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Assessment by stealth is a different animal

8 September, 2009

Assessment by stealth is a different animal

I know I defended Outcomes and Assessments in my last substantive post. But since then, I’ve run across a huge exception to that.

Actually, it’s not an exception. I think OA is great in theory and can be done well, in a way that enhances our teaching. For that, it has to be faculty driven.

This is different. I am currently in the position of having to change my syllabi to say that I teach things that I find entirely inappropriate to my courses. Because I believe the syllabus is a sort of contract, I will therefore teach those things. Why? because if I don’t, our secondary ed students will have to add another mandatory course to their already very heavy load. The alternative? The Ed. School loses accreditation.

So basically, NCLB and the state K-12 wonks are able to drive what is taught in the universities. And that is wrong. THAT is a case of non-experts telling us what we can and can’t do. And one of the best parts? they are getting the curriculum in part from outdated textbooks, which makes it almost impossible for us to correct many of the things that current research rejects, i.e., we are forced to perpetuate bad history, just so we can teach students that the people we taught to teach them in K-12 were wrong.

How screwed up is that?

One Comment leave one →
  1. 14 September, 2009 3:13 pm

    I can empathize with your pain. Each state can interpret NCATE and many times the NCSS standards govern our discipline. Both AHA and OAH ceded this authority long ago so it's a complex issue. I've played a role for 15 years of trying to ensure we meet the state teaching standards while still maintaining academic integrity. In fact, I am in the middle of the final revision of our program report for our re-accreditation visit next year (paperwork is due a year ahead). I have to work closely with the Social Science Department. We have failed in the past because there were some faculty who thought we could ignore what the state said and since 80% of our majors are in teacher education, there is real danger of our not having a department if we fail NCATE. Another important factor is how involved the individual disciplines (ie History, English, Biology) are involved with the secondary education leadership in the College of Education at the University. That widely varies even within states. Luckily, our Director of Teacher Education had a son who majored in our department but she's been here quite awhile. Most of our challenges within NCATE are actually state driven politics. On a related note, NCATE is getting ready to revamp their expectations again and the whole ball game will change yet again. As long as NCSS is the SPA, or Specialty Professional Association, working with NCATE, historians chose to be out of the leadership loop. NCSS was actually created when the AHA decided that they needed to eliminate K-12 teachers from their membership in the early 20th century. I can empathize with your frustration. Welcome to my world. 😉

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