United States

Doublethink or Just a Normal Day at the Department of Education

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This is how I picture Department of Education policy wonks.

I have a life outside of taking care of Darling Boy.  And in my working life,  I get to sit in my office and attend webinars.  The definition of a webinar is: a  good day to clean out your desk drawers. Catch up on e-mails.  Oh, and listen to some policy wonk in the State Department of Education tell us about accommodations allowable for high stakes standardized testing.  At first, I was just listening for what I needed to learn about English Language Learner students.  Not my area of expertise, as we say in the education biz.   Wasn’t even thinking about how stupid the testing is because I have been brainwashed was just doing my job.

Someone asked a question about settings and students with test anxiety.  I’m not sure, refer back to the not really listening part.  Then I heard something like this come out of the presenter’s mouth: “ The adults can really stress the students out about the test.  You must be careful not to do that. I know that’s hard because now you’re evaluations are based on them.”

WHAT???  COULD. YOU. PLEASE. REPEAT. THAT?

I have come to the conclusion that all education policy makers are practiced in the art of doublethink.  It’s a term from Orwell’s book, 1984.    It means that someone can hold 2 opposing thoughts at the same time without any discomfort.  Kind of like this:

Dept. of Ed: 1) Don’t stress the students out about high stakes testing.

                    2) Your evaluations are based on high stakes testing.

Dept of Ed.  1) We know from research that standardized testing isn’t reliable.

                    2) We are basing your evaluations on unreliable information.

Dept. of Ed.   1) Don’t teach to the test.

                      2)  Here’s some professional development on how to teach kids to                                 analyze test questions so they can get more right answers.

And my favorite:

Dept. of Ed: 1) We will have 100% of American students reading at their grade level.

Dept. of Ed:  2) Here’s a standardized test for students who can’t read.

So, next time you think that politicians can talk themselves around anything, just sit through some professional development from any Department of Education.

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