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Don't Just Assess Students—Teach Them How To Improve: Pedro Noguera
Education | June 03, 2013

Don't Just Assess Students—Teach Them How To Improve: Pedro Noguera

"We have been using assessment inappropriately throughout this country since No Child Left Behind," education speaker Pedro Noguera declared at the Transforming Public Education symposium. "We have been using assessment largely for the purpose of ranking students and ranking schools...[but] ranking someone is not helping them." The NYU Professor agrees that assessment is important to determine if a student has learned the required material to be successful in higher education or in the workforce. Where he sees a problem, however, is when students and schools aren't provided with the guidance to improve upon their weaker skills.

While it seems logical to send experts in to schools that are doing poorly to help them improve, Noguera laments that this isn't how most school boards operate. Instead, he says "the operative assumption is that pressure and humiliation will lead to improvement." Rather than focusing on capacity building (something that's implemented in Toronto, Canada, Noguera adds), many policy makers simply decide to close down schools that get failing grades. Rather than looking at why these schools are failing, he says they try to pressure them into doing better until they eventually close them down. The real work, he told the crowd, comes from really analyzing where students are falling short and helping teachers and administrators to overcome barriers and help them succeed.

In his powerful talks and media appearances, Noguera draws on his extensive experience researching the education system, and the time he has spent as an educator himself. He works as the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education and is a leading voice on public education. He looks to the future of schooling, arguing that increasing the amount of high-stakes testing kids must take and raising assessment standards is not the way to change the system. He shows audiences what the face of education looks like today—and how governments and policy makers can change the system to create a brighter future.
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