In this chapter, Tony Wagner discusses testing and its implications. He shows examples of real questions from standardized tests and picks apart the answers, showing how ambiguous some of the questions can be. Wagner explains that the High School Exit Exam in Massachusetts, called the MCAS is "increasing the dropout rate and a passing score is not a reliable indicator that a student has mastered the skills needed for college." He then asks a valid question "what purpose does the test serve?" I agree with Wagner's view of testing. He says, "in today's world, it's no longer how much you know that matters; it's what you can do with what you know.” I would like to see students being measured by what they are capable of, not what they memorize. I do not see much value in memorization. Students learn at a much deeper level when they derive their own ways of solving a problem. With the Common Core standards and the move towards inquiry-based learning students are being exposed to a style of learning that is not measurable by traditional standardized tests.
When I was in elementary school and it came time for standardized tests, I was every teacher's worst nightmare. I either bubbled in patterns on my scantrons or tried to bubble in circles that would form a picture. Clearly, as a young student, I did not see any value in the tests I was taking and chose to rebel against them. Consequently, the results of these tests did not reflect my knowledge. I think that the only reason I took the CAHSEE seriously in high school was because I knew that I needed to pass it in order to graduate.
In this chapter, Tony Wagner describes the process he went through to become a teacher and the professional development he has experienced since. Wagner has been displeased with the majority of his teacher preparation as well as the evaluation process. Wagner states that, "very few teacher preparation programs focus on developing the skills needed to be an effective teacher, and they rarely give student teachers meaningful teaching experiences with knowledgeable and effective supervisors." I feel that the evaluations I have received so far in this program from my university supervisor have been extremely worthwhile. In addition, I have been receiving very helpful feedback from my cooperating teachers. I have had the opportunity to attend a few professional development days during my time as a teacher candidate. I have found most PD’s to be worthwhile. Specifically, one session I attended at the last PD provided a great discussion on “Notice and Wonders” and how they can be used in a math classroom. This strategy allows students to focus on what they can do rather than what they do not know. It allows them to feel that they are capable of noticing important information and that their ideas are unique. If I could change the structure of my current teacher Ed program I would make viewing and discussing videos a primary source of instruction for teacher candidates. I agree with Wagner when he says, “viewing and discussing videos of teaching and supervision is the single most effective strategy for improving instruction for all schools.” I would like to see teacher candidates spending a large chunk of time discussing effective and ineffective teaching strategies and classroom management strategies. I would like to see teacher candidates collaborating more often on real lessons that can be used in their current classrooms. Wagner also discussed what he calls the Three R’s for reinventing our schools: rigor, relevance, and relationships. I can see how important these three traits are for all educators. I would like to see a teacher Ed program that focuses on these traits and allows for reflection. I feel that the program needs to be more individualized. Just like our students, teacher candidates are extremely diverse and have different needs. There may be things that I really need to work on that others do not and vice versa.