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Authenticity and Accountability

Posted By: jason blonstein on October 17, 2003
The argument made, that we have no answer for the apparent paradox of "authentic learning experiences" tested with standardized assessments, may be true, but I think not. We have some good answers in the classroom; we haven't found a way to tell the public about them. Progressive educators have struggled with, as one respondent noted, letting the non-educators know what the educators are doing. In our confidence with respect to our classroom enacted philosophies, we may have become too arrogant, no matter how well-founded in brain, behavior,and learning research our actions have been. The progressive canon, based on critical appraisal, may be in danger of becoming an orthodoxy in its blanket rejection of standardized testing...but maybe not. The standardized instruments in use are crude, yet they are used to make decisions as though they were precise. One could say the same for "authentic assessments." That the standardized tests carry such high stakes, with no other recourses but dripping out (not a misspelling)or repeating a class the following year, is indicative of the problem, that there is no sanctioned SYSTEM of assessments that is fair to both students and taxpayers.
Rather than wait until some compromise evolves -it has been 10 years since Tom Sobol (former NYSED Comissioner) proposed a part Standardized test/part local portfolio system- we could simply move the tests to an earlier date, use them diagnostically rather than the present too simple way for the public to know how their kids are doing-when it is too late to do much about it. Our educational and political need the courage to tell the public that there is still much to learn about what learning looks like. Standardized, objective testing may be one way of finding out what we need to know, but there are others that may have greater payoff for kids and their schools.
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 Authenticity and Accountability by jason blonstein on October 17, 2003
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