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de-testing and de-grading schools

Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization


Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas

A century of education and education reform, along with more than three decades of high-stakes testing and accountability, reveals a disturbing paradox: education has a steadfast commitment to testing and grading. This commitment persists despite ample research, theory, and philosophy revealing the corrosive consequences of both testing and grading in an education system designed to support human agency and democratic principles. This revised edited volume brings together a collection of updated and new essays that confronts the failure of testing and grading. The book explores the historical failure of testing and grading; the theoretical and philosophical arguments against testing and grading; the negative influence of tests and grades on social justice, race, class, and gender; and the role that they play in perpetuating a deficit perspective of children. The chapters fall under two broad sections. Part I, Degrading Learning, Detesting Education: The Failure of High-Stake Accountability in Education, includes essays on the historical, theoretical, and philosophical arguments against testing and grading. Part II, De-Grading and De-Testing in a Time of High-Stakes Education Reform, presents practical experiments in de-testing and de-grading classrooms for authentic learning experiences.
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Chapter Five: Solidarity and Critical Dialogue: Interrupting the Degradation of Teacher Preparation


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Solidarity AND Critical Dialogue

Interrupting the Degradation of Teacher Preparation



In recent decades, teachers, students, and communities served by public schools have experienced top-down reform initiatives grounded in standardization and privatization (Noddings, 2007; Levin, 2006). Public-private partnerships that tend to enrich corporations while draining state budgets are stretching now to encompass teacher education programs. As part of the federal Race to the Top grant, New York State planned to develop a standard performance assessment required for teacher certification. Initially, the assessment was to be developed by the New York State Education Department in consultation with K–12 and higher education faculty. However, this plan was discarded; instead, the state contracted with the Stanford Center for Assessment, Learning, and Equity (SCALE) and Pearson, Inc. (Bloom, Regenspan, & McDowall, 2015). Despite concerns raised by teacher educators, New York State officials proceeded to implement the performance assessment, known as edTPA (the Teacher Performance Assessment in Education), and mandate it for certification beginning in May 2014 (Gorlewski, & Gorlewski, 2015).

The authors—lifelong educators whose work has focused on assessment, teacher and administrator preparation, and ongoing professional development—attended closely to the content and process of edTPA. Troubled by the prospect of standardizing what counts as good teaching, as well as by the hazards of outsourcing the scoring of the assessment itself, they sought to intervene without...

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