Peter Greene: What Two Decades of Testing Have Produced

By dianeravitch

http://curmudgucation.blogspot.com/2017/03/the-lost-years.html?m=1

Peter Greene asks a crucial question: What have we gained–or lost–because of our society’s obsession with standardized testing for at least the last two decades?

When did it start? Before No Child Left Behind was signed into law in January 2002, but not with the same intensity or the high-stakes that took hold since 2002, when the power of the federal government was used to pummel state’s and districts to comply with federal mandates.

This is one of Peter Greene’s most powerful posts. I urge you to read it.

Greene writes:

“After years of hearing how kindergarten has been turned into the new first grade, you’d think at the other end of the K-12 pipeline we would find highly advanced students. And yet– not so much

“I am not going to report a ton of research on this, because the available research is bogus and part of the actual test-centric problem. What I can tell you is what I, as an actual real live classroom teacher who knows actual real live classroom teachers, see and hear.

“This is the result of accelerated early instruction done primarily in the service of test-centric schooling (“We have to get them started early– otherwise how will they be ready for the Big Standardized Test??”)

“It is lost years.

“By the time these same start-em-early push-em-hard students arrive at high school classrooms, they are behind compared to the students that we saw twenty-five or fifteen or even ten years ago. They know fewer things, have fewer skills, and express lower academic aspirations.

“Why? I can offer a couple of theories.

They have learned to hate reading.

“They have learned that reading is this thing you do with short, disconnected, context-free selections, and when you read, you are not looking for something that sparks interest or enjoyment or curiosity or wonder or …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Leonie Haimson Is Collecting Comments on the New York ELA

By dianeravitch

The state Common Core tests that children in grades 3-8 in New York are supposed to take are shrouded in secrecy.

Last year, a teacher posted a couple of items to show how confusing and tricky they were, and the testing company went on a tear, threatening legal action against the teacher and against the blogger who posted the questions. They went to Twitter and had tweets referring to the post deleted. They went to WordPress, which hosts this blog, and removed my description of the events.

Nonetheless, Leonie Haimson has invited teachers, parents, and students to comment on the tests. You can find her invitation and responses …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Ralph Ratto: Today I Am Ashamed to Be a Teacher

By dianeravitch

Ralph Ratto is an elementary school teacher in New York and a frequent blogger.

He describes yesterday as “one of the darkest days in education.

Testing started yesterday. Now that the tests are untied, some children will struggle for six hours a day for six days to satisfy some adult idea that they need to be compared. Their ordeal has nothing to do with education.

“Our children will struggle with questions that have more than 1 plausible answer. They will have to select the best plausible answer. Questions will ask them, for example, to analyze paragraphs 3, 14 , 24 & 26 and then choose the answer that best describes their relationship. They will be forbidden to give their opinion in an essay as they regurgitate details to fulfill the task at hand.

“When we look at past tests, we can almost guarantee some passages will be purposely confusing due to the use of names and customs they are not familiar with. This makes it extremely difficult for them to utilize their own schema to decode the information provided. Some passages are above grade level and there are also field questions that are not counted are part of these tests.

“Teachers must sit by as our students struggle for hours. We will observed children get physically and emotionally ill taking these tests. We are forbidden to assist or even discuss the tests…

“Folks, this is institutional child abuse! I have written about this and about how this is the time of year that I am ashamed to be a teacher. We all should be ashamed, when we make these children take these tests to fulfill a political agenda and provide absolutely no valid data that helps children excel.”

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

To New York Parents: A Warning about the Common Core Tests

By dianeravitch

Students in New York sat for the ELA Comin Core tests on Tuesday. The test will continue for three days, an ordeal lengthier than graduate school exams.

Leonie Haimson invited teachers and parents to share their stories about the test, which is otherwise blanketed in deep secrecy.

Testing expert Fred Smith sent this comment:

Thank you, Leonie for inviting the comments of observers who otherwise have been silenced by SED and DOE from breathing a word about the exams.

I’m sure we will find that the improved 2017 ELA exams have the same flaws as the ones Pearson has produced since 2012.

