One of the blogs I read daily is David Warlick's 2¢ Worth blog. David is an education futurist who speaks all over the country. (He will be in Houston on March 28, 2008, to speak at the Houston A+/American Leadership Forum Convocation.
I thought you would enjoy his perspective taken from his post today on why teaching kids to pass "the test" is really like trying to "paint the clouds."
First, I want to say, I am certain that the two people I’ll be referring to a good, caring, talented educators, with the very best intentions at heart. I feel a bit uncomfortable and even sneaky reporting on the conversation here, but I am pretty sure that this is important — either in terms of my objections or in terms of finding, from you, that I’m wrong.
It was a teacher and a principal of an elementary school in a rural county of North Carolina. I asked my usual question, “What’s knocked your socks off?” The young one, the teacher, 4 years experience, started telling me about a web service that they are excited about. She was practically bubbling. I listened. Then she described an online assessment service that was tied directly to the North Carolina standards, and that it would enable the teachers to frequently test their students’ mastery of specific standards, evaluate their strategies, and adapt.
Now normally, I’m losing interest at this point, but she was so excited, I have to say it was contagious. My skeptic antenna stayed put, and I started proding with questions. The principal, then, described the assessment tool that they were currently using, and how it worked, and I interrupted. “So how good has your current assessment tool been at predicting performance on the state’s End of Grade test?
She looked at me, and said, “Terrible!” She said, we were so excited and proud, and proud of our students, when testing time came, because they were doing so well with the assessments. But then, the test scores came back and they were very bad (don’t recall the descriptive word she used). This is why they are so excited about the new tool, that seems better aligned with the style of the NC tests.
OK, most of the readers here know where I’m going with this, so there’s no need to elaborate. But as we were climbing to our cruising altitude last night, approaching the Appalachian mountains, I thought, we’re trying to paint the clouds. Our kids are not a picket fence with identical rails you can paint. They’re all different, they all have different strengths and weaknesses, talents and challenges, surfaces and depths — and they’ll all need to know different things for their futures, futures we can’t even describe. Certainly they need to learn certain basic literacy skills (which we’re still trying to redefine). And we need to be sure these skills are attained.
But when we teach kids how to pass tests, we’re trying to paint a picture on to something that just won't hold it. Looking out to the west, and seeing the setting sun shine through the ubiquitous clouds of the Smokies, I felt that this is how to get your picture. Not by painting the clouds, but by showing the sun shine through the clouds. Empower learners to surprise you with their brilliance.
And, perhaps even more important, what did those children think, when they’d been so successful with the schools assessment practices, only to fail the state test. What do schools mean to these children. How long will they stay in those schools?
Our November Volunteers of the Month are Curt Martin and David Slattery who jointly lead the Bond Advisory Committee.
We then acknowledged the District'sGold Performance Acknowledgements for our schools based on performance on TAKS, AP/IB results, advanced course completion, students completing the recommended high school curriculum, SAT/ACT results, and results of the Texas Success Initiative.
The Hall of Fame "is the only facility of its kind dedicated to
recognizing career teachers, to preserving and promoting education, and
to serving our country by inspiring others to enter the teaching
The factors the National Teachers Hall of Fame uses to determine inductees into the Hall of Fame:
Extent of formal education and degrees held. May also include special achievements like National Board Certification.
Honors received including, but not be limited to: The Disney Awards,
National and/or State Teacher of The Year, Christa McAuliffe, Readers
Digest, US WEST, Learning Magazine, Milken, Tandy, and Golden Apple.
Professional Profile, including what brought them into the teaching
profession and any personal accomplishments or student achievements.
The philosophy which guides the nominee's teaching and the extent of
dedication to the profession of teaching. As a corollary, who is the
nominee and what makes this individual an exceptional person and
Depth and breadth of knowledge of teaching and, as
important, what nominees have done/are doing with that knowledge. In
other words, are exceptional and/or innovative teaching practices
reflected in the nominee's work?
Ability to identify the most pressing educational issues facing our country and to offer plausible solutions.
