Thursday, February 12, 2009

Kifer, standards, math, and SJR 19

Skip Kifer notes Senate Joint Resolution 19's call to revise our math standards and testing, writing that:
Those of us who have worked with content standards know the issues are not whether they are high or low. Content standards are tricky but on other dimensions: if too broad, they are hard to operationalize; too narrow, and they miss stuff; too many, and they confuse things; too few, we don’t know about since that’s never been done.
SJR 19's supporters, including Senator Kelly and Superintendent Brown, think our Core Content standards are too broad and too many. They hope to "operationalize" the changed standards with testing that reports each student's status on each standard, and that will only be possible if we have a shorter, sharper list of what's expected in each grade.

I'm largely supportive of their approach, but Skip's caution is important. Under SJR 19, we risk narrowing too much. The math skills that can easily be gauged by multiple choice are not the only the math skills students need. Let's be careful not to drop crucial abilities to tackle problems and explain solutions.

(Skip's KSN&C post is here, and I'm delighted to have Skip and Penney Sanders as blogging colleagues. Bob Sexton supports SJR 19 here.)

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