Lipsky: What the Tests Don’t Tell Us


Reposted from Education Voice:

If you read the messages coming out of public schools today, more emphasis is placed on a child’s reading and mathematics score than on his or her own character, personality, and talents, despite a growing body of evidence that these characteristics are what truly count for life-long success. Alberto Carvalho, Superintendent of the Miami-Dade County School District in Florida states, “Right now, this year, we’re facing about 32 different assessments, different tests that our students will have to take, in addition to about 1,200 different end-of-course assessments mandated by both state and federal entities,” (Judy Woodruff, PBS NewsHour).

With such laser focus on high-stakes testing around the country, educators and non-educators alike continue to echo a feeling that adoption of these assessments in schools leads to less time for actual, engaging instruction and has, for many, drained the joy out of teaching. Even worse is how all this testing affects our students with learning disabilities and special needs. (I get test anxiety just thinking about it!)

As many educators go into this new year prepping for our mandated state and national assessments, how can we help reverse the negative effects of over-testing in our classroom?

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The Powerful Invisible Force of School Culture


Reposted from Dennis Sparks on Learning and Leading:

School culture is a powerful but often invisible force that promotes or thwarts the continuous improvement of teaching and learning.

Because culture is often experienced as “just how things are,” its negative effects are often only indirectly felt.

To what extent does the culture of your school or school system promote or interfere with the continuous improvement of teaching and learning?

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Why Do Negative Political Fundraising Appeals Actually Work?


Capitol Storm

Reposted from the Washington Post:

According to our colleague Ed O’Keefe, the doomsday e-mails are working. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC)  has outraised its GOP counterpart by roughly $33 million this cycle, in part due to online contributions from the e-mails. But why do they work? We reached out to several psychologists to see what this tells us about the human psyche. In short, we’re a negatively inspired bunch.

“A variety of research has long shown that people are far more likely to take action to avoid negative events than to produce positive ones,” said Robert Epstein, senior research psychologist at the American Institute for Behavioral Research and Technology and the former editor-in-chief of Psychology Today magazine. “Loss is simply more impactful than gain. Loss can even cause trauma, which can permanently alter one’s life; there is no equivalent for gain. People know this intuitively, and so do the campaign managers and others whose job it is to manipulate the masses.”

University of Nebraska political science and psychology professor Ingrid Haas agreed that negative emotions are “very motivating” … “so something like anger might be most effective for getting people to take action or donate money.” But Haas said one way to rouse people with positive feelings is to use messages of “hope.” (Remember Obama 2008?) It’s difficult to sell a message that everything is great, so join the effort to help it stay great. But telling people that things aren’t as great as they could be, but there’s hope for the future could spur action, she said. It’s all about creating an emotional impact, said John Rooney, professor of psychology at La Salle University. People tend to be motivated more by how they’re feeling rather than by “their intellect,” he said. Rooney believes it’s less about the tone of the message and more about whether it will arouse emotions.

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