Letter: Student testing works best within process of learning

From: Tom Lane


This letter is to support the excellent letter by John Quick, the Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. superintendent. John’s point about the waste of time of the current testing approach is a parallel to what I found working with manufacturing corporations to increase the quality of their output. The history of all these companies was to use inspection to check the quality of things made. This means when the production was over, someone came along and did a test to ensure that the product was good. This approach was not working for far too many reasons to go into.  
What the new way to ensure quality was about, is to manage the process while you are making the product. This is what John is referring to in his letter. It works so much better because of immediate feedback, constant adjustment tuned to the issue and eliminates the need to inspect (test) at the end of the line. All world-class operations are pursuing this approach.

But it is not just a new technique and tool; it is a shift of mindsets. I found the hardest thing to change was the thinking of leaders, from an after-the-fact judgment to a real-time process orientation. I think the folks standing outside the educational system are stuck in the old mindset, and I know John has been trying to move to the more-effective-process, management way. I applaud him for his efforts and am sorry to see him leaving the school system.