Outcomes assessment is an odd business. It is not to the credit of higher education that we have tolerated this external assault on our work. Its origins are suspect, its justifications abjure the science we would ordinarily require, it demands enormous efforts for very little payoff, it renounces wisdom, it requires yielding to misunderstandings, and it displaces and distracts us from more urgent tasks, like the teaching and learning it would allegedly help.
—John W. Powell
* * *
The [education] research-to-practice pipeline, according to scholars and educators, has sprung many leaks. Governments and foundations don’t spend enough on research, or they support the wrong kind. Scholars eschew research that shows what works in most schools in favor of studies that observe student behavior and teaching techniques in a classroom or two. They employ weak research methods, write turgid prose, and issue contradictory findings. Educators and policy makers are not trained to separate good research from bad, or they resist findings that challenge cherished beliefs about learning. As a result, education reform is often shaped by political whim and pedagogic fashion.
—The Black Hole of Education Research, by D.W. Miller (1999)
Do not kid yourself. We might be lemmings. We often are.• Systematic rational failures and SLOs, part II: the ACCJC gets dogmatic & dictatorial all over Cal community colleges (2002) (4/9/15)
The State Senate tried to stand up to the Accreds 13 years ago, to try to make ‘em justify the new “measurable outcomes” standards. Nothin’ doin’.• Systematic rational failures and SLOs, part III: why don’t we do something? (4/12/15)
Our embrace of “measurable outcomes” is nothing short of a disaster—a predictable one built upon layers of folly. Massive time and money is being wasted. Why don’t we do something?• Contra anti-intellectualism (4/18/15)
Well, at the State Senate Plenary, we tried and failed. We'll try again. How can we not?
Believe it or not, it's pretty clear what we must do to improve our schools. We aren't doing it.