Testing Abuse

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

High-stakes testing makes teaching bleak


Published online on Saturday, Sep. 26, 2009

http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/valley_voices/story/1651824.html

During a post-game interview by Coach Jim Mora of the New Orleans Saints, he responded to a sportswriter questioning a game decision he made: "You think you know, you really do think you understand ... but, you don't know ... you really don't understand at all."

Coaching decisions are based on a number of factors: Who is healthy or injured? What is the play that best fits this situation? What are the conditions of the field, the direction of the wind? What is the quality of our athletes for his play?
So many details and nuances that only experience and training can take into consideration before making a decision. 

These are dark days for teachers and their students. There are so many who think they know, who think they understand, but they don't.They are not on the sidelines and in the locker rooms; they do not have the experience and expertise with this team, this group of humans. Decisions are being made about individual students, teachers, and schools based on test scores that few understand and by those who are far removed from the reality of the individuals in the classroom.

Educational judgments are being made by those who have deluded themselves into thinking they know, when they don't.Frightened to speak up, teachers who want to advocate for their students are squashed at site and district levels, and are not even involved in the critical decisions that affect the very core of their life's work-love of students. Their passion to teach is being subjugated to becoming a mechanical administrator of test day facts and figures.

There will be no Bill Walsh's West Coast Offenses produced. Creativity and autonomy will become a thing of the past. Students will be considered as so many widgets to be produced at a prescribed rate and under strict quality control.
Gone will be the value in the uniqueness of each child, in the variability of human diversity on which thrives our ability to respond to our changing cultural and physical environment.

Businesses will stagnate with plenty of robotic workers. With sameness as the mantra, new products and services cannot be produced from employees who have been trained into conformity. Families will find little reason to encourage their children to think beyond the status quo.

All of this because of high stakes testing? Yes! Drop in at our colleges and universities. Ask the professors the change they have seen in their students as a result of No Child Left Behind, and soon, its more insidious replacement: The Race to the Top.
Forget states rights in educational choices. Like students, their uniqueness will be bribed away by the funds only available to states who continue with the high-stakes testing to track students, teachers and their university training programs.

Why is it so difficult for so many to see the tyranny of high stakes testing? The answer is simple; they are not in the classroom. They cannot, will not, and dare not see the expressions on students' faces and the angst in the eyes of their teachers.Day after day, week after week, sit, look and have your eyes opened. 

Those who have seen the other side of the mountain know what the classroom is supposed to be like. They know what their students should be experiencing. Because they know, they suffer and see their dreams for their students wither away. They are forced to offer students only the goal of a higher score, not love of learning.

Our children only go through school once. Their teachers cry for mercy for those who have no voice to speak it: their students.
Horace “Rog” Lucido is a retired from 38 years as a physics instructor.He is a member of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse and also Central Valley Coordinator of the Assessment Reform Network.
 

