Sunday, June 14, 2015

Modern-day Calvinism: predicting predestination

One longstanding frustration for “autism families” is how much more public money funds research on causes and early signs of autism than interventions and assistance. What’s the point of finding out when your kid is 3 weeks old that he or she is autistic if little is known about what to do next?

Something similar might be said of all that K12 assessment. Consider the amount of public money (and public discourse) spent on educational testing--from Common Core tests to assessment technology to the man-hours that teachers spend weekly on assessment forms and “formative assessments.”  How does this compare with the amount of money (and discourse) spent on follow-up measures? Education experts praise the new Common Core tests for predicting college and career readiness; they say little to nothing about what specifically to do on behalf of those who, on one or more of the hundreds of standards and sub-standards, don’t fully measure up. What’s the point of making predictions about future success if you have nothing to offer those who need help?

In the case of autism research and autism funding, I’ve often suspected that part of what’s going on is the allure of the easy. I’m guessing it’s a lot easier to fish around for genetic and neurological correlates and early infancy symptoms (and to tout early detection as the prerequisite for early intervention) than it is to create and efficacy-test the kinds of early interventions that would truly justify all that’s spent on early detection.

Now, as the edworld seems more and more focused on assessing everything from “mathematical thinking” to developmental skills (e.g., organization, attention) to personality traits (sociability, grit, “risk taking”) to readiness for college and careers, with little thought about going beyond measurement to measurement-informed interventions, I have to started to suspect something similar about education. It is, just maybe, a heck of a lot easier to score tests than to teach skills.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Think about how long things take on a per hour basis.

I have a son with dyslexia. He was diagnosed in three hours.

Remediating his dyslexia (and it is still not completely remediated) took hundreds if not thousands of hours.

Schools don't have hundreds and thousands of hours unless the kid is really struggling. And by really struggling I mean way, WAY behind.