Quick hit on this post by Diane Ravitch – from a Facebook comment that got so long I realized it was almost an essay.
writers have said – and from what I've seen as a math tutor and
husband to a CPS classroom teacher, I concur – that one of the biggest
problems with Common Core and its associated "assessments" (irony quotes
because the instruments & implementation are so flawed that it's
arguable they're not effectively measuring anything) is that it was built
"from the top down."
political terms, of course, it's the idea of a federally mandated
national curriculum: an illegal, unconstitutional power play that's
been advanced and defended with the specious argument that the states must "voluntarily"
adopt the standards (in much the same way they "voluntarily" raised
the legal drinking age to 21, for example, when threatened with a shutoff of federal
highway funding if they didn't).
second piece is that the standards and assessments themselves are
derived *NOT* from a core "basic skills" approach, i.e. building up from
kindergarten onward based on education research of child cognitive
development, but rather by setting the bar for an "adequate" high school graduate skill level from a
best-case, exceptionally gifted, college-bound scenario;
and then projecting backward to previous grade levels from there. So the
metrics for learning "at level" were pushed up one or two grade levels
for every grade to "catch up" lower-achieving students with the
career-and-college-ready golden boys and girls (who IRL have innumerable
advantages outside the classroom that account for high achievement
regardless of whatever newfangled texts & tests Pearson et alia sell to
their school district customer/hostages this year). The obvious pedagogical and statistical problems with this approach were
just steamrolled with so much paternalistic bluster about "demanding excellence, no excuses," etc. – regarding students who in many cases
struggle for daily security & survival, mind you, and don't have
mental capacity to spare for bootstrapping ahead two entire grade
levels, let alone thinking realistically about college.
in practice, it works out like this: 1) Move the goalposts so that
"excellent" is now "average" and formerly "average" is considered
"failing" (even down to bumping up percentages required for class A's and
B's to 93% and 87% respectively and so on); 2) Administer assessments
devised with a similarly opaque, unaccountable process to students who
roll their eyes at bubble tests because they're now seeing one
practically every week (Teacher/admin: "It's serious this time!"
Student: "So what? You've been crying wolf about taking these tests
'seriously' for so long that now it's just background noise, like mom's
nagging to clean my room."); 3) When the majority of students
predictably "fail" these rigged and poorly written assessments, use the
resulting "data" to condemn students, teachers, and schools to punishment, firings, turnovers
and/or closures; 4) PROFIT! – for charters, publishers, and miscellaneous ed-industry entrepreneurs
benefiting from this application of disaster capitalism to the public
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Who else is thinking that homeschooling looks pretty attractive these days?
[Grand, sweeping tip o' the hat to veteran teacher and education blogger Peter Greene at Curmudgucation, whom I leaned on pretty heavily for links above.]