Thursday, February 05, 2015

On Peace in our Schools
By Rog Lucido
            Learning is a human endeavor. Life is full of different random events. We respond-sometimes successfully, sometimes not. Fruitful actions become reinforced and failures are noted to be avoided in the future. In short, we learn from both our achievements and our disappointments.  School is a place where educators attempt to mimic the real world. They create situations that have academic, athletic, social, artistic or political ‘lessons’ attached to each. Teachers hope their students see the value in what is created and make the connection to its parallel in their lives. Learning becomes more relevant.
            Thus, the educators’ world view is critical in preparing these lessons. If they buy into the viewpoint that the world is ‘dog eat dog,’ where conflict between humans, such as aggressive consumer behavior on ‘Black Friday,’ is the norm, then they develop ways to mirror that belief in our schools. The fastest, the strongest and the smartest become the winners and the remainder become the losers. Some state and national education laws legislate ways to isolate and separate one group from another, whether it’s students, teachers, schools or districts. These laws compare and contrast to satisfy a need to validate a ‘survival of the fittest’ world view.
            The high-stakes testing regime spawned by NCLB provides invalid test scores that are then used to promote an incentive to classify and categorize students, educators and their learning institutions. This degrades and marginalizes what appears to be the weaker in favor of those deceived into believing they are superior. This establishes criteria for conflict and division, pitting one student and educator against another and one school or district above or below others.
            The truth is that this is an artificial structure not based on the reality of the human spirit. One only has to see the ways we reach out to each other in times of need like natural disasters to see the magnanimity of the human heart. We reach out to help those in need. This is when we are at our best in making our world a more peaceful place.
            In the plant and animal kingdoms life is not about ‘survival of the fittest’ as common lore would have it, but rather survival of those species better able to sustain the symbiotic relationships with other organisms in the ecosystem. It is more a give and take proposition where one species seeks out its needs while providing a benefit to others. This process is mutual to the advantage of both.
            I am glad ‘survival of the fittest’ is not the paradigm from which I base the most meaningful relationships in my life. I seek out common ground from which deeper understanding and appreciation of likenesses and differences can be cultivated. We humans seek peace in our relationships. One of the main purposes of the United Nations is to foster peace between countries: ‘to practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbors (from the UN Preamble). Here at home from the preamble of our Constitution: ‘We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility…’
            We need peace in our schools-peace between students and teachers, teachers and administrators and schools and the community. One of the steps of peace is to eliminate the weapons with which we attack each other. We can go a long way in establishing this peace by eliminating high-stakes testing.

            Students and educators come to the common ground of school already altered by the aggressive aspects of our culture. Our schools should be a place where a redeeming society of peace is fostered. Countries thrive with peace. Families thrive with peace. Schools will thrive with peace. Anxiety will be reduced and productivity will increase. Let the symbiotic relationships between humans without the need for winners and losers become the model for our children and a better world. 

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Common Core Standards-A disaster in the making


 

Common Core Standards-A disaster in the making

By Rog Lucido

Horace (Rog) Lucido, now retired, taught high school physics and mathematics for over thirty-eight years as well as being both a university mentor and master teacher. He is the California Central Valley coordinator for the Assessment Reform Network and cofounder of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse (EPATA). He is the author of two books: Test, Grade and Score: Never More, 1993, and Educational Genocide: A Plague on our Children, 2010. He has written numerous articles on the impact of high-stakes testing as well as presenting workshops on Forgiving Learning.

 

It seems like education is on a never ending quest to be ‘reformed’. The current trend began with the successful USSR’s orbiting of Sputnik on October 4, 1957 and reached a crescendo in 1983 with the publication of ‘A Nation at Risk’. This flawed report spoke of a ‘rising level of mediocrity’ in our schools when in fact the evidence it cited was greatly skewed towards that desired outcome. (http://www.edutopia.org/landmark-education-report-nation-risk Engendering public fear, the message continues today: ‘American students are behind those of many countries. Our dominance of military and economic strength is on the decline. We are losing our competitiveness.’ The root cause of this false conclusion was laid at the feet of our schools by the US corporate world. But when viewed from an international perspective our perceived ‘plight’ was due in fact not to schools but to American business and political failings.

The World Economic Forum researchers have concluded that the U.S. economic competitiveness has weaknesses. The report reads that the “weaknesses include the business communities' criticism of the public and private institutions, that there is a great lack of trust in politicians, and a lack of a strong relationships between government and business. And the U.S. debt continues to grow.” According to the World Economic Forum, student test scores on international tests in reading, mathematics and science were not even mentioned as connected to the weakening of the U.S.'s ability to compete. Period. (World Economic Forum Report, 2011/12 http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GCR_Report_2011-12.pdf ). Further, from renowned researcher Christopher H. Tienken in RANKINGS OF INTERNATIONAL ACHIEVEMENT TEST PERFORMANCE AND ECONOMIC STRENGTH: CORRELATION OR CONJECTURE? he states, “In the case of the United States, the data does not support the claim that a correlation exists between performance on international tests of mathematics and science and economic strength as measured by the Global Competitive Index.” http://journals.sfu.ca/ijepl/index.php/ijepl/article/view/110/44

