It Depends On The Context

In the U. S. today, teachers are held accountable for student test scores.

To be accountable is to be responsible, to be the cause.

Maybe we need to rethink the cause of student test scores. Is the teacher solely responsible? Is this assumption helping to solve the problem?  My 20-year career in public education has caused me to have concern about the effect of this assumption on the future of education.

  • Does the seed cause the sprout? (A traditional question of Buddhism)

The seed AND the sun AND the water AND fertile soil cause a healthy sprout.

Is it fair or even logical to hold the seed solely responsible for the healthy sprout? The healthy sprout depends on the total context of the whole growing environment.

  • Does the teacher cause the student’s test score? (A common question in U.S.)  

The teacher AND the preschool history of the student AND the parental involvement in preschool and during school, AND the wealth and education of parents AND language spoken in the home AND learning opportunities provided to the student AND other factors such as health, diet, adult support.

In other words, no child arrives in the classroom “a blank slate.” Outside of the classroom, students have had and continue to have years of positive and/or negative experiences preparing them for learning in the classroom. Teachers and parents are not the only causes of student test scores. It takes a whole village to educate a child. One cause does not fit all.

Is it fair or even logical to hold the teacher solely responsible for student test scores? The student test score depends on the total context of the whole social, emotional and learning environment. A basic theme of my 30 Process of Illumination essays has been: Everything is connected to everything else in an unbroken wholeness. Test results are connected to everything else. Teachers are only one part of the unbroken wholeness.

Why is it that politicians, the educational community and the general public favor such unfair, illogical assertions about student test scores? When will we ever learn?

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4 Responses to CAUSE AND EFFECT

  1. says:

    I agree with all you say–I have no other profound thoughts for you–only one that my grandson’s school now does not have the Bush program (as Cameron said) and the long terrible testing process is over.  I am so thankful that attention to testing is done. 

  2. Eugene Unger says:

    Why do great teachers always produce good or great students who test we? Why do great teachers not worry about test scores.


  3. Eugene Unger says:

    Why do great teachers not worry about test scores? They areAlways accountable. They love children . Why do unions fight accountability ? How do substandard teachers view tenure? Who can make up for sub standard parents? Teachers? Who can hold students accountable? Oh well lets just forget accountability and just tsk tsk tsk talk and write about it . We must like being known in the world as substandard cause you know our country is effected by it! See you tomorrow at 9.


  4. Eugene Unger says:

    In great education, we don’t need a village, we need great teachers every grade every year every moment of every day. No tenure. No excuses. No easy task!


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