To me, the following exchange on your blog concerning field testing is particularly important because it succinctly describes what is wrong with field testing—both embedded and stand-alone field testing—which continue to plant the seeds that perpetuate bad exams. Yet, SED has run interference for the publisher, selling our kids out so tests can be developed on their backs.

Anonymous said…

Field testing questions embedded within today’s test hurt students. Fifth grade students deal with 5 passages. The entire third passage and the seven questions that followed were different across the various test forms, indicating that the whole text and question set will not count towards student scores. Why waste students’ time with it on an ACTUAL exam? Field test questions are notoriously ambiguous because their validity is still being assessed. My students struggled with the third passage and expended a lot of stamina on it, which hurt them on the last two passages. If we must field test passages, can we not at least place those questions LAST. I had a boy still testing at 2 pm. He spent an hour on the third text (which gained him no points) and was forced to randomly fill in bubbles for the last …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

New York Opt Out Leaders Prepare for Renewal of Common Core Test Boycotts

By dianeravitch

The epicenter of New York’s historic test refusal movement is gearing up for a repeat performance when testing begins on Monday.

The state is hoping that the introduction of computer-based testing will mollify parents but it shouldn’t. Numerous studies have shown that students get lower scores on computer-based tests than on tests that require pencils. Some children–especially in younger grades–are not adept with keyboard skills. Others find that scrolling up and down the online format is confusing as compared to using pencil-and-paper.

But the fundamental problems remain. Many parents and educators don’t like the Common Core. The results are reported far too late to help teachers because their students have moved to another grade. Students are not allowed to discuss the test questions or to learn what they answered right or wrong. In short, the tests have no instructional value. They are simply a way of ranking students without helping them.

They are pointless.

Enough parents understand this, which feeds the opt out movement.

If the Regents and the State Education Department can’t address the genuine concerns of parents, they should stop the testing. Until they do, parents should not allow their children to take the tests.

“Public school districts across Long Island and the state are bracing for what many educators and parents expect to be a fifth consecutive year of Common Core test boycotts in grades three through eight, even as eight districts in Nassau and Suffolk counties and dozens elsewhere introduce computerized versions of the exams.

“The state’s time window for the English language arts test starts Monday and closes a week later, both on the Island and statewide. Extra days were added, as compared with last year’s schedule, to allow flexibility in giving the computer-based exams. The traditional pencil-and-paper tests will be given Tuesday through Thursday.

“Officials in some …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Mercedes Schneider on Hanna Skandera, Felled by the Common Core

By dianeravitch

Mercedes Schneider comments here on the Senate GOP decision not to move forward with Hanna Skandera as Assistant Secretary of Education for Elementary and Secondary Education because of her Common Core love.

Skandera is a protege of Jeb Bush. She was deputy commissioner of education in Florida.

Since she took the job in New Mexico, despite lacking the statutory requirement of real education experience, she tried to impose the “Florida model” of charters, virtual charters, A-F grading, high-stakes testing and VAM. COmmon Core was part of the Florida model.

There is something ironic here.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

GOP Nixes Hanna Skandera for Top Job Because of Her Fervent Support for Common Core

By dianeravitch

Politico reported this morning that Hanna Skandera, the Commissioner of Education in New Mexico, cannot be confirmed because of her advocacy for Common Core. Skandera is a protege of Jeb Bush. Although she has never been a teacher or a principal, she does have some practical experience in education, unlike DeVos. Skandera is also a proponent of high-stakes testing and VAM. Best not to give her the power to push Arne Duncan’s failed ideas nationally.

SCOOP: SENATE GOP SCUTTLES SKANDERA NOMINATION: Wondering when those Education Department vacancies will be filled? Well, the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education may still be up for grabs after the Trump administration recently reversed plans to nominate New Mexico Education Secretary Hanna Skandera for the assistant secretary job, POLITICO has learned. The administration’s decision to pull back an offer came after Republicans raised concerns about Skandera’s support for the Common Core standards. The offer appears to have been extended before Hill Republicans were consulted.

