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piggy bank wearing graduation cap and with money sticking out of slot
Profits over learning.
What is the single most important thing that elementary schools need to instill in their students? Think about it. What one thing will help our kids grow up to succeed in school and set them on their way to succeed in life? It's not something in math, or in reading, or science, but it provides a foundation for kids to excel in all these areas. Give up? Here it is: love of learning. Love of learning is the precondition for achievement, it provides the motivation for it. A child who loves learning will learn to think critically as well as soak up new skills and new information because it will be fun.

Most kids show up in kindergarten loving learning. Elementary school is a time for learning basic skills like computation and how to sound out words, but it should also be a time for deep exploration into fascinating topics, and project-based learning. The last thing it should be is a time for "drill and kill," for the kind of mind-numbing, soul-sucking, repetition of exercises that teach little more than how to take a test. Every year, however, more and more of kids' time is spent on exactly that, thanks to standardized testing and the countless hours spent prepping for it. The end result is not only time wasted, but all too often an extinguishing of kids' love of learning. Thus, tests themselves are detrimental to children's education.

And let's be even more clear about what the problem is with test prep. As Marc S. Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, explained:

There is far too much test prep if, by test prep, we mean setting aside good and challenging curriculum in order to prepare students for low-level tests of basic skills that rely on remembering facts and the rote application of procedures.
In New York state, standardized testing of students in grades 3-8 wrapped up this week, with three days of math tests. These followed three days of English Language Arts tests earlier in the month. Including set-up, the test essentially takes half the school day, as the kids can't go straight from the test into another serious learning session without a break. Essentially, three full days out of 180 in the school year are thus taken up by testing. For comparison, the third graders, i.e., 8-year-olds, sit for their tests for more hours than do those taking the Medical School Admissions Test (MCAT), i.e., the people who want to become doctors. Oh, and the fourth and fifth graders sit for even longer. Simply put, kids should not need to be tested for this many hours in order to evaluate what they've learned.

There's more to be learned if you'll follow me beyond the fold.

Furthermore, the tests are awful. They contain poorly written questions, lifeless sample passages and often fail to even test what kids are actually learning, as Elizabeth Phillips, principal at Brooklyn's Public School 321, explained in her New York Times op-ed article. And here's another testimonial from a teacher who felt the need to remain anonymous:

During the test, my readers, who months ago couldn’t get their noses out of books, complained of stomachaches as they persevered and tried to read texts that were over their heads and had no relevance to their lives, age, or backgrounds....These tests are turning reading and writing into chores, sucking the life and love out of the students’ young literary lives.
And where do these tests come from? Not from educators, but from Pearson, a for-profit company contracted by New York state to develop them, and which earned additional funds off the product placements for Nike and Barbie that kids had to wade through while taking the tests.

Oh, and now word comes from the Department of Education confirming that there were missing pages from some of the booklets for the third-grade math tests. No problem, the state just told districts to photocopy the missing pages or ask the state to fax them over. Great job, Pearson.

Louis CK, a public school parent as well as a brilliant comedian, has been tweeting about the test prep as well.

My kids used to love math.  Now it makes them cry.  Thanks standardized testing and common core!
@louisck
I don't agree with everything Louis has to say. He slams the Common Core itself, which is in fact a valuable push to raise learning standards across the board. But we agree 100 percent on the testing and the associated test prep, which really is making kids like Louis' and mine (I too, have a child taking these tests) cry. And yes, mine has cried many times due to the volume of prep and poor quality of the test prep materials.

But wait, you say, New York state has come to the rescue with a new law limiting test prep to 2 percent of class time over the course of the year (which would still mean more than three-and-a-half school days of prep, i.e., over an hour a day in a six-hour day that also includes lunch and other subjects, for four full weeks leading up to the test).

Here's the thing: Who's going to enforce that law? And how? Who's going to tell the teachers whose evaluations will continue to remain dependent on kids' test scores to lay off on the prep? And the principals are in a similar boat as the teachers regarding how their job performance is evaluated. Additionally, the brand new contract between New York City and the teachers union signed by Mayor Bill De Blasio includes some performance bonuses that will be awarded based on—you guessed it—test scores (along with other measures). For what it's worth, based on current reports, I'm reasonably optimistic that the new contract is an overall plus both for the kids and the teachers. But we'll see.

Back to test prep. As Diane Ravitch summed it up: "Because high-stakes are attached to the tests, who will dare to limit test prep?" Who's going to limit test prep, in particular when—wait for it—charter schools are exempt from these limitations? Go ahead, clean the coffee off your monitors.

Kids can opt out of the test, it is true, and growing numbers are doing so. One family opting out is that of Rob Astorino, the Republican running for governor of New York against Andrew Cuomo. It's actually a smart move politically, although wholly cynical given that if all he cared about were his own kids, he could have just had them opt out without making a campaign issue of it. Astorino has slammed "Cuomo's Common Core" and noted that it "came from [Bill] Gates and, later, Washington bureaucrats—the geniuses who brought us Obamacare." Lovely.

One point worth making is that many New York City kids won't be able to opt out of the tests because they are central to their applications to middle and high schools, many of which use the tests the way colleges use the SAT. Think about how sick it is that 9-year-olds take a test that has a significant impact on their educational future by determining the quality of their middle school education. Who thinks it is a good idea to put that kind of pressure on little kids? Furthermore, opting out of taking the test does not mean opting out of all the test prep. Those kids still have to be in class and do the test prep homework every day.

Here's what it comes down to: If preparing for and taking the tests means taking kids away from real learning for a significant chunk of the year, then we are doing something very wrong. But since some people are making a profit from it, it just goes on and on. Time for us to demand a change.

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Comment Preferences

    •  It's not just standardized testing (5+ / 0-)

      This year my son (5th grader) had to participate in a statewide test that involved writing a 5 paragraph essay.  So he and his fellow fifth graders spent the year learning how to write a 5 paragraph essay in order to pass this thing.  

      One can argue whether this is an appropriate use of a 5th grader's instructional time (I would argue not), but I can tell you this much:  It went a long way toward killing any chance that my son might develop a love of writing.  

      I also have to say I have no problem with skill and drill/rote learning as part of a broader teaching style.  Knowing your math facts, for instance, is a pretty dang good thing (and I have seen the flipside, as my son's school uses a math program that does not focus at all on knowing basic math facts.)  Much as I dislike the abuse of standardized tests and its negative impact on our schools, I can't be utterly dismissive of skill and drill.  

      •  But rote learning works so well (0+ / 0-)

        in India to send people over to take American Jobs! If you've ever called the Microsoft support center in India you'll find that they can give you standardized answers but there is no creative thinking to be able to actually solve a customer problem. Standardized testing simply turns our children into robots. And don't forget the added bonus of using standardized testing to break teachers unions.

      •  My teachers first taught us how to think (0+ / 0-)

        THEN they taught us everything we needed to learn, which required thinking.

        Now they seem to have it backwards, or as if thinking logically comes from reading, writing, arithmetic, which it doesn't necessarily

        If corporations are people now, then people are corporations....

    •  To justify any test, there must be measures of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      chimene

      how well it predicts success.  For example, do the grade school tests predict success in high school?  College?  And the difficult one - the most important one - success after you are out there working in the real world.
      How well does the test industry predict success?

      •  It irritates me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        that journalists seem to get Math wrong but it really isn't a necessary skill for their trade. I can't see how Standardized Testing (STEM oriented) helps future Artists or Entertainers or Pols or any number of careers requiring creativity or people skills. "They" focus on US young people testing lower than similar aged at 18 but ignore that Worldwide testing of 30 yr olds shows Americans to be the smartest.

        Yes another shameless plug: if the US had a VAT (Value Added Tax) then "boiler room operations" (low cost high profit businesses, imports using cheap labor, ...), like Pearson, would be at less advantage than companies hiring well paid workers, example private school teachers, or US manufacturers raw materials cost. Simple: higher profit margin = higher tax; lower profit margin = lower tax. Example: Insurance companies that payout most to their customers would be taxed less but Insurance companies with obcene profits (like United Health Care) would pay more tax.

  •  Yeah but when standardized testing (10+ / 0-)

    becomes an Olympic sport , we will get the gold .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:07:24 PM PDT

  •  I think we're confusing the particular... (9+ / 0-)

    ...and the general here.  The real problem as I see it is all particular: in order to establish standardized tests as proprietary instruments, the test industry makes their tests as counterintuitive and idiotic as possible.  Any two adults of median intelligence could, in a day, write better standardized tests for grade-school students than Pennsylvania's PSSAs, for instance.  I'm pretty sure most other tests are as bad if not worse, and since we can discount stupidity as a factor when it's everywhere and always, it's most likely the proprietary impulse.  

    I don't see a general problem with standardized testing.  It's easy to design a non-ridiculous evaluation instrument, one that you could even "teach to" (in the much-reviled phrase) without doing violence to real education.  What we need--all we need--is to get the test industry out of the equation.  If you don't like national or state tests, then do it by district so teachers themselves design the test...that's how easy it is to do.  But there should definitely be a test that's created beyond each student's classroom, for reasons too obvious to list here but I suspect I'll end up having to do just that.

