Rainbow over Galileo Lane, Tucson

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Pedagogy of the Absurd

In an era in which a series of Presidents and Secretaries of Education don't understand that  the term grade level is an artifact of standardized tests and lament that 50 % of all students fall below grade level it not hard to understand why I call this era in American education, The Pedagogy of the Absurd. Grade level is the mean score of those tested in each grade to standardize the test. By definition half are above and half are below.grade level. Even Garriison Keiler , who invented the Lake Wobegon effect (where all the children are above average) responded sharply when I wrote him about his misuse of grade level in his column.
 I believe that in the future people will look back and chuckle ruefully at the things that are being done in and to the schools. For example people in the future will roar with laughter at the sub tests of DIBLES. Now it's hard to laugh at he pain being felt by parents of 5 and six year olds who beg not to go to school because of DIBLES. My files are full of desperate letters.

There are growing islands of enlightenment to keep me optimistic. One such is Aurora  Colorado. In this penny pinching era they spend 10% of their budget on staff development. Their secondary English program is built around retrospective miscue analysis. They are giving support in many ways to their teachers starting with treating them as informed professionals. They maintain a demonstration classroom where teachers can come for a period away from their own classrooms to teach with an excellent teacher. Debi Goodman and Alan Flurkey from Hofstra have been teaching courses for their staff  to build their understanding of reading and assessment.

Tomorrow Yetta and I head to Aurora in suburban Denver for a few days of  professional uplifitng interactions with their staff. More from Aurora tomorrow tomorrow morning.

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