Bethany Nowviskie

  • Published: Jan 26th, 2013
  • Category: documents
  • Comments: 3

the evaluation

Tags: ,

(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.

Tags: ,

3 Responses to “the evaluation”

  1. Jack
    on Feb 1st, 2013
    @ 6:12pm

    Without a question, Chad Sansing is an awe-inspiring teacher, mentor, coach, and lover of learning. With The Evaluation, he has written something that needs to be heard from the halls of our schools to the halls of Congress. Everyone who has a child in school, knows a child in school, or knows someone with a child in school would do well to heed Chad’s call. Rare is the person willing to throw away the ‘box’ and stand for what’s right, even if they must stand alone. Chad’s such a person. His is a voice that rips the veil of inertia from the needs of learners–and those who guide and nurture them–so we may see more clearly the path we must take. My respect and admiration for Chad is off the charts! He is a consummate educator and, without doubt, the teacher I wish I had many years ago. Chad, thank you for writing The Evaluation. Bethany, thank you for sharing it with us.

  2. Making $50,000 Worth It « Tie And Jeans
    on Feb 7th, 2013
    @ 10:47pm

    […] in schools. This comparison is rather common at the moment, and tends to degrade down to various dystopian combinations of teacher evaluation schemes and “merit” pay. I’m going to sidestep that for the moment, although I’m certianly interested in […]

  3. #teachtheweb week 3: learning on the open web ←
    on May 17th, 2013
    @ 7:44pm

    […] My classes go best when I learn how to teach my kids by watching them learn. They go poorly when I pick a strategy or teacherly trope to obfuscate the triviality of a decontextualized lesson. Teaching and learning can be transparent and, in fact, they are at their very best when teaching clearly matters and students’ work stands for itself as evidence of excellence or inquiry. When teaching and learning aren’t transparent, I think we move toward a future like that of The Evaluation. […]

Leave a Reply


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.