EXTRA: A Teacher’s Summary of What Proficiency Might Mean

Here, in The Insufficiency of Proficiency, Oklahoma teacher, Rob Miller speculates on what proficiency might mean. His essay specifically explores any of a number of kinds of complex (or simple) understanding that we might be aiming for—but really cannot measure—when we test “reading proficiency.”

His post is far deeper, however—about the meaning for all of us of more than 15 years of nationally mandated standardized testing. This is a fascinating essay about making educational policy based on a reductive theory of human learning.

Miller begins with a seasonal theme:

Twas the week before Christmas, when all thro’ the state
All the children were stirring, eager to learn their fate;
Their test scores from April would soon be delivered,
I hope I’m proficient the children all quivered;
The wait’s been soooo long…my hands are all sweaty
I need to know now … am I college and career ready?

His piece is also a seasonal reflection for the new year. How many more years will it take us to recognize the limitations of test scores for measuring what we really want children to know?

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