    It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

    by Rich in PA on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:07:31 PM PDT

    •  The Only Driving Question in American Governance (23+ / 0-)

      for the past 45 years is how to get the corporation INTO every equation.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:12:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  If it were this easy (5+ / 0-)

      "then do it by district so teachers themselves design the test" and  states and districts and schools didn't know they would lose money for doing it this way instead of the NCLB way. . . things would be different . . . but it isn't and they're not.

      •  We can't let the districts design the tests... (2+ / 0-)

        ...for the same reason we can't let the Foxes guard the chicken coop.

        We need a standardized external evaluation to make sure that the kids are actually learning.

        It is wrong that these tests are being designed by corporations. They should be designed by a panel of educators, instead. But parents need some objective way of knowing how their kids are progressing. I have not heard of a better one than standardized tests.

        •  Some suggestions (6+ / 0-)

          But parents need some objective way of knowing how their kids are progressing.

          I do not think there is an object way of knowing if children are progressing. The notion of progress is not exactly an objective one.

          What do parents expect their children to be able to do? How many of those things can be measured with a multiple-choice test?

          I suggest that if parents want to know if they are learning, they might try talking to them. Choose books for the student to read and talk about the books. Read the newspaper together and talk about what is going on in the world. That will tell you things that no multiple-choice test can show.

          The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

          by James Earl on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:21:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  If there is no... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ian Reifowitz

            ...way to know if children are progressing, we should simply close all the schools and let them watch Disney all day long!

            Seriously, there are important things that a test can measure. Math. Reading. Grammar. History. Science.

            If a parent is less-educated, they may not be able to, "Read the newspaper together and talk about what is going on in the world." The whole point of Public Education is that no child should be limited by the failings of their parent. It's an unattainable goal, but we shouldn't stop reaching for it.

            •  You are assuming quite a bit (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nance, Mostel26

              You are assuming that all the teachers are always willfully dishonest in the grades they give the student and the information they provide to the parents.

              The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

              by James Earl on Sun May 04, 2014 at 08:46:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  No. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                LtPowers

                It doesn't need to be "all" the teachers, just a few.

                It doesn't need to be "always", just in some cases.

                And they don't need to be "dishonest", they can just be wrong!

                But for some reason, many kids keep getting HS Diplomas...even though they have not mastered basic skills. These kids should have flunked. Maybe their teachers were dishonest, or deluded, or simply too kind-hearted. I don't know. But they should have been flunked.

                •  NCLB has been in place (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26, Desert Rose

                  since 2001. You'd think all that standardization and testing would have solved all the world's problems by now. But no.

                  •  NCLB has been in place... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...for a long time, but only recently have there been mechanisms to punish systems that fail kids. Even these mechanisms are weak and and they are only available to families rich enough to move to the suburbs or pay for private school.

                    •  Wow. (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Nance
                      but only recently have there been mechanisms to punish systems that fail kids
                      You meant "improve", right?  Instead of punish?

                      Tells me everything I need to know about where you're coming from, actually.

                      It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

                      by gtnoah on Mon May 05, 2014 at 10:51:09 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                •  Really? (0+ / 0-)

                  Really?  "Just a few" teachers, "in some cases," who are "wrong" in their grades and evaluations is enough to bring the whole system down?  Really?

                  And the only remedy you can come up with is massive standardized multiple-choice tests of every student, every year, in every subject? Because no matter what you have been reading, for teachers and administrators it is all about the scores on those tests. If students do poorly, or merely improve at modest rates, you want them all to be fired.

                  How is that going to help?

                  And about those students you say should have been flunked? What do you or Bill Proctor know about reading? There is no such thing as "grade level." It's a BS scoring scheme. People do not read at 12 different levels. They also do not progress from non-reader to proficient reader in uniform annual increments. That is not how human being grow.

                  Finally, I'd like to see the whole of America, starting with people like you who champion these tests, to take them and see what kind of scores we get.

                  The history of music is mortal, but the idiocy of the guitar is eternal. ― Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

                  by James Earl on Mon May 05, 2014 at 11:13:45 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  How does one spell assume? (0+ / 0-)

                That might help guide your rhetoric in discussions with this character.

        •  Execpt that there are some things that can't (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Nance, Mostel26, BMScott

          be measured with a purely objective, multiple choice test.  Remember, all essay tests are by their very definition not objective because they require a human to grade them effectively.  So the obvious solution is to cut anything that can't be measured with a multiple choice test from the curriculum.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:08:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Are you a teacher? (5+ / 0-)

          Have you ever run a classroom in a public K - 12 setting?  I see in your profile that you are a "former wall streeter who now works in education", so I was hoping you would clarify.

          I assume you're not a teacher since you just compared teachers to foxes and students to chickens and a school to a coop.

          You don't trust teachers and schools?  Fine.  Get in line. But that doesn't make you an expert.

          You think a standardized test can measure everything that happens in learning? It can't.  It's a silly, inaccurate, expensive and lazy approach to education.

          We have tests and grades in school classrooms already and have for a long time.  If a parent wants to know how their child is progressing in school, talk to the expert that works with them every day.  And while you're at it, cancel some standardized tests and just let that expert teach.

          It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

          by gtnoah on Sun May 04, 2014 at 11:00:46 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  You misunderstood my analogy. (0+ / 0-)

            The chickens aren't the students.

            The chickens are the public funding we entrust to the school system.

            No industry should be allowed to "self-regulate". Not bankers, not coal-miners, not defense contractors, nor even Teachers. Especially not Teachers, since what they do is more important than all the others combined!

            If the current standards can be trusted, how do all these kids without basic skills manage to get High School Diplomas? Because some school system didn't want to look bad and Socially Promoted them or simply allowed them to get a diploma even though they didn't have the skills.

            If the educational establishment is going to regain their credibility, they must submit to objective measurement.

            •  Fine. Now let's apply the same standard (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Mostel26

              To Wall Street.  And the Pentagon.  And Congress.  And Pharmaceutical companies.

              And you still didn't clarify how exactly you are connected to education, since you brought up the subject of credibility.

              It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

              by gtnoah on Sun May 04, 2014 at 11:40:41 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  If we win more elections... (0+ / 0-)

                ...we can get those standards applied to finance, pharma, and defense.

                Congress, alas. They make the laws, so they will always be self-regulating.

                I'm not going to specify exactly what my educational experience is. I really need my anonymity. But it doesn't matter. It's the Internet, I could be anybody.

                If I cite a statistic, I'll generally provide a link to verify it. And I seldom make statements based only on my own expertise.

                It's the Internet. "Never trust the storyteller, only trust the story."

                •  You did provide a link. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Mostel26

                  But it was to a politifact article on 2010-2011 info from the notoriously awful FCAT test in FL.

                  Aside from the cherry picking, the reality of what's happening in FL is that more parents opted their kids out of FCAT testing this year (https://www.facebook.com/...) because it is not an accurate reflection of their kids' abilities and takes too much time, basically taking over the school year. And it isn't used for much of anything except retaining 3rd and 10th graders -- the results are never back in time to help students and teachers and are never used the following year to make any sort of adjustment in teaching/learning.

                  But throw all of that out the window because next year we will have another layer of standardization and testing -- CC and CC-based testing. The scripted classes have already started in some places. (Yes, some innovative and talented and flexible schools (read: better off) and teachers have tried to work with CC in non-scripted ways.)

                  Testing for next year? Well, the FL DOE had to spend this year fighting over what to call CC. Can't call it CC because so many people hate it. So they ended up calling it Florida Standards.

                  And to satisfy jagoffs on both ends of the school experience, they added cursive for young students and calculus for high school students.

                  And now next year's test for all this standardization is in development. Which must just be a treat if you are a teacher trying to plan next year's activities. But, never mind, you can just follow the script.

                  And never mind because there won't be anything to compare with. Like every other time the do-or-die standardized test has been changed, there will be no real year-to-year comparison available. And whatever data is available will be received too late to do any good anyway.

                  I have to go check my email now and respond to the excessive number of parents asking about homeschooling. (I run a private/umbrella school for hsers in FL.) Too many families are being pushed into this choice, families who would never have left the ps system if the test prep and testing insanity wasn't making them miserable.

                  And these are the "lucky" families -- the ones who can figure out a way to afford to hs. The ones you are so worried about -- the ones who can't read or demonstrate other basic skills on standardized tests -- many are trapped in ps, too poor to make any other choice. We do not live in a state that is particularly kind to poor people or their education -- one of the first things we look to cut after not paying enough taxes and coming up short is schooling on every level.

                  "These kids should have flunked." -- That's pretty much the plan for too many students. Pass them along but fail to provide what they need. We all know what they need but this state isn't going to do anything about it. But we're sure as hell going to test them as we fail to help them.

                •  This is getting comical (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Nance
                  "I'm not going to specify exactly what my educational experience is. I really need my anonymity. But it doesn't matter. It's the Internet, I could be anybody."
                  I'm not asking for your birth certificate.  We're having a conversation and you claim to be in education, so the way you're connected speaks to your credibility.  Are you a teacher? An administrator? A consultant? A lobbyist?  Do you work in the public schools? Private? Charters?