With many studies demonstrating that 80 to 90 percent of student achievement is due to factors outside of school, how can we consider changes in our schooling as the solution to our economic problems?  Based on the principle that schools were the culprit, over the last thirteen years Congress and the 2001 administration charged ahead with a ‘plan’ that was thought to fix all of this. The plan’s fundamental paradigm was for each state to create a set of educational standards, ask educators to teach to those standards, test student mastery of those standards, report their results back to the US Department of Education, and determine if each state is progressing at a predetermined rate that would culminate in 2014 with all students being proficient in Mathematics and English Language Arts.

This ‘plan’ was the genesis of today’s high-stakes testing culture. They are called-high stakes tests because the scores are then used to judge students, teachers, schools, districts and states. These scores are not a valid way to make educational decisions.( see Educational Genocide- A Plague on our Children http://www.amazon.com/Educational-Genocide-Plague-Our-Children/dp/1607097184/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1365025395&sr=1-1 ) If schools did not make adequate yearly progress on student proficiency percentages they were met with varying degrees of sanctions. Districts, schools and teachers came under more and more restrictive and proscriptive mandates or their schools were reconstituted with new administrators and teachers with state ‘take-over’ as the ultimate punishment.

This ‘plan’- never tested for its effectiveness before enactment- was the 2001 No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The results are now evident: academic stagnation. It did not work. Recent attempts at NCLB revival include waivers directed at states and districts escaping the law’s harsh sanctions as well as stimulation with the ‘Race to the Top’ funding program. Both of these are hinged on states accepting a set of national education standards called the ‘Common Core Standards’ along with national testing to follow. Once again this new ‘plan’ was never piloted and has no evidence of success.

The Common Core Standards were developed by a collusion of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with primary funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and other business and special interests. So, here we are again trying to solve an ill-defined business problem with an untested school solution, neither of which comes from educators.  Common Core was not ‘state-led’ as many were led to believe.  It is corporate centered not student centered.

Emmett Mc Groarty, executive director of American Principles in Action said that states were "herded" into adopting the standards with no time to deliberate on their worth. He called the standards ‘mediocre’ and costly to implement. Former Texas state commissioner Robert Scott stated, “And it was about control totality from some education reform groups who candidly admit their real goal here is to create a national marketplace for education products and services.”

The US Department of Education (USDOE) is forbidden by law from creating a national curriculum. Curriculum is a states’ right. USDOE got around this by making acceptance of a national set of standards the critical criteria for states applying for millions of dollars in both Race to the Top funding and NCLB waiver requirements. Essentially saying, “Accept these standards or else you will not qualify.” On top of this legal chicanery, these standards are not all they are cracked up to be. By just evaluating two states standards The Pioneer Institute found:

‘Our analysis of Common Core’s mathematics and ELA standards, and the evidence we provide, do not support the conclusion drawn by many other reviewers that Common Core’s standards provide a stronger and more challenging framework for the mathematics and English language arts curriculum than (or an equally as challenging framework as) California’s and Massachusetts’ standards have provided. Common Core’s standards will not prepare more high school students for authentic college-level work than standards in these states have prepared. To the contrary, they may lead to fewer high school students prepared for authentic college-level work. We offer these recommendations to states that are adopting Common Core’s standards.’


 

Not only are California’s current standards considered the best in the nation by the Fordham Foundation and the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research but they are on par with those of the most respected educational systems in the world. In testimony about the Common Core,  R. James Migram, Ph.D.You +1'd this publicly. Undo emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University,  stated, “Also among these difficulties are that a large number of the arithmetic and operations, as well as the place value standards are one, two or even more years behind the corresponding standards for many if not all the high achieving countries.”

