Higher Ed Pre-Draft: Reconstruct a Generalization

Reconstruct a generalization:

“It’s important to remember how removed standardized tests are from the cognitive give-and-take of the classroom. That’s one reason why there is a debate among testing specialists as to whether a test score…is really an accurate measure of learning. Yet the scores on standardized tests have become the gold standard of excellence” (Rose 48).

Mike Rose’s book Why School? (2009) contains a number of generalizations that attempt to synthesize and provide an overview of a variety of major issues in higher education that impact teachers, students, administrators, and politicians. Rose refers us to earlier books he has written, uses acronyms (referring to the “No Child Left Behind” Act as “NCLB”) and sometimes using language that implies that he is building on extended systems of knowledge (“accountability models”). Generalizations aren’t always a bad thing, as long as one arrives at them through careful reasoning and thoughtful observation. Mike Rose knows all of the thinking that went into making his generalization meaningful; but a reader less familiar with some of these issues runs the risks of taking his generalization as “fact” without understanding how it was constructed.

In this exercise, please choose one generalization from Rose’s book and make it the last sentence of a paragraph you have yet to write. Then, unpack the claims in the generalization and construct a paragraph that sensibly builds up to and justifies such a conclusion. You will probably have to do some research to fully construct your paragraph. You might also have to provide vivid examples of real life scenarios. If you were working with the generalization above, you would want to define and provide some evidence for the following: what does “cognitive give-and-take” mean? What’s a situation you can imagine where that happens in a classroom?  Who are the “testing specialists” who are debating whether a test is an “accurate measure of learning”?  What types of tests are they discussing? How widely are these tests used? Who thinks they are effective? Who is questioning their effectiveness?

Remember that Rose’s generalization will still appear towards the end of your paragraph. Your thinking should set up his conclusion; you are doing the work of reconstructing his generalization for a reader who is trying to understand why Rose is using a phrase like “the gold standard of excellence” to describe standardized tests.

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