May 30, 2007
Brett Bradshaw doesn't like traditional exams. "Standardized tests are just snapshots that measure mostly the ability to recall facts," he told the Los Angeles Times. Bradshaw--director of strategic communications for the Coalition of Essential Schools--prefers evaluating student knowledge through exhibitions, i.e., oral presentations. His organization, which promotes exhibitions, has 250 member campuses, some of which actually do a good job teaching their students. At one of them, Los Angeles's Wildwood School, which charges $24,425 per year in tuition, Joshua Koenig recently gave his graduation presentation about the challenges of trading stock options and climbing Mt. Rainier with his father. Koenig will attend the University of Michigan next year, where stories about mountain journeys may not cut it in Geology 101; Koenig has never studied for a real final exam. If some parents want to pay $100,000 for their students to attend high schools without tests, so be it. But this exhibition stuff, while suitable for some subjects, is not a good basis for evaluating students. It's been around forever, doesn't work at scale, and adds little of value to the larger education-reform debates. Someone should alert the Times.
"More schools are ditching final exams," by Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times, May 29, 2007