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Laura H. Chapman: Is This Generation Trapped in Stale Ideas?

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Author: dianeravitch

Laura H. Chapman, a frequent contributor to the blog, raises some important points about Common Core test and its reach into kindergarten and into the future:

 

 

You should be aware that PARCC tests are in the works for Kindergarten. They are called “formative tasks.” They are more accurately labeled “Tests for Tykes. You can find a draft of the exam for reading informational text as called for in the Common Core category at http://parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/PARCC%20DRAFT%20K-1%20Prototype%20ELA%20K_Reading_Spring_Informational%20Texts.pdf

 

The test is completely embedded in fully scripted lessons for the teacher. Judging from the reproducible worksheets designed for students, the test makers seem to assume that by the Spring of the school year, Kindergarten students will have learned, or been taught, to write complete sentences (with the proper heights of letters). They will also know how to color in a drawing of a fish. All of the questions are based on one “informational text” about fish. Additional plans are in the works for at least three more kindergarten tests, all of them called “formative tasks.”

 

There is a real mazy-hazy problem with retrieving trustworthy information about testing materials on line. For example “parcc.pearson.com” seems to be as authoritative as “parcconline.org/parcc-assessment‎. Then there is parcconline.org where you will find 194 pages of information prepared in 2012 by Achieve, Inc. and the U.S. Education Delivery Institute, the latter an organization lead by Sir Michael Barber, of Great Britain, and also the chief education advisor to Pearson. The lines bewteen the federally financed tests developed by PARCC and Pearson’s pursuit of profits is not at all clear.

 

Readers should know that parcc.com has test-prep materials for kindergarten math. They are called “games” and they are the product of a cartoon company in Great Britain, complete with audios in a British accent http://parccgames.com/?page_id=25 . The bottom of the page on the games website says: “This site is intended to match students and teachers with the most effective games for reinforcing Common Core curriculum.” Of course, there is no single curriculum for the Common Core.

 

At http://www.corecommonstandards.com/common-core/kindergarten-common-core-workbooks, you can find three “Common Core Assessment Workbooks” —test prep materials for Kindergarten, I kid you not. Another version of test prep for Kindergartener is discussed by a master educator who has a personal stake in the test-em-til-they drop ethos created by federal and state policies. Go to http://garyrubinstein.teachforus.org/2013/11/26/my-daughters-kindergarten-common-core-math-workbook/

 

Not to be outdone by the PARCC tests, and CCSS, The Maryland State Department of Education, has PreKindergarten Common Core standards!!! These “specify the mathematics that all students should study as they begin preparing to be college and career ready by graduation.“ The language in these extrapolated standards is so exotic that the writers of the publication had to color-code the language in the standards. See http://mdk12.org/share/frameworks/CCSC_Math_grpk.pdf

 

So there are more Common Core tests in the works, Kindergarten and perhaps preschool, multiple tests, every year. They are coupled with a cockamamie idea that the Common Core Standards and associated tests are perfect predictors and guarantors of college and career readiness of children in grades K-12, who may survive the testing regime and graduate in 2025-2028…Meanwhile a new Cngress is uncertain whether to say “college OR career,” or “colege AND career.”

 

The promoters of this belief system and agenda for public schools seem to think that this generation should be locked in a time capsule of ideas and tests. This frozen–in-time agenda for American education has been embedded in federal and state legislation as if to say: There are no paths to useful and rewarding work and the good life, except as set forth in the first decade of this century when these standards were written. The writers said, in effect, there is no need for educators, or parents, or students to think about what life offers and may require beyond passing these tests, getting a job, and going to college. Pathetic.

 

This is the awful mind-trap that has been set for this generation. Parents and teachers who will not comply with these tests know that the test scores are not 100% faithful and true predictors of life outcomes. For having this warranted knowledge and wisdom, they are being threatened by the purveyors of the non-sense.

 

Parents who are lawyers or who have access to legal help may want to look at whether districts are in full compliance with FERPA, the Family Educational Rights Privacy Act, and especially with COPPA—the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, regulated by the Federal Trade Commission, not the US Department of Education.
The primary goal of COPPA is to allow parents to have control over what information is collected online “from their children” under age 13.

 

The FTC “consumer protection office” appears to be getting a batch of questions about the PARCC/Pearson relationship and specifically the on-line testing environment where Pearson—a commercial contractor—is empowered to get personal information from tests and social media websites.

 

You will find a lively discussion there, along with a clear indication that this matter is just now beginning to show up on the radar screen of a lot of people, especially those who say that parents have no legal right to opt-out. https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/blogs/business-blog/2015/01/testing-testing-review-session-coppa-schools

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