K-12 – State Accountability Testing What Does it Mean to You?
Essentialism is an educational theory that has been codified into law with the passage of “No Child Left Behind.” The culture of accountability has swept this nation’s educational system. Given this fact, and the absence of choice to do otherwise, I teach the standards.
For me, a teacher, I have mixed emotions. I like the structure that the standards provide to our education system. They define what students are to learn at each grade level. If everyone does his or her job, the students are taught in schools with equitable resources, and the kids are all from a similar socioeconomic background, then it should all work out for the greater good. The greater good being a well educated society. But is there a hidden curriculum?
The hidden curriculum is the unwritten and unspoken affects of our educational system on our society. Education in our society can play a large role in bringing about social, political, and economic change. For example, the desegregation of schools brought about changes that were not written in the curriculum, never the less, society changed. Through the hidden curriculum, dominate groups control schools and use them to maintain conditions that keep them in power. Many schools maintain and reproduce inequitable and exploitative conditions that favor one group or class.
For example, I work in a school which is located in a low socioeconomic area. Most classes do not have computers, data projectors, document cameras or other instructional technology that the schools in more affluent areas have. The socioeconomic stratification in schools tends to reproduce the classism, racism, sexism of the larger society. The hidden curriculum reinforces existing social inequalities by educating students according to their class and social status. Students who have access to technology use it seamlessly in their lives. They develop a level of information competency due to their access to vast amounts of information through search engines and data bases. These students learn how to analyze information and use it to construct knowledge. They have opportunities to communicate in writing with their peers through social media. When they are ready to look for their first job, they search online, fill out the application online, receive a confirmation email, fax their resume that they created online and get driving directions to their interview from online resources. Clearly the hidden curriculum favors these students over others.