David Sirota penned something I read the other day that signaled the arrival of something I knew was coming. I doubt I am alone but I don't see many folks in the summer and reactions often take time to come in. High Stakes Test Mongers may finally have donned the water skis, that stupid life ring thing around their waists and jumped the shark. That phrase is an underused cultural reference but one we here at TU are very fond of.
Henry Winkler would roll over in his grave if he saw this headline. What...? He's still alive? Well that's good news. But it just bolsters my point. At what point do the reforms involving more testing lose momentum and do more harm then good in an effort to revive support? Winkler's career moves on without Fonzie and let's hope our reforms will be the same. It took Happy Days 10 years to run out of steam and I can only hope a similar fate for all this test driven reform.
My daughter is four. I know what four year olds are like. High stakes for her is whether or not we get a treat before she goes to bed or gets to watch a kids show after breakfast while Mom and dad get ready. I can only imagine her performance on any test might be connected to whether or not she got to listen to "I like to Move it, Move it" on the way to said test. Four year olds get tested for scoliosis and lice...not in academics. Argh! Sirota convincingly points out the flaws with a testing heavy approach to reform and skillfully uses Finland as a model of success. A worthwhile read. Finland has problems too, ....uh...well it is really cold much of the year in Finland. And they likely have several people that can't read even though everywhere I see has their literacy rate at 100%.
Seriously though comparisons such as this lose some of their teeth when one considers the multitude of factors that affect education. It might still be worthwhile to try and learn from each other in order to improve but rankings and comparisons used for motivation? I can't say that makes much sense. There is a new film on the subject. The Finland Phenomenon which no doubt presents a more in depth look at what makes Finland's educational system tick. It's not testing.
What we need here is a trusted social or cultural figure to stand up, say no, and inject some insanity to all this craziness. Someone as iconic as Richie Cunningham. Wait... who was driving that boat? Who? Seriously? So what you are saying is while it was Fonizie's who jumped that shark, Richie, actually helped by driving the boat? Man what is the world coming to? I'll tell you...a place where someone actually thinks giving four year olds important tests is a good idea.