Overcoming High Stakes Tests: Keeping our Ideals and Still Teach

Friday November 30, 2007



High-stakes standardized exams and curricula regimentation form high borders between educators and students, alienating all from all, and serving as a fallacious form of science that serves as a pipeline for the regulation of knowledge and decision-making about who shall live well, live poorly, or live at all. This workshop addresses the experience of professors and k12 teachers who have led the fight against the exams.

Abstract: The movement against high-stakes testing is growing. Democratic educators have experience in researching and opposing the tests. This interactive workshop asks: How shall we keep our ideals and still teach?

Objectives: The rise of pedagogical standards/regulations and high-stakes testing is an international phenomena. While proponents of standards of curriculum and instruction argue that the new age will require a deepened educational base; opponents–from constructivists in whole language to social reconstructionists in critical pedagogy-- insist the standards/regulations and tests shatter democratic education, deepen segregation, inequality and irrationalism. This interactive session addresses the social context of the standards, reports on the growing action-research base, and involves participants in the dialogue about good teaching, citizenship, freedom, and the struggle for social justice.

Content/Skills: This workshop session will combine presentations related to ongoing international research projects investigating the theoretical, historical, and practical implications of educational standards/regulations and the high-stakes examinations attached to them. We will offer hands-on experiences demonstrating methods of teaching and social action which address the standards and tests. We are addressing the interconnections of education and organizing and the unity of university scholars and classroom educators. 

Strategies: This will be an interactive, participatory workshop drawing on the action-research of the presenters as well as the experiences of those who attend. We will combine brief presentations with on-going small group discussions and wrap up with a plenary session.