For anybody who’s not already familiar with how the increased emphasis on standardized testing is hampering education, John Oliver has a pretty terrific synoposis:
An interesting point here about how the discussion of educators fabricating test scores reflects a degraded societal/political concept of what teachers do:
We have reached a point where we can only talk about the ethics of the profession in terms of cheating or not cheating, as if teachers’ main ethical duty is to make sure that scantron bubbles get filled in correctly. Teachers, like journalists, should have a commitment to truth; like doctors, they have a duty of care. Translating those commitments and duties into a bureaucratized measure of cheating-or-not-cheating diminishes ethics; it turns it into a game. For teachers it is, literally, demoralizing. It severs the moral experience of teaching from the moral evaluation of teaching, which makes it almost impossible for good teachers (in all the senses of “good”) to stay in the system.
It’s a bad thing for teachers to cheat on tests. But the fact that badness for teachers has come to be defined in large part as cheating on tests is even worse. If we want better schools, we don’t just need more ethical teachers. We need better ethics for teachers — ethics that treat them as adults and professionals, not like children playing games.
A New York Times article about machine-graded essays prompted me to write this comment:
The beautiful thing about writing (I say as a writer and as a writing teacher) is that it precisely is NOT objective, and of course we teachers are judging subjectively (so are employers, consumers, and voters, by the way).
The only way a program can grade is by comparing a sample of writing against a very narrow standard. The essays students are asked to write on standardized tests are artificial topics and the testing situation is also artificial (time-limited, w/o access to resources, revision, etc). Standardized writing is an oxymoron.
Update: I also like how this commenter points out the humanness of writing:
Creativity is human. Critical thinking is human. Empathy is human. Moral dilemma is human. And above all — meaning is human.
Technology should exist to empower, and strengthen, human relationship and meaning. Never should we allow it to replace it.