Monday, November 10, 2008

Topic: Change

10-second review: Change in the writing program at Syracuse University brought with it unintended consequences.

Title: “Portfolio Evaluation, Collaboration, and Writing Centers.” Irene L. Clark. College Composition and Communication (December 1993), 515-524. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Changing to portfolio assessment led to unintended and unexpected outcomes, some of which were difficult to deal with: “…we have discovered that ‘the implementation of such assessment represents more sweeping change than may be apparent at the outset!” p. 524. Issues and confusion occurred. One of the issues was whether improved grades resulted from improved writing ability.

Comment: The mantra for Mr. Obama was “change.” One of the problems I had to deal with when I was a language arts supervisor, K-12, was the unintended and unexpected effects of our changes. I held that position for twenty years and, now that I am retired, I believe evaluation of the effects of changes was the most important lesson I have learned and the most important step I did not take. I hope Mr. Obama is aware that, like medications, change comes with side effects that might not be good for American society. From his speeches, I do not expect Mr. Obama to be ready for the inevitable negative side-effects of his changes. Youth never learns from the experience of the elderly. RayS.

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