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March 1, 1994
Vol. 51
No. 6

Reviews

Instructional Strategies

Standards, Not Standardization

Standards, Not Standardization: A Video and Print Curriculum on Performance-Based Student Assessment by Grant Wiggins, Holly Houston, and John Browne. Geneseo, N.Y.: The Center on Learning, Assessment, and School Structure, 1993.
This excellent series of videotapes will support educators examining their assessment practices. The Standards, Not Standardization series consists of four volumes, each containing two videotapes and a set of corresponding print materials. Designed to support a seminar approach for exploring essential questions, issues, and problems related to student assessment, the print materials include a facilitator's guide and a series of exercises to stimulate discussion. The videotapes bring the somewhat abstract principles of performance-based assessment to life through visual vignettes of assessment reform occurring in districts, schools, and classrooms.
Potential users should be forewarned that the series is not a “stand and deliver” training program. Rather, its seminar approach ideally suits professional study groups and school- or district-level assessment committees interested in a thought-provoking examination of student assessment. Nonetheless, components of the series will prove to be valuable resources to include as part of a more traditional staff development program. Congratulations to The Center on Learning, Assessment, and School Structure for producing such a unique, timely, and high-quality product.
Available from The Center on Learning, Assessment, and School Structure, 39 Main St., Geneseo, New York 14454, for $265 per volume.
—Reviewed by Jay McTighe, Maryland Assessment Consortium, Columbia, Maryland.

The Game of School

The Game of School by Robert L. Tripp. Reston, Va.: Extended Vision Press, 1993.
This is not a book that many who are part of the educational establishment will embrace; indeed this critique of public high schools will likely raise the hackles of most educators.
Tripp attacks the “game of school” in which “pretense, boredom, and cynicism are central elements in the destructive game that is the norm in American public high schools.” A high school teacher for 30 years, he claims that students, teachers, administrators, and parents play by rules that stifle creativity in both students and teachers. Chapters include: “The Lego Model of Education”; “The Institution: Sorting and Ranking”; “The Testing Game”; and “Students: We Don't Have to Infantilize Them.” Tripp is clearly angry at a system that is “satisfied to educate kids at the lowest level of learning and growth.”
To his credit, Tripp does not merely decry current efforts in schooling, but presents ideas for change. Believing that education must involve students and teach them to reason, he envisions a high school based on a “Grow/Learn System.” This system would change scheduling practices, adult roles, evaluation designs, and out-of-class activities—all aimed at increasing student self-direction. Teacher-mentors would replace counselors, encouraging students to develop their own ideas about courses, jobs, apprenticeships, and community volunteering that would best fit them and fulfill their graduation requirements. In presenting his ideas, Tripp draws not only on some of the major educational philosophers, but makes extensive use of the opinions of his former students, obtained from student evaluations and surveys.
Available from Extended Vision Press, P.O. Box 2876, Reston, VA 22090, for $19.95.
—Reviewed by Dennis Evans, University of California-Irvine, Irvine, California.

Restructuring Schooling for Individual Students

Restructuring Schooling for Individual Students by William M. Bechtol and Juanita S. Sorenson. Needham Heights, Mass.: Allyn and Bacon, 1993.
Delivering much more than its title promises, Restructuring Schooling for Individual Students envisions how teachers and administrators in any school can focus their energies to help all students succeed. The organizational model will be familiar to many readers as the individually guided education (IGE) multi-unit school, developed more than two decades ago. Amazingly consistent with current recommendations for restructuring schools, this model includes continuous progress, nongraded multi-aged grouping, and site-based management. Vivid descriptions of visits to contemporary schools bring the model to life.
Within this organizational model, these schools foster student success by applying knowledge that has emerged in recent decades. Perhaps the most useful aspects of the book are its clear, concise descriptions of research-based strategies. Individual chapters—on effective schools, effective teaching, learning-how-to-learn, thinking, motivation, discipline, staff development, parent-school-community partnerships, and learning and teaching styles—are valuable resources for educators preparing teachers and administrators. Sample designs for learning activities and for communication with parents enhance the book's immediate usefulness.
Available from Allyn and Bacon, 160 Gould St., Needham Heights, MA 02194, for $40.95.
—Reviewed by Carolyn Hughes Chapman, University of Nevada, Reno.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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