If you live in the New York City area, you might have heard about the recent student protests against cuts to the arts programs at LaGuardia High School (aka the “Fame” school).
I don’t normally focus on local news, but in this case, I think the real story is much larger than what’s getting reported; in fact, I think that it’s getting overlooked entirely. I happen to have some insider knowledge of the school (colleagues, former students), and although it’s unique in many regards, some of the changes it’s undergone are actually reflective of a much larger trend involving the creeping privatization of public education.
In case you haven’t been following the events, here are the basics: (more…)
A while back, I happened to find myself discussing the AP® craze with a colleague who teaches AP classes, and at one point, she mentioned offhandedly that with the push toward data collection and continual assessment, schools are increasingly eliminating the type of cumulative final exams that used to be standard in favor of frequent small-scale quizzes and tests that can be easily plotted for administrators’ consumption.
I poked around and discovered that some schools have also eliminated cumulative mid-term or final exams because such assessments are insufficiently “authentic” (read: not fun) or because of concerns about stress, or because so much time is already devoted to state tests.
I wasn’t really aware of that shift when I was tutoring various SAT II and AP exams, but it explained some of what I encountered: students had been exposed to key concepts, but they hadn’t been given sufficient practice for those concepts to really sink in. They were learning only what they needed to know for a particular quiz or test and then promptly forgetting the material.