24 March 2010

Say Anything?

I work with graduate students and when it comes to picking research topics, they tend to go for things related to standardized testing. It's a mania. At this point, I could develop a drinking game for every time I see the following words or phrases: "student achievement," "benchmarks," "NCLB," "AYP," "gain scores," "professional learning communities," "data driven (insert education activity here)" and so on. It's like if it doesn't involve test scores, it's somehow not "real" research. Yet only when we get away from testing do we begin to deal with what is real!

The other day I noticed that the film Say Anything was on T.V., and there's a great speech that Lloyd, the main character, makes when he's asked at dinner what career path he wants to take. The original monologue goes like this:

"I don't want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don't want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed, or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don't want to do that."

Getting inspired by all this "test talk" that permeates anything related to education, crowding out the conversations we SHOULD be having about why things have to be this way to begin with, I took Lloyd's quote and updated it for us teachers:

"I don't want to direct instruct anyone, do research on student achievement based on test scores, or teach to the test as a career. I don't want to direct instruct from anything aligned to the standards or tested, or test anyone who has been direct instructed, or research standards-aligned curricula for effectiveness, or remediate anyone who has been tested, direct instructed, or subjected to aligned curriculum based on raising test scores. You know, as a teacher, I don't want to do that."

So for all those professors out there who are armpit deep into reviewing research drafts, my hat goes off to you! Stay untested, my friend.