The latest volley has been launched in the ongoing battle against the evils of testing. Today, the folks over at No Test, sorry, meant Fair Test, released a letter they coordinated from more than 100 children’s book authors to EdSec Arne Duncan, attacking increased testing, computer adaptive testing, teacher evaluation measures, and “the narrowing of curriculum” for eliminating students’ love of reading and literature.
We used to joke about those who took classes like “children’s games,” “rocks for jocks,” or even “underwater basket weaving” while in college. That was then, when college degrees guaranteed gainful employment. This is now, when a liberal arts degree guarantees very little.
In years past, we used to talk about how it took a village to truly improve public education. It wasn’t just up to teachers to do what they do behind the schoolhouse doors between the hours of 8 and 3. Parents needed to take a more active role. Local policymakers needed a greater understanding. Community leaders — from youth groups to churches — needed greater connection. And even the business community needed greater focus on skills and outcomes.
I’ll admit it, I’m a Gleek. I love the Fox show, Glee. I’ve taken the Facebook quiz (and learned I am most like Rachel). I posted last fall’s Single Ladies/football scene to my FB page, I loved this week’s Les Miz nod, and I’m even looking forward to next week’s Lady Gaga homage. I even have a running list of those songs and/or performers I want to see covered by the Glee kids.
And it doesn’t appear that I am alone. The number of Gleeks out there seems to be increasing exponentially, and many of them are surprises (I’m guessing a few will be surprised that Eduflack is such a fan). After a year, we are reminded of the enormous value of a high school glee club, the role music can play in student development, self-esteem, and other qualitative measures we expect to see from our schools. So it begs the question, is Glee having any impact on school budgets and priorities?
Even since the introduction of the NCLB era nearly a decade ago, we’ve heard the urban legends that art and music programs across the nation were being gutted in favor or reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic. Just last year, NAEP released its long-anticipated assessment of student arts performance, which looked at the core competencies U.S. students have in both the visual arts and music (with many now demanding that the assessment be offered more than once nearly every decade).
After a year of watching Glee, are high school students demanding music options in their schools? Are school boards and administrators seeing growing interest in arts electives? Are we seeing an increase in the number of upstart glee clubs beginning in high schools across the heartland? Is Glee impacting instruction and curricular options in our public schools?
More than two decades ago, we talked about how the popularity of L.A. Law dramatically increased the number of applicants for law school in the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s, we saw spikes in the number of medical school applications because of television programs like ER. Will Glee have the same impact, particularly as we see a growing demand for educating the “whole child” and focusing on more than just the ELA and math required by state assessments?
Only time will tell. But if the Glee buzz continues to rise, we may very well have a renaissance in music education in K-12. And we may even see more social acceptance of track suits in the workplace.
For nearly a decade now, we have talked about quantifying the impact of education. How do we effectively measure student progress? How do we measure effective teaching? How do we make sure our policymakers, school districts, administrators, and educators are doing their jobs when it comes to impactful and results-based instruction?