Authentic Alternatives to Accountability and Standardization
Edited By Joe Bower and Paul L. Thomas
Chapter Nine: The Role of Assessment in Empowering/Disempowering Students in the Critical Pedagogy Classroom
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The Role OF Assessment IN Empowering/Disempowering Students IN THE Critical Pedagogy Classroom
DAVID L. BOLTON AND JOHN M. ELMORE
In the American educational system, the role of assessment has taken on a far greater importance than it’s ever had. While assessment has always had a prominent place in American education, its prominence has grown with the publication of A Nation at Risk (Gardner, 1983). Although A Nation at Risk appropriately pointed out concerns with American education, such as the gap in achievement between white and minority students, its publication ultimately resulted in the current emphasis, some would say overemphasis, upon assessment through the standards movement, the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 2001, better known as No Child Left Behind, and its child, Race to the Top. All rely heavily upon standardized testing to improve schools.
In general, standardized tests are not well integrated with the learning process. Standardized testing is often disruptive. McNeil and Valenzuela (2000) describe how precious resources and time are spent preparing for the standardized tests:
One teacher … had spent considerable time and money assembling a rich collection of historical and literary works of importance in Latino culture. … Her students responded to her initiative with real enthusiasm to study and learn. She was dismayed to see, upon returning one day from lunch, that the books for her week’s lessons had been set aside. In the center...
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