The Chimera of Standardized Testing –
The Modern Educational “Accountability” Movement
Chimera: A thing that is hoped or wished for but in fact is illusory or impossible to achieve.
Come join us at this week’s Philosophy Club meeting Thursday, February 15th from 12:15 to 1:45 in 421 Auerbach Hall as longtime University administrator and professor Dr. Donn Weinholtz presents on the fallacies of reification and ranking in the modern Educational Accountabilty movement. Taking as his point of departure Stephen Jay Gould’s The Mismeasure of Man as well as his own 2005 Hartford Courant opinion piece critical of the No Child Left Behind movement, Dr. Weinholtz moves on to critically examine the Collegiate Learning Assessment, which claims to assess student critical thinking, analytic reasoning, problem solving and written communication skills in an effort to measure the value added impact of college. The motivating questions of his presentations range from the scientific: are we measuring reliably; are the things we are measuring relevant markers to genuine excellence in education – to the philosophical; are we ignoring important educational values just because we can’t “measure” them; does all of our standardized testing amount to an obtrusive measurement that distorts and skews the very precious things it is supposed to assess?
Dr. Weinholtz is Director of and Professor within the University Doctoral Program of Educational Leadership, teaching a range of courses within the Program, including Professional Ethics, Foundations of Higher Education, Introductory Statistics, and Qualitative Research Methods. He also supervises doctoral dissertations. Within the University’s All-University Curriculum, he teaches an undergraduate leadership course, as well as American Studies courses focusing on the United States from 1865 until the present Involved in all aspects of higher education administration, Donn is also interested in servant leadership (participative or facilitative) and is increasingly engaged in scholarship regarding Quaker leadership approaches.
Dr. Weinholtz holds a B.A. from Dickinson College, an M. Ed. From Shippensburg University, and a Ph. D. from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. He started his career as a high school, social studies teacher and track coach in Chapel Hill, NC. He later served on the faculties of the University of Texas Medical Branch, the University of Iowa, and East Tennessee State University. In 1991 he came to the University of Hartford as Dean of the College of Education, Nursing, and Health Professions, a position he held for seven years. His teaching areas in the doctoral program include quantitative and qualitative research methodologies, foundations of higher education and ethical issues in educational leadership. For many years, he also taught an undergraduate American Studies course and a leadership course in the University’s All-University Curriculum.
Donn is the author of the Phi Delta Kappa monograph, Restructuring an Urban School (1992.) He has also published several articles on merging qualitative and quantitative research methods and on effective instruction in clinical, medical settings. The findings from these medical education works were synthesized in a book, Teaching During Attending Rounds (1992), co-authored with Janine Edwards. His death and dying memoir, Longing to Live... Learning to Die, was published in 2002. He also published a novella, Carolina Blue(2012). In 2007, he founded the on-line publication, Quaker Higher Education; which subsequently led to him editing, along with Jeffrey Dudiak and Donald Smith, the book, Quaker Perspectives in Higher Education (2014).
Donn is currently heavily involved in the University of Hartford’s Rwanda Teacher Education Program, in which he and his wife, Diane, teach peace and conflict resolution skills. From June 2015 until June 2017, he served as clerk (presiding officer) of the international organization, Friends Association for Higher Education. A former Chair of the University of Hartford Faculty Senate, and current Director of the Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership, he is especially interested in collaborating with students conducting studies addressing leadership challenges in higher education. He also remains interested in a wide range of mixed-method, action research studies in other educational settings.
The University of Hartford Philosophy Club has an informal, jovial atmosphere. It is a place where students, professors, and people from the community at large meet as peers. Sometimes presentations are given, followed by discussion. Other times, topics are hashed out by the whole group.
Presenters may be students, professors, or people from the community. Anyone can offer to present a topic. The mode of presentation may be as formal or informal as the presenter chooses.
Food and drink are served. Come and go as you wish. Bring friends. Suggest topics and activities. Take over the club! It belongs to you!
Weinholtz, 2005: No Child Left Behind Charts Dangerous Course