Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Who will be held accountable?

I have fallen far far behind in keeping up with my RSS reader. My goal for the day is to catch up. In this attempt I came across this post Will Richardson published a week ago titled The Assessment Problem. Well worth a read if you missed it. What follows is my response to this post which echoes a theme that I will be dealing with for the next few weeks on this and other blogs:
How does one define “higher-order thinking?” If you define it too narrowly you may be able to assess it but then anyone engaged in critical thinking on the matter may produce responses that indeed are beyond the scope of the assessment’s definition and thus be considered wrong. Additionally, where in the traditional scope of the curriculum spectrum is the capacity for critical thinking nourished? In as far as I can tell it is in the areas of learning that are not well assessed through objective means, in subjects that are only truly measured via subjective assessments. Sure you can measure a painting, a song, a poem, or dance strictly by the objective elements used to produce it but to do so kills the essence of it. Typically students engaged in the fine arts, so long as they are engaged at a level that includes analysis, interpretation, and judgment, are developing this capacity for critical thought. However, since reducing these sorts of activities to their elements to measure them objectively kills what it is we value in them they are more and more being undervalued in this environment of “accountability.” Every year I see more and more of these programs cut, so much so that I was forced to make a career change three years ago to become a technology integration specialist instead of clamor after what remains of mostly part-time art teacher positions along with all the others displaced by this system of “accountability.” Who will be held accountable when our subjective values are lost, when what is valued in our schools is reduced to what can be objectified?

1 comment:

Mrs. Tenkely said...

Assessment is tricky for this very reason. I think that it is for all of these reasons that politicians love standardized testing form of assessment. It is easy to give and easy to report. But the problem is that traditional forms of assessment leave little room for measuring critical thinking and higher order thinking. These are almost impossible to measure subjectively (in fact I need to sit and think about if it is possible to measure them subjectively). And if measurement is objective, how do we know if critical thinking is happening or if it is someone else's perception that critical thinking is happening?