Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Speaking out on Assessment of Multicultural Competencies and Outcomes: Some Cautions (1)

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Speaking out on Assessment of Multicultural Competencies and Outcomes: Some Cautions (1)

Article excerpt

I am honored to have been invited to give the keynote address at this National Conference on Assessment of Multicultural and Diversity Outcomes. I want to thank Anthony Ambrosio of Emporia State University for this opportunity to share some of my thinking about assessment of multicultural competencies in teacher education programs. I have titled this address "Speaking Out on Assessment of Multicultural Competencies and Outcomes: Some Cautions." Let me be clear and upfront about what I am going to talk about. I am going to ask you to think along with me on three topics. The first topic focuses on the challenges of assessing multicultural competencies in an era of high-stakes testing. The second topic centers on concerns I have regarding the direction some College of Education assessment systems are taking. And the third topic concerns predictions about the next generation of teacher candidates' dispositions toward diversity and their knowledge about diversity. Let me turn to the first topic.

Assessment of Multicultural Competencies in an Era of High-Stakes Testing

In order to address the topic, Assessing Multicultural Competencies in an Era of High-Stakes Testing, we need first to ask ourselves the question: Why are we multicultural teacher educators even trying to develop assessment and evaluation systems? The answer to this question is far more complicated than it might appear at first glance. The simple answer is that we multicultural teacher educators really do need a humane evaluation system. It should consist of multiple types of assessment methods, in order to make humane, data-driven decisions about the actual effectiveness of our teacher education programs in preparing preservice teachers to be proficient teachers of culturally and linguistically diverse students. This reason for our development of assessment systems is authentic and, in my mind, legitimate, and therefore, validates our purposes for being at this conference. A second reason we multicultural teacher educators are trying to develop assessment systems, I suspect, is the revised NCATE standards, particularly Standard 2 (the Assessment Standard) and Standard 4 (the Diversity Standard). In tandem, Standard 2 and Standard 4 mandate the development of an assessment system if we want to attain and maintain national accreditation and, of course, if we want to fulfill our professional responsibility of assuring that "[our] programs and graduates are of highest quality" (National Council, 2001, p. 23). This second reason, it seems to me, is also legitimate and validates our purposes for attending this conference.

However, a good many of us attending this conference, I suspect, are beginning to question, as I am, what is going on in the field of assessment. Notice that I have stressed the need for humane assessment to distinguish our work from a type of assessment sweeping the country that appears to me to be a rather vicious and ruthless type of assessment that appears to be more arbitrary and punitive than one that provides formative and diagnostic information regarding the developmental growth of our teacher candidates. After all, we are living in an era in which neoconservatives have paralleled the term assessment with the term accountability in an inhumane process and system that looks an awful lot like Jim Crow educational policy that will ultimately militate against the very children it purports to help. There are valid reasons for Joel Spring to call the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act the "No White Middle Class Child Left Behind Act" as he did in a keynote address at the 2002 NAME conference in Washington, D.C. Other critics have called the NCLB Act the "No White Child Who Speaks English Left Behind Act" and the "Leave No Child Untested Act." And more recently, critics have suggested the NCLB Act really ought to be called the "No Money Left Behind Act."

I expect that a good many of you in the audience have been in a state of confusion, as I have, over the value of the NCLB. …

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