– “About a dozen Republican offices were skeptical that they could ever vote yes” on Skandera because of her embrace of the standards, said a senior GOP aide. Those English and math standards are reviled by conservatives as a symbol of federal overreach. Republicans also weren’t interested in another fight over an education nominee after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ bruising confirmation process. Skandera, who sits on the governing board for the Common Core-aligned PARCC test, declined to comment.

– Skandera has about a year and a half left on the job in New Mexico and many believed that her extensive K-12 and higher education experience made her a good bet for a federal job. Continued lack of top staff at the Education Department could hamper the Trump administration’s priorities and ability to work with states on the Every Student Succeeds Act. “Hanna …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Andrea Gabor: Joel Klein Spends an Evening with His Friends at TFA, Berating Public Schools

By dianeravitch

Andrea Gabor recently attended an invitation-only event in New York City to meet Joel Klein at Teach for America headquarters in lower Manhattan, where he reflected on his legacy.

She writes:

How did Klein feel about his legacy—what was he most proud of, what would he do differently—especially in light of the policies of his successor?

This would be the second question of the evening posed to Klein. And the former schools chancellor’s response, at first, surprised me.

What he most regretted: “We never got teachers on our side. We didn’t communicate and listen well enough.”

However, Klein quickly followed with what he was most proud of: Opening 200 charter schools.

And, where he saw the biggest problem in New York City schools: The teachers union “polarized” the teachers.

Here, in a nutshell is the contradiction—even the tragedy—of the Bloomberg/Klein regime: Klein, a child of a “dysfunctional inner-city home”, who saw public school as his refuge and claims that his teachers made the difference in transforming his life, sees the proliferation of charter schools, not the improvement of public schools, as his most important legacy. (A biography, incidentally, not unlike that of former Education Secretary John King, another reformer who prioritized privatization and carrot-and-stick policies for teachers.)

It is hard to remember now how disliked Klein was by teachers, not just the union. He turned the schools into a test-and-punish experiment where teachers were expendable. He closed many schools, closed almost every large high schools, fired most of the city’s principals or drove them away, including some of the best veterans. He gave preferential treatment to charter schools, especially Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academies.

It is hard to know why Klein dislikes public schools as much as he does. It wasn’t based on his experience as chancellor. He came into the job with a strong conviction that the …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

What Reformers Don’t Understand: “The Process of Little Things”

By dianeravitch

Reformers have grand ideas for shaking up the system. Blowing it up. Changing everything. Blowing up teacher education. Imposing national standards overnight. Turning schools into teacher-proof institutions. Teaching children the habits of highly effective scholars (age 7).

But, writes David Greene and Bernie Heller, teachers understand that real change is not in the Big Things. Real change happens because of “the process of little things.”


The reform of education is focused on the big changes as opposed to understanding that change is a step by step process. The educrats are playing for the big moment, yet they fil to understand that they can’t pull big moments out of thin air, consequently, their “big moments” exist in vacuums, totally disconnected and disembodied from reality.

From teaching students to be better writers, better students and better thinkers, to mentoring teachers to be better at teaching, to helping players to become better hitters or shooters, it was and is always about starting at step one and moving forward, step by step.

The reformers and the experts want to be able to say they did big things, that they changed everything, the only problem is, you can’t start out “big” – you have to start with the little things, and string them all together.

Are there poor teachers? Of course there are. There were bad teachers when I went to school, there were bad teachers when you went to school. If I were to ask you how many good or great teachers you had all the way through your college career, how many would you be able to list? I’d guess three or four- if you were lucky. Despite that fact, you are still successful today, you still survived. Good and great teachers don’t grow on trees and they are not “developed” or created in special …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

SomeDAM Poet: Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss

By dianeravitch

The Good Old Days

Don’t you miss the good old days?
The days of school deforming ways?
When Arne ruled with iron hand
With Common Core and test and VAM?
And Cuomo plotted night and day
The way to make the schools obey?
And Rhee was riding on her broom
And closing schools and spreading doom?
And charter schools in neighborhoods
Were popping up like shrooms in woods
And billionaires were here and there
And all about and everywhere?
Don’t you miss reformy times
Immortalized by someDAM rhymes?
Well, good old days of yesteryear
Have never left, are still right here
The good old days were never gone
The school deform lives on and on

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core