- Teachers expressing increasing frustration over the pressure to teach to the test and the shrinking of the curriculum.
- Complaints that more money and time are being tied up on assessment and the related paraphernalia (instruments, professional development, curriculum revision).
- Genuine anguish over how the emphasis on testing is affecting students and their learning.
- Indignation over the domination of educational policy by bureaucrats who lack even the most basic teaching credentials or experience (e.g., Secretary Spellings).
- Calls for activism and organized resistance to the testing juggernaut.
Sound like the faculty lounge at your elementary or middle school, or your favorite teacher blog? Not exactly. These deja vu-evoking vignettes are echoing from the halls of colleges and universities around the country.
If you want to see a great example, check out Bernard Fryshman’s article “Outcomes Assessment: No Gain, All Pain” and the colorful comments which follow in the Nov. 13 online edition of Inside Higher Education.
The pain is real. My own community college is in the process of reaccreditation, and the pressure is on (from Washington on down) to show learning outcomes, assessment criteria, interventions, and results. These are familiar items to most PK-12 public school educators, but they’re something of a foreign language to many in the professoriate ranks. Remember, most college professors are not trained educators; they are experts in their content area. In the larger universities, many of the undergraduate courses are taught by grad students with little or no preparation (sounds like some alternate route programs in the public school world, huh).
Ironically, at the onset of NCLB, I can remember conversations with higher ed colleagues who thought it was high time public schools be held more accountable for what students do or don’t learn. “And if those public school teachers can’t take the pressure, maybe they shouldn’t be teaching.”