Bethany Nowviskie

  • Published: Jan 26th, 2013
  • Category: documents

the evaluation

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(Update, Winter 2015: Chad has re-posted The Evaluation on Medium, along with another piece of whistle-blowing futurism entitled “We will all be illiterate soon.” Messy and recommended.)

The next time Chad Sansing tells me he’s written a short story, I think I’ll read it immediately. You can skip my preamble, too, and download a PDF version of this sobering, dystopian near-future meditation on American education gone awry, right now. Other formats, below.

theevaluationvariant3Several months ago, my husband posted a brief, sci-fi vignette to the Cooperative Catalyst, tagging it with phrases like “merit pay,” “standardized testing,” and “school discipline.” I didn’t realize he had continued the story until a couple of weeks ago (a grim Saturday we spent in our pajamas, mourning Aaron Swartz), when he made a CC-licensed version of the full thing available online.

Still, I didn’t read it — at least, not all of it. Just enough to know I wanted to wait for a quiet moment. Tonight, I was reminded of “The Evaluation” by this report of brave teachers at three Seattle public schools whose act of civil disobedience is to refuse to administer and to be judged by deeply flawed standardized tests. So I returned to Chad’s story, and was struck enough by it to interrupt his dinner at Educon 2.5, to insist that he send me a plain-text version, for dolling up and posting in multiple formats, right away. You can read it here:

PDF (prettiest)
EPUB (for iBooks and various readers)
MOBI (for the Kindle)
TXT (for remixing)

or, newly, on Medium.

Chad teaches middle school humanities at a grassroots, teacher-led (ie. not corporate-run), arts-infused charter school in Albemarle County, Virginia — the Community Public Charter, which he helped to found. (Update: he’s now a technology teacher at the BETA Academy — “build, experiment, tinker, apply” — hosted within a public middle school in Staunton, Virginia.) Chad writes and speaks frequently about redeeming what he calls an “authentic and democratic” education, for teachers and students alike, from a culture driven by dehumanizing standardized assessment and punitive notions of discipline. You can find him on Twitter at @chadsansing. He’s the teacher you wish your kids had, every year.

Creative Commons License This site uses a heavily modified version of Bryan Helmig's Magatheme. Work at by Bethany Nowviskie is always CC-BY. Want to know why? The falling letters are by Wayne Graham. He kindly made them to replace a set I designed in Flash in the late 1990s and had in place for more than 17 years. Not a bad run! Ave atque vale.