Testing Abuse

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FUSD wins Gates grant but loses soul to Common Core


FUSD wins Gates grant but loses soul to Common Core

Who in their right mind would suggest undermining California’s excellent educational standards? But that is exactly what we are doing in accepting the Common Core Standards (CC). Not only are California’s current standards considered the best in the nation by the Fordham Foundation and the Pioneer Institute for Public Policy Research but they are on par with those of the most respected educational systems in the world.  

The Common Core Standards were developed by circumventing the legislative process of each state by an unsolicited initiative of the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.  Driven by corporate interests, primary funding came from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. It was not ‘state-led’ as we were coaxed to believe. Emmett Mc Groarty, executive director of American Principles in Action said that states were "herded" into adopting the standards with no time to deliberate on their worth. He called the standards ‘mediocre’ and costly to implement. Former Texas state commissioner Robert Scott stated, “And it was about control totality from some education reform groups who candidly admit their real goal here is to create a national marketplace for education products and services.”

While the US Department of Education is forbidden from creating a national curriculum they have gotten around this by making acceptance of a national set of standards critical criteria for states applying for millions of dollars in both Race to the Top funding and NCLB waiver requirements- essentially saying, “Accept national standards or else you will not qualify.” This is why California agreed to them.

In testimony about the Common Core,  R. James Milgram,  Ph.D.You +1'd this publicly. Undo emeritus professor of mathematics at Stanford University,  stated, “Also, among these difficulties are that a large number of the arithmetic and operations, as well as the place value standards are one, two or even more years behind the corresponding standards for many if not all the high achieving countries.”

More than ever teachers will be indoctrinated to prepare their students for this new type of testing. It will dominate the classroom and school focus like never before. Districts do not want a poor showing. Students and teachers will be score driven as students languish for genuine learning. Judgments about districts, schools, teachers and students hang in the balance.

The Bee reported that FUSD will use some of the gates money to “boost teacher effectiveness”. Effectiveness will be measured by the national CC tests. FUSD students will bear the brunt of even more testing and teacher evaluations will also be significantly impacted.  A national study released yesterday says, “Parents are rebelling against an over-emphasis on standardized testing. A 57% majority feels there is too much emphasis on testing today. A remarkable 59% say their own child has felt anxiety or worry about taking a state assessment, and 57% feel that test taking and test preparation are taking time away from teaching and learning in their children's schools.”

A researcher at the Brookings Institution think-tank projected Common Core will have no effect on student achievement. There is no evidence demonstrating that having national standards improve educational outcomes, or a track record showing that the Common Core Standards are rigorous and first-rate. 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.

On top of this, implementation of the Common Core testing involves an infrastructure of computers, networks and supporting personnel. Much of the new national test will be taken online. Georgia dropped out of the testing collaboration on Monday with Pennsylvania, Alabama, Oklahoma and Utah having already withdrawn. There are strong indications that Florida and Indiana will be next. Texas, Alaska, Minnesota and Nebraska and Virginia never signed on in the first place. The Common Core is no longer ‘common’.

Education Reporter states, “The California Department of Education estimates that Common Core will cost the state about $760 million (1.2 billion has been allocated in the most recent California budget.) Outside estimates place California's fiscal commitment at up to $1.6 billion….Adding up to a billion-and-a-half-dollar expenditure to implement national standards under these circumstances is fiscal madness," said Lance Izumi, senior director of education studies at the Pacific Research Institute.

How can we sanely invest in a new set of standards that has neither track record nor evidence of being of any benefit to our students and our state? FUSD needs to return the money and remove our students and teachers from this new round of testing madness.   

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