Opportunity, Collaboration & Discovery

Yong Zhao: Standardized test scores do not reflect teacher ability, school quality or a student's future

CJ Westerberg, July 11, 2012 5:59 PM


"American education is not getting worse,
 it's always been bad."
-Dr.Yong Zhao,
making the point that US education is LESS bad than Asian education
in his signature truth-in-humor style*

VIDEO BELOW (start at 54:00 mark)

Thumbnail image for DSC_0163-1_2.jpgby C.J. Westerberg

I've been a fan of Dr. Yong Zhao since reading his last book, Catching Up or Leading the Way,  and he does not disappoint with this keynote from Tuesday's ISTE 2012 Conference.

Just start YouTube VIDEO at the 54:00 mark - speech runs about 30 minutes.  (I will also be reading his upcoming book, World Class Learners:  Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students.)

Zhao spends most of his talk comparing Asian education to that of American education reform with some hilarious examples, along with the Asian-American Model Minority Myth.  Check it out.  He also talks about America's obsession with test scores and why the Asians are running away from that model.  He presents the topic of "confidence" of the American student in a new light by citing findings of an inverse relationship between high PISA test scores (the international OECD benchmark) and entrepreneurial ability, the latter tied to confidence which underpins creativity and innovation.  In other words, high PISA, not so good entrepreneur. 
Yes, the same confidence that's been getting a bad rap over the last couple of years (as witnessed in the documentary, Waiting for Superman, and more recently in the opening rant in HBO's hot new series, Newsroom).  Provocative, as usual.  Three of his recommendations in closing:

1.  "Curriculum should follow the child." Personalized and strength-based.  Today's curriculum is making "a bet" of what we think our children will need for the future.

2.  School has to be product-oriented as opposed to project-based, not making things just for the teacher.   Project-Based Learning (PBL) has often been mis-used. 
Educators should help our children become makers and creators, not consumers. 
Through making, students learn.

3.  Test scores, as long as they are standardized (with the same thing applying to everyone),
do NOT reflect:
  • teacher ability
  • school quality
  • or a student's future

* The reasons may surprise and include a new twist to Zhao's argument about American obsession with test scores as assessment


VIDEO BELOW - start at 54:00 mark - runs about 30 minutes

Related The Daily Riff:

The Chinese Curse, Is America Next? Review of Yong Zhao book

Education Arms Race with Yong Zhao and Bob Compton (Two Million Minutes)

What happens to all the over-achieving Asian-Americans when the test-taking ends?

Why other countries do better in Math

Two families. Two different paths to academic excellence

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