Aug 13, 2009 Herm Card Uncategorized
*As a certified English teacher with considerable experience with psychometricians and the people who rely entirely too much on their data manipulation expertise, I have coined this term to lend a counterpoint to the jargonizers and number crunchers.
“Psychometrics” is the field of study concerned with the theory and technique of educational and psychological measurement. It includes the measurement of knowledge, abilities, attitudes, and personality traits, and is primarily concerned with the study of measurement instruments such as questionnaires and tests. It involves two major research tasks: the construction of instruments and procedures for measurement and the development and refinement of theoretical approaches to measurement.
The results of psychometric analysis can be very nicely turned into charts and graphs, which can, in turn, be used to explain the success or failure of a given educational venture. The more objective the analysis, the better for creating pure numerical data and some really comprehensive graphs. State education departments, New York’s among them, love to be able to employ such data driven analysis.
Psychometricians thrive on the ability of the American educational system to gather large numbers of students together and administer a standardized testing instrument that creates an easily defined line of demarcation between success and failure.
“SayYes-ometrics,” on the other hand, takes a somewhat different approach. It is a field of study concerned with the technique of determining if education is accessible, relevant, and realistic. It relies on the theory that if those three criteria are met, it is nearly certain that any (reasonable) criteria laid out by psychometricians and their employers will also be met.
The Syracuse City School District, in order to engage in “SayYes-ometrics,” proved itself capable of putting a large number of students in a given area to evaluate them. On Friday, Aug. 7, nearly two dozen school buses transported some 600 SCSD students to Syracuse’s Thornden Park to have their five-week participation in the SCSD’s Say Yes Summer Camp validated according to the standards set forth as part of the joint effort of SCSD, Syracuse University and Say Yes to Education, Inc.
On hand to assist in the evaluation were the 130 summer camp counselors, and the 12 Say Yes site directors and program coordinators. So as to insure the educational integrity of the day, the Syracuse University’ Say Yes director and administrative staff was on hand, all under the watchful eyes of SU Chancellor Nancy Cantor and Syracuse City School District Superintendent Daniel Lowengard. Also present were SCSD summer school teachers, parents, volunteers and some Syracuse Common Councilors and city department heads. And everybody in Thornden Park understood the underlying fact that it was not just the kids being evaluated, but the entire concept of the summer camp as well. The time for accountability was at hand.
And so it began at 8:47 a.m. without a single test booklet or pencil having been distributed.
It began when the door of the first bus from Van Duyn School opened and program coordinator Lauren Williams climbed down the steps. It would not end until the last Olympic style “Say Yes to Education Medal” was awarded at 2:20 p.m.
In the five and a half hours from start to finish an incredible amount of “SayYes-ometrics” took place.
The measurement tools? Simple. Throughout the site were displays of student art work — models of their neighborhoods, paintings, drawings, puppets, masks and dozens of other art forms depicting their culture, their ancestry and their view of their future. There were demonstrations of newly learned skills at soccer, golf, baseball, lacrosse and other sports. There were performances on the stage in Thornden’s amphitheater — dancing, singing and acting, recitations of stories and poems, colorful costumes, and loud and enthusiastic cheers for the performers.
There was energy, there was excitement and there was fun and it had all come from — summer school — summer school called summer camp. That’s right — hundreds of running, laughing children celebrating five weeks of their summer vacation spent in school.
How can that be quantified? How can that be put on a graph? Fortunately, it can’t.
Evaluation? Final grade? How can anyone justify su mmer camp as sound education? Where are the tests? Where are the charts and graphs that show who passed and who didn’t? Where are the people who think the results of any educational program must be testable?
Fortunately, they were nowhere to be seen.
SayYes-ometrics measures in the immeasurable — energy and enthusiasm and excitement and the newly discovered self esteem that come from participating in something that makes sense, something that makes school real and makes life real and puts the two of them together for the first time for many of the students in the program.
It measures in the smiles of all those who have worked so hard to make it happen — those who accepted the challenge of making urban education better and took the risk to do it — in the smiles on the faces of administrators, and on the faces of the parents who have seen something change for the better in their kids, and on the faces of the young camp counselors who learned as well as taught, and mostly — mostly on the faces of six hundred 7 to 10 year olds as they walked across the stage to receive their medals.
And it was done. The “testing” was complete. Thornden Park was again empty and quiet. Six hundred students in colorful T-shirts were back on their buses riding back to their schools with 130 counselors and 12 site administrators. The administrators and students would be reunited in school in September, the counselors would return to school or work. The first phase of Say Yes to Education in the SCSD was done.
The evaluation? The final grade? You had to be there.
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