                  It makes a difference.

                  Not to mention, you can't talk about your anonymity, then make statements like this:

                  If the educational establishment is going to regain their credibility, they must submit to objective measurement.
                  and expect to be taken seriously.

                  It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

                  by gtnoah on Mon May 05, 2014 at 08:56:50 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

        •  NAEP has been the measure for decades. (0+ / 0-)

          It has been flat since NCLB.
          http://fairtest.org/...

          It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

          by Desert Rose on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:41:19 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Some might call "flat" a victory. (0+ / 0-)

            Despite more poverty, lower wages, and more broken families, we have not seen the decline that would be expected. Also, nothing will happen without more funding. The tests only illuminate the problem. We need to still spend money if we want to solve the problem.

            What educational professionals need to get through their heads is that there will be no additional funding as long as the public views The System as a black box. First, we need sunlight, transparency and data. That's what the tests are for.

            Then we need to fight over how much more to spend and where to spend it.

            •  Sunlight and transparency? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Nance

              Where is the secrecy?  What are schools concealing?  I have little control over how the public views us, but let's not fool ourselves by assuming that public perception is 20/20, or that testing illuminates anything.

              You have piles of meaningless data and you're advocating we set policy based on that data -- from Washington DC.

              It.  Won't.  Work.

              It is only after a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize all situations can be resolved without violence.

              by gtnoah on Mon May 05, 2014 at 10:33:11 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  There is transparency. (0+ / 0-)

              My large suburban district has testing data and budget data available for public viewing at any time.  I believe this may be a requirement.

              Sadly the resources that would really help us improve learning cost money.  Smaller class sizes would be a huge improvement.  No one wants to pay for that.

              “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

              by musiclady on Mon May 05, 2014 at 01:51:20 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is what they do with standardized (15+ / 0-)

      test scores. Value Added Measures for teachers, sometimes using scores for kids you didn't teach, and grades for schools. Tests were never meant to be used in this way, nor are the valid for this purpose.

      It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

      by Desert Rose on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:26:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Forgot to add the 3rd grade retention law, (8+ / 0-)

        which is a Jeb Bush addition to school reform. In AZ, kids who fail the reading test are retained in 3rd grade. In my school that means second language learners. Research says it takes a person 5-7 years to develop true fluency in another language. So a 3rd grade ELL may have 4 years of English education, but is expected to perform like a native speaker.

        It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

        by Desert Rose on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:20:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I have no problem with grades for schools. (3+ / 0-)

        In the end if there are things kids ought to learn in a given grade and they're not learning those things, I don't see any alternative to recognizing that reality.

        It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

        by Rich in PA on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:39:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I have 40% mobility in my school. (7+ / 0-)

          By 5th grade, out of 100 kids starting in Kinder, about 14 are in 5th. My kids can make 60% mastery on the tests and sometimes in the 70s, but we will never achieve the scores necessary for AMO.

          If you discount poverty and mobility, you are ill informed.

          It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

          by Desert Rose on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:58:43 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This is why we got NCLB. (2+ / 0-)

            Between reflexively saying all children should achieve the same, and reflexively saying that some children can't achieve because of X, Y and Z, there's always going to be a majority in society for the former and I can't say that I blame them.  

            It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

            by Rich in PA on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:01:35 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, all you are grading is the socioeconomic (7+ / 0-)

              status and education of the parents. People who can't pay the rent and move often, sometimes leave without the kids' books.

              I'm not saying the kids can't achieve, I'm saying the deck is stacked against them. If they live in my hood, they go to my school. We take 'em all. Regardless of the school grade they will give us.

              It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

              by Desert Rose on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:09:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Well, perhaps the argument is that your (0+ / 0-)

                school just shouldn't take those students or do whatever you can to get them kicked out, IEP be damned if necessary.  Of course, the final end game will be to simply have students who don't make sufficient progress be "humanely euthanized" (yes, as in killed).

                You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

                by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:09:18 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  The companies HAVE to have a point spread...how (13+ / 0-)

      else to justify their existence, sell test preparation material, and con the public into paying money to them.  Children HAVE to fail the tests...it's how they prove that public education is failing...all according to Paul Weyrich's vision to destroy public education.

      This is so different from what I hope to see from my students when I assess them. My tests are challenging, but I want all my students to get an A and say the test was "easy"; it means they have learned, and the methods that I chose to use for a particular group of learners aided that learning.

      Standardized tests do not show that individual students are learning to the best of their abilities (TPers have definitively illustrated that not all people are born with the same IQ...snark). The format of the tests also favor students who tend to be analytical learners.

      A great elementary teacher recently told me as she teared-up..."We are killing the love of learning in 3rd grade!"

      Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

      by ranton on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:55:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "I don't see a general problem with standardized (11+ / 0-)

      testing"

      and that is the slippery slope.  The concept of testing doesn't seem so bad in itself, but the purpose, design, and execution of the testing is where all the problems lie.

      What is the ultimate motivation behind why we are even doing standardized testing in the first place?  We didn't have this type of testing back when I was a kid, especially as a means to judge the quality of teachers.  The implicit, unspoken purpose and reasoning behind this new wave of testing is to assume that bad teachers and bad teaching is the only reason why kids don't learn in school.  

      The reality is that there is a strong correlation between the income level of parents and how well children do in school.  Poverty makes a huge difference.  But these tests will do nothing to increase the funding that makes into schools to address problems caused by poverty, now will they?  And the people who watch Fox are all brainwashed to say "It's not the money we put into the schools, that has nothing to with the problems that schools are having."

      Oh really?  My question is to such folks is to name one or more areas where the amount of money poured into an endeavor does not affect the quality.  If you were going to remodel your kitchen, do you think that you would be as pleased with the outcome if you spend $10,000 as if you spent $100,000?  I think not.

      No Rich Child Left Behind

      Here’s a fact that may not surprise you: the children of the rich perform better in school, on average, than children from middle-class or poor families. Students growing up in richer families have better grades and higher standardized test scores, on average, than poorer students; they also have higher rates of participation in extracurricular activities and school leadership positions, higher graduation rates and higher rates of college enrollment and completion.

      Whether you think it deeply unjust, lamentable but inevitable, or obvious and unproblematic, this is hardly news. It is true in most societies and has been true in the United States for at least as long as we have thought to ask the question and had sufficient data to verify the answer.

      (emphasis mine)
      •  If evaluating kids is a slippery slope... (4+ / 0-)

        ...then teaching and learning are purely esthetic exercises and it's no wonder that spending on education is seen as purely discretionary.  I don't thing society will recognize education as something essential, to be funded as such, without some way to determine whether education is actually happening.

        It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

        by Rich in PA on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:41:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Please keep in mind that this kind of testing (8+ / 0-)

          is relatively new.  Does that mean that all the decades of teaching and learning that came before were purely esthetic exercises?

          And you may not have realized it, but you are putting words in my mouth.  Evaluating kids is nothing new.  Evaluating teachers based on the test results of children, and holding teachers "accountable" for poor test results, is where the problems lie.

          The net result is to make scapegoats of vast numbers of teachers for problems that are "above their pay grade", so to speak.

          And for what?  To close public schools and replace them with something better?  What exactly is that?  Private schools?  They aren't engaged in this standardized testing nonsense.  Charter schools?  On average, charter schools perform no better and actually perform worse than public schools.  And there appears to be a problem with charters working systematically to eliminate students that will bring their scores down, and thus manipulate the statistics to drive their scores up.

          I agree, at first blush it seems like a reasonable idea to hold teachers accountable in this way.  But when looking deeper, it is not clear that the ultimate goal is actually not to improve education for all students.   We are taking a giant gamble as a society with these steps without having a clear understanding that the outcome achieved will be better.

          •  It means that education proceeded for many years (0+ / 0-)

            ....without the necessary evaluation, cushioned by an economy that provided decent employment for most people who didn't get a good education, and frankly relegated the rest, based largely on race, to whatever they got.

            It's not the side effects of the cocaine/I'm thinking that it must be love

            by Rich in PA on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:39:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Ok, you seem to be a huge fan of testing (0+ / 0-)

              Are you aware that private schools are exempt from the testing mandates being shoved down the throats of public schools?

              There is no set of test results that can be used to compare the education obtained from one private school to another.

              Why do you think that is?  According to your reasoning, these private schools are skating by without necessary evaluation.

              Why do rich people spend vast amounts of money sending their kids to schools that don't test them ad nauseum to "ensure that they are learning"?

            •  Desert Rose just taught me about Jersey Jazzman (0+ / 0-)

              who wrote:

              "It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty."

              Diane Ravitch (are you familiar with her?) highlights some of his thoughts in her column, Arne Duncan’s Terrible, Horrible, Very Bad Day:

              Duncan, au contraire, seems to think that the way to “fix” the schools  is with more testing, more merit pay, more charters, more test-based evaluation of teachers, more school closings. No one, including Duncan, has ever explained how his way will fix the schools or someday fix poverty.

              Jersey Jazzman says that Duncan’s rant reached “new depths of sanctimony.” He writes: “No one is saying schools shouldn’t be improved. ... The plain fact is that no one here in the “bubble” has ever said our schools are “just fine.”