Of what value is there for all the states in the US to have the same standards? Student mobility between states is between 1 and 3 percent-hardly a reason to have common standards. It would seem to follow that those states with a 'better' set of common standards would be more financially competitive than any other state. If you look at the top ten 'competitive' states http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2011/may/comp-awards.cfm and examine the criteria on which their 'competitiveness' is based (bottom of page), you will not see even a reference to any educational attainments by their students, k-12 nor university!

 

Why would we then think that if the US had a common set of standards, i.e. ‘common core’, across all of our states that this would be the hallmark which would raise our status in comparison with other countries in our passion to be ‘globally competitive’? As far as global competitiveness is concerned, having a set of national standards does not make one country any more successful than any other. As an example, in California alone we have over 1000 school districts and each one of them has used California’s world class standards for over 10 years. Yet even with this commonality and quality, California has not distinguished itself above every other of the 50 states-each of which has their own set of state standards. If you consider each California school ‘district’ as a state, even having common high quality standards is not the solution to improving student learning. The quality of standards has not mattered. From 2003 to 2009, states with terrific standards raised their National Assessment of Educational Progress scores by roughly the same margin as states with awful ones.” http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/04/18/28loveless_ep.h31.html

There are 46 states that had originally accepted the common core standards and the associated testing to follow. But as of March 3 of this year there are thirteen of these states in various stages of rescinding their original approval. https://www.box.com/s/0jcz6zo5otf0ojtfe3tu . Each state has its own reasons. Some are based on principles such as:

-The common core is an infringement on states’ rights.

-States were pressured into signing on without time to consider all ramifications.

-There is no evidence that these national standards will improve student learning.

Some reasons are based on enormous taxpayer costs. These new standards would require new textbooks, ancillary materials, ongoing teacher training time and the expensive salaries of outside consultants. And as if this is not costly enough, the testing alone is being developed using an online format where students will be tested while sitting at a computer. Districts will be required to take on the cost of upgrading schools’ computer and network capabilities to handle the testing. In California alone Education Reporter states that ‘The California Department of Education estimates that Common Core will cost the state about $760 million. Outside estimates place California's fiscal commitment at up to $1.6 billion. California already expects a $3 billion deficit at the end of fiscal year 2011, and a $10 billion deficit in 2012-13. In addition, General Fund revenues for 2011-12 are lower than expected, triggering a $2 billion cut to state programs beginning in January. "Adding up to a billion-and-a-half-dollar expenditure to implement national standards under these circumstances is fiscal madness," said Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute.’ http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/2012/jan12/common-core-standards.html  

When you now include the costs encumbered by each of the other 45 states that accept these standards as well as adding to this the amount of our tax dollars the USDOE is using to bankroll the development of the national tests, this now becomes a multi-billion dollar enterprise. This is a dead end street.

What business would invest in a product to sell unless it had been thoroughly tested to operate and produce the desired outcome? Yet, the corporate world is willing promote this Common Core effort with no evidence of its effectiveness for the students, themselves or the country. Why would they do this unless, in the process of the Common Core development, distribution and use they would be able to garner great profits with little risk? The vast majority of the capital necessary to implement the Common Core forward is coming from our state and national taxes not their coffers. Our billions in education tax dollars are up for grabs. New text books, ancillary materials, district/state pre-testing development to prepare for the national tests, teacher training and consulting services and more are the costs we will bear.

Californian’s need to become aware that all of this time, energy, and resources our schools will invest is coming from our classrooms and will provide no benefit to our students. Do not look for improved student engagement and learning. It will not happen.

Let these state officials know your thoughts and feelings about the Common Core Standards:

The Honorable Tom Torlakson
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
1430 N Street, Suite 5602
Sacramento, CA 95814-5901

916-319-0800

 

Senator Carol Liu

Chair of Education Committee

State Capitol, Room 5097
Sacramento, CA 95814


 

Assembly Member Joan Buchanan

Chair of the Education Committee

State Capitol, Room 2148,

Sacramento, CA 94248-0016


 

What else can you do when Common Core comes into your community?

