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Daugaard on Education: Testing, Testing, Testing…

Governor Dennis Daugaard thinks South Dakota needs more effective teachers. Wait, edit that: he definitely doesn't want more teachers who are effective. He wants teachers who are more effective.

If that's really what the Governor wants, then why would he advocate reducing the amount of time teachers get to teach?

A second important component is our state's new school accountability system. Earlier this year, our state announced that we would no longer comply with No Child Left Behind, which is a broken and flawed system. Instead we are seeking a waiver from No Child Left Behind that will allow us to create a measurement and accountability system that makes sense for South Dakota. When fully implemented, this system will not just test students at the end of the year and measure them against an arbitrary bar. Instead, we will test students at the beginning of the year, to set a baseline, in the middle of the year, to allow for a mid-course correction, and at the end. We will measure schools and teachers by their students' growth &ndash that is, how far they move students from the beginning of the year to the end of the year [Governor Dennis Daugaard, State of the State address, Pierre, SD, 2012.01.10].

Oh boy: we replace the "broken and flawed" (yes, yes, yes, Dennis!) once-a-year testing of No Child Left Behind with three times as much testing time. And as a teacher preparing students for semester exams right now, I guarantee you that when we are testing, we are not doing nearly as much teaching.

So sign up now, effective teachers! You, too, can spend several more days a year handing you kids bubble sheets from Governor Daugaard. That's what effective education is all about, right?


  1. Matt Groce 2012.01.11

    Not to mention that standardized test results are a HORRIBLE WAY TO EVALUATE TEACHER PERFORMANCE!!! (apologies for the all caps)

  2. Charlie Johnson 2012.01.11

    I think most people agree with you, Matt.

  3. LK 2012.01.11


    I wish I had your optimism. Most legislators will vote as the Governor tells them to and most voters will smile and nod with appreciation.

  4. Chris S. 2012.01.11

    Yup. The Republican drones in Pierre will obediently pass whatever their "supreme being" Daugaard tells them to pass—which in turn is whatever legislation ALEC gives him to pass. It's a neat little system. Feudal, but tidy.

  5. WayneB 2012.01.11

    Let's start with the goals we want to accomplish regarding student education:
    * Propogation of critical thinking skills
    * Advancement of mastery of subject matter
    * Focus on math & science education (to "win" the future)

    Knowing what we want to accomplish, the question then becomes, how do we know if we've accomplished it? The mantra of public administration is, if it doesn't get measured, it doesn't get fixed.

    Testing seems to be the least worst option for establishing a baseline of student performance. I'm open to ideas for what else might be a better solution.

    However, establishing baseline tests in post secondary education has helped to establish that the lecture format of teaching is pretty ineffective:

    Maybe doing the same in primary education will lead to revolutions in teaching techniques that really allows students to thrive and become engaged, rather than passive consumers of information.

  6. Jana 2012.01.11

    Uh Oh said 'critical thinking.' I'm pretty sure that isn't allowed here in South Dakota anymore.

    Heck Sibby will tell you...well, I don't really know what Sibby will tell you, but I do know it isn't good.

  7. Bill Fleming 2012.01.11

    Jana, "critical thinking" is a Sib-sin.

  8. Steve Sibson 2012.01.11

    Critical thinking is New Age Spirituality:

    In Search of New Age Spiritualities (Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology, and Biblical Studies) (Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology, and Biblical Studies)

    As I been saying, the education system is establishing a New Age Theocracy. And so are the liberal churches.

  9. Jana 2012.01.11

    Bill, "Jana, “critical thinking” is a Sib-sin."

    I think we need to start a new meme to replace "jumping the shark."

    Thinking along the lines of "Skipping the Sibby" "More Stoned than Steve"
    maybe a total ripoff of the that's so gay ads "That's so Sibby" "Sidiot" "Sibsane" "WTS - What the Sibby"

    It's out there somewhere Bill, just need to find the definitive term.

    The novocaine from this morning's dentist appointment is wearing off and now I'm probably going to be a little more cranky. Although there is probably a connection between having your teeth drilled and reading something from "he who shouldn't be named"

  10. Bill Fleming 2012.01.11

    That's right, Jana.

    a) If you think 1+1 = 2 (and not 3 or some other number besides 2),
    you're doing the devil's work.

    b) Same thing if you think the following doesn't make sense:

    All cats have legs.
    Steve Sibson has legs.
    Therefore Steve Sibson is a cat.