              The Jazzman offers a simple list (created by Rutgers’ Bruce Baker) of the determinants of low-performing schools. These are the factors that stand out: high proportions of low-income students; high proportions of minority students; high proportions of English language learners; larger class sizes.

              (emphasis mine)

              Teachers are being set up as scapegoats so that free public education as we know it can be dismantled.  Why? To increase the profits of clever capitalists who have recognized a new way to make a boatload of money.  Is there ANY evidence that the replacement system will be better?  No.  Just as for-profit health insurance resulted in sick people being denied care to maximize profits, for-profit education will result in poor children being denied education.  Follow the money.  The "reformers" facade of wanting to improve education ring as hollow as Republican politicians who claim they want to "save Social Security and Medicare".  They don't want to improve education, they want to make money.

              In every profession, there are bad apples.  Yes, there are bad teachers.  But are the MAJORITY of teachers bad apples?  Is that why public schools "are failing" (btw, that factoid in itself is debatable).  Is the problem really that lazy teachers have been exploiting innocent children all these years?  Lazy greedy teachers who get paid "so highly" for such "easy work" in their "cushy jobs"?

              It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman
          •  Jersey Jazzman: (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Older and Wiser Now, musiclady
            "we're the only affluent, developed nation that allows more than one in five of its children to grow up poor. If more testing really helped lift kids out of poverty, no American child would go to bed hungry."
            http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/...

            It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

            by Desert Rose on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:54:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Desert Rose, I LOVE your sig (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Desert Rose

              so much that I am going to repeat it here ...

              It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

              Thank you so much, you've just earned a new follower!

      •  Tests can be used to increase funding. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        If we have solid, standardized, objective data showing exactly which students need help, we can then focus more funding on them.

        •  If only it were so easy ... (4+ / 0-)

          It is not a secret that rich kids do better in our educational system than poor kids do.  It has been known for quite a long time.  And the problem appears to be getting worse:

          Stanford study finds widening gap between rich and poor students

          "We had expected the relationship between family income and children's test scores to be pretty stable over time. It's a well-known fact that the two are related," Reardon said. "But the fact that the gap has grown substantially, especially in the last 25 years, was quite surprising, striking and troubling."
          I agee with your idea, that if we know who exactly needs help we could then take steps to help them.  But that would only happen if there was political will to help them, and perhaps a willingness to make the education of children a higher priority than other things we might spend the money on.  You know, the old guns or butter debate.

          We do know who exactly needs help, we've known it for a long time.  But poor kids don't have a lot of political power in our system.  And a lot of people seem to prefer guns to butter, sadly.

        •  we already know which kids need more money (3+ / 0-)

          poor kids

          yet inner city and rural schools continue to be under funded compared to their suburban neighbors

      •  If "throwing money at" something doesn't help (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, Older and Wiser Now

        ...then is that why trickle-down doesn't work?

        Funny... I never get an answer to that from conservatives.

        Nobody deserves poverty.

        by nominalize on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:24:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Yes, and the problem with both communism (0+ / 0-)

      and pure unregulated free market capitalism (like in Somalia) is the people and not the economic philosophy. I don't see a general problem with communism or unrestrained capitalism.  It's easy to design a communist/unregulated free market society, without doing violence to actual people.  What we need--all we need--is to get sociopaths and other bad actors out of the equation.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:00:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This is precisely what France does (0+ / 0-)

      (and a lot of other countries) at the end of middle school and high school.  They're called finishing exams (in French the brevet for middle school and the baccalauréat for high school), and they do make people nervous as hell.

      But they are designed by top educators in the education ministry, given and graded by teachers (no one grades their own region's tests, and the names are hidden), and completely uniform across the country.

      Courses "teach to" the tests, which are given by subject. But the tests are not inane multiple choice--- they're hours-long essays and problem sets.  For instance, in the high school philosophy exam you get one question, such as "Is language nothing but a tool?", "What do we owe to the State?",  or "Is science limited to describing facts?". And you get four hours to develop and write your answer (in ink, mind you, no scratch-outs).  You also get an excerpt to discuss (orally, because you need to be able to do that sort of thing).  

      It's not a perfect system, and it's mega stressful for the couple of weeks it lasts.  But it's worked well since 1808, and it speaks to Rich in PA's point: a national standardized exam/curriculum isn't inherently a bad thing.  That said, the "bac" doesn't make any rentiers any profit.  So maybe it isn't "right" for America.  eyeroll

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:22:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Our 4th graders took the PARRC field test. (13+ / 0-)

    Questions and answers did not match, and students were asked to compare the structure of paragraphs, which is something we don't even teach at 4th grade. Kids finished the test in record time, which means....everybody failed, but we'll never know.

    It is ridiculous to pretend that firing teachers based on student test scores, starting charter schools, giving out vouchers or implementing merit pay will overcome the challenges facing a child living in poverty. -Jersey Jazzman

    by Desert Rose on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:08:30 PM PDT

  •  Kindergartners are stressed (12+ / 0-)

    by the end of the year.
    Got to get them ready for first grade when the big time tests begin.

  •  What about the principal and teachers (so cowed by (15+ / 0-)

    the standards set for them) who wrote this letter, cancelling the kindergarten annual show so that 4 and 5 years old can prepare for higher education and careers? How bone-headed is that?

    http://coreyrobin.com/...

    The reason for eliminating the Kindergarten show is simple. We are responsible for preparing children for college and career with valuable lifelong skills and know that we can best do that by having them become strong readers, writers, coworkers, and problem solvers. Please do not fault us for making professional decisions that we know will never be able to please everyone. But know that we are making these decisions with the interests of all children in mind.
    This was in Suffolk County in Long Island, NY.

    It's *Gandhi*, not Ghandi

    by poco on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:12:21 PM PDT

  •  What is the single thing that made the US the (4+ / 0-)

    great the country it was until Reagan came along?

    Free forced Education.  

    We were the envy of the world and now we get an F-- when we are ranked on the world stage.

    •  I don't know where you're getting your (4+ / 0-)

      information, but the US is not failing. Now if we continue along the present path being pushed by the Republican and Democratic political leadership, our educational system will suffer.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:44:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Actually, the US IS failing (5+ / 0-)

        The school systems are turning out more and more poorly educated voters, who swallow whole that fed to them by their favorite network, and vote accordingly.

        The US Schools are under-performing all of the comparative nations, and are made to look semi-respectable by cherry-picking results for comparison.

        Education is being sold to the lowest bidder, and teachers are steadily victimised and de-valued. By the time anyone pays attention to this, and attempts to stem the bleeding, the US will be a generation behind other industrialized nations.

        When more and more students have to be taught, with budgets lower than last years, of the year before, more of which is being diverted to private profit, it would be very hard to make the case that the US is NOT failing.

        I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
        but I fear we will remain Democrats.

        Who is twigg?

        by twigg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:23:13 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can and will make a case for US education (4+ / 0-)

          When it comes to cherry-picking the stats, it is the critics who are most guilty. When factors such as poverty are taken into consideration, the US does quite well in international comparisons. I would argue that testing results are a not a valid measure of educational excellence, but that what the critics use.

          I've read too many articles citing China as an example of what we should aspire to be. They take test results from one city where less than 40% of kids are allowed into high school and extrapolate that into a premise that claims that China's education system is superior. As I have commented many times, anyone who believes that China is educating all of its children better than the US is educating all of our kids is not intelligent enough to discuss educational policy. Thus my dismissal of anything that Arne Duncan has to say.

          And while the Finnish system is producing great results, their population is small, relatively affluent, and rather homogenous. It should be noted that Finland puts little emphasis on testing. We certainly should emulate them in that respect IMHO.

          As Berliner and Biddle documented in their best-selling book, the so-called crisis in education was manufactured.

          A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

          by slatsg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:33:58 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I understand your points (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            slatsg

            but you have problems with this:

            n factors such as poverty are taken into consideration, the US does quite well in international comparisons.
            You can't factor in poverty, and use that to disguise the parlous state of many school districts.

            That would only be valid if the other countries were as prepared as the US to accept such a large proportion of their people living in poverty.

            I hope that the quality of debate will improve,
            but I fear we will remain Democrats.

            Who is twigg?

            by twigg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:37:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think we actually agree (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              twigg

              If I read you correctly, you are stating that this country accepts huge income disparity, high rates of poverty, and marginalization of groups based on ethnicity. You believe that we can't use these correctable problems as an excuse for poor educational outcomes. If that is your argument, then I agree.

              My point is that I didn't create this system and in fact have been working to change it; but meanwhile it is the system under which I (and my students) must perform. Given the parameters under which we operate, my position is that we do reasonably well.

              A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

              by slatsg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 08:22:02 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  My kindergarten teacher (4+ / 0-)

    was Mrs. Malsbury.  She is the only one of my elementary school teachers I remember.  And I owe her a huge debt:  she taught us little kids cooperation, gentle competition, but most of all, she gave me a love of learning and the esthetic that goes with that.

    Are there any such teachers left?  Not many, I'll bet.  They are too worried about when they will get their pink slip.

    American exceptionalism at work again...maybe they should call it "Every Child Left Behind."

