• Bridging Differences

    In Bridging Differences
    Deborah exchanges views with a different colleague, each for a month or two.  Her current correspondent is Harry Boyte, a Minnesotan (although his roots are southern). He has always been a friend and mentor, even though we come to stuff in different ways and even disagree on and off. He is a professor and an activist, a theorist and a practitioner, with a focus on democracy—beginning a long time ago when he worked with Martin Luther King. He has written or edited ten books on the topic and founded a Center on
    democracy which is now at St Augsberg College, but formerly at the University of Minnesota.  

  • Where I’ll Be

    Dec 1-3, 2016 Fall Forum Coalition of Essential Schools: Providence, Rhode Island

  • Network for Public Education

  • Good Morning Mission Hill

    For information on showings or purchasing the video Good Morning Mission Hill
  • Central Park East Elementary School

  • Twitter Updates

Measuring products the Consumer Union way?

FairTest’s Bob Shaeffer was interviewed recently by Florida Sentinel editorial writer Darryl Owens about tests. Here’s one of the questions he was asked:

QUESTION by Owens: Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon noted in a recent guest column that we measure progress in everything from business to sports. Shouldn’t there be a rigorous process to measure student learning?

Interesting and important question. But even Bob–who is one of the best in the field–doesn’t pick up on one of many essential differences between business measurement and education” measurement.

Do we, in business, “measure” the product? No, not even on some invented test that rates it’s qualities, No, we measure, in business, the profit. We can be producing a lousy, even dangerous product, but if it makes a profit those responsible are happy–including their owners. (Ideally they are also skeptical enough to peruse the data with care.)

In schools, students are the products (I assume). There IS no profit! That’s just a fact, and thus they can’t be measured that way. So we’re stuck with figuring out how to objectively measure the student/product, as though he/she/it were, for example, a car. Consumer’s Union does a pretty good job – although we don’t all follow their advice because we don’t aways weigh the plusses and minuses the way CU does. It’s pretty complex and expensive to follow their system of assessment, of course, and their method also assumes that assessing one “model” will do for all cars that are that same model.

Until we acknowledge the difference between measuring the profit vs the product, as well as the difference between standardized products and human beings we will keep chasing ..rainbows? No, chasing rainbows is harmless. It’s an argument for choice, I suppose, –for valuing disciplined human judgment. As some of you know I’ve been a proponent of choice–under certain circumstances–for 35 plus years. And I’ve written about what choice could look like if it was part of a well-designed public system. But it wouldn’t look anything like the “choice model” being pursued by those who see students (except their own children) as standardized products designed for someone’s profit. But it requires accepting the fact that judging human understanding can’t be done within the current psychometric paradigm. It depends a lot on our subjective purposes–which at least Consumers Union recognizes when it comes to the products it rates


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: