Better Balance

I think I’m going to try to get a better balance on this blog. I’m actually excited about a lot of things we are doing at Keene State — but because a lot of the things we are moving forward are fragile I’m in the position a lot of bloggers are in — the rants about the outside world end up outnumbering talk discussions of the real progress we are making — because we’re afraid that talking about it too early will spook people, or cause unnecessary drama.

That’s not to say the rants will go — I need some way to funnel my frustration with the ridiculous politics around education into something constructive. But I’m going to start trying to blend in more of what we are doing…

School Choice, Civics Knowledge, and Fraud

So that Oklahoma “civics test“” from a couple of months ago? The one that looked fishy to anyone with half a brain? The one where most students couldn’t name the first president, and thought the two parties in the U.S. were Republican and Communist?

The one that generated of so much-hand wringing from the Ed Hirsch Fan Brigade about how Democracy couldn’t function unless we adopted voucher programs right-the-hell-now and replaced all this liberal kid-hugging nonsense with some old fashioned content drills?

It was faked, says Nate Silver:

There is no reason to think, in other words, that the students in House District 15 should have gotten such profoundly superior results to the “students” in Strategic Vision’s survey. Nor could Strategic Vision’s results have been the result of any sort of mathematical or methodological oddity. Consider their claim that literally none of the 1,000 students they surveyed were able to answer more than 7 of the 10 questions correctly — lower than the average score achieved in Cannaday’s test.

There are, rather, only two possibilities. Either the Strategic Vision survey was entirely fabricated — or Cannaday’s was.

Once again, not suprising to anyone with an ounce of quantitative literacy, or even a passing familiarity with actual students.

As always the bigger question ends up being not about the content knowledge of our current students, but about the critical thinking skills of their parents, the dumbest generation by any objective standard, who get duped by this nonsense again and again.

Open Google Test

This is a neat idea — because if you make assessment authentic, courses have to change, of necessity:

In Denmark, the government has taken the bold step of allowing pupils full access to the internet during their final school year exams.
A total of 14 colleges in Denmark are piloting the new system of exams and all schools in the country have been invited to join the scheme by 2011.

I’d be interested to know (and may research) how the practice of open book tests transforms pedagogical practice (and student focus) in those classrooms that adopt it. I would guess that we are looking at something similar here.