School Standards – set up for failure?

31 01 2010

New school standards and standardised testing is to be introduced this year. Is this a genuine attempt to raise educational standards, or is it simply a political ploy to be “seen to be something” while nothing of value is achieved?

It’s being sold as a way to identify “under-performing schools, under-performing teachers and under-performing kids.” But will it? There is much more to teaching and learning than a simplistic set of standards each child must reach by certain ages. I don’t see anything in the new system to better identify the high achieving teachers and the high achieving students. Parents of high achieving students often complain their child’s progress is restrained to keep them with he rest of the class, standardised education will only worsen this.

And what about identifying and then emulating the outstanding teachers? Tolley seems to have no idea that such beings exist, let alone that they could be indentified and used to lift the profession as a whole.

Tolley is so enamoured of standards because they are an easy measuring tool, not because the improve teaching. It is typical of managerialism – only wanting the things that can be measured, never looking also at the intangibles. Yet someone seems to have found a way to measure at least some of the intangibles in a great teacher.

For years, the secrets to great teaching have seemed more like alchemy than science, a mix of motivational mumbo jumbo and misty-eyed tales of inspiration and dedication. But for more than a decade, one organization has been tracking hundreds of thousands of kids, and looking at why some teachers can move them three grade levels ahead in a year and others can’t.

Perhaps someone could get Tolley to read this and then embark on a creative strategy for educational improvement.

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