The last person who asked me why I teach got an earful for the better part of an hour. The person before that published my response here. That response will probably offer more insight into this week’s #slowchatED topic than anything else I can hash together here at this moment in my life.
Our topic for the week of April 7, 2014, will be Reaching Marginalized Students in the Age of Standardized Testing. You see, I have a theory about this business of ours. I think I’ve seen a nasty underbelly, and what I’d like to learn this week is one of the following:
Am I correct, and this thing needs to be fixed sometime more immediately than now?
Am I wrong (please God let me be wrong), and is this windmill just NOT the giant that I see every day when I look upon it?
So, help me figure this out, please. We’ll start by figuring out what kinds of kids constitute my alleged marginalized populations. I don’t want to give too much away here, but it boils down to this thought: In our public school system’s quest for the Holy Grail of academic excellence represented by standardized test scores, it is only logical (to many educators, anyway) to focus mainly on the largest single population of students in a school. You see some of the margins in this graphic.
See that Sea of Green? That’s where the money is.
When parents and teachers and students, themselves, begin advocating for some educational program or another that meets the needs of just a small segment of the student body, I see administrators and legislators who look the other way. Not enough bang for our very literal buck. This idea, and our necessary response to it as professional educators, is summed up nicely in @JennGRoach’s tweet from March 4 of this year:
My contention, in short, is that No Child Left Behind has fostered a culture within our nation’s public education system that is indeed leaving many, many children behind. While this was not the intention behind this or any other legislation or policy invoking standardized testing as the barometer used to judge success, incentive pay, ratings, promotion…abandoning small groups of children – marginalization – in the pursuit of these golden things has been and will continue to largely be the result by virtue of this major flaw in the design. Unless we fix it.