I’m afraid I have very little use for teachers whose first reaction to any accountability measures — particularly those of NCLB — is shock, indignation, and lame rhetoric like that in the post title above. Ron Wolk describes the educational heroism of Rhode Island and New Hampshire in Teacher Magazine:
Students still have to take and pass courses, but the courses are being redesigned to be competency based. That means students will have to demonstrate mastery of contentâ€”not through memorization, but through performance, portfolios, or projects that encourage them to think and solve problems with hands-on activities. Students may perform a musical recital, make a significant oral presentation, write a major essay, or submit a portfolio of cumulative work from different disciplines.
I don’t want to make this all about my assessment methods, but I do want to give a shout out to RI and NH, ’cause, yeah, competency-based assessment is awfully satisfying — both for students and teachers.
They’re taking it places I haven’t gone, though. Right now, my students prove concept mastery on written exams. Occasionally a student will come in and give an oral demonstration of competency, but those are pretty far between. The sheer generosity of RI and NH’s assessment methods knocks me back a few feet.
Why aren’t more teachers adopting competency-based assessment? Or even a performance-based model? Because it takes a lot of time — both out of class to design the assessments (though that’s a one-time cost to the teacher) and in class to ensure that seat-hours are maximized.
And it’s far easier for some of these hacks to complain about NCLB than concede they waste minutes a day, which compound to hours on the week, days on the year. Which is all NCLB’s fault, of course.