BC Educational Leadership Research. Issue 3.

The parent Involvement issue of UBC’s School Leadership centre is up and online. A range of articles, including my own reflection on the October Teachers’ Strike, can be found that discuss forms of parental involvement. Here is the opening to the editor’s introduction:

Two years ago the School Leadership Centre joined with representatives from several of the major educational partner associations in BC and with UBC researchers to engage the topic of parent involvement. The Parent Involvement Research Committee (PIRC) has since undertaken a number of activities to advance the understanding and practices of parent involvement. Ann Henderson and Karen Mapp (2004) have methodically collected a large array of American research studies that conclusively argue that parent involvement in schools makes a positive difference for students. However, when Ms. Henderson presented in 2004 to an audience of parent leaders from the lower mainland, sunshine coast, and the Island, it quickly became evident that parent involvement in British Columbia was already functioning at a level of sophistication that her research was just beginning to suggest might be fruitful. From that time forward, it has been clear that researching our own parent involvement practices in BC is a necessity. Not only is there much that we can offer to the global educational community, but if we don’t understand and theorize the strengths and weaknesses of what we do, then we are prone to give up valuable traditions that have evolved here through generations for the latest policy flavour of the month. Moreover, as many visitors I have met here at UBC over the last few years have observed, the education community here is like no other. The articles in this issue of the BC Educational Leadership Research reflect our uniqueness: from innovative leadership, to successful experiences, to lack of minority parent inclusion, to political fractiousness.(Continue reading the introduction and Table of Contents)

Testing Mania -the path to compliance and error

First we test the students, then we test the teachers. Maybe we should test the parents too? Just joking, but at what point do we realize that testing is about compliance and the generation of market revenue and not about education nor the assessment of real learning. Testing helps to make compliant subjects willing to be evaluated without question –just the sort of person who will refuse to join a union, who will refuse to stand up for themselves when threatened, just the sort of person who makes a great Mac-worker (to borrow Doug Coupland’s now famous term). Philospher and radical educator Bertell Olman comically makes the point in his book How to take an Exam . . . and Remake the World at the Same Time.

BC’s minister of education has put the control over aspects of some BC Standardized tests and the rights to sellsome of these tests into the hands of a private Edmonton-based publishing company, Castle Rock . Of course companies like these feed off of the anxiety of parents and students about making the grade in a test-centric world. The BC page of this company sells “quality, curriculum-based resources” to teachers, students, and parents. Without the push to standardized tests introduced by the string of provincial Education Ministers and former Edomontonian deputy minister Dosdall, there wouldn’t be a market demand for these types of resources. Pushing tests creates a busines opportunity and the chance for goldrush profits for those with an inside track.

The BC Society for Public Education has a veryuseful resource page on standardized testing.

Read about what is happening in the United States with privatized testing.
Educational Testing Service to pay millions for errors in teacher tests

The Educational Testing Service has agreed to pay $11.1 million to settle a class action suit over errors in its primary teacher-licensing test, The New York Times reported. The funds will be used to compensate teachers who lost jobs or some wages because of their incorrect test scores. The Times reported that 27,000 people who took the test in 2003-4 received scores that were incorrectly low, and that more than 4,000 of these people were incorrectly told that they had failed.

As with student testing in schools, states have increased testing for current and prospective teacher, despite the fact that there is no evidence to support the claim that standardized tests predict who will be a good teacher. (Continue reading at the blog Where the Blog Has No Name.)