Insightful standards

D-Ed Reckoning is giggling (and snarking) at a petition by the Educator Roundtable to abolish No Child Left Behind. Among the roundtablers’ NCLB objections:

12. Applies standards to discrete subjects rather than to larger goals such as insightful children, vibrant communities, and a healthy democracy.

D-Ed Reckoning wonders how that’s going to work.

Now those are standards that I’d like to see — state standards for evaluating when children are insightful, when communities are vibrant, and democracies are healthy. Hopefully, schools will teach to the test and devote the morning to teaching insightfulness and the afternoons to teaching vibrancy. Hopefully, they’ll do a better job teaching these subjects than they did teaching math and reading.

The petition goes on:

10. Emphasizes minimum content standards rather than maximum development of human potential.

11. Neglects the teaching of higher order thinking skills which cannot be evaluated by machines.

Reckoning asks the question that goes through my mind at such times:

Have you ever seen a person with higher order thinking skills who couldn’t answer basic skills-type questions? No? Me neither. If anything, NCLB has shown that schools aren’t doing a very good job imparting basic skills, let alone those elusive higher order thinking skills. Let’s stick to baby steps.

The comments are, ahem, lively. One roundtabler says “children are being tortured systematically in our neighborhood schools.” Like that’s a bad thing.

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  1. “larger goals such as insightful children, vibrant communities”…what if the people who are involved in food supply–farmers, transportation workers, warehouse managers, etc–insisted on being measured on some similarly galactic criterion–“larger goals such as plentiful and healthful food for all”–instead of tangible objectives like “get cauliflower shipment XC-135 from point A to point B within 50 hours.”

    We would all starve to death.

  2. The leftist hostility to NCLB is puzzling. The law is rooted in a spirit of equality and wants to ensure the disadvantaged are not shunted aside. All this should appeal to the left.

  3. The oetition betrays a lack of understanding of either state standards or NCLB. In the first place, most state standards ARE aiming for insightful children and higher-order thinking–but they are often interpreted as laundry lists of things to be “covered.” One can certainly treat them that way–but that is not how they were intended. Secondly, NCLB in no way stipulates that learning be measured by machine. It is entirely up to the states to figure out how how they want to measure learning of the standards. Some balance multiple choice questions with essays and other open-ended items; some do not.

  4. I fear the hostility is because it measures outcomes rather than inputs. and then calls for changes.

  5. Wait… we can systematically torture students now? YES! Sign me up as a teacher! Punk kids…

  6. Under new federal rules, torture must be direct, systematic and research-based. Students may not construct their own tortures.

  7. wayne martin says:

    I downloaded the petition from the WEB-site. There is no identification as to who wrote it, or where it is to be sent. While all of the rhetoric in this “petition” can be found in articles critical of NCLB, folks might want to consider this someone’s perverse idea of a joke.