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    Las opiniones expresadas en este blog son las del autor y no necesariamente reflejan las opiniones del Banco Interamericano de Desarrollo, sus directivas, la Asamblea de Gobernadores o sus países miembros.

    The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Inter-American Development Bank, its Management, its Board of Executive Directors or its member Governments.

    Standardized tests: a race to nowhere?

    By - 11 Mar 2011

    I just saw “Race to Nowhere,” a documentary that is being widely discussed in the United States.

    This documentary was produced by a mother, Vicki Abeles, about the stress that school was causing her twelve-year-old daughter. The film is a critique of the “wave” of educational accountability sweeping the United States and which is manifested in the use—indiscriminate use, say critics—of standardized tests. This “wave” has no political affiliation, since it was adopted by both the Bush administration (No Child Left Behind) and that of President Obama (Race to the Top).

    “Race to Nowhere” spearheads a movement that challenges the concept of “educational success” measured by the number of college-level courses that high school students take (advanced placement), the quantity—not quality—of content learned, and above all by a meritocracy strictly based on individual success.

    Supporters of this backlash movement immediately point to potential unwanted effects of such a system: lack of teamwork, lack of innovation, and little creativity. This is exactly the opposite of what we need for education in the 21st Century. In the film, Deborah Stipek, director of Stanford University’s education program, says it is paradoxical that people in China ask how to emulate the creativity and innovation of U.S. students.

    This is a fascinating discussion for Latin America. First, public opinion in our countries is paying more attention to the poor results we get on international tests (such as PISA) and regional tests (such as SERCE). Media coverage generated by the publication of PISA 2009 demonstrates the extent of the debate on accountability.

    On the other hand, the debate encourages us to consider the possibility and desirability of expanding the concept of what we mean by quality to include measurement of 21st Century skills that build on our social and cultural values.

    And even beyond measurement, can we consider the importance of values such as solidarity, community, and adaptability to change as ingredients for a quality education?

    5 Responses to “Standardized tests: a race to nowhere?”

    • Luis Simón :

      Felicitaciones por el blog! Se ve excelente! Los estaré siguiendo con mucha atención.

    • Luis Velásquez :

      I think is a good place to interchange experiences about quality education in AL.

    • Patricia Arregui :

      Encuentro los dos últimos párrafos algo enigmáticos, Marcelo…. podrías quizás expandirlos algo más?

      Esos debates y el reclamo de que hay más elementos que los aprendizajes “meramente” académicos que deben incluirse en una visión sobre la calidad educativa se han venido dando siempre en América Latina. Aquí más bien ha sido un proceso difícil el lograr que las pruebas estandarizadas sean tomadas en cuenta como UNA pieza valiosa para acercarse a medir la calidad educativa… Los “backlashes” son siempre peligrosos, pues se tiende a tirar al nene con el agua sucia de la tina… El riesgo es especialmente grande pues en nuestros países no se ha invertido todo lo necesario en difundir y modelar cómo pueden ser bien usados los resultados para mejorar la gestión pedagógica y administrativa del sistema escolar..La manera en que cierra tu artículo podría ser interpretada como una invitación a sumarse al “backlash” en lugar de a enriquecer los enfoques y los instrumentos evaluativos! De otro lado, las respuestas — sin duda afirmativas — que podrían darse a tus dos invitaciones, tendrían que a renglón seguido enfrentar la dificilísima respuesta del “cómo” — especialmente si estás pensando en evaluaciones a gran escala (o de pronto ni siquiera estás pensando en evaluaciones sino en contenidos a priorizar en la enseñanza y aprendizaje?). En suma, tu texto está demasiado corto! Saludos, Patricia Arregui

    • Patricia Arregui :

      Alguna idea sobre cómo se podría conseguir el documental?

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