The words used to promote “future ready” public education do not mean to reformers what they mean to you. This post is intended to pull back the curtain and expose the truth behind venture capital’s shiny promises of “personalized” tech-centered, data-driven learning. The list below features vocabulary that should be on everyone’s radar. Short definitions link to more detailed descriptions written from the point of view of the reformers-if they had to tell the truth about their plans to swap neighborhood schools for learning ecosystems. Complete list of long form definitions available here. One-page PDF handout for sharing available here.
1:1 Devices: A program where each child has their own data-gathering device for “anywhere learning.” More
Anytime, Anywhere Learning: A push to disconnect education from “constraints” of buildings and teachers. More
Assessment Reform / Computer Adaptive Testing: Punitive end of year tests exchanged for perpetual monitoring of online learning. More
Brain Breaks: Mental safety valve for students and teachers. More
College and Career Readiness: K12 public education as redefined by post-graduation outcomes. More
Community School: Business opportunities for non-profit providers created through intentional austerity. More
Data Dashboards: Tools to reduce learning to specific, measurable outcomes. More
Deeper Learning: Education reimagined as a big, unstructured DIY project. More
Digital Badges: Tokens of achievement rewarding skill acquisition or compliance. More
ELOs-Extended/Expanded Learning Opportunities: Outsourced learning opportunities for credit. More
E-Portfolio: Cloud-based skill storage that replaces report cards and diplomas. More
Evidence-Based: Parameters private interests use to set educational “success” criteria. More
Gamified: Use of entertainment platforms to make student data capture more palatable. More
Growth: Repeated data collection over time that can be used to evaluate returns on impact investments. More
Grit/Growth Mindset/Resilience: Self-discipline promoted as a tool to deal with dysfunctional social systems. More
Hybrid/Blended: Means to promote online learning while reducing face-to-face instruction. More
Innovation / Empowerment Zones: Designation that strips districts of contractual protections while promising autonomy. More
Innovative: Unproven “solutions” that disrupt school environments. More
Lifelong Learning: Uncertain employment outlook that demands constant re-skilling and up-skilling. More
Multiple Measures: Expansion of accountability categories for students, teachers and schools under ESSA. More
Pathways: Means to direct students into targeted workforce sectors based on their aggregated data. More
Pay for Success: Service delivery redesigned to capture proof of success for impact investments. More
Performance Assessments: Promise of authentic projects replaced by canned, standards-aligned rubrics. More
“Personalized” Learning: Digital profiling whereby algorithms control student access to educational content. More
Regionalization / Consolidation: Defunding and dwindling enrollment lead to diminished local control. More
Social Impact Bonds (SIBs): Finance scheme that uses public services to generate venture capital profit. More
Competency/Mastery/Proficiency-Based Education: Education reinvented as a perpetual skills checklist. More
Student-Centered/Agency: Self-serve education model where teachers play a marginal role. More
Whole Child / Social Emotional Learning: Non-cognitive traits are added to student academic profiles. More
6 thoughts on “Co-Opted Language: Decoding Ed Reform’s New Sales Pitch”
Reblogged this on TechEducator1 and commented:
This is a glossary of Ed Reforms vocabulary and what it truly means.
Reblogged this on Poetic Justice and commented:
The biggest battle we have in preserving our public schools is to recapture our profession lexicon. When you hear and read these terms, closely examine the source. This list defines the terms the way they are defined by the corporate reformers profiting from the destruction of true education. But the real meanings behind most of these terms are still good and valid.
Together let us determine to take back these terms and show the world that educators love, cherish, and truly care about the well being of the nation’s children.
Thank you for this. I’ve re-blogged with the above comment embedded within on the following collection:
Educational Psychology & Technology: http://bit.ly/edpsychtech
Excellent work here. Saw this tweeted by Professor James Horn.
Excellent work in multiple formats–short and extended .
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