Forced To Conform

From the book:

What does it mean to be well educated?

by Alfie Kohn

There are standards offered as guidelines ("See if this way of thinking about teaching can help you improve your craft"), and then there are standards presented as mandates ("Teach this or else"). Virtually all the states have chosen the latter course.

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The effect has not only been to control teachers, but to usurp the long-established power of local school districts to chart their own course. If there has ever been a more undemocratic school reform movement in U.S. educational history than what is currently taking place in the name of standards, I haven't heard of it.

..the standards themselves (if handed down as requirements, embody that same determination on the part of policymakers to do things to educators and students rather than to work with them,. My nominee for the most chillingly Orwellian word now in widespread use is “alignment” – as in, “How can we make teachers ‘align’ their teaching to the state standards?” A remarkable number of people, including some critics of high-stakes testing, have casually accepted this sort of talk despite the fact that it is an appeal to naked power. “Alignment” isn’t about improvement; it’s about conformity.
..While plenty of teachers need help, virtually everyone is likely to resist having the state try to micro manage his or her classroom.

..After new proficiency exams were failed by a significant proportion of students in several other states, education officials there responded by making the tests even harder the following year.
..The commissioner of education of Colorado offered some insight into the sensibility underlying such decisions: “Unless you get bad results,” he declared,”it’s highly doubtful you have done anything useful with your tests. Low scores have become synonymous with good tests.”
Such is the logic on which the tougher-standards movement has been built.

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