Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Diane Ravitch

I briefly heard Diane Ravitch on NPR, during a recent commute.

She commented (I paraphrase) that standardized measuring/testing using was intended as a diagnostic tool. You find out what is lacking, and you take constructive corrective action. Unfortunately it has morphed into an punitive assessment tool, which seeks to punish a negative diagnosis.

Here is a link to a bunch of interesting articles by her. In one of them (Ravitch answers Gates):
Gates: "Does she think all those ‘dropout factories’ are lonely?"
Ravitch: "This may come as a surprise to Bill Gates, but the schools he refers to as "dropout factories" enroll large numbers of high-need students. Many of them don't speak or read English; many of them enter high school three and four grade levels behind. He assumes the schools created the problems the students have; but in many cases, the schools he calls "dropout factories" are filled with heroic teachers and administrators trying their best to help kids who have massive learning problems.

"Unless someone from the district or the state actually goes into the schools and does a diagnostic evaluation, it is unfair to stigmatize the schools with the largest numbers of students who are English-language learners, special-education, and far behind in their learning. That's like saying that an oncologist is not as good a doctor as a dermatologist because so many of his patients die. Mr. Gates, first establish the risk factor before throwing around the labels and closing down schools."

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