    •  Actually there are many teachers like that. (7+ / 0-)

      I worked with a wonderful group of elementary teachers who made learning a joyful experience.

      If treated as professionals and allowed to escape the "one size fits all" approach favored by politicians (President Obama included), today's teachers are every bit as competent as, and in fact superior to, the teachers I had while growing up in three fifties and sixties.

      A proud member of the Professional Left since 1967.

      by slatsg on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:40:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  every child left behind (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz
      American exceptionalism at work again...maybe they should call it "Every Child Left Behind."
      That's exactly what I do call it. And have for years.

      Great minds, and all that......

      :-)

      "It's high time (and then some) that we put an end to the exceptionalistic nonsense floating around in our culture and face the fact that either the economy works for all, or it doesn't work AT all." -- Sean McCullough (DailyKos user thanatokephaloides)

      by thanatokephaloides on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:09:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I have proof (4+ / 0-)

    I have FoxNews-approved proof of the fact that testing is counter-productive:

    1)  Kids are dumber now than ever before in history.  (Just watch O'Reilly's "Watter's World" for proof of this.)

    2)  We test kids now more than ever in history.

    3)  Correlation = Causation

    Ergo, 4) testing makes kids dumber!

    If anything, it just makes TOO much sense!

    I want my government to be big enough to drown Grover Norquist in a bathtub.

    by sercanet on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:39:23 PM PDT

  •  The Dark and Dirty Secret in all this... (11+ / 0-)

    Is that it penalizes kids who are "late bloomers" possibly -- FOR LIFE.

    We all know what happens. The test results come in and the class "stratifies" by the test result scores, with separate tracks for different levels of achievement.

    And are these tracks really designed to elevate students to higher levels? NO! Not only because their more designed for "proficiency" than elevation, but because these tests are always graded on a curve. So there will ALWAYS be high, medium and low tracks, and students to fill them.

    I was in school a fairly good time ago, but I doubt that aspect of human nature has changed much, has it?

    What I really, really, really don't understand (and I never had kids, so maybe that's why) why the PARENTS aren't up in arms about this shift toward the testification of education.

    Much of this continually stems from the Prop 13 wave that swept the nation. When property taxes were cut, the biggest hit was to public education. And the attendant politicization of education that occurred subsequent to the drop in funding spurred many higher income families to place their children into PRIVATE school, leaving most of the public education system to the poorer families who often lack the resources to fight back effectively.

    Education is one of the few places in which the GOP has won considerable ideological victories, which considering the clout of teachers' unions is a bit perplexing. Perhaps if they spent some of their resources on a public information campaign about GOOD education, they wouldn't need to spend so much money on elections.

    What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

    by equern on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:43:19 PM PDT

    •  True, but it's better than the old way. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz

      Before standardized testing, tracking was done based on whichever kid the teacher liked best.

      Much of the anti-test wailing and whining is coming from teachers who are seeing their subjective (and sometimes bias-driven) power being challenged.

      In my Junior High school, the advanced track English classes were nearly all White. Black kids were not thought to be good enough to enter these classes. The tracking decision was made by one 6th-grade teacher:

          -- If she liked you, you got on the track the led to Advanced Placement and you got to read Jack London and Joe Haldeman.

          -- If she didn't like you, you spent the next few years reading stuff like  Durango Street.

      Not fair.

      •  Hmm.... (4+ / 0-)
        Much of the anti-test wailing and whining is coming from teachers who are seeing their subjective (and sometimes bias-driven) power being challenged.
        Proof?

        {crickets chirping}

        "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

        by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:10:28 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  What don't you agree with? (0+ / 0-)
          "Much of the anti-test wailing and whining is coming from teachers..."
          Just go to any AFT, UFT, or NEA press release. Or ask some of the many Kossacks who are teachers. Teachers hate standardized tests. Surely there's no argument here!
          "...teachers who are seeing their subjective...power being challenged."
          That's why they are called "standardized" tests instead of "subjective" tests. A single teacher has no authority to change the result. And a score in the Harlem can be compared to a score in Scarsdale, side-by-side.
          "...sometimes bias-driven..."
          Contrary to the propaganda, teachers are not magical angelic beings. They are humans, and subject to all the same mental deficiencies and imperfections as the rest of us homo sapiens. Framing biases. Unconscious prejudices. Confirmation bias. The freakin' horrifying Pygmalion Effect.

          An objective, standardized test serves as a check-and-balance to ensure that students are not only being evaluated accurately, but fairly.

          •  No, it does not; it merely (0+ / 0-)

            ensures that results can be compared.  There is no guarantee that the results accurately measure whatever was to be measured, and the tests certainly need not be fair.  Moreover, some of the most important things cannot be measured by objective, standardized tests.

          •  I am not a teacher, and I disagree (0+ / 0-)

            Standardized tests only measure the ability to regurgitate information.

            Not that that's a terribly BAD or unwelcome thing, but it is useful only so much as it serves as a SUPPLEMENT to other time-tested teaching methods, not SUPPLANT them.

            "Standardized testing: Supplement, not Supplant."

            The NEA marketing division can send the check to my Paypal account.

            And btw, you may want to seek some form of counseling about that anti-teacher thing.

            You're right, teachers are human, not angels. And I've had a few of the human kind. But the angels more than made up for them.

            What separates us, divides us, and diminishes the human spirit.

            by equern on Mon May 05, 2014 at 09:24:32 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Gross overgeneralization: (0+ / 0-)
        Before standardized testing, tracking was done based on whichever kid the teacher liked best.
        In fact this was clearly false in all of the settings of which I have personal knowledge.
  •  Yet... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    American testing doesn't compare to Japanese and South Korean high stakes testing.

    I'm guessing Europe is similar too, with Germany directing kids into trade schools at a fairly early age.

  •  People won't stomach blaming kids for failing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Older and Wiser Now

    The entire standardized test debacle was so utterly predictable, and the entire nation was powerless to stop it.  Why?  Political correctness.

    Who's going to tell little Suzie and Johnnie that they're not as smart as the other kids?  Who's going to tell them that they aren't working hard enough, didn't study hard enough?  Who's going to tell the parents they aren't spending near enough time teaching their children after school?  And that upon reaching 18 it's too late, they're not smart enough to get into college?  The answer was obvious.  No one.  Of course Suzie and Johnnie aren't dumb.  It's their horrible teacher's fault they can't think a rational thought.

    And thus standardized teach was born.  When the teacher of 35 kids is to blame for some kids not learning, and not the kids and most certainly not the parents, this is what we get.  It was natural for teachers to defend themselves.  "Hey, we're not all bad.  A few sure, but not all".  And thus standardized testing was accepted by all.  We have to weed out those bad teachers who are screwing up little Suzie and Johnnie, who aren't at all to blame for not studying.

    Parents cheered!  Get rid of those bad teachers so we don't have to be parents.  Teachers went along because what choice did they have?   And the concept of learning being the responsibility of those doing the learning ceased to exist.  

    Teachers teach to the test, because when the kids can't be blamed for not caring and failing, what choice do they have?

    This country doesn't have the stomach to go back to the way things were.  Where the smart kids succeeded and the dumb kids failed because they didn't care and didn't try.  And the blame was placed where the blame was due.

    •  Oh, Norm... (3+ / 0-)

      This country has never had the kind of focus on education that, say, exists in Korea and Japan...

      Think of our movies. Going back 50 or 70 years. You've got the know-nothing cowboy with the gun who succeeds while the intellectual from the East just flounders.

      THAT is popular culture here. In New York City, yes, you have a population of mostly highly educated people who value education.

      In the flyover states? Not so much. They pay lip-service to it, but really, they hate and despise the intelligentsia.

      English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

      by Youffraita on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:43:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  While happily using cell phones, farm equipment (4+ / 0-)

        and pickup trucks designed by people who went to grad school and are really smart and damn proud of it. The hypocrisy and stupid, it burns.

        "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

        by kovie on Sun May 04, 2014 at 06:01:22 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I blame outsourcing too (0+ / 0-)

          I grew up in a tractor factory town. The smart kids were supposed to be engineers and the rest the factory workers, unionized so they'd still make a living.

          Unions were busted, factories closed, everyone told to go to college. And teachers were blamed when that whole scam broke down.

      •  I grew up in flyover states (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rexxnyc

        First, stop pretending that movies were reality. And education in the 80's was nothing like you describe. There were gifted classes for the smart kids, normal classes for most. In junior high there was shop for the dipshits who hadn't already dropped out.

        No one blamed teachers for the dumb kids who wouldn't think. No one demanded that every kid be in gifted classes or AP. No one expected all the dipshits to go to college. And no one taught to the test.

        That all started in the 90's when it became "mean"
        to blame the dumb kids for not working. That's what No Child Left Behind was all about.

        It was also about sending dumb kids who didn't belong in college to college so they could rack up massive student loan debt. One of the biggest scams ever.  

      •  Well also keep in mind that in China, Japan, and (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Norm in Chicago

        South Korea not only are your test scores pretty much public information but students are actually encouraged to bully other students with lower scores into comitting suicide.  Eliminating (as in KILLING OFF) your lower performing students would help test scores quite a bit, wouldn't you think?

