Thursday, April 05, 2007

"Blame Game" on Educational Software Limitations

The WaPo's Amit R. Paley turns up on MSNBC with "Software's benefits on tests in doubt : Study says tools don't raise scores" that is worth visiting. I'd first point out that scores on many standardized measurements are hardly the whole picture on "learning". As an aside, Baby Plaid is in fact taking his battery of standardized tests this week but he'll do fine. Besides, he is such a neat kid that he sort of enjoys the damned thing. On the software piece, I found the finger pointing especially entertaining.

The article beings with

Educational software, a $2 billion-a-year industry that has become the darling of school systems across the country, has no significant impact on student performance, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Education.

The long-awaited report amounts to a rebuke of educational technology, a business whose growth has been spurred by schools desperate for ways to meet the testing mandates of President Bush's No Child Left Behind law.

My most recent missive on NCLB asked Teddy Kennedy if he had a drinking problem and had links to various other rants. I've long felt like the whole accountability movement had simply gone way beyond what was reasonable as test scores of what little can be measured, via bubbling in a stinking scantron, is hardly indicative of true learning. While certainly it is difficult to cut the NCLB profiteers and Bu$hCo's DOE any slack, especially with all the finger pointing that is going on in the blame game, I'll offer a possible explanation.

It's the kids fault! Blame the little monsters, the twittering tweens, and the angst-filled adolescents. Even the most dedicated educator goes through spells where they do it. However, before you go there full out I'd suggest the proper place to look might be our society as a whole, the parents, and certainly the politicians. I'm willing to give the children a break usually and once I consider what we are asking of them in the current arrangement it is even more easily done.

Our society is just full of much garbage. We seldom if ever celebrate learning much less hard work. We're a fast food nation that is lacking in substance in so many ways. Our celebrity and sports obsessed world has now even gotten to the point where reality is a genre of entertainment. Kids are lazy. Reckon why? They can't think. Surprised? They won't behave. Like our pop tarts do? They can quote rap lyrics but not much else. What's up with that bitches? I could go on and on but I'll just stop.

I've had to work with some teens (plus parents or caregivers) that were simply asses. I know nearly every kid that was a real pain got at least some sympathy after meeting the parent(s). More than once I said, "Ya know ___ is doing OK all things considered." Some families have been truly pitiful in their ignorance. Generational poverty on steroids. Some just didn't have the skills and/or smarts to make things work. They'd try some yet struggled with the work over time. A few kids, often now with grandma, had past experiences that had gotten them in a real bind so they found it difficult to catch up. Lots of kids were in situations where alcohol and drugs were a problem. Many were in homes where the parent(s) worked around the clock to keep up in today's GOP economy. Some were lazy. Others were too cool for school. Raging hormones. Over stimulated from the cradle yet now sitting in a desk in a concrete block room was hard for many. Reading for content learning was tough for plenty of kids. Now I'll stop. I really mean it this time.

But here's the bottom line ... what goes on at home, and this includes a blend of economics and culture and attitudes and ..., is the main influence on what goes on at school. Some research suggests "home" might be over 80% of what will result in "learning". Welcome to the jungle educational software providers. At least y'all aren't treated like teachers. Yet?

Truly we're at the point where the politicians and profiteers are running our schools. "Learning" is struggling on despite NCLB and the accountability movement. Yet, studies like what we've learned about today show the reality. What are we going to do about it? I'll continue to raise hell about today's bizarre flawed educational policy. Molly Ivins taught me that. As far as society, I'll just do the best I can for me and mine. That brings me to another idea for a post yet I'll want to stew on it for a few days. Stay tuned. Peace ... or War!

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