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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Walking Man Talking Points for 01/06/16 for BK Nation Panel in NYC

My New york City BK Nation Panel Talking Points for 01/06/16
Dr. Jesse Patrick Turner Professor of Reading Language Arts at Central Connecticut State University. My BK Nation Talking Points for a call to action to save our public schools and the children who attend them.  (01/06/16)
On Standards, standardized assessments, and College readiness                                                         
In the nineteenth century America’s academic elites feared American students were not college-ready. Thus in 1892 The National Education Association created the “Committee of Ten” to create uniform college admission requirements based on new content standards using common entrance exams.  From the beginning the standards established America’s wealthy, powerful and connected were never rooted in principles of democracy or morality, but on content knowledge measure through uniformed testing. These are not innovative, unique, and have a long history of education reform failures.

Inequality matters, and we can test our way out of inequality   Let us include standards obsession with our history of school inequity. In 1896 four years after America’s love for standards found itself further supported by Plessey v Ferguson. Establishing segregation as the law of the land for nearly 6 decades. In 1954 Brown v the Board of Education ends jurisprudence segregation. For the first time in public education history the wealthy, the powerful and the connected status quo found their policies threatened. Hiding behind their trusted mantra of “standards and exam uniformity” gave cover to “de facto” segregation and inequality in our nation’s public schools. With the passage of the “Every Student Succeeds Act” in 2015, America continues down that same old 100 years of failed education reforms.

Assessment and education: First Do No Harm, Second Sit Beside Learner Assessments, and Third All learners Must benefit from Education Reform Experiments.

Our assessment framework is broken. The current assessment framework does not need to be fixed we needs a completely new human assessment framework. There are many interesting factors about America’s love affair with standards and uniform assessments. This love affair is of course rooted in the power of assessment, evaluation, test-selection, and data-driven instruction. The most compelling part of the narrative lost is a perspective on the data that really count; namely the health, well-being of children. In medicine, doctors and researchers insist on primum non nocere, (first do no harm).  However, in educational assessment, such ethical requirements seem lost in pressures to meet standards and make Annual Yearly Progress, (AYP).       

If we impose a testing requirement for high school graduation that ensures a student fails, where is the benefit? State Exit Assessments like the New York Regents illustrates the data that count are how many students met standard. The data that really matters is lost in misdirected attention to standards). What about the students who passed their entire high school classroom based assessments? What about all the students who succeed in gathering all the high school course requirements? Many empirical studies have shown that there are strong correlations between test scores and such factors as family income, education of parents, single-parent families, and school enrollment.  Simply put, children who have two educated parents who are economically secure are much more likely to do better on the tests than children who do not have the same assets.  Why give an assessment that disfavors the children of poor single parent homes?

The Latin root of the word assess, assidere, means to sit beside.  Educators who are closest to the child, who sit beside the child on a daily basis, derive the most informative data.  It is essential that these very same educators make the decisions about test selection and evaluation reporting.  It is the teacher who can read social, emotional, physical, cultural, linguistic, and cognitive characteristics of the learner. Human subject ethics for research requires strict adherence to “Beneficence” research must have positive for all participants in any trail.                              

My conclusion is framed by perceived pressures from NCLB/ESSA’s focus on meeting standards are not based on the ethical principles of research. Is assessment and evaluation meant to be cold, heartless, and disconnected from primary stakeholders or is it supposed to contain a wellness or instructional component? Is there no court of appeals for children, parents, teachers, and local schools in this new era of accountability? Is the focus of educational reform the disenfranchisement of those closest to our children? We need to study why we are following a top-down assessment model that ignores the patients (students), doctors (teachers), parents, and family. News headlines inform the general public that the United States is in danger of falling behind on international assessments. Policy-makers tell us that the United States test scores reveal we are falling behind in international educational comparisons.  The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education, How Well Are American Students Learning, debunked two myths of international assessments; 1) that the US ever led the world on tests of achievement, and 2) that Finland leads the world in education. According to the Brown report Finland scores near the top on the PISA assessment, but not on other international assessments. Historically the US has led internationally in Nobel Prizes in every Nobel category. The US is near the top in number of patents granted. When policy makers say we are falling behind they are looking at test scores obtained by measuring individual performance to a contrived standard. Contrived Standards and standardized assessments ignore the collection of information based on individual progress, growth, and achievement.   Assessment and evaluation rooted exclusively in formal standardized summative measures is too narrow, and hasn’t anything to do with actual indicators of economic success or competitiveness.

The quest for a Nation Balanced Assessment Framework begins by understanding humanity can never be defined by any standardized assessment.
It is essential to include the voice of all stakeholders; students, teachers, parents, and pupil services. What we present here is a balanced assessment framework that views assessment as a photo album of performance over time, designed to provide a clear, unobscured, picture of the whole child. Any Balanced Assessment photo album should contain numerous examples of authentic learning performance indicators. Standardized are not authentic measures of a student’s ability to learn. Standardized measures have never been indicators of learning ability.  The concept of looking at the whole child is formative, humane, just, and more likely to yield information that recognizes the potential, innate talents, and gifts of each child while respecting parents, teachers, and local schools. The essential question is: When will our leaders start looking at the photo album of America’s children rather than deficit driven competitive notions based on their fears of unpredicted futures.  It’s simple people? Where is the humanity in your standards and assessments?

Brown Center on Educational Policy at Brookings (2010). The 2010 Brown Center Report on American Education: How Well Are American Students Learning? Available at

Important Additional Resource/links

The federal No Child Left Behind (NCLB) law “failed badly both in terms of its own goals and more broadly,” leading to a decade of educational stagnation. That is the central conclusion of a major new report marking NCLB’s tenth anniversary. President George W. Bush signed the program into law on January 8, 2002. >

For a more intensive of my view on Balanced Assessment see: Jesse P. Turner, John D. Foshay, and Ernest Pancsofar (2013). Toward a More Balanced Assessment Framework. Edited Daniel Mulcahy. Transforming Schools: Alternative Perspectives on School Reform (chapter 6):IAP, Charlotte, NC.

For my role as an activist you can email me, or follow my blog on the web

A after the event picture of our Amazing BK Nation Panel, but the real stars of this evening was our audience of mainly Black parents and teachers and some White parents as well. Tonight it was not about my child, my school, it was about the collective was about defining the we, the resistance to the status quo of 15 years of failing standards, assessments, and school choice without equity. This audience defined opting out as not merely refusing the test, but as opting out for justice.
This audience was full of BK Nation Superstars, informed, willing and able to fight for right.
Love every single one of them.

If you want to listen to the song this walking man is listening to this morning on his cold, cold walk over the's Bachman Turner Over Drive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet"

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