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:13:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hmmm....... (0+ / 0-)
      This country doesn't have the stomach to go back to the way things were.  Where the smart kids succeeded and the dumb kids failed because they didn't care and didn't try.  And the blame was placed where the blame was due.
      I'm sure it sounded better in the original German.

      "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

      by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:12:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  So you blame the teachers then? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dirtandiron

        Can't have it both ways.  I guess you accept the premise that our teachers are failures, public schools are failing and we should just privatize all of it.  Because that's what blaming the teacher instead of the student does.

        •  That thinking always amazes me. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Norm in Chicago, Dirtandiron

          Public school teachers = bad
          Private school teachers = good

          I guess if I resign my public school job and take a private school job, I suddenly become a good teacher.

          “It is the job of the artist to think outside the boundaries of permissible thought and dare say things that no one else will say."—Howard Zinn

          by musiclady on Mon May 05, 2014 at 01:57:34 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  More like government bad, corporations good (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            musiclady, Dirtandiron

            Maybe conservatives don't blame the individual teachers, but probably they do.  Remember also, public school teacher = "lazy union worker", whereas private school teacher = "bootstrap pulling rugged individualist".

            Then there's all the big government liberal indoctrination that of course goes on daily in public schools, and private schools only indoctrinate about freedom and Jesus.

            But conservatives needed a way to attack public schools that the people would latch onto.  And attacking teachers while telling bad parents and dumb kids that they're just helpless victims was the strategy that worked.

  •  Not at Eva Moskowitz world-- (6+ / 0-)

    At Success Academy it's all test prep all the time.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sun May 04, 2014 at 04:54:44 PM PDT

  •  Man, South Korea here we come. (3+ / 0-)

    After having lived there awhile, I don't want this course for our own education system.  Their suicide rate is nothing to be proud of and their education system is actually smothering their youth, but the parents keep pressing on with test after test.

    This is not what made our country the king of innovation.

    "Hatred is never appeased by hatred in this world. By non-hatred alone is hatred appeased. This is a law eternal."

    by sujigu on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:08:52 PM PDT

    •  However you have to admit that killing off (0+ / 0-)

      the lower performing students would help test scores quite a bit.  Perhaps the next step to catch up will be to have any student who doesn't make sufficient progress be "humanely euthanized" (as in executed).

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:14:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Pennsylvania is starting HS graduation testing (3+ / 0-)

    In beta testing, 61 percent of high school seniors are flunking the algebra test.  I predict that the test preparers will massage the tests -- grade on a curve -- so that within two years, only 30 percent will flunk the test.  They'll lop off the bottom and extend the top and the test will prove nothing.
    But what about that 30 or 60 percent of failures?  Will they have a chance to relearn algebra so they can go on to college?  
    What is the point of testing that just makes sure we relegate the/a bottom third to second-class citizenship?  Maybe that's the point.

    Freedom of speech, in my view, does not mean the freedom to buy the United States government -- Bernie Sanders

    by OnePingOnly on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:13:27 PM PDT

    •  Algebra is like a puzzle (2+ / 0-)

      which is why I liked it. (I lost it over geometry, but I didn't need anything higher than that to major in liberal arts, so there I stopped.)

      Have the GOPers here so ruthlessly purged all the good algebra teachers? Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me at all.

      But there are some people who will never get it b/c, frankly, they don't have the brainpower. I see them at work all the time. The 36-year-old guy who painstakingly counts out his money b/c he really can't count very well. For example. And the illiterate guy whom you can barely understand b/c although his native language is American English, he speaks as though he has a mouthful of marbles.

      Test those two with Common Core, and it will look like the teacher did a bad job, when in reality, they just aren't smart guys. I would use another term but don't wish to offend anyone.

      English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

      by Youffraita on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:53:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Brainpower" is not unitary. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bakeneko, Youffraita

        I'm effectively innumerate. Wouldn't have a hope of passing Grade 8 math the way it's taught now.

        However, when I went into university, they didn't give a damn if liberal arts majors could do algebra, since it is irrelevant to any challenge I might have faced. I went on to do a Ph.D in intellectual history and to win a number of scholarships.

        If you insist that everyone be good at everything, then you'll shut the door to anyone whose talents are naturally unbalanced. I am very surprised that people do not understand that.

        "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

        by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:19:59 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Heh...I couldn't have got into college (0+ / 0-)

          without algebra and geometry. They were required. However, I just needed a passing grade: which I got. Bs in algebra and if memory serves, Cs in geometry.

          University would never accept me without those two. I also had to pass some English tests: no sweat, that's my forte.

          English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

          by Youffraita on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:26:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  two things (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      a) only 2/3 of high school graduates enroll in college, so 30% is probably what they're aiming for.

      b) I say this as a college professor:  Missing college does not doom you to a second-class citizenship.  

      In fact, a lot students waste their time at college, because they don't know what they want yet, but everyone says if they don't go they'll be "second-class" citizens.  

      And of course, only half the students even graduate in six years.  That is, getting into college is a guarantee of nothing.

      A lot of professional skills, including many lucrative ones, are gained far from the ivory tower.

      Much of the drive towards lunacy in our education system is driven by the misconception that there is only one path to success--- college.  That's the first trap we need to get our minds out of.

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:39:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for another needed posting on this topic. (8+ / 0-)

    People who know me here know that I am an elementary school teacher as well as a parent of two elementary school aged kids. My youngest is in Kinder and my oldest graduates 5th this year. The older one has been through the ringer this year in Texas. It was insane. Luckily he does very well so he doesn't suffer the added pressure and stress of worrying about his scores but it does stress him out. A lot of it is because his teachers pass along their stress to the students by default. Kids who don't test well suffer in their own separate hells.

    My youngest knows nothing of the realities he will face but the little ones in every school are tuned into the stress and are unintentionally being prepped for it, and it does great a certain stress. Around testing or practice days the mood of the school is "Shhhhh!!!!! Testing!!!" That is an overlooked but important intrusion on their magical world of discovery, and that's a part rarely considered in all of this.

    Something to consider.

    For my part, I don't administer tests so I am lucky but they do impact my sequencing and time. I hate them.

    I tell my oldest boy every time the issue comes up that they are just tests, mean absolutely nothing in the scheme of things, have no bearing I who he is or what he  can achieve. I do believe he has heard me say many a time that the state exams are "bullshit".  I think he agrees.

  •  Meanwhile, the kids don't get (6+ / 0-)

    much if anything in the way of art and music classes: stuff that we all took for granted back in the day.

    Stuff that helped make school kind of fun.

    Creative stuff, iow.

    If I were in school with that curriculum today, I would be so fucking bored out of my mind, I'm not sure I would have made it past sixth grade. As it was, I was pretty bored throughout elementary school, in English class. I could already read: why was I on page 56 and the class was on page 3? Leave me alone, teacher, I am barreling toward the end of the book!

    English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

    by Youffraita on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:22:46 PM PDT

  •  30,000 + refusals for ELA (7+ / 0-)

    hopefully even more for the math!

    our kids were among the refusniks.

    this is such a cynical pile of s@$%.

    thanks Ian for staying on it.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:38:55 PM PDT

  •  I see this crap as a substitute teacher. (2+ / 0-)

    Two weeks ago, I was in a high school math room. The students spent the entire 90 minute blocks on practice tests. The teacher had a huge calendar on the wall that indicated that her classes were doing non-stop prep/practice for state tests for three solid weeks.

    In primary, including kindergarten, there is typically--in each subject area--a short lesson followed by a regular and age appropriate activity or assignment. BUT that is always followed by one or more worksheets that review the concept using multiple choice questions complete with little ovals to fill in for the answers. So test prep is a daily activity beginning in kindergarten even though no state tests are required until 3rd and 4th grade.

  •  I got quite decent test scores without taking (2+ / 0-)

    a single prep class. I used books like everyone, but I thought that the tests were silly, especially since they basically taught you ways to "cheat", in the sense of helping you make guesses based on test biases and weaknesses that were basically gaming the system. I didn't want this to be what got me into a given school. I either did it on my own merits or not at all.

    I ended up getting into some decent schools, and attended one.

    "Reagan's dead, and he was a lousy president" -- Keith Olbermann 4/22/09

    by kovie on Sun May 04, 2014 at 05:58:37 PM PDT

  •  I recently covered a school board meeting (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    where the principals were reporting how the pilot PARCC tests went. The kids had to take the tests on iPads or on laptops and it took an inordinate amount of time trying to get them logged on. Some were never able to log on. The high school math teacher said there was a proof on the geometry test that was unsolvable. (She is a brilliant teacher I might add.) The tests are to be implemented next year. It isn't going to be pretty.

  •  Are you aware that Diane Ravitch (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BB Jam Fan, Ian Reifowitz, Mostel26

    is against Common Core?

    You wrote, "I don't agree with everything Louis has to say. He slams the Common Core itself, which is in fact a valuable push to raise learning standards across the board."

    I have mixed feelings about Common Core, myself.  But it bothers my greatly that Diane Ravitch does not support them.

