Assessed to Death

Certainly I am not saying anything new here, but I am going to say it anyway. The state of education in America is abysmal and a true global embarrassment. As we all now know, No Child Left Behind left millions of children in the dust…not to mention teachers, administrators, schools, and communities. The biggest problem with this disastrous piece of legislation is the drastic shift to focus on reading, math, and standardized testing as the central pillars of our education system. This plan completely ignores the fact that all human growth and development is holistic and complex.

Recently I find myself more concerned with the state of education in America as Early Childhood Education becomes a part of the national conversation. I fear that politicians with good intentions will implement disastrous legislation that will impair the abilities of the experts in the ECE field to carry out best practices with individualized differences for each child. I find myself wondering if a major educational corporation, such as Pearson, might try to convince those well-meaning politicians that the path to ensuring that increased ECE funding is bringing in a solid return on investment is to use a standardized tool to measure and compare all children as well as evaluate schools and teachers.

I think that assessment matters and is a critical part of a well-run school or program. However, I think that the broader definition of assessments is most pertinent in the ECE field. For example, a teacher can record ongoing anecdotal notes on the child, keep an individual portfolio for the child, as well as formal records documenting specific lessons and developmental milestones. Data such as this can be referenced and normed without the stress of a standardized test for the children.

Some countries have figured out education and assessment with a more holistic approach. Finland is an excellent example of a successful educational system that is serving its country well. One of the greatest features of the Finnish education system is that the curriculum on a federal level lacks detail and is flexible. The teachers are incredibly well-prepared to enter the classroom and they are trusted to use their intuition and the interests of the children to guide their curriculum and implement learning in individualized ways. While Finland does use assessments, they aren’t central to the evaluation of the education system. The proof that their schools are of high quality is evident in their families and communities. They aren’t in a situation in which they mistrust their educators so much that they must have standardized tests to prove if they are getting a good return on investment.

There is innovation and creative ideas incubating in America’s schools and policy rooms. We must be careful, however, that as we bring our youngest citizens into the educational fold we do not ostracize their intellect and natural curiosity by way of centralizing and standardizing their education and our evaluations of them. We can learn a thing or two from Finland…

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~ by vegucationmama on April 13, 2013.

2 Responses to “Assessed to Death”

  1. Hello RB,
    I really enjoyed your blog. I agree with you the students in the United States are assessed to death, especially since no child left behind (NCLB). For example students in the 2nd grade in Florida are assessed 4 times a year, which I think is over kill. The children are as you stated “assessed to death”.Even more alarming is that many parents are not aware of this, and if they are seem disinterested. Thanks for your post.

    Best Regards,
    Magda D

  2. Hi! Having received early education in an America, spending my junior to college education in Japan, and also working at a Japanese “cram school(juku)” I feel that assessing education definitely has its down side and also limits the children’s possibility . The Finland education style and system is what I personally want to know more about. I’m glad to know that others are interested in the topic too.

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