Oh! My! Goodness! Delaware and other states are jumping from its own testing program, the DCAS, over to the Standard Assessment's version. After seeing the tests, this is plain crazy.
In response to my public clamoring I do appreciate the Department of Education making the presentations to allow various leaders in our community to experience Common Core. They for one, should be commended on that act.
Now, The subject matter. The test. The impossibility. The results. The Grading......
These need to be debated... Among all those looking over the materials in these illumitory work sessions, based on sideways glancing and eye manipulations, was this reaction!.... "Oh, My, Goodness, These are really hard! I can't do them. As a certified leader of America, I'm embarrassed!...."The first time, out of twenty two questions I missed 5. (I was confident I had a hundred on it too). The second time, (I took the same test over), I missed three ( again, confident I had 100). As someone who for fun, works through theoretical physics equations, (It's fun; really!) I was quite surprised....
Which brings up the obvious question...
Why are we teaching very young children impossible theoretical situations that they will never use? Or one better... why are we making it so hard that their only option IS TO FAIL?
I'll confess, We weren't supposed to be doing the tests (someone was talking, blah, blah, blah) so I did all the calculations in my head. Had I pencil and paper or used a calculator, I may have done a better job, on some. Most of the errors I made were not conceptual, but were created by having so many multiple calculations involved, that an error was allowed to slip in through an open door somewhere.. In truth, it was just so damn hard to go back over and check ones calculations (it literally hurt my head), that I didn't.
The Smart Balanced test is harder than last year's DCAS were. I could achieve a perfect score on the DCAS... But the Smart Balanced Test impressed me as a product of what a dumb person's idea would be, of what being really smart is: the tedious grind of long sequences of multiple problems.... It's guiding principal seemed to be let's design a maze so hard, that no one can get out... Or in a more modern context, ... let's design a computer game that is impossible to win, except when we play of course, since we know the answer... See how smart we are?
For one. We are testing a child's, teacher's, school's, district's, state's effectiveness just by 22 questions. Remember the SAT's? Missed one, it was one 300th of a your score. Miss one of these, ... down 4.5%, miss two; down 9%, miss three; down 13.5%. Miss four, down 18%.....Now if these were easy questions, it would less of a big deal... Where is New York City:... In New York.. What is the capital of Delaware: ... Dover. Things we think all of society should know, we can test in this method and determine if a person can function adequately in society.
But when we devise Rue Goldberg conceptualized problems to test one's knowledge in this same fashion,... we get into trouble...
There was one problem I looked at for 5 minutes thinking there were far to many variables to solve...I was actually looking for a trick answer hidden somewhere, saying it could not be solved. Eventually after that lengthy time frame I did figured out how it was to be done and solved it, but from someone who analyses numbers, who plays with numbers, who understands numbers, to have this question on a child's test, was just whacky.
There is no way to teach a child to do well on this test. Just like there is no way one can program a Commodore 600 to predict tomorrow's weather. It is all about the hardware. I did not use any of my public education or collegiate skills in solving these problems. I used what I have learned from using a calculator over all these years really; understanding how numbers operate in a system, and accidentally stumbling across shortcuts on my own.
The students who will do well on this test, will be those who are not necessarily smart, full of tactics or have a wide knowledge base. None of those help at all... it will be those who are creative. Only those who think outside the box!
Only those who can say, "ok, this is what the box would tell me to do, and I know because they are tricking me that will be the wrong answer, so, let me try to figure out from all possible options, first where the trick is,... then I can answer the problem..."Those type of people may do ok on these tests (provided they have the moderate sufficient math skills), and psychologists tell us those type of people make up less than 2% of our population.
You may have seen these tests before. These are what MIT uses to weed out its freshmen. These are what the Ivy League science classes use to weed out those who shouldn't be pre-med. These are essentially: culling tests. The are designed to cull, to only allow a few people to pass through the doors of opportunity, and to chase all others away.
So why are we doing this to public education, which is supposed to be for everyone? The very foundation of public education is to give everyone a fighting chance, an equal opportunity getting started in life? There appears one reason why we would undertake such an action:: to destroy public education.
Seriously. Why else would we take a young man, from deep in the inner city, no dad ever, no mom for 6 years, who lives with his grandmother, who has to walk past his street's drug-lords or their minions on his way to school and back, who has no computer, who only eats 1000 calories a day, and who, if he doesn't socialize with his block's gang, gets beaten up and possibly raped, like they did that other guy...... why else would we expect him to pass the equivalence of an entrance exam into MIT? (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).
SO HE FAILS!!! There is absolutely, unequivocally, unalterably, NO OTHER REASON TO SUBJECT ANY CHILD TO THIS TEST.
I do appreciate the Governor and Secretary of Education Mark Murphy, making these tests available for public inspection....
Below, are links so you too, from your home, can peruse all these tests that are hereby offered. My expectation is that most of you will be able to answer 3, so if you do better, you are in the top 10% of the population. So please, don't feel embarrassed by your score! Instead, imagine how you would feel at age 11, taking the same 5th grade math test that I did, and for the first time... realize you were stupid compared with what you were "supposed" to know! Imagine how a child feels, with less baggage than you carry, feels, facing these questions for the first time as do you!
It is not you. It is the test. It is nothing but the test. It is all the test.
The test IS.... Common Core. If education is supposed to teach us what we all will need and use in life to become successful, ... why are we spending so much focus, time and energy, on learning something none of us already successful people have, or will ever use?You know something of what we do tend to use every day? 7 X 8 = 56. It is amazing how so few children under 9th grade now can solve that on the spot, or even have a clue.... that is because they stopped teaching times tables in 2005, Learning "principles of math" was more important....
Remember cursive? Not taught. Did you not know that? It's just like Arabic to children under 8th Grade... One has to read to their children all hand written letters directly from your mother.
Common Core anyone? Here, have a go... (If denied access, use Firefox as your browser) Just keep the registering information the same, "Guest XXXX" and immediately hit the button marked "Sign in". Then choose a test. I would like to hear you comments if you took it.