Friday, April 26, 2013
That being said, we are headed toward a maelstrom, as American parents discover that their children are failing even more tragically than before (thanks to more rigorous standards), and states continue to rely on old unreliable Pearson to manufacture their tests. Pearson and CTB hold a monopoly in this area thanks to years of consolidation (now there's an area where centralization IS a failed policy), but Pearson, at least, is just terrible, and apparently getting worse. Pearson's insane profits must be going somewhere, but they surely aren't going to the writers or hired hands who are expected to do the work, and you get what you pay for, in education as in the Real World.
The part Tierney gets right is the part that looks not at the quality of the schools or the tests or the teachers but rather at the quality of the students.
...The most important step we could take to deal with our education problems would be to address poverty in the United States.Why can't our students compete with other first-world inhabitants in a global marketplace? They're too damn poor. Our inequities, growing by leaps and bounds each year, are killing our ability to measure up.
He and Ravitch are also correct about the potential damage of charter schools. In our county, it's costing public schools hundreds of thousands of dollars to enable a few students to drop out and attend the new charter school instead, yet no one has any say over what happens in that charter school, and the school is certainly not beholden to the taxpayers. I have no reason to think that students there are getting a better education than they would in their home schools and some reason to think that they're getting little education at all.
I actually like the Common Core State Standards; I think they're a legitimate attempt to delve more deeply into concepts and to backfill education from the endpoint of college and career expectations rather than trying to build upward from nothing to something. Hey, as John Dewey said, "Failure is instructive." When this doesn't pan out, in a few years, we'll be on to something completely different.
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Why is it that the stress of evaluation seems to lead to cheating, whether it's teachers and administrators changing test answers in GA or entire school districts in NYS making secret deals with one hand while taking the cash with the other? O's not even allowed to take a water bottle into the SATs lest she inscribe formulas under the label. Maybe we should start by evaluating the culture that has led to this cheatin' state of mind.
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Tuesday, April 9, 2013
Since the parents in the movement tend to be well-educated themselves, it is likely that successful opting out will lead to significant drops in school scores. Add to that the NYSSBA's concern about the need for a certain percentage of the cohort to be tested in order to maintain AYP numbers (which affect Title I monies). And as the article makes clear, teachers are now being evaluated partly on their students' test scores, making it more important than ever for them to see to it that their best students sit for the test.
High-stakes testing is a messy, awful way to evaluate an educational system; it robs big chunks of time from the 180 days students are in school, causes agita for students and teachers, and costs a boatload of money. One of my favorite recent examples of how demoralizing the system is comes from a teacher who just resigned from an upstate district. I really do understand everything that's wrong with the current plan. I'd like to hear alternatives, though. All of the ones I've seen (on the Opt Out website, for example) just seem, frankly, stupid.