Professional Development/Involvement, including attendance and
leadership at meetings and seminars to keep current in their field and
the profession, and the extent to which nominees share their personal
expertise with colleagues and others.
Quality of letters of reference and specific affirmation of contributions to education of children and the profession.
Significant contributions involving, benefitting, and serving
students, school, profession, community, and society; quality of
responses (creativity, clarity, conciseness).
Ever wonder what the pilgrims and their Native American guests really
ate at the first feast? The truth may surprise you. Contrary to popular
belief, they didn't sit down to a meal featuring turkey, corn,
cranberries, and pumpkin pie (in fact, they didn't even have forks!).
Travel back to Plymouth and discover some of the humble origins of
Thanksgiving traditions we celebrate today and what the original
celebration was actually like!
Please feel free to click on the links below for my Thanksgiving posts from
While the idea of driving hours with a car full of children may send
shivers down the spine of even the most patient of parents, a family
road trip doesn’t have to be a stressful endeavor. There are tons of
games you can play with your children that will keep the “are we there
yets” at bay. Best of all, they won’t cost you a thing. Here is a list
of some road trip games and activities you can play with your children.
The Grocery Game: Whether you want to challenge
your memory or just whet your appetite for lunch, the grocery game is a
great way to pass the time on your drive. One person starts with naming
something that can be bought at the grocery store that starts with the
letter ‘A’, such as “apples”. The next player would have to repeat the
first person’s answer as well as add on a food that begins with the
letter ‘B’. If you mess up, you’re out, and the game continues until
only one memory-gifted player remains. If you get bored with groceries,
try using another topic.
The Geography Game: Help your kids refresh their
geography lessons while on the road with the geography game. The game
begins with a person naming any place in the world, London for example.
The next person then has to come up with a place name that begins with
the last letter of the first location. So in this case, the next place
would have to start with an ‘N’, like Nepal for instance. The game
continues on until someone gets stumped, and no place can be used more
than once. The game can be played with any topic, so give celebrity
names, movies, animals or anything else you can think of a try.
License Plate Bingo: To play this game you’ll need
to bring along a few writing utensils and have paper to use for game
cards. If you’d like, you can print out game cards ahead of time here.
There are a few variations of this game, so you can either write down
the names of states as your bingo squares or random letters and
numbers. As players see the states or letters and numbers on passing
license plates they cross them off. First player to get 5 in a row
wins, and it might be a good idea to keep a few prizes on hand for the
Card Games: Never underestimate the power of card
games to keep your kids entertained. Bring along a set of cards from
home and challenge kids to play their old favorites like old maid, go
fish, and rummy. If you want to find new games, check out a book on
card games at your local library or print out instructions for kids
In November 2006 the State Board
of Education (SBOE) reviewed and approved The
Dyslexia Handbook Revised 2007: Procedures Concerning Dyslexia and Related Disorders.
This handbook replaces all previous
handbooks and guidelines and introduces legal changeswith
the addition of Texas Education Code (TEC) §7.028(b) and with revisions to Texas
Administrative Code (TAC) §74.28(c) and (h).
The handbook contains the
SBOE-approved procedures concerning dyslexia and related disorders and provides
guidelines for school districts to follow as they identify and provide services
for students with dyslexia. Additionally, the handbook provides school
districts and parents/guardians with information regarding the state’s dyslexia
statutes and their relation to the following federal laws: the Rehabilitation
Act of 1973, §504, and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
In addition to thehandbook resources for schools and
parents include a State Dyslexia Network, a State Dyslexia Consultant, and a hotline
(1-800-232-3030, ext. 1410) at regional Education Service Center (ESC) 10. There are also designated consultants at each
ESC available to assist district stakeholders with implementing state law and
SBOE rules and procedures regarding dyslexia. Please see Attachment A in the handbook
for the contact information for the State Dyslexia Consultant at ESC 10 and for
each regional Education Service Center.
If you have questions regarding
issues related to dyslexia, please feel free to contact Sarah Crippen, Director
of English Language Arts and Reading,
at (512) 463-9581 or your ESC Dyslexia Coordinator.