My dream is very simple:
One June, students across New York walk out of a required Regents Examination – let’s say the Global History one, for sake of my dream – having left the entire exam blank. They do not walk out empty handed, though. On their way out, they each grab a copy of the ten-page piece of original historical research they completed over the course of the previous month, which demonstrates that they are ready to succeed in college-level history courses. Perhaps the paper was graded using the tested rubrics from the Consortium for Performance Assessment. The students then gather in public spaces across the state, where they explain to the media and the public that they no longer want to be assigned numbers based on their ability to answer multiple choice questions, but rather that they want to have real and authentic work that shows they are complex, original thinkers who know how to access and evaluate a variety of types of evidence in order to make a compelling argument. They want to show that they are not only ready for college, but that they are ready to be the critical citizens the 21st century requires.
I’ve always been pretty sure my dream is impossible, but when I read this story about students at Hope High School in Providence (which I used to run by everyday when I was student teaching) getting a court injunction to stop the city from taking away block scheduling and their teachers’ common planning time, I am filled with at least a glimmer of hope (pun very much intended).