Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Common Core To Bring Standardized Tests Every Nine Weeks

Want to know how they're going to grade teachers and schools using "reliable data"?

They're going to bomb the school systems across this country with testing through the Common Core:

Yesterday, I noted a few worrisome signs that the Common Core effort is moving forward with a lack of attention to how it may clash with other practical considerations or improvement strategies. The risk here is aggravated by the fact that the Common Core effort has now largely been handed off to state assessment directors, test developers, psychometricians, and overworked staff at a few national organizations--and these well-meaning people aren't necessarily interested in or sensitive to the broader impact of their handiwork.

Recent conversations, highlighted by the papers and discussion at the ETS gathering in Atlanta, suggest to me that we're rapidly blowing past the happy talk of "fewer, clearer, higher" standards and into the more potentially divisive question of how one designs assessments, curricula, and instructional materials that fit those standards. The party line has long been that a veritable raft of curricula and materials will all work just fine. Yeah...I'm not so sure about that.

The assessment experts are designing assessments to measure the various elements of those standards in precise ways. At that point, many of those championing common standards seem to think it only sensible to provide curricular units, lessons, and instructional materials that will link the standards and assessments. This should hardly come as a surprise, as it's been the central argument of influential work by respected scholars like Linda Darling-Hammond and Richard Elmore for more than a decade.

The PARCC consortium, for instance, is looking to craft through-course assessments that will test students every nine weeks or so. "Through-course assessments" are tests that are administered at regular points throughout an academic year. The PARCC model envisions rolling these quarterly assessments up into the summative assessment.

Under such a system, all schools in participating states will need to cover that material in the prescribed timeframe or risk bombing on the assessment. To a layman, this starts to look a lot like granular prescription of scope, sequence, content, and instruction. And, despite the familiar assurances that the Common Core won't impinge on curricular or instructional freedom, it may very well pose grave problems for charter schools or other schools that employ an alternative curricular or instructional model. (Which isn't all that surprising, given the covetous glances that many of the designers cast upon centralized, highly prescriptive systems like those in Finland or Singapore.)

The people pushing this - Gates, the test prep companies, the education publishing companies - are licking their lips at this.

How much money is going to be made off school districts and states when EVERY MOMENT IN THE SCHOOL YEAR is going to be either test preparation or assessment?

And of course the ed deformer movement will have plenty of data to use for value-added assessments of teachers.

Plus let's not forget whose computer programs will track that stuff.

Oh, boy - if Common Core is not killed by a massive uprising soon, you are looking at one top-down, heavily mandated public school system run on regimentation and fear.

Teach to the test or get closed.

Teach to the test or get fired (after being humiliated in the value-added lists in the papers first.)

I have argued at my school against the Common Core, have said that if this stuff comes to pass without pushback, we will all be reading from the same ETS, Pearson or McGraw-Hill script every day of our teaching lives and giving tests every couple of months that will be used to grade students, teachers, and schools.

So far, most people seem to glaze over and say "Well, okay, but what can you do? You can't fight it..."

Bullshit, you can't. You can call this what it is - an attempt by the education deform movement, the corporate education establishment and eduvultures to rewire the entire public school system into one BIG TEST PREPARATION FACTORY that will harm children, teachers, schools and ultimately, society.

I'm not a huge fan of the writer of the above warning about Common Core, Rick Hess. And I think Hess is wrong to say that the people behind Common Core are well meaning and simply not thinking through consequences. I think they have thought through the consequences very much and this is EXACTLY what they want - a system built on fear, regimentation and regular nationwide assessments.

But Hess is right about one thing - if Common Core comes to pass as currently constituted without sufficient pushback from the states and districts, we are looking at one big, f----ing mess.

3 comments:

  1. I don't think in Finland and Singapore the for profit testing industry is so highly involved with their highly prescriptive common core curriculums as ours plan to be.

    Prescriptive common core curriculums may be a good thing, but if there are tests they ought to be developed and administered by teachers in conjunction with non-profit governmental and educational entities, not rent-seeking multinational corporations. The ideal would be for teachers to have the greatest possible dignity and autonomy compatible with such agreed upon standards.

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