 

Corporate and education supporters always say that they require data to ‘inform their decisions’. So ask local school boards/administrators for data showing Common Core will prepare students for college and the workplace. The fact is THERE ISN’T ANY. Ask local school boards/administrators for data that shows Common Core will prepare students to compete in the global economy. Again, THERE ISN’T ANY.

 

They can’t give you data, so refuse to give them data OPT STUDENTS OUT OF Common Core TESTING. See: http://www.eduperspectivescv.org/opting-out

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Common Core Exposed

In the ongoing effort to debunk the Common Core Standards and associated testing, I have created a PowerPoint called Common Core Exposed. I have posted it in two downloadable versions. The first is a Read Only version that can be used at one’s own pace for presentations at school boards, parent meetings and the like. References for each slide are below each slide by just hitting Esc on your keyboard. The second version is that same PowerPoint made into a YouTube movie  ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lch0gNAdS6k&feature=youtu.be ) with music in the background that proceeds at a given rate. It can be paused and reinitiated with the spacebar if you need to take more time to read any given slide. The references on the movie version are on a set of slides at the end of the presentation. I hope you will find good uses for it and pass along those who you think may be interested. Links to both versions can be found at  http://www.laserpablo.com/teacherresources/teacherresources.htm . Just scroll to the bottom of the page to the right of my picture are the links.


I have also created a Facebook page called Stop Common Core in California’s Central Valley (https://www.facebook.com/stopcommoncorecentalvalleycalifornia)

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Teachers and test scores

In August, the Fresno Unified School District was given a one-year waiver from the U.S. Department of Education to be freed from the strict guidelines of No Child Left Behind. In turn, Fresno Unified agreed to find a way of connecting teacher evaluations to student annual test scores.

According to The Bee's Oct. 12 story, Rhonnie Tinsley, executive director of the Fresno Teachers Association, said of contract negotiations: "Teachers are especially concerned about changes to the ways they are evaluated. Under the deal, up to 30% of a teacher's annual review could be based on student achievement."

This year, Fresno Unified will make every effort to make the union appear to be the obstacle in Fresno Unified being freed from NCLB sanctions. Expect to hear statements like this: "See, we could be freed from the harsh effects of NCLB if the union would only agree to have 30% of teacher evaluations tied to student test scores."

In the fall of 2009, the National Research Council strongly rebuked the U.S. Department of Education for attempting to use student test scores for purposes specifically related to the evaluation of teachers. Student test data should not be used to determine teacher effectiveness.

Rog Lucido

Fresno

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FUSD wins Gates grant but loses soul to Common Core


FUSD wins Gates grant but loses soul to Common Core

Who in their right mind would suggest undermining California’s excellent educational standards? But that is exactly what we are doing in accepting the Common Core Standards (CC). Not only are California’s current standards considered the best in the nation by the Fordham Foundation and the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research but they are on par with those of the most respected educational systems in the world.  

The Common Core Standards were developed by circumventing the legislative process of each state by an unsolicited initiative of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Driven by corporate interests, primary funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was not ‘state-led’ as we were coaxed to believe. Emmett Mc Groarty, executive director of American Principles in Action said that states were "herded" into adopting the standards with no time to deliberate on their worth. He called the standards ‘mediocre’ and costly to implement. Former Texas state commissioner Robert Scott stated, “And it was about control totality from some education reform groups who candidly admit their real goal here is to create a national marketplace for education products and services.”

While the US Department of Education is forbidden from creating a national curriculum they have gotten around this by making acceptance of a national set of standards critical criteria for states applying for millions of dollars in both Race to the Top funding and NCLB waiver requirements- essentially saying, “Accept national standards or else you will not qualify.” This is why California agreed to them.

