I attended the Model Schools Conference two weeks ago. It was quite a gathering and there were a lot of challenging and inspirational speeches. The sessions are led by one of four groups of people, Model Schools Consultants, school employees of found model schools, school employees of created model schools, and corporate conference sponsors (these were noted in the program).
The conference impressed me in a lot of ways. Presentations across the days and topics had very similar formats. It was obvious to me that behind the scenes all presenters had been given tips and tricks and encouraged to follow them. Presentations started with objectives. Many worked off the same template, even if they were not a consultant. Presenters referred to research, although they could have cited it more often. Finally, and to me most noticeably, presenters gave evidence of success.
The success is what made me scratch my head. It was test scores. A few places here and there were stories, but the exciting results were better test scores. If education reform is going to succeed at anything but standardized students it needs to figure out a way to simply present success without showing test scores. If that is all we show off computers will replaces teachers completely.
Teachers are important. Caring people do a better job of bringing out the individual strengths of others than bland technology. Relationships welcome new members into the club of readers and writers and physicists better than any computer can. Interested people bring out the strengths in others quicker and better than disinterested technology.
If we want education to look truly different, which many of the people at Model Schools did, we have to stop reporting results in the currency of old schools education: test scores.