Learning in Mind

Rethinking the Purpose of Education

Articles on Standards and Standardized Assessment

Standards have become so closely associated with public education that the role they play in our schools is no longer questioned. The idea that schools might operate without standards is literally unthinkable. That might be appropriate if it were, indeed, the schools that had to live up to standards. But the standards now in place are like the tolerances used in factories. If a "part" doesn't conform to standards, the part is deemed flawed and shuttled off the assembly line. Where did standards come from? Is there such as thing as a "standard" person to which all should aspire?

The Fatal Flaws of Standards-Based Reform

Current school reform isn't the product of a gradual consensus emerging among educators about how kids learn; it's a political movement that grew out of one seed planted in 1983 with a report entitled A Nation at Risk. The current obsession with one-size-fits-all standards was the politicians' answer to the manufactured "crisis" in education. This article analyzes the invalid assumptions on which the entire standards movement is based—assumptions that have been thoroughly debunked by research.

Standards and Expectations: Are They Related?

One of the main premises of NCLB was that raising standards would automatically raise teachers' expectations for their students. Is this true? How do standards differ from expectations? Are they related?

Standards and Assessments: Part 1

This article analyzes the lack of validity of "standardized" or "norm-referenced" test in the light of research demonstrating that there is no "standard" or "average" person, as well as statistical fallacies, such as the Bell Curve, around which the tests are built.

Standards and Assessments: Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, this article provides evidence that today's "high-stakes tests" 1.) provide no information about the learning of individual students, 2.) are biased toward certain types of learners, and 3.) are primarily designed to maintain and strengthen the widening gap between social classes.


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