looking for consequential validity

Recent article by Hirsch (the guy who promotes the idea of cultural literacy) says that reading tests assume falsely that all prose is the same. He says if we have to teach to the test why not use prose that has important content to test reading:

Let’s imagine a different situation. Students now must take annual reading tests from third grade through eighth. If the reading passages on each test were culled from each grade’s specific curricular content in literature, science, history, geography and the arts, the tests would exhibit what researchers call “consequential validity” — meaning that the tests would actually help improve education. Test preparation would focus on the content of the tests, rather than continue the fruitless attempt to teach test taking.

Reading Test Dummies by E. D. Hirsch

What a concept!

Starting digging in to “The Art Instinct: Beauty, Pleasure, and Human Evolution” by Denis Dutton yeseteday. I was struck by this sentence:

“Without a human nature underlying them, judgments of the beautiful would collapse into expressions of personal preference.”

What I think Dutton is getting at is that we as humans have more in common with each other than differences. While not denying the cultural permutations of different groups of humans, he likens our need and use of art to our need and use of language. Very cool.

He goes on and quotes from several sources some of the innate human characteristics that we often don’t even think of including:

an intuitive physics that we use to keep track of how objects fall, bounce, or blend

a personal psychology based on the realization that others have minds like our own but entertain different beliefs and intentions

an intuitive sense of space, including imaginatie mapping of the general environment

and of course:

a fascination with organized pitched sounds, rhythmically produced by the human voice or other instruments

He lists off fifteen of these and says there are more. Cool beans.

I am tired this morning. My coffee tastes bad.

I’m too lazy to make another pot. I managed to gather my parents’ tax info and take it to the tax person yesterday. My Mom is looking and behaving a tad better. She forced herself to ask friends to take her to stores on Monday. I have asked her to call me when she gets up so that I know she is okay and has gotten out of bed. She did so this morning. 

I have another four hour rehearsal this evening. i assume it’s the dress since it’s the last rehearsal before performances. I find myself liking a couple of the songs in the score of “Guys and Dolls.” My friend who conducts the pit orchestra and teaches band at Grand Haven High School was very frustrated and upset last night at the fact that many students had absented themselves without talking to him. He was more exhausted than me….. of course he taught all day. 

Daughter Elizabeth left me a very nice comment on yesterday’s blog. I am pretty discouraged right now about the behavior of my parents so it’s nice when the rest of the fam seems supportive and above all sane. Thank you Elizabeth. And thank you Mark for your supportive phone call yesterday. This stuff definitely helps.

My wife of course is very supportive (I better stop, this is beginning to feel like a grammy acceptance speech…. heh). Yes Eileen is helpful. For example she did mention that my breath smelled like old olives this morning. Good to know.

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