We know that representation matters, that in order for our classrooms to be spaces where everyone is affirmed and included, young people must see themselves and their lived experiences in our curricula. Do our classroom libraries reflect this knowledge? Bookshelves offer a powerful litmus test of the experiences and identities we honor and include in our classrooms.
BOOKS AS WINDOWS AND MIRRORS
What happens to students’ self-efficacy and self-concept when they see their lives positively reflected in the curriculum? Even very young children recognize the importance and delight in finding themselves in a book:
“She’s from Pakistan, just like me.”
“He has dark skin like mine.”
“I’m adopted, too.”
“Look, that main character uses a wheelchair like mine.”
Should we resume standardized testing of students this spring?
Policymakers place great stock in standardized test scores. In 1983, a landmark federal report, A Nation at Risk, pointed to declines over time in SAT scores and the U.S.’s middling performance on international assessments to claim a “rising tide of mediocrity” in American education. The report touched off a movement toward standards-based accountability: holding school districts, schools and even teachers accountable for the academic performance of their students.
The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB) expanded the federal role in school oversight, calling for testing nearly all children in grades 3 through 8 annually in English Language Arts and mathematics to assess their proficiency. This testing, and reporting of results for demographic subgroups of students, was intended to prevent schools from hiding behind the performance of their strongest students, with no pressure to close achievement gaps.