Posted Without Snark

Francesca Ochoa, retiring teacher:

The “new” focus is on `drill and grill’, test-taking skills and a largely prescribed curriculum. The classroom has become a training center reminiscent of the era of de jure segregation where Mexican-American and other students of color were expected to regurgitate memorized material, thus preparing them for jobs in the lower rungs of society.

Sir Michael Barber, education reform strategist:

if the implementation is poor, people will say the whole act was a bad idea and the true opportunity it provides will be lost. If that happened, it would be lost for a generation, and America can’t afford that. I think that’s the biggest risk to the American system in the next two to three years.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Amanda, High School Science Teacher

    September 11, 2008 - 5:35 pm -

    I really see where you are coming from but some students need incentives to do the practice. Some students will continue to think they already ‘know’ it and just plan on pulling it out at the end if they know this is how the system works (which they’ll figure out quite quickly). The real question then is won’t we have failed them as teachers when they don’t manage to magically master it all in the end? I don’t think it is right to ‘punish’ one child because of the greater good but you do have to consider the implications.
    This is certainly something I’ve come to reflect on more as I transfer to a standards based grading rubric. In a perfect world we’d have the time and resources to differentiate not only instruction but truly differentiate grading. This also takes time to explain the reasons and research behind this to the community and parents. But then that wouldn’t matter if the college admissions process still works the same way (GPA+Test Scores=#). In order to really reach every student we need policy change towards concept mastery across P-20.

  2. My NCLB feelings are complex (if I ever wrote my essay it’d be titled In Defense of and Against NCLB Simultaneously) but I did want to pick on this bit (Tom Sobol is quoting someone else)

    The standards movement is pushing teachers and students to focus on memorizing information, then regurgitating fact for high test scores.

    I don’t know about other states, but our math standards involve very little memorization. All formulas are given.

    There’s vocabulary, sure, but it’s just knowing the territory and would show up in even in a standards-free class.

    I think the “memorize and regurgitate” meme is a throwback to the days where education involved knowing the dates and locations of every war in Western Europe from 1000-1880.