Testing Abuse

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Monday, August 13, 2012

EPATA 8-10-12 Meeting Summary

Following Edperspectives’  board meeting Executive director Sandra Hammond allowed EPATA to bring forth its agenda (which are the numbered items). Below each is the meeting content information.

1.    Discussed Common Core Standard’s impact in our schools.

We presented some current information on Common Core Standards:

-In June 2010 the final version of Math and English standards were released. Developed by the Council of Chief State School Officers, National Governors Association in conjunction with corporate leaders-not teachers.

-Funded by the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and other corporate leaders.

-The national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate. Independent reviews have found its standards to be below those in the highest-performing countries and below those in states rated as having the best academic standards.

- There is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula. The U.S. Constitution seeks a healthy balance of power between states and the federal government, and wisely leaves the question of academic standards, curriculum, and instruction up to the states. In fact, action by the U.S. Department of Education to create national standards and curricula is explicitly forbidden by federal law, reflecting the judgment of Congress and the public on this issue.

-USDOE will release states from NCLB sanctions if they are planning to implement this initiative by basing at least 85% of their state curricula/testing on these Standards (currently 46 states have said yes to use them) as well as other criteria like tying  their Core test scores to individual teachers.

- Countries with a set of common standards do no better or worse on international tests than countries without them. France and Denmark have centralized national curricula and do not show high average achievement on international tests or a diminishing gap between high- and low-achieving students. Meanwhile, Canada and Australia, both of which have many regional curricula, achieve better results than many affluent single-curriculum nations.

-There is no evidence that those seventeen top world economies with common standards are any more economically competitive than those without. (Tienken, 2010)  Commonality of standards within a country does not necessarily propel learning or economic competitiveness between countries.

- Population mobility does not justify a national curriculum. Only inter-state mobility is relevant to the value of a national curriculum, and inter-state mobility in this country is low. The Census Bureau reports a total annual mobility rate of 12.5% in 2008-9, but only 1.6% of the total rate consists of inter-state moves that a national curriculum may influence. Other data indicate that inter-state mobility among school-age children is even lower, at 0.3%.

-Common core standards will Increase testing in more subjects, more grades with pre and post testing for tying student test scores to their teachers. The cost for new tests and new texts and ancillary materials is staggering.

-There is no body of evidence for a “best” design for curriculum sequences in any subject. . This means we should be encouraging—not discouraging—multiple models of state standards (as there already is in the world!). Having diversity in programs is a strength.. or do we all want to drive the same a ‘common core’ car and wear the same ‘common core’ jeans ?

The internet was down when we tried to show this video at the meeting, but you can look at it now and think about these facts:

-The investors gathered in a tony private club in Manhattan were eager to hear about the next big thing, and education consultant  Rob Lytle was happy to oblige. “Think about the upcoming rollout of new national academic standards for public schools, he urged the crowd. If they're as rigorous as advertised, a huge number of schools will suddenly look really bad, their students testing way behind in reading and math. They'll want help, quick. And private, for-profit vendors selling lesson plans, educational software and student assessments will be right there to provide it.”

- The K-12 market is tantalizingly huge: The U.S. spends more than $500 billion a year to educate kids from ages five through 18. The entire education sector, including college and mid-career training, represents nearly 9 percent of U.S. gross domestic product, more than the energy or technology sectors.

- Now investors are signaling optimism that a golden moment has arrived. They're pouring private equity and venture capital into scores of companies that aim to profit by taking over broad swaths of public education.

-"This is a new frontier," Dianne Ravitch said. "The private equity guys and the hedge fund guys are circling public education. Vendors looking for a toehold in public schools often donate generously to local politicians and spend big on marketing, so even companies with dismal academic results can rack up contracts and rake in tax dollars."

3.    The National Resolution on High-stakes Testing-

-How can we bring this to the attention of local districts?

4.    Brainstorm student, parent, teacher, school, district issues that we should address for 2012-13 school year.

-Although we did not have the time to develop a plan there was concern expressed by parents on the need to understand the discrepancy between classroom grades and state test scores. How does a parent find the truth about how their child is progressing?