    Diane Ravitch Bio

    While she originally supported No Child Left Behind and charter schools, Ravitch later became "disillusioned," and wrote, "I no longer believe that either approach will produce the quantum improvement in American education that we all hope for." In the major national evaluation, 17% of charters got higher scores, 46% were no different, and 37% were significantly worse than public schools, she said. High-stakes testing, "utopian" goals, "draconian" penalties, school closings, privatization, and charter schools didn't work, she concluded. "The best predictor of low academic performance is poverty—not bad teachers."
    Here are her views on Common Core:
    I have thought long and hard about the Common Core standards.  I have decided that I cannot support them ...

    After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t wait five or ten years to find out whether test scores go up or down, whether or not schools improve, and whether the kids now far behind are worse off than they are today.

    I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.

    •  I am aware. The tests to me are the real (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Mostel26

      Problem. The common core can work, and can be altered and can be implemented without testing.

      •  I agree with Diane (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Mostel26, Ian Reifowitz

        when she says "I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation."

        I don't trust the process by which all of these events are unfolding.  I deeply suspect that privatization of what has always been free public education is the real goal.

        Which means that concern for children's test scores is being feigned in order replace our current system with one that generates profits for a subset lucky capitalists who win in the end.  Those people don't truly care about the education of poor children, I fear; they care more about the bottom line.  

        To me, education and health care have a lot in common.  How much would any of us be willing to pay for an operation that we need or else we'd die?  The sky's the limit, right?  What option does anyone have at that point?

        How much is a parent willing to pay for the education of their child?  You either pay the price, or doom your child's future.  The price of a good education will rise to the extent that the market will bear.  And poor children will, sadly, be priced out of that market.  "Too bad, so sad" the corporate owners will say.  

        For-profit health insurance is immoral, plain and simple.  Insurance companies realized that they could maximize their profits by denying care to sick people, and that is what they were doing prior to the reforms of the ACA.  It was simply outrageous.

        For-profit public education poses the same moral hazards, in my mind.  Poor test results are being used, I fear, to advance that cause.  It's not clear to me where Common Core ends and "testing" begins.  They seem rather like conjoined twins to me.

  •  Evidence, please. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nominalize

    People say that, "test prep kills learning".

    I have never seen any objective, reality-based evidence that this is so. I have heard many tales and anecdotes, but no evidence.

     

    •  We are talking about something that cannot (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prairie Gal, Mostel26

      Be measured. Show me an objective measure for love of learning or the lack thereof. But at some point enough testimony is convincing, or should be. I watched the real learning that went on September through February and watched it disappear around March 1. Gone

      •  We musn't fall for the old scam... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that they played on the fairy tale Emperor.

        They took his money and sold him a suit of invisible clothes. They told that the suit of clothes was so advanced that it couldn't be objectively measured.

        So the Emperor strutted about from K through 12 wearing  nothing but his "Love of Learning". Of course, we know how this ends.

        About half of all NYC public school graduates enroll in City College. Of those, about 80% turn out to be unready for college-level work.

    •  it kills two months of the year of schooling (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Prairie Gal, Ian Reifowitz

      test prep, not real work

      then a week or two of tests

      then another week or two of the real teachers being forced to grade the tests, and substitutes brought in for far too long

      and no afterschool through all this.

      My kid has been reading the same book since January.  Its a classic, but ...3 months to read and discuss one book?

      •  I disagree. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nominalize

        I say it guarantees that at least two months will be spent on actual learning.

        My daughter has spent the past few months prepping for the English and Math tests. Lots of arithmetic, fractions, geometry, grammar, writing, and reading, reading, reading.

        Papier-mâché and magic markers and other bullshit has been put on hold. Instead, the kids learn. And because asses are on the line, the teachers (who have been real heroes) make it happen.

        The kids in my daughter's inner-city public (non-charter) school are far ahead of where I was at her age. And I went to a snooty school in a very expensive suburb.

        Now that the tests are done, they are doing more social studies and science and art. The kids are finding Social Studies much easier NOW THAT THEY CAN FREAKIN' READ. Science is also much more enjoyable to learn, NOW THAT THEY KNOW SOME MATH.

        If NYC schools keep this up, we may not have to move to Westchester...

        •  I'd say you (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          musiclady

          evince a fairly narrow view of what "actual learning" is, and your comparison merely tells me how bad your education was, not how good your kids have it. It is, after all, quite possible for your kids to have been taught reading and math without the high-pressure testing cluttering up their curriculum--and they would have had more time for it to boot, which is the main issue.
          I would guess, based on your comments, that you also think teachers are incompetent, or were, before they had "their asses" put "on the line." (Which makes me question your sincerity of calling them "heroes.") If you don't think that, what's the point of the testing in the first place?

          "Lone catch of the moon, the roots of the sigh of an idea there will be the outcome may be why?"--from a spam diary entitled "The Vast World."

          by bryduck on Mon May 05, 2014 at 12:59:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Point-by-point (0+ / 0-)

             1) Yes, maybe it's possible to teach reading and math without high-pressure testing. But all I know is it didn't happen until the testing regime began.

              2) I don't think teachers are incompetent. Especially NYC teachers who generally have advanced degrees and years of experience. I do think that teachers (like all humans) do what they are incentivized to do. Reading and Math are now the marching orders and, voilà!  The kids are now much better at reading and math! It's an EDUCATIONAL MIRACLE!

            (Why didn't this happen before? Think about it -- what school would annoy parents and stress kids with massive homework assignments on tough subjects if they don't have to? Before these high-stakes tests, there was nothing but pain for anyone who rocked the boat. Even though the boat was headed for a waterfall!)

              3) The teachers are "heroes" because they put up with a radical change in their worldview and still delivered. The school ran after-class workshops to help the kids who needed it.  The Board of Ed robocalled every parent the night before the test to make sure that kids got sleep and got there on time.

            Testing is high-stakes because (get this) Education is a high-stakes thing. Education is very important. People who object to high-stakes tests should not be in a high-stakes profession like Education. They should quit teaching and enter low-stakes professions like Marketing or Hamburger-Flipping.

  •  Goodnight, folks! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mostel26

    I'll read and reply in the AM. Thanks for stopping by.

  •  Meanwhile, elsewhere.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    From the curriculum review outline for the province of British Columbia (2010), which I happen to have right beside me....

    Consultations to date have pointed to clear directions: A more flexible curriculum that prescribes less and enables more, for both teachers and students and a system focused on the core competencies, skills and knowledge that students need to succeed in the 21st century.

    Feedback from teachers on BC’s Education Plan has suggested that currently, B.C.’s curriculum has too many prescribed learning outcomes and that reducing those outcomes will give teachers more time and flexibility to allow students to explore their interests and passions.  

    The task for the Ministry as it develops new curriculum and assessment guidelines is to remove barriers to personalizing instruction so that the curriculum is optimally manageable for teachers and allows them more freedom to find approaches that work for schools and students alike.
    (http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/... )

    "They bash your face in, and say you were always ugly." (Solzhenitsyn, Gulag Archipelago volume 3)

    by sagesource on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:27:10 PM PDT

  •  good article- but no need to defend common core (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    defending Common core as a good idea implemented poorly missed the point. The purpose of common core is the testing. Without the testing, common core is a suggestion, not a standard. which is ironically the best way to look at common core

    •  Or if you prefer, if a standard allows such (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, Noamjunior

      an extremely crappy implementation to meet the standard then it is the standard's fault for not disallowing that piss poor implementation in the first place.

      You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

      by Throw The Bums Out on Sun May 04, 2014 at 10:17:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Which is the problem when eval. is English (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Throw The Bums Out

        First off- the state tries to evaluate writing by giving 52 multiple choice questions and three short (2-3 sentence) written responses
        secondly- the whole process is completely opaque- so we just have to take the testing companies word that their test accurately measures what they are testing for

        really, the whole thing is a farce designed to destabilize career teachers and enrich the testing companies

        •  Yes it is. If certain other standards were (0+ / 0-)

          as poorly written as the Common Core (and related stuff) is you probably wouldn't even be able to post that message just now.  In fact, at one time it was almost that bad.  Do you remember when you had to jump through hoops to have Internet Explorer 4, 5, and 6 installed on the same computer* (along with Netscape 3 and Netscape 4) because there were many sites that would only work in one specific version and using a newer version would make that site not work?

          *Normally this is impossible but there were various tricks to work around that, basically the Windows version of LD_PRELOAD combined with either in memory or on disk patching if I remember correctly.

          You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

          by Throw The Bums Out on Mon May 05, 2014 at 02:57:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The Jeopardy answer is: Arne Duncan (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    Who thinks it is a good idea to put that kind of pressure on little kids?

  •  No Child Failed for Profit! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    We have the power and technology to get money out of testing now!

    First we need to pivot away from the argument of tests vs no tests. Lets Only talk about the big corrupt companies wasting your tax payer money to fail your children. How we can create, and grade these tests for free. This way we use their language against them and don't give them the ability to use the lie " teachers just don't want to be held responsible" against us.

    Then we attack them on multiple other levels using simple and effective arguments.

    Here are the only arguments that should be made:

    1)In football we don't extend the field for the team who wins the Super Bowl. We acknowledge that the team who wins is a winner. Then why are these companies making the tests harder to succeed in? Because they need to fail a certain number of students each year to make profit.

