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"Show Me What Democracy Looks Like"


john, thanks for this thought-provoking essay - refreshing to read connections between classroom practice and the biggest ideas in our culture. your point about the two visions of accountability (ugly word) provides an important re-framing of the recent controversies. your advocacy of the thinking-in-context of actual students and reshaping shared products in light of experience sounds very deweyish. the assessment-building process you participated in felt democratic. after all, you participated with a bunch of other folks, including other actual classroom teachers. do you think your products felt democratic to other teachers in the huge NYCDOE system? how did you get selected to have this big say - were you elected by your colleagues, the students, the families? perhaps we agree that what you're describing "looked like" democracy in some senses - but not in some of the most important ways - like drawing on the experience and best deliberations of the majority of the people affected? what should we actually take and implement from the experience you wrote about here?

Andy, Thank you for your feedback. You bring up a very important point about this work. I am not advocating that the product which came out of our team imposed on anyone else in the DOE, but suggesting instead that the process we used is a way to get teachers working together developing community-based assessment strategies that will serve the needs of their community. I'm interested in thinking with you and others about the nitty gritty of how to show value for democratic ideals through assessment systems, but it seems to me that a first step in doing this work is for all of us to acknowledge that these values are important. One thing we should all be able to agree on is in this discussion is that state mandated standardized testing works against this kind of democratic community control. What incentives do you think the NYCDOE and our union could put in place that would promote the integration of democratic values into assessment? How could we design systems for student promotion and teacher evaluation that would integrate these values? What examples do you see (from around the world? from history? from down the block?) of systems that do a good job of showing what democracy looks like in assessment?


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