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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 Eighteen: Striving Toward Authentic Teaching for Social Justice: Additional Considerations


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Striving Toward Authentic Teaching FOR Social Justice

Additional Considerations



What schools are supposed to do is a complicated question. [However] there are at least two major purposes to schooling: to educate students in various academic or cognitive skills and knowledge, and to educate students in the development of individual and social skills and knowledge necessary to function occupationally and socio-politically in society [emphasis mine]. (Fullan & Stiegelbauer, 1991, p. 14)

[Hence,] whose experiences, histories, knowledge, and arts are represented in our educational and cultural institutions? How fully, on whose terms, and with what degree of ongoing, institutionalized participation and power? (Giroux, 1997, p. 244)

[Consequently,] public school and higher education curricula are sites of ideological struggle, one where the modes of cultural transmission complicate the curricular conversation and reduces the possibilities of social justice teaching. (William-White, 2013b, p. 255)

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