District Administration April 2018 - 12

OnTopic

Doug Green
By Tim Goral

Time to flunk failure
How standardized testing stifles students'
potential to succeed

We pretty much understand rocket
science, says Doug Green. That is, we
understand the complex math and
physics that propel objects into space.
"The human brain, however, which is
the learning playground for students
and teachers, is much more complex
and less understood."
An educator since 1970-as
an elementary principal, district
computer director, K12 science chair,
high school chemistry and physics
teacher, and adjunct professor-Green
has witnessed education's most pressing
problems firsthand. And he has some
ideas about how to fix them.
In his book, Teaching Isn't
Rocket Science, It's Way More
Complex (Outskirts Press, 2018),
Green examines everything from
flipped classrooms, standardized
testing, special education, foreign
languages, the arts and more. And
he offers readers tips and strategies
that have been successfully applied at
schools around the country. "I'm not
pretending that I know everything,"
he says, "but I've got some ideas people
should consider."

DAmag.me/flunk

12 April 2018

In the book you use the "rocket science" metaphor-that we've learned
how to do something as complex as
flying to space, but we haven't been
able to figure out the most effective
way to do education.
Basically, we've got to look to people
with true education expertise to run
things. They're run by politicians, getting bad advice from businessmen.
It goes back to the factory model of
education that we taught back in the
1800s-the one-size-fits-all instruction,
which is convenient for the adults but
not that great for the kids.
Then in the late 1980s the businesses
got involved, and said educators had to
be accountable. Well, yes, we do, but
accountability based on invalid and
unreliable standardized testing isn't the
way to go either.

You talk about how the political class
gets advice from business people.
Well, let's face it, the business people
really do own the political class. How
much does it cost to buy a congressman? Not that much.
They are locked up and payrolled by
the business interests. I think the business folks have their hearts in the right
place. We keep hearing how they want
kids who can collaborate, solve problems and be creative. But they also want
us to be accountable. So they force this
ridiculous accountability system on us,
which promotes none of the things that
they even want. There is nothing about
open-ended problem-solving, creativity
or collaboration that comes out of the
standardized testing program. Standardized testing works against all those
things that the businesses want.

And then came No Child Left Behind.
No Child Left Behind made things
worse because it set one bar for 99
percent of the students. That made no
sense. Every student should have their
own bar. It causes the teachers and
administrators to change the way they
do business-cut back on subjects like
social studies, science and recess; bring
in some bad teaching practices to try to
raise the test scores. It shouldn't be onesize-fits-all testing. Every kid should
take the test they're ready for. We
should be trying to personalize education as opposed to standardizing it.

But, as you point out, thanks to the
media, the public doesn't realize this.
It's fashionable to bash the education
system because we're producing kids
who don't have the qualities that the
businesses want. The media is complicit
in that bashing. They are not exactly
out there defending our teachers.
What can educators do to change
that perception?
They have to get the message to policymakers-let them know that, to personalize education, we need to change
how we make schools accountable to
District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration April 2018

District Administration April 2018 - Cover1
District Administration April 2018 - Cover2
District Administration April 2018 - 1
District Administration April 2018 - 2
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District Administration April 2018 - Cover3
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