I presented at the 42nd Annual National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) Conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. I framed my presentation titled Bilingual Students in the Standardization Age on three premises: 1. the perceptions that the general public and policy makers’ hold regarding achievement verification through standardized test scores foster an education reform through the unholy trinity of standards, testing and accountability, 2. high stakes testing is driven by a market-like model of accountability, and 3. just like the implementation of NCLB, implementing the Race to the Top is demonstrating that the rigid accountability system is failing to take into account the diverse need of bilingual and non-mainstream students, thus promoting a “culture of silence” (after Paulo Freire).

Passive learning can be easily standardized. The skills taught to students to acquire and process knowledge are tightly controlled. Throughout the presentation I maintained that teachers and administrators alike must question whose interests are being served and whose not? This is especially important in the midst of a standards, reform and accountability cycle. Real world connection to knowledge and a relevant curriculum that stresses cultural congruence between the cultures of school and home must be taken into account. I mentioned NASA educational content as an example of real world application in and outside the classroom and discussed the implications of the testing frenzy for bilingual students. In explaining the school grade formula of New Mexico and the data, I showed a window into my classroom where students’ voices reflected on this phenomenon. My contention was simple, I all for assessment (formal and informal-as they inform my practice), but its dosage has be adjusted and above all, assessment should be for learning, not of learning.

 


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