BCS Is to SAT: Education Fraud

26 11 2006

Go Florida’s flagship universities, whose college presidents FINALLY sound willing to pull back the curtain on academic competition, to “out” as humbug our ever-popular weighted numerical rankings of human achievement that move so predictably from lies, to damn lies, to statistics.

Or to cast this as a standardized test analogy problem, we might say school is to sports what the SAT is to the BCS — pseudo-scientific misinformation and education fraud.

Or maybe, what Gerald Bracey is to Gene Wojciechowski? 🙂

Article published Nov 26, 2006
School presidents talk playoffs

Sun sports writer

TALLAHASSEE – The Gators and Seminoles have found a common foe and now, they are going to work together to try to defeat it.

At halftime of Saturday’s game, Florida State President T.K. Wetherell said he and Florida President Bernie Machen are working on a proposal to eliminate the Bowl Championship Series and start a Division I college football playoff.

Wetherell said he and Machen are both putting versions of a playoff system together and will combine their ideas before officially proposing the plan to the NCAA. . .

Wetherell said arguments that a playoff would take athletes out of class for too long are bunk.

“It doesn’t make one bit of difference,” said Wetherell, a member of the FSU football team from 1963-67 and holder of the record for longest kick return in school history. “The athletes would miss the same amount of time they do now under the current system.”

Wetherell pointed out

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Five Minds The World Needs Now

26 11 2006

Some so-called policy expert from Columbia Teachers College is doing “national research” focused on homeschooling, apparently determined to prove it’s a threat to all he holds dear. Can that be called research, really? Sounds more like a self-serving ax-grind to me, shades of Stanford’s philosophy prof Rob Reich, who loftily categorizes even socially successful and personally satisfying home education as some democracy-damning form of “ethical servility”. . .

I was muttering to myself and stewing about the stupidity of such priggish bias passing as elite higher education, so I pulled out Harvard’s cognitive psychology and education expert Dr. Howard Gardner, who ought to trump even Columbia and Stanford “education experts” when the Game of the Day is institutional ivy creeping up our walls at home.

“. . .improving performance on a particular test is a terrible goal for
an education system. . . .we need to cultivate five kinds of minds, if we want to be successful as a nation and, more important, as a world.”

Howard Gardner is the Hobbs professor of education and cognition at Harvard University’s graduate school of education, in Cambridge, Mass.

Beyond the Herd Mentality:
The Minds That We Truly Need in the Future

By Howard Gardner

Published: September 14, 2005

To be sure, there is nothing wrong with having a high standing in some kind of international comparison. No doubt there are things to be learned from effective schools in countries like Finland or Singapore. And yet, the more I have thought about it, the more I have become
convinced that the goal of topping the international comparisons is a foolish one, and the rush to raise one’s rank a fool’s errand. In the process of pursuing a higher rank, educational leaders are ignoring deeper and more important purposes of education.

Let’s begin with the obvious. Only a few countries can have the lead in these “league-table comparisons.” And so, as in Olympic-level basketball, backgammon, or ballet, most countries are destined to be disappointed, and most ministers of education advised to shift portfolios before the next list is posted.

Consider, next, the tenuous relation between performance on such measures and the success of the society on other metrics. In the early 1980s, many Americans disparaged their schools as the source of economic doldrums and looked admiringly at the Japanese example. If only we could have the test scores of those Japanese students! In the next two decades, Japanese students continued to do perfectly well in examinations, and yet the economic and social performance of the country was unimpressive. Meanwhile, though there has hardly been a sea change in American schools, our society has enjoyed enviable economic prosperity during the same period.

Even when tests are instituted or cited for praiseworthy reasons, undesirable results often obtain. The peril of making tests all-important and of “teaching to the test” has been

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