An Open Letter
Thanks, Eric, for reading into my last letter accurately and for refraining from willful misinterpretation. I felt treated fairly, in any case, and regretted my forays into levity there at the end.
Anyway, I don’t dispute much of anything you’ve written in your annotations. You take the opportunity for expansion and maxims like, “Any test is only a valid assessment of itself,” don’t seem so depressingly general anymore.
I don’t think I’ve been clear in the past so I’ll say here that I would prefer my teaching to be evaluated on something greater, more flexible, and more comprehensive than NCLB offers. I compensate so deftly for my professional deficiencies with a self-deprecating sense of humor and a devastating jawline. I would that NCLB could look into my class’ shaded ovals and see that about me.
So, at the end of this conversation, or at least at the end of my end of this conversation, I’d like to point out that we both dig assessment and we both want better assessment. What’s better is you leave several specific action points in your annotations — more teacher involvement; qualifiable (not just quantifiable) data; flexibility; less reliance on objective measures (multiple choice, specifically).
That’s great. Refreshing. I so rarely find these calls for action within a post decrying NCLB, just a lot of decrying.
But I need more. I crave specifics. I want better assessment for me and mine, but at this point, I’m just so grateful to have any assessment that I can’t endorse an alternative to NCLB when no specific alternative has been formulated.
However the estimable Chris Sessums throws down the gauntlet in a list of resolutions:
A clear agenda (nee manifesto) and strategies to achieve both manageable and sustainable outcomes must be articulated and disseminated across the spectrum of available media.
The agenda isn’t clear yet and the passive voice doesn’t indicate who will be articulating it, but Sessums positions this as an entry-level post. I hope this conversation goes somewhere.
At this point, NCLB is a target large enough to shoot from space. Grievance without a call to action isn’t unforgivable, just kinda boring. I really hope Sessum and his Comment Coalition take this discussion somewhere new, some place specific and actionable. I’m watching, almost beside myself. I hope to chat about it again with you another time.