STATE WIDE–Students are about to take the iLearn test in Indiana and the data collected from those tests will be used in a variety of ways, including a measurement of how well students are learning. Some people don’t agree that standardized tests are the fairest way to measure where a student stands or that the information being taught is even the right curriculum for kids.
“We keep kids from graduating high school because they can’t pass particularly, math standardized tests, and I’ve got a good math background. The math on those tests is something almost no adult uses,” said Ted Dintersmith, founder of What School Could Be. “Why would we block a kid’s life prospects because they can’t factor polynomials, when not even scientists or engineers are doing that?”
LISTEN: Ted Dintersmith talks schools and What School Could Be
What School Could Be is a digital platform where educators get together and come up with ideas on teaching that may not match thye mandates.
“So, if you found a set of teachers in Gary that got interested, they could set up their own private group among teachers in their school. If you found schools in South Bend that want to work together, they could co-innovate and form their own group.”
Dintersmith said he spent part of the last ten years visiting schools all over the country, including several visits to Indiana. He believes schools and the education system are not doing enough to help kids with more practical learning.
He also believes many teachers would like to do it, and that his platform, which is free and his been online for about a month, is a way for them to get together to come up with ideas.
“Finding a place you can go, a safe secure alternative to Facebook, where you’re surrounded by other people who are gonna cheer you on when you go against mandated policies you don’t believe in, is very encouraging,” he said.
While Dintersmith said he doesn’t believe all standardized tests are bad, and are in fact good for keeping tabs on the progress of younger students, he believes upping the intensity and reliance on those tests as students get older can be detrimental.
Dintersmith, once one of the country’s leading venture capitalists, believes schools that are able to work in practical projects will fare better, and so will their students.
“And, if the price we pay is not being able to have a steady stream of data that tells we’re making no progress on boring curriculum that nobody wanted to take on in the first place, I’d say that’s a fairly modest price to pay for far better learning,” he said.
The forum website is http://www.whatschoolcouldbe.org.