In testimony about the Common Core,  R. James Milgram,  Ph.D.You +1'd this publicly. Undo emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University,  stated, “Also, among these difficulties are that a large number of the arithmetic and operations, as well as the place value standards are one, two or even more years behind the corresponding standards for many if not all the high achieving countries.”

More than ever teachers will be indoctrinated to prepare their students for this new type of testing. It will dominate the classroom and school focus like never before. Districts do not want a poor showing. Students and teachers will be score driven as students languish for genuine learning. Judgments about districts, schools, teachers and students hang in the balance.

The Bee reported that FUSD will use some of the gates money to “boost teacher effectiveness”. Effectiveness will be measured by the national CC tests. FUSD students will bear the brunt of even more testing and teacher evaluations will also be significantly impacted.  A national study released yesterday says, “Parents are rebelling against an over-emphasis on standardized testing. A 57% majority feels there is too much emphasis on testing today. A remarkable 59% say their own child has felt anxiety or worry about taking a state assessment, and 57% feel that test taking and test preparation are taking time away from teaching and learning in their children's schools.”

A researcher at the Brookings Institution think-tank projected Common Core will have no effect on student achievement. There is no evidence demonstrating that having national standards improve educational outcomes, or a track record showing that the Common Core Standards are rigorous and first-rate. Independent reviews have found its standards to be below those in the highest-performing countries and below those in states rated as having the best academic standards.

On top of this, implementation of the Common Core testing involves an infrastructure of computers, networks and supporting personnel. Much of the new national test will be taken online. Georgia dropped out of the testing collaboration on Monday with Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah having already withdrawn. There are strong indications that Florida and Indiana will be next. Texas, Alaska, Minnesota and Nebraska and Virginia never signed on in the first place. The Common Core is no longer ‘common’.

Education Reporter states, “The California Department of Education estimates that Common Core will cost the state about $760 million (1.2 billion has been allocated in the most recent California budget.) Outside estimates place California's fiscal commitment at up to $1.6 billion….Adding up to a billion-and-a-half-dollar expenditure to implement national standards under these circumstances is fiscal madness," said Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

How can we sanely invest in a new set of standards that has neither track record nor evidence of being of any benefit to our students and our state? FUSD needs to return the money and remove our students and teachers from this new round of testing madness.   

Saturday, April 06, 2013

Forgiving Learning- Reform Begins in the Classroom


Rog Lucido: Forgiving Learning: Reform Begins in the Classroom

By Anthony Cody on April 6, 2013 8:02 AM

Guest post by Rog Lucido

It seems like education is on a never ending quest to be 'reformed'. The message continues today: 'American students are behind those of many countries. Our dominance of military and economic strength is on the decline. We are losing our competitiveness.' The root cause of this supposition is laid at the feet of our schools by the corporate world. With many studies demonstrating that 80 to 90 percent of student achievement is due to factors outside of school, how can we consider changes in our schooling as the solution to our business problems?

If we are to improve student engagement and learning, not for the sake of greater profits, but for the sake of our children, we need to start in the classroom. It is here where the rationale should be changed from other-centered to student-centered. Each student comes to us with their own unique personal history. But they all share a common humanity and are in possession of a human brain. This brain is the organ for learning -- not their liver or spleen! If we understand how the brain's neo-cortex works we will have a way of designing the classroom and school learning experiences to be brain-friendly. In schools we should not develop a learning system and then expect that all students will find learning accessible. Rather, we should seek the healthiest way to cooperate with brain functioning in learning and the best way to extract information from it.

We know the brain operates at peak efficiency when it is free from threat, when the relational tone in its surroundings are supportive and when food and shelter are sufficient. The brain is a pattern seeker. It wants to 'connect the dots' in any learning experience in or outside of school: "If I do this then the most plausible result will follow." It anticipates the future based on past results. It is continually experimenting, learning from its mistakes and stores those results in expectation of the next opportunity to try.