    2) Do you consider Bill Gates successful? Well he dropped out of school and like many other successful people. Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, etc they all either dropped out of school and or did horrible on tests but were successful in life. So these tests shouldn't be the be all end all of measuring success for our children.

    What do you think?

  •  "I like math, because it's easy and it's fun" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    The quote is by a little girl in one of the poorer schools in the Seattle area.

    Probably a dead issue and  dead comment by now but I know a young fellow in the Seattle area who has at least a partial solution. He needed to come up with a way to deal with the testing situation that didn't interfere (to much) with actual education.

    He introduced fun into the program, play to learn. Almost all animals learn through play. Lab rats have had their cerebral cortex excised, and still play. That's meant to be a parable of no child left with mind. Know, don't think.

    The man mentioned is going to be teaching teachers how to teach while hobbled by core standards, I wish him well.

    http://seattletimes.com/...

    Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it. - Mark Twain

    by Wood Gas on Sun May 04, 2014 at 07:36:58 PM PDT

  •  Test prep (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Prairie Gal, Ian Reifowitz

    34,000 New York children refused to take the ELA state tests. Many more refused the math.  Speak up!  Watch and spread the video. Parents have a right to refuse!
    http://youtu.be/...

  •  And there, in a nutshell, you have the reason I (0+ / 0-)

    homeschooled my two children: to preserve their love of learning, to open the world to them, to let them learn at their own pace and to keep their curiosity alive.

  •  The Common Core is the Problem Too (2+ / 3-)
    Recommended by:
    cville townie, wrights
    Hidden by:
    scoop, despaminate3000, Mostel26

    We really need to kill that idea that the Common Core is a valuable teaching aid. I teach middle school ELA in New York and I'm pretty disgusted by these standards. They are highly technical and pedantic, forcing skills that have little or nothing to do with how kids read or write.

    Before you think I'm a crank, let me quote a few examples. This first is from the sixth grade reading standards:

    Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative
    meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone.

    Eighth Grade reading standards:

    Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style.

    http://www.engageny.org/...

    I know how to get kids excited about books, even advanced texts like The Odyssey or Shakespeare. These kinds of skills focus on the kind of things that most readers, including myself, don't care about. They are easily testable skills, which I suppose is the point of them, but terribly written. If you look at who created the Common Core, you'll find mostly people involved in the testing industry (http://deutsch29.wordpress.com/...).

    Please don't buy into the Common Core. It was not created by teachers and are a poorly written set of standards being pushed onto the American public.

    •  Spambot false alarm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz

      Reported to helpdesk.

    •  What you describe sounds great. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ian Reifowitz, belinda ridgewood

      "Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative and connotative
      meanings; analyze the impact of a specific word choice on meaning and tone."

      What is bad about this? Learning how to understand the words you read, not just the dictionary meaning, but also how to spot and understand the unspoken connotations and implications that reveal the speaker's perspective and intent...  What's wrong with reading to truly understand the person talking, instead of just reading everything from one's own narrow perspective?   I'd love to hear your take on that.

      In other words, what you excerpted sounds awesome.  If anything, sixth grade is too late to start teaching this.

      "Compare and contrast the structure of two or more texts and analyze how the differing structure of each text contributes to its meaning and style."

      This is basic literary analysis.  Again. Why wouldn't you teach eighth-graders this? Because they should have learned it before?  

      Nobody deserves poverty.

      by nominalize on Mon May 05, 2014 at 03:48:06 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What is Missing Here (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        cville townie

        I'm back!

        I don't necessarily think these things are bad in themselves but the problem is that these mechanical and technical skills are becoming all that is being taught in literature. Imagine English class where the entire focus is on structural issues in text. Of course they should be taught, and I do, but the common Core demands that these are the skills worth learning. This isn't said explicitly, but they are the only things that are tested on the incredibly high stakes test. Remember, in New York standardized testing is 40% of a teacher's evaluation with 20% that one test in the spring. If students fail everything, well you can do the math with what happens to the teachers' evaluations.

        I can get away with ignoring these tedious standards a fair amount because my students perform well, but if I was a teacher of kids in need I would be forced to push these specific standards on my kids until they can perform well enough on the tests to pass. And have no illusion, kids hate focussing on these kinds of skills for long. They want to go to Narnia, romp with Old Yeller, sail to Treasure Island, rumble with Ponyboy, and argue as Beatrice and Benedick. This is the kind of things that get kids engaged.

        The bigger problem is "How do you codify and measure learning?" That's a tough one for anyone, but the very best person to do this is the child's teacher as he/she works with the child. Setting arbitrary standards created by non-educators isn't helping.

    •  Naughty spambots (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cville townie, Ian Reifowitz

      I fixed your permissions.

      Love that username btw.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Mon May 05, 2014 at 09:39:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Could you please (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ian Reifowitz

        send an email to the user associated with this account, letting them know they should come back?

        I get the feeling that with most of these spambot false-positive bans, people never know they were unbanned and don't bother coming back.

  •  Here's my idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    Assuming that Common Core and the tests are here to stay, and that more states will pass laws limiting the total amount of test prep, then I think the solution is to remove test prep from the classroom. That is, the district should hire test prep personnel who will work with kids from all the classrooms in the school separately, say, one hour per week. These sessions would be about how to take tests, how to practice for tests, how to prepare mentally for tests, how certain types of material are likely to be presented on tests, and so on. The classroom teachers themselves would not be involved in this at all, they would just teach. The one interconnection would be that the test prep person would make reports to the classroom teachers about how students in their classes did in this or that subject area during the test prep periods.

    This approach would do several things: It would remove test prep from the main classroom and make it only indirectly the responsibility of the main teacher(s). It would make class prep a little more stimulating for the students (since it would be different from 98-99% of their schooling). It might well improve test scores, since the test prep personnel would be specialists in testing, trained and focused on helping students maximize their test performance. It would also be a way to enforce the limitations on test prep time, since it would now be a matter of centralized scheduling.

    The downside would be that districts would have to hire test prep personnel rather than having their classroom teachers do it. Perhaps some kind of accommodation could be reached between the teachers' union and the district to share the cost, since this approach would benefit both sides.

    Well, that's it.

  •  We are turning into a test cram nation. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz, Mostel26

    Those who undertake the challenge lose their humanity. I know. I've watched my niece and nephew who are in the last months of high school, and who have many extra-curricular activities, turn into non-communicative, stressed and otherwise over-committed automatons. Naturally this is anecdotal and all the great kids that succeed come out just fine... 3, 2, 1...

    If test prep is limited, then out-of-school hours will become expensive test cramming courses.

    Makes a person want to cry what we are turning education into...

    Ugh. --UB.

    The Republican Party is run by the KOCH BROTHERS.

    by unclebucky on Mon May 05, 2014 at 07:37:38 AM PDT

  •  Wasn't Jeb Bush's brother (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    CEO of the company that did the fcat testing for Florida? Florida also gives taxpayer money to private schools, yet they are not required to do any standardized testing or even have certified teachers.

  •  Common Core (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ian Reifowitz

    It's my understanding this is the teaching method governors across the states selected and that funding came from Bill Gates.  Not sure who picked the insane testing method.  However, it's also my understanding that the common core method of teaching won't begin until 2016.  Anyone know if this is true?  Also hear the repubs plan to rename it "Obamacore" and blame it on him because he endorsed what the governors wanted, so they're hoping for rebellion against it.  We've been teaching to the test for as many years as I can remember.  When I was in elementary school we were taught to learn and at the end of the year we took a test to assess what we had learned, but our lives, our schools and stupid bonuses didn't enter into it.  I'm amazed the Teachers' association has allowed this to happen.  It's lazy learning and totally unproductive to what the kids should be learning.  From what I've seen most teachers can just take their lesson plans off the internet and that's lazy teaching.  Hope I'm wrong.  

  •  From the belly of the beast (3+ / 0-)

    I taught for 20 years in colleges and private schools in order to avoid standardized testing, and later I was an editor for a university press. Because of unforeseen expenses I took a more lucrative position at a company that creates standardized tests. The experience was surreal, beyond anyone's worst prediction, and I didn't last a year in the belly of the beast because of my conviction that what we were doing had nothing to do with education. The tests are brain numbingly formulaic and robotic, with symmetry trumping quality. This is an enormous industry that must have powerful lobbies pitching this drek to politicians who generally do not have the experience or insight to know education snake oil when they see it. The question banks that we developed were submitted by "master" teachers paid with a grant from the Gates Foundation. Hurray that teachers made some decent money, except an easy one-third of the hundreds of thousands of questions were plagiarized from other states' standardized tests, or were duplicates, or were ridiculous. Only a small percentage reflected the excellence that all our children deserve. Some testing companies are infamous for underbidding and then not fulfilling their contract standards for quality and deadlines. Also, we learned in the new year that our employer wanted us either to claim we were contract employees working from home and pay our own tax (up to 20%) or not file at all--it was up to us to be robbed or break the law. Reform means using testing money instead for more and better teachers in classrooms with caps of 15 or 20 kids, tops.

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