    According to Sibby, if you even try to think about any of the above, you'll be performing some kind of New Age demonic sacrament.

    So, don't even think about it, sister (unless you check in with Jesus first).

  11. Bill Fleming 2012.01.11

    Jana, I used to type a little logo out for Steve that went:


    which is kind of cool, I think.
    Sort of a New Agey kundalini thingy.

    I also like your "Sibiot" idea (make the "d" backwards.)

    I'll keep thinking, you keep thinking.

    Just let's not be too critical about it,
    or we'll get in deep doo-hickey with the SibLords.

  12. Steve Sibson 2012.01.11

    Jana & Bill, thanks for proving my point regarding critical thinking. Being critical of the truth does fit the New Age propaganda and Satan's making lies seem like the truth.

    Critical thinking equals critical of truth.

  13. LK 2012.01.11


    I guess the Bible must be part of the New Age Theocracy as well, at least in your universe.

    Romans 12:2 says, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."

    I John 4:1 says, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

    How one can "renew," "prove," and "try" without critical thinking skills is beyond me.

    As a Christian, I find it unfathomable that one would ask people of faith to ignore their God given ability to reason.

  14. Steve Sibson 2012.01.11


    If critical thinking is Biblical, then we have a violation of church and state if public education is using it, right?

    And be careful using labels that sound good, Satan is the great deceiver.

  15. larry kurtz 2012.01.11

    RT @nprnews: All Deck Chairs Are Filled: Titanic 100th Anniversary Cruise Is Fully Booked.

  16. LK 2012.01.11

    Nice try Steve,

    Separation of church and state is about promulgating a doctrine not using the text or discussing the literary devices or symbols. Nearly every world lit or English lit anthology I've seen and used has the Psalm 23, a couple of parables, and something like the David and Goliath story.

    The idea the the Bible is banned from schools is a nasty myth promulgated by people who want to use religion for political purposes.

    By the way, Larry I'm teaching a Sioux and a Navaho creation story on Friday. Any tips?

  17. Donald Pay 2012.01.12

    I don't have a problem with testing kids. Teachers need to test to find out when students are not getting the material. And some testing on state standards helps find where there might be problems with overall curriculum. But there has to be a proper balance between teaching and testing, and, like Cory said, we've gone overboard with testing. Let's test elected officials right along with students on any test required, and compare elected officials scores to students. I'd be willing to bet that if Daugaard had to sit for these boring bubble tests he'd start thinking in more creative ways.

  18. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.12

    I don't have a problem with testing kids, either, Don. I'm testing the heck out of my French students this week (oral and written semester exams!). But I do it on my terms, as a professional who knows his subject, knows his kids, and knows what we've done in our classroom and what fairly evaluates and supports those learning activities. I do not need nor want anyone from Pierre or Washington to presume to tell me when and how to measure and enhance their learning.

    By the way, my 20-question oral exam and 192-item written exam include no multiple-choice questions.

  19. Steve Sibson 2012.01.12

    LK, I responded to your point, but it was deleted by Cory.

  20. Steve Sibson 2012.01.12

    Cory, thanks for providing me with proof that the public education system is badly in need of reforms. The bias and propaganda is way worse than what I had imagined.

  21. caheidelberger Post author | 2012.01.12

    No, you didn't respond, you flogged your irrelevant meme. Stay on topic.

  22. Steve Sibson 2012.01.12

    So by dismissing a point of argument as an "irrelevant meme" is critical thinking?

  23. Suzanne Jaton 2012.01.12

    I realize that we in South Dakota think we are somehow different than people in other states...things that didn't work there will somehow work for us (closing neighborhood schools in favor of larger, more "efficient" school systems comes to mind), but increasing the use of testing to prove teacher merit and attaching funding to the test results will not result in better teaching and better prepared students. It will increase testing fraud. I have read what happened in other states; not only do teachers have to "teach to the test", many are tempted, and succumb to, the temptation to "improve" their students scores in order to keep their jobs. Standardized testing doesn't measure how much a student knows, it measures how well they do on a standardized test.

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