education, 47(8), 359-370. doi:10.3928/01484834-20080801-04
Smeyers, P. (2006). What philosophy can and cannot do for education. Studies in Philosophy & Education, 25(1/2), 1-18. doi:10.1007/s11217-006-6427-x
University of Phoenix. (2012). Week Five Lecture Notes. Retrieved from https://classroom.phoenix.edu/afm214/secure/view-thread.jspa?threadID=46367780
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Saturday, March 3, 2012
This link comes from Online Universities and is one of many informative articles that can be found on this site. Educators would benefit from browsing the very informative articles and blog posts found here.
Sunday, February 26, 2012
The most effective and successful leaders are those who frequently re-assess their strengths and weaknesses, while consciously placing the betterment and growth of the organization above personal gain. In addition, little has been done to address the issue of gender and race inequity in the leadership pool. Continued research is the key to fixing this gross injustice.
Honesty and integrity are core attributes that all leaders must possess in order to be effective and respected. Risk-taking and Emotional Intelligence (EI) also play key roles in the success rates of the best leaders. In addition, ethics, morality, humility, and personal values are essential to effective leadership. "Unethical practices that go unchallenged can become the norm of a society or business. Difficult circumstances can produce moral laxity..." (Wren, 1995, p. 498). It is up to us, the 21st-century leaders, to ensure that these types of practices do not go unchecked.
Wren, J.T. (1995). The leader's companion: Insights on leadership through the ages. New York, NY: Free Press.
Inspiring change must go hand-in-hand with managing change. This is especially true as leaders realize that not everyone within an organization is going to be agreeable to change, especially major ones. The level of follower "buy in" will inevitably vary as change relates to each constituent's role and point of view. As change is essential in order for institutions/schools to stay competitive and current, how leaders successfully manage change ultimately determines their effectiveness. To facilitate the management of change, leaders can enlist the help of those constituents who accept change more willingly than others. "Leaders can identify followers who more readily accept and adapt to change, and encourage them to support their peers who find change more difficult to adjust to" (Oreg & Berson, 2011, p. 653). Furthermore, these authors conclude that, "charismatic leaders can help followers' [sic] compensate for the dispositional difficulty some of them have in times of organizational change...[while using] their transformational leadership style to override employees' resistance to change" (Oreg & Berson, 2011, p. 653).
ReferencesOreg, S., & Berson, Y. (2011). Leadership and employees' reactions to change: The role of leaders' personal attributes and transformational leadership style. Personnel Psychology, 64(3), 627-659. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01221.x