Week 11 Response – Standardized Tests & Curriculum

Consider the idea of standardized testing and standardized curriculum.

What is made possible and impossible by such accountability measures?

I think uniformity is made possible by standardization of testing and curriculum that is all students will clearly and distinctly be held to the same standard of information to know. However, I think it makes deeper understanding of “important” knowledge impossible. I think it also makes the acceptance of different types of learners and different perspectives/narratives impossible.

 Who might they help and harm?

They might ‘help’ students who are good at memorizing facts, but only in the way of doing well on a test not in actual learning/understanding. Ultimately I think they help corporations and people who desire evaluating students based on memorization rather than understanding. It harms teachers and learners. It harms teachers that are teaching for social justice by placing pressure on fact learning and undermining the teaching profession. I think it damages learning in general, but that some learners are harmed more than other as well, that is to say learners that do not reflect the mainstream perspectives and narratives that are demonstrated in standardized tests are harmed even more because it oppresses them further and the information may not be in line with what/how they know.

What agency do teachers have in spaces that are governed by these types of systems?

I think that teachers have much less agency in such spaces. This is because, as was discussed in the video and reading assignment, there is pressure placed on teachers to teach information (in bulk rather than depth) that will be presented on the tests. The teacher therefore can only fill a simple role, I think Alfie Kohn described it as “a test prep technician” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDvBRqYfyBU), and will feel less comfortable with promoting deeper thinking in fear of having the learners perform poorly on the facts. Teachers’ agency will be lessened because the governance of these types of systems are controlling and undermining of teacher authority and ability.