Taxonomy Meets the Accountability Police

Scott McLeod has posted to his blog a new thought-and-talk-provoking video called “What’s the best way to ensure mastery of low-level content?”  The video is well worth its minute-and-twenty-second length as a conversation starter, starting (for me, anyway) with a scrutiny of its assumptions.

McLeod takes as his starting point the “New Bloom’s Taxonomy“:

Remembering < Understanding < Applying < Analyzing < Evaluating < Creating.

Following the identification of “Remembering” and “Understanding” as “low-level content”, he poses some questions about teachers’ beliefs and the best way to meet “state and federal accountability schemes” which “require that students master low-level academic content.”

But the taxonomy is as dubious as the federal and state accountability schemes.  For example, what happened to “Communicating”, “Collaborating”, “Disputing”, “Exploring”, “Imagining”?  And why is the taxonomy represented as a hierarchy?  What is “higher” about “Analyzing” compared to “Applying” or “Understanding”?

I understand completely that NCLB and other such “accountability” initiatives have a direct impact on teachers’ livelihoods, and I honor their need to protect themselves.  I also support what I understand to be McLeod’s basic point:  teachers need to find a way to integrate their most-strongly-held beliefs with practices that protect them and their students from the accountability police.  Maybe the taxonomy can help start the discussion.  But let’s make sure we have all the puzzle pieces out on the table.

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One Response to “Taxonomy Meets the Accountability Police”

  1. Gary Says:

    And Bloom was adamant that we not mistake taxonomy for chronology, and it is the chronology question that is the starting point of McLeod’s ponderings–not whether, but which end to start with….

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