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Over-testing and the “accountability” dodge January 6, 2007

Posted by @Doc in Education.
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Another bit of the platform, and this time we’re talking about one of the things that’s really eating at the guts of education: thanks to people who can’t tell the difference between a symptom and a disease, we’re dumping brazilians of dollars into teaching our children to take tests. That these kinds of tests don’t exist in the real world, well, that’s not their problem, is it?

It’s our problem, though.

My theory is that if you fix what’s really wrong with education, then you no longer have to hide behind <i>faux</i>-constucts like “accountability,” which sounds great but isn’t really what it pretends to be.

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Comments»

1. jstephenobrien - January 25, 2007

Dr. Slammy,

As I see it, there’s another way to look at the “accountability” issue. Suppose we think of it as “statistical process control”? SPC is just about the only good thing to come out of the “quality” movement in American manufacturing. Basically, it makes the astounding assumption that, if you’re not measuring it, you can’t know how well, or not so well, it’s going.

I don’t think that evaluating student’s progress is a bad thing IF it’s done well. In the business world, bad measurement leads to bad outcomes. I think it probably works the same way in the world of education.

2. drslammy - January 26, 2007

If you know me at all – and you do – you know that I wake up every morning suspicious of statistics and quantitative methodologies. Now, as you say – done well vs done not so well, which is the only way corporate America knows.

I’m always going to want a solid dose of qualitative evaluation mixed in, because stats can tell a story that’s a mile wide and an inch deep.

As for the SPC itself, I’d love to have somebody like Steven Levitt at the helm. If you haven’t read FREAKONOMICS, the chapter where he demonstrates how teachers are cheating on standardized testing is worth the price of admission all by itself.


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