Kitchen Counters, Body Counts, School Accountability

14 04 2008

My radio woke me today with NPR describing body count as performance measure being the worst problem in some civil war or other (Venezuela maybe?)

Success was measured in dead bodies, so naturally non-combatants were being slaughtered, dressed in the right uniforms and left to be counted for the “right” side. For better performance what mainly needed to change, was the performance MEASURE.

Later I was cleaning a coffee stain (left by the early riser go-to-work shift at my house) from my white kitchen counter, which once I looked at it with a cleaning cloth in my hand, had several other spots too. I was idly wishing for a burgundy or burnt umber surface instead, one that wouldn’t show dirt, grime and spills. But then I thought, would I even know to clean it then and would looking cleaner mean we actually had a cleaner counter, or perversely, just more undetectable dirt??

Would that really be better, or does that white counter color effectively serve as a well-conceived, constantly visible performance measure that improves rather than sabotages desired performance, and would it be to my family’s health and comfort benefit or detriment, if instead the counters were too dark to serve us that way?

Schools busy ruining education performance with high-stakes standardized testing and aggregate score reporting should think about kitchen counters and body counts, to be more accountable for what they’ve wrought with their problematic performance measures. . .

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One response

15 04 2008
JJ

WaPo April 10 (just now getting to it, cock of the snook to Crimson Wife for the link): Do Grades or Standardized Test Scores Make the Student?

It’s about gifted kids needing something completely different than whatever the standard fare is, and if you think most kids are gifted one way or another, that pretty much means the academic performance measures are spoiling academic performance itself, most of the time. Doesn’t it?

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