Mar 31, 2011
Comments Off on OSSLT and Why I Won’t Feel Guilty for the Role I Play

OSSLT and Why I Won’t Feel Guilty for the Role I Play

I don’t like the literacy test. Big surprise.

I don’t hide it from my students.  I don’t put on a gingerly smile and talk about its intrinsic value.  Mainly, because I think it is an exorbitant waste of time and money.  Attempting to determine someone is literate in one day with one method seems a recipe for misused data in my mind.  The high-stakes approach to learning is wrong.  Plain and simple.

The OSSLT, the OCA and other similar data-mining exercises in testing do nothing more than placate those that don’t understand how literacy works and have no interest in talking about real learning.

Literacy is a complex understanding of the language of the world. It is not something that can be captured using multiple choice questions and structured writing responses.  The lack of nuance is frightening.

And yet,

I am sitting in a room with eight at-risk students proctoring their test writing.  These same students have been working with me over the last few months dissecting the literacy test.  We have ravaged through the carcass to ensure we know how each body part functions.

I hate what the literacy test has become for these students; a harbinger around their necks. So, I help, I cajole, I “teach to the test”. I attempt to get these students through the hoop they must jump.

“This test is not really built good if it wants to see what skills I have, is it?” — Grade 10 student

Part of the lesson for these students is understanding that being subversive is one thing, but putting up with bad ideas is part of life too.  The literacy test for these kids is just one more thing that undermines their role in their learning.

I don’t and won’t feel guilty for explicitly helping these kids jump through this hoop and hopefully pass the OSSLT.

I do feel guilty that a system I’m part of continues to perpetrate this on kids.

For further reading on the myth of standardization and the havoc they continue to ensure:

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/03/29/931912/-Teacher-evaluation:-Cant-act-Cant-sing-Balding-Can-dance-a-little

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