Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Assessment Landscape -- Chris Tienken

Lots of people are sharing this excellent video; if you missed it, it's well worth the time. This is a guy who understands the medium.

RPNPS doesn't work on the questions related to the Common Core Standards, although I'm pretty sure most of the membership is with me on this one.  There was a time when I was young and silly when I thought a national curriculum was just what the country needed. I think it was when I was in graduate school; I had a really dynamic ed policy professor who kept saying something like, "there is no way to measure how well systems are working without a national curriculum." It made so much sense to me at the time.

But now I realize that this is pure bullshit. We have enough measurements in place without a national curriculum or national "standards" that aren't even close to being the same thing as curriculum, as a whole industry of non-teaching people keep saying. The tests keep measuring the same thing over and over and over-- which is to say, where the poverty is and where the money is.

There's a common refrain among very young teachers who have entered the profession in the era of the Common Core. They say it was so confusing before with fifty different sets of standards! As if this were ever a problem for anyone, anywhere. Yes, kids could move across the country and encounter school material that they covered in previous years back home. That will still happen under the Common Core, unless of course, the Common Core is a national curriculum.

On another blog, I once wrote about the parent who moved his kids from Massachusetts to Arizona--- he was amazed, amazed at how far behind the Arizona curriculum seemed to be. I was still pretty young then, but I asked him if he even bothered to spend five minutes researching the investment in education made by the two states or the respective concentrations of poverty.  Those differences will persist, and the data thrown off by the new tests will surely be weaved into a lie about teacher quality or evaluation systems or the benefits of two-year missionaries dabbling in urban ed.

We have long had the NAEP, the ACT, and the SAT. It's weird how these national tests manage to throw off data in the midst of so much confusion!

Good lord.

It's all been such a waste of energy. If you gathered ten thousand actual teachers in a room and asked them to compile a list of the top twenty things that could be done to improve public education in our nation, these national standards would not have made the list. They're so not about what ails us. When you look at the process behind the proliferation of the standards-- that's what ails us.

And now, for your amusement, a Common Core Visual Metaphor:

Put that on your adaptive, computerized test that nobody needs.

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