I once took my five children to a local lake which had a rocky shoreline. No sooner than they had exited the van did they run to the lakes edge. There was a buoy about thirty yards from shore. For over an hour they picked up various size stones and tried to hit the buoy. They rarely did. But they persisted. When they came in for lunch I told them that I was impressed with their desire to hit the buoy and asked them why they were doing it. Their answer to a person was, "It was fun!".None offered an 'excuse' for missing nor did I suggest any. I told them I would like to join them at the shores edge after lunch and record their hits and misses. They did not want me to do that. They told me it would take all the fun out of it. You see, they had accepted misses as part of their rock throwing process. Every throw had an excuse for missing but none was expected and none was given. They rejoiced whenever they got a hit.

In baseball a good hitter batting .300 gets a hit only 30% of the time. When he makes an out excuses could abound: "I was fooled.", " I swung too soon." "I swung too late". There is a lot of failure in baseball. Why do they still keep coming up to the plate? Each time at bat the player has another opportunity to have learned from their mistakes and improve. They have accepted failure as part of the batting process. They make their reasons for failure, their excuses, the motivation for progress. It is part of the game:

"I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost more than 300 games, and 26 times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. Throughout my life and career I've failed and failed and failed again. And, that's why I succeed." -- Michael Jordan

This is one of the major problems in our schools. We spend much of our time recording hits and misses and subvert the natural learning process. We do not make processing of mistakes the centrepiece of the experience. One of my sons is a structural engineer. He tells me of the many times he must submit his renderings to his superiors and fellow engineers for review. He says they come back 'bleeding red'. He must repair his errors and resubmit over and over until they are correct. If not done properly the building could collapse. People's lives are at stake.

The common protocol for the classroom from kindergarten to university is for students to submit their work, where they are 'graded' and recorded. Then they go off to the next assignment oftentimes oblivious to what should have been understood, but focusing on the grade or score they received on that assignment or test. And so it goes over and over again, embedding in each student's brain that learning from one's mistakes is not the core value. They learn well that the resulting score on each assignment and the culminating grade is what is really important.

So how can Forgiving Learning (see Educational Genocide-A Plague on our Children) become part of the classroom environment? Begin by reducing the number of assignments. This will provide an opportunity for students to resubmit their work and for the instructor to evaluate it so that the final result is an assignment that is completed up to the teacher's standards of performance. Students are to redo their work until it is done satisfactorily without penalty, no matter how many times it is resubmitted-their errors are forgiven. They do not have to worry about being penalized but just focus on mastering the concepts. Use the same process on tests, quizzes, projects and the like. They are given the opportunity to master the concepts or procedure until it is done properly.

Have you ever attended the rehearsal of a performance or a team installing a new athletic play? Does the 'coach' watch them then walk up to each individual with a grade or score and then leave? Or do participants do it over and over until they have mastered the scene or play as the coach tells each one with words what they are doing right, what they are doing wrong and how to improve? They do it over and over without penalty until the coach is satisfied. This encourages persistence -- a critical life skill.

Our students need to be given the freedom to learn from their mistakes in the classroom environment. The classroom protocol must have forgiveness of errors with the opportunity to reengage as a fundamental element of its process. Education needs to wake up and teach to the human condition. Our children's lives are at stake.

What do you think about embedding 'Forgiving Learning' in the classroom?

Horace (Rog) Lucido, now retired, taught high school physics and mathematics for over thirty-eight years as well as being both a university mentor and master teacher. He is the California Central Valley coordinator for the Assessment Reform Network and cofounder of Educators and Parents Against Testing Abuse (EPATA). He is the author of two books: Test, Grade and Score: Never More, 1993, and Educational Genocide: A Plague on our Children, 2010. He has written numerous articles on the impact of high-stakes testing as well as presenting workshops on Forgiving Learning.

 
http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/04/rog_lucido_forgiving_learning_.html