Reforming Education: Questions that Give Pause

Today, Scot McKnight posted a set of questions regarding educational reform from

The author, Robert Shepherd, confronts with apparent anger the assumptions of “the corporate reformers who think they know how to reform American education.”

I’m the academic VP at a small Christian liberal arts college, the second such post I’ve held.  Altogether, I have eleven years experience in higher education.  I’m NOT expert in most of the things Shepherd addresses, but his leading questions make a great deal of sense to me.  And I DO know a few things.

I know that some school systems have taken the easiest path by teaching nothing but standardized test content that would affect their funding.  I know this, because I saw it in the school systems my own children went through, in Kentucky and Texas.

I know that my students’ reading and writing skills dropped precipitously from 2003 to 2009 (my last year full-time in the classroom), the aftermath of No Child Left Behind.  Am I committing a post hoc, ergo propter hoc error? I don’t think so.  I’m persuaded that the emphasis on standardized tests and test content is at least partly to blame.

Even in 2003, I had college freshmen telling me that my class was the first time they’d ever read a book cover to cover.  The difference: by 2009, they were telling me the same thing.  But they were incapable of reading the book their counterparts had read in 2003.

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