Thursday, August 8, 2013

Diane Ravitch on not-ready-for-primetime Common Core: "Keep...children home on testing day."

Common Core standards are getting bashed from the left and the right, but for completely different reasons. The left complains Common Core just wasn't ready for roll-out, which is turning out to be true, while the right would rather privatize education allowing for little or no accountability.

It’s also interesting to note Republicans were all for the one-size-fits-all failure known as No Child Left Behind, because it voucher schools to replace failed the failed public schools. With Common Core, they now have to change their conniving scheme, even though the new standards are failing just as many schools.

Education historian Diane Ravitch has gotten to the bottom of the Common Core mess. She even answered why my own son’s 8th grade reading test scores were so low:  
Daily News: Test scores across New York State have collapsed … Did the students suddenly get stupid? Did their teachers become incompetent overnight? Did schools fail en masse? None of the above. The state Board of Regents, having decided that the old tests were too easy, changed the tests and raised the passing mark … implicitly aligned the tests with a set of ostensibly national standards known as Common Core
I found this to be a little shocking:
But Common Core has never been subject to trial or field-testing anywhere. No one knows whether it predicts or measures readiness for college or careers. No one can explain why all 8-year-old students in America should be tested to see if they are on a path for college. As for careers, most of them probably want to be cowboys or police officers or astronauts.

The one certain result of the Common Core standards is that they cause test scores to plummet. Kentucky saw its passing rates fall by 30 percentage points using the Common Core. New York students have experienced the same blow.
There you have it. The goal of Common Core is a good one, but it would have been better if it had been based on actual research. Some European countries have already made those changes, so why haven’t we borrowed them? I have no answer.

But Ravich made a few other very important points:
So now, overnight, the majority of students across the state and in the city are failures. That means that the schools are now required (by the state’s rules) to provide “academic intervention services” for them, which will take money away from the arts, physical education, foreign languages, history, civics and other essential subjects. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan, defend the sharp drop in scores, seeing it as a healthy development that should be applauded.

The scores should not be taken seriously. There is no science involved in setting the passing mark on a test. It is a judgment call. It is subjective. This is like raising the hoop higher in a basketball game, or pushing the wall farther back on the baseball field to make it harder to hit a home run.

It’s not just the logic of the “reformers” that’s a problem here. The tests themselves were riddled with problems. Last spring, the Daily News obtained a copy of a fifth-grade state reading test. I reviewed it and compared it with the national tests administered by the federal government. The New York test contained long reading passages and questions written on an eighth-grade level. Why expect fifth-grade students to answer questions that are above their ability? Teachers told me that many students didn't have enough time to finish the test.

The leaders of the state seem intent on discouraging students, teachers and principals. Why do they want public schools to look bad? That is a question for them to answer. The madness must end. Next spring, parents should keep their children home on testing day. Or send them to school with a note saying that they are opting out of the state testing. They should exercise their rights as citizens and send a message to the state: “Not with my child.”
It’s time to get answers from State Superintendent Tony Evers, isn't it?

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