Monday, December 12, 2011

Tom Aswell's challenge to our leaders

Louisiana is fixin' to get tougher on our kids, with plans in the works to replace the current high-stakes LEAP test with a new, and so far acronym-less test that will be aligned with the "national drive to make public school courses more rigorous."

The implementation of the new test will probably make hash of the new Value Added Model of teacher evaluation, a fact that doesn't seem to faze the State Department of Education, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education or Gov. Bobby Jindal (but was recognized by Sen. Eric LaFleur at last Thursday's Joint Education Committee meeting).

Note that even as we make schools "more rigorous," we are freezing public education's budget, and cutting appropriations for after-school tutoring, technology initiatives and literacy and numeracy programs. Let's see how that works out.

And what are we really measuring with all these rigorous tests? A child's chance at future success?

If that's the case, all our elected officials should read this post by Tom Aswell over at Louisiana Voice.

He tells the story of a Florida school board member - a successful man who holds a Bachelor's degree and two Masters' degrees - who took that state's high-stakes math test.

Writes Aswell:

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he said. “The math section had 60
questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess 10 out of
the 60.” He got 62 percent on the reading test. “In our system,” he said,
“that’s a ‘D,’ and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of
reading instruction.

Which got Aswell to thinking: Could our own test-happy bureaucrats and politicians pass the LEAP, much less its more-rigorous replacement?

At the risk of great personal embarrassment to myself (as if that would be
a precedent), I would like to issue a challenge to Gov. Jindal, each of his
cabinet members, every other statewide elected official (including the
congressional delegation), each member of the legislature, and especially to
each member of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, school board
members from all 64 parishes, and members of the Louisiana Board of Regents for
Higher Education...

I would like to challenge the aforementioned public officials to prove that
they are smarter than an eighth-grader. And to put my money where my mouth is, I will also volunteer to take the Louisiana eighth-grade LEAP test in the same
room, at the same time, as any public official who will take my dare. I’m
certain we can secure a room of sufficient size in the Claiborne Building that
houses the Department of Education.

Aswell lists some sample questions from Louisiana's test. It's worth a visit to his blog to read them, and ask yourself, honestly, how you would fare on the test used to judge our children's academic progress.

No comments: