I have tested thousands of students in my lifetime. Testing provides useful information, showing students and teachers students knowledge. Scores can be used to diagnose learning problems. Test scores form a part of the equation not the whole equation. Over reliance on test scores create more problems than it solves for students, teachers, and schools. We restrict the curriculum to what is tested, cheating students out of a well rounded education or lowering standards to inflate scores. School districts across the nation have been reduced the time available for the arts, physical education, history, civics, and other nontested subjects. This does not improve education and teaches the wrong long term lesson..
No nation in the world eliminated poverty by firing teachers or by handing its public schools over to private managers; nor does research support such tactics. The new school reformers, Wall Street hedge fund managers, foundation officials, corporate executives, entrepreneurs, and policymakers, consist of too few experienced educators.
The new reformers lack the balance which seasoned educators provide. The reformers’ detachment from the reality of providing education for all and their disregard for research allow them to ignore the important influence of families and poverty. The United States, the largest and most successful economy in the world, owes this success to public school which educated 90 percent of Americans.
Finland borrowed many of its most valued ideas from the United States, such as equality of educational opportunity, individualized instruction, portfolio assessment, and cooperative learning. Finland borrowed the work of John Dewey. Finland’s teacher preparation program forms the core of school reform . Eight universities prepare teachers for a highly competitive program:. Future teachers enter the University with a strong academic background. Every candidate prepares to teach all students, Every teacher must complete an undergraduate degree and a master’s degree in education. Teaching is a respected and prestigious profession . Every teacher is well prepared. Teachers enter the profession with a sense of purpose. We can recapture this spirit in the United States.
American teachers face the most diverse group of students in the world. They face students from all socioeconomic, racial, religious, and nationalities. The U.S. attracts more immigrants than any country in the world. These students educated at the public expense span the full range of academic achievement. I don’t see any other country with such a multicultural that has achieved the level of success. We don’t need to follow Finland or Japan or Korea who followed us. We need to continue to innovate and create.