What education reformers say and what they mean, a dictionary

From, That Way Madness Lies,
by Karen Fraid
Assessment (noun): A test made
by a corporation and protected from peer review and
public scrutiny by intellectual property laws
 and strict
confidentiality agreements.

Data-Driven Assessment (noun): A test
made by a corporation and protected from peer review by intellectual property
laws and strict confidentiality agreements whose purpose is to provide numbers
too complicated and nuanced for the general public to understand, but vague
enough that they can be molded into a variety of purposes as the need for
“data” to support reforms arises.

Failing School (noun): A school for
poor children of color whose intended funding subsidizes corporations.

For the Children (phrase): This
actually doesn’t mean anything.  The Reformy equivalent to chanting “USA!
USA!”

Market-Based Reform (noun): A euphemism
for “Corporate Subsidy Disbursement,” “Economic Power Grab” and “Fear-Based
Economic Policy.”

No Excuses (phrase): A slogan
which means that a person (especially a child) is lacking in grit if they
cannot solve all of the problems of society.  NOTE: This slogan
can only be used when speaking to a person of a lower socio-economic status
than oneself.  If a person from a higher socio-economic status voices
frustration at the aspects of society that stymie their efforts, the
appropriate response is a government subsidy, tax credit, protectionist tariff
or bailout.

Rigor (noun). 
Difficulty for its own sake, regardless of any applicable research, science or
desired outcome.

School Choice (noun): This is when
politicians choose to close a public school and let charter schools open
instead. School choice also refers to subsidizing upper-income families and
religious institutions with tax dollars, often redirected from “failing
schools.”  School choice also refers to the choice made by charter and
private schools to discriminate against students with disabilities, students in
extreme poverty and high-risk students by choosing policies guaranteed to skim
only the students that they choose.  School choice is also used as a tool
to stem the tide of white flight, without having to convince white folks to
spend time with those unlike themselves.

Status Quo (noun): (NOTE:
Please do not be confused by the Latin definition of these words; in Reformy
Quasi-Latin they have a different meaning.)
 The Status Quois
the situation in the present moment as observed by a Reformer who has arrived in
medias res
 like a deus ex machina with a curriculum
vitae
 full of plutocratic bona fidesErgo, to
Reformers, all that matters in determining the Status Quo is
tabula rasasnapshot of a given moment in time without regard to
yesterday or tomorrow, context or content.  According to Reformers, the
cure in toto for the Status Quo (which is
always, to them, the worst-case scenario) is a de facto ad hoc doubling
down on the same policies and in vivo experiments that are
already in place.  Remember, those policies were put in place to fight the
OLD Status Quo.  The new Status Quo is moreStatus
Quoier
, so we need MORE of the same policies to create a NEW Status
Quo
 to fight, ad infinitum…ad nauseam.  Got it?

Value-Added Score (noun): The
application of a scientific, statistical model designed for predicting outcomes
to assessment scores.  A model allows constants to become variables and
vice versa.  When applied in real time, in real life, with attached
consequences for the resulting data, this becomes a synonym for
“self-fulfilling prophesy.”

Accountability (noun): The act of
holding children responsible for choosing to be born into the wrong families or
in the wrong geographic locations.  Alternately, the act of penalizing
teachers who do not advise at-risk students to quit school quickly and avoid
wasting everyone’s time and money.

Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) (noun):
A number pulled out of a hat by a politician or political appointee which
schools must earn on standardized tests.  Alternately, the number on a
dartboard hit by a politician or political appointee which schools must earn on
standardized tests.

Achievement Gap (noun): Synonym for
wealth gap.  Achievement correlates to poverty. SHHHH! Don’t say poverty!

High-Stakes Test (noun): An
assessment in which the margin of error is often greater than the desired
gains; nevertheless, such assessments have the power to close schools, fire
teachers, cause children to repeat a grade, defund districts or schools, cause
states and municipalities to lose funding, fire administrators, shame
communities, stifle economic growth, increase dropout rates, disenfranchise
parents and children, increase race-based segregation, increase crime rates,
raise taxes, burden local governments, increase poverty, pit neighbors against
each other, determine which students can attend well-funded schools or
institutes of higher learning…[Editor
s note:  Actually, this term is
pretty much right-on. -K.F.]

Incentivize (verb): To make
people offers they literally can’t refuse.

Longer School Day (noun): (Synonyms
include Full School Day, Expanded Learning Time, Extended Day.)  An
arbitrarily chosen length of time that adults with no knowledge of child
development think that children need to spend in school.

Norm-Referenced Test (noun): An
assessment which grades on a bell curve by definition, yet holds children,
schools, teachers and communities responsible when half of the children are
below average.  Supporting high-stakes norm-referenced testing is a good
way to send a message that, when it comes to mathematics, you are NOT smarter
than a fifth grader.

Outcome-Based Learning (noun): (Synonyms
include Proficiency-Based Learning, Standards-Based Reform, Performance-Based
Education, and any combination of any of the previous words that include at
least one hyphen and no awareness of irony.)  An education philosophy in
which the outcome or performance on assessments is the goal in and of
itself.  Any learning that does not assist the student immediately in test
performance is a waste of time and resources, since reformers know that they
never use anything that they learned in school in their jobs today.

Poverty (noun): The worst
curse word ever known to Reformers.  Never, never, ever, ever say the word
“poverty” out loud.  If nobody ever mentions it again, it will magically
cease to exist.

Trapped (adjective): Synonym
for segregated.  Example: “Our children are trapped in failing schools.”
(Translation: “Our children are segregated in underfunded schools.”)

21st Century Skills (plural noun): These
are what students gain when an educator is replaced with an iPad.  How
else will kids ever get enough screen time if we don’t provide it in schools?

2 Replies to “What education reformers say and what they mean, a dictionary”

  1. student-centered (adjective): Method of designing lessons and teaching students that promotes maximum learning for students but maximum burnout and demoralization for teachers. Commonly-used term to justify administrators riding herd on teachers to exhaust themselves putting on a dog and pony show to satisfy micromanaging administrators with clipboards with out real concern for student understanding or satisfaction with teacher performance. (SEE ALSO child-centered).

  2. Research-based (adjective): Describes bureaucratic and/or political efforts to manipulate statistics to justify their beliefs and rationalize their actions. Tends to ignore other statistics that point toward social factors as a cause for poor performance but will root out easier targets for blame (e.g. faulting a teacher's failure to teach a standard on student failure).

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