Saturday, May 12, 2007


The Clay Friar has commentary on the use of benchmarks in the Iraq War. Ouch.

1 comment:

Erin said...

As an educator myself, I had the same gut reaction. Not that I think they'll try to run the two the same, but the comparisons are scary. Here are my experiences with benchmarks (much the same as Clay Friar's)...

In PA, too many schools were failing the PSSA writing component.* So they changed the rubric from varying degrees of pass/fail mastery to a simpler rubric where students have a 2/3 chance of passing (and one of the categories that was before considered failing is now considered mastery).

I'll be teaching in MA next year, and in 10th grade students take the MCAS as one of their graduation requirements. As a 10th grade teacher, I know there is going to be extreme pressure to scrap the curriculum and "teach to the test" so that the kids can graduate and we can avoid NCLB report card failure.

Benchmarks, though well-intentioned, create (for the educational world at least) lower standards and blurred priorities. Maybe this "succeed or be eliminated" mentality is needed in military situations, but it certainly hasn't been successful in education.

*Side note/soap box ranting: the truth is, most schools fail NCLB requirements because they are required to have a certain percentage of their students with special needs test. BY DEFINITION a student is labeled with a disability because he or she CANNOT PERFORM AT GRADE LEVEL! And yet schools fail because these kids do not pass the grade level mastery tests. Gotta love political logic.