Bianca Tanis: New York’s New Standards Are Bad News for Young Children

By dianeravitch

Bianca Tanis is a teacher of special education in a K-2 classroom in the Hudson Valley of New York. She is also a member of the board of NYSAPE (New York State Allies for Parents and Educators), the statewide group that has led the Opt Out movement.

In this post, she excoriates New York’s new standards and says the New York State Education Department ignored the voices of early childhood educators. From the perspective of young children, she says, the standards are fundamentally flawed.

She writes, in part:

We should never have to fight for the right of children to play. Nor should we have to fight for them to spend more than 20 minutes at recess. Instruction should never come at the expense of the creative, spontaneous, and joyful exploration of 4- and 5-year olds. But, increasingly, it does. With the unveiling of New York State’s “Next Generation of English Language Arts and Mathematics Standards,” the struggle to maintain these experiences for young learners—already underway—will intensify.

When New York’s Education Department released the draft standards last September, Commissioner MaryEllen Elia claimed they represented substantive change. Yet most revisions consisted of minor tweaks to language and placement. There were very few shifts in content, and the Common Core anchor standards remained mostly intact. The latest iteration walks back any positive content changes, increasing the rigor of the prekindergarten through second-grade grade standards over and above the draft released in September, and moving some first-grade standards to kindergarten.

While many policymakers profess their commitment to play-based learning and meeting the needs of the whole child, their actions say otherwise. This problem is not unique to New York. But in a state with one of the largest parent uprisings against high-stakes reform and the arbitrary imposition of rigor on child-centered practice, Elia’s reaction is …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Alan Singer: How New Are New York’s New Standards?

By dianeravitch

Alan Singer writes that the real test of the state’s new standards will happen in the classroom. The proof of the pudding, he writes, is in the eating, not in what is said or written about it.

He warns that the whole process may be tainted if the current testing regime remains in place. And he worries that the state aims to quash the opt out movement, which is the only public voice and which compelled the state to make these revisions.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

As New York Rebrands Its Common Core Standards, What’s in a Name?

By dianeravitch

Newsday offers an amusing reflection on the change in the name of the Common Core state standards, which became toxic and set off the powerful opt out movement across the state, and especially on Long Island (which Newsday serves). In the last round of state testing, 50% of the eligible students on Long Island opted out of the English Language Arts state test, and 54% on Long Island opted out of the just concluded math tests.

Some teachers question in what way they “bought in,” as suggested below. Many are so familiar with the PR tactics of the State Education Department that they see this as yet another exercise in illusion.

From Newsday:

Pointing Out

Puzzle us this

Here’s a short quiz to start your week: The big news today is NGELAMLS.

What is it?

a) A newly diagnosed tropical disease that has alarmed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

b) A pharmaceutical breakthrough for melting body fat. Ask your doctor about NGELAMLS!

c) An obscure tribe living on the Ilha de Queimada Grande off the coast of Brazil.

d) A new name for the Common Core learning standards in New York.

The correct response is d. That tangle of letters stands for the Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards. State education officials have rechecked the standards, as well as the tests they first rolled out in the 2012-13 school year, this time with buy-in from teachers.

For all the controversy, the changes are small. But the messaging is big. By rebranding, the Education Department hopes to start fresh and reduce opt-outs from the tests.

Long Island, the national opt-out epicenter, had nearly 54 percent of eligible students sit out math exams last week. Will NGELAMLS change that?
Anne Michaud

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

New York: Common Core Standards Get a New Name!

By dianeravitch

In response to years of protests against the Common Core standards, the State Education Department has tweaked them, massaged them, tickled them, and given them a new name.

The New York state standards are now “the Next Generation English Language Arts and Mathematics Learning Standards.” Got that?

The revamped standards makes hundreds of changes to the state’s version of the Common Core, a set of educational benchmarks meant to get students ready for colleges and careers.

The “anchor standards” of the Common Core — which broadly lay out what’s expected of students — remain largely intact, though some were consolidated or clarified. The 34 English language arts anchors, for example, were whittled down to 28.

New York will become the latest state to put their own name on the standards, joining Florida and several others trying to assuage parental concerns and anger over the rollout of the Common Core.

Is it a cosmetic change or not?

Is it rebranding or not?

Is it real or is it Memorex?

We will hear more about this as the standards are introduced into classrooms.

You can be sure that the parents who opted their children out of state tests for the past few years, in rebellion against the Common Core standards and tests, will not be fooled. Nor will New York State Alliance of Parents and Educators, the group that has coordinated the opt-out movement, which has led about 20% of students across the state to refuse the tests year after year.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Teacher: Most Members of Congress Could Not Pass the Math Test My Fifth Graders Took

By dianeravitch

Ralph Ratto teaches fifth grade in New York. The state math tests are ending today. His students spent nine (9) hours being tested about math this week. This is child abuse. Why should students spend more than an hour on a math test or a reading test?

The tests, he says, are ridiculously hard for fifth graders. He thinks that most members of Congress could not pass the tests.

He can’t post any of the actual questions but he offers a question comparable to those on the test:

Here is a general idea of what one of these questions looks like.

A factory produces 4,861 items in 30 days. They then package them in crates hold 8 each. These crates are delivered to 26 distributers daily. How many are delivered each week to each distributer?

Ten year old children must be able to answer this question correctly, otherwise their teacher may be labeled ineffective.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Half the Students Opted Out of State Math Test on Long Island, NY

By dianeravitch

According to Newsday, the major newspaper on Long Island, about half of eligible students opted out of state math tests. This shows the resilience of the opt out movement and confounds the ability of the state to rank schools by test scores. The statewide number are likely to be about 20%, as in other years.

“Nearly 80,000 public school students in 100 districts across Long Island refused Tuesday to take the state mathematics exam given in grades three through eight, in a fifth straight year of boycotts driven by opposition to the Common Core tests, according to a Newsday survey.

“On the first full-fledged day of math testing in Nassau and Suffolk counties, 79,780 students in the districts that responded opted out — 53.1 percent of the pupils eligible in those systems to take the exam. There are 124 districts on the Island.

“The state’s Common Core math exams began Tuesday morning for most students in grades three through eight. The math test, like the English Language Arts exam administered in the same grade levels in late March, is given in segments during three days and will finish for most students on Thursday.

“Educators and leaders of the opt-out movement on the Island had said they expected refusals to remain high on the Island, a hotbed of anti-test activism. Nearly 85 percent of eligible students in the Middle Country district boycotted the test Tuesday.

“Until state assessments are cleanly and clearly uncoupled from teacher evaluations and are used solely to inform instruction, opt-outs will continue to be a reality,” Middle Country Superintendent Roberta Gerold said. “Parents have to believe that activities in which their children are involved are free of politics and have instructional value and no one can honestly say that is true about the current grades three-through-eight assessment.”

“This is the fifth …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Tennessee: Parents Explain Why National PTA No Longer Represents Them

By dianeravitch

This is a must-read.

The Momma Bears of Tennessee are ferocious in protecting their children against corporate reform.

In this post, they excoriate the National PTA for selling out the interests of real parents and deferring to the powerful.

The National PTA supports Common Core and high-stakes testing; it opposes opting out of tests.

“As Momma Bears, we are beyond frustrated with TNReady testing. Every year, it’s one testing fiasco after another. Already, reports are coming in this year that the test booklets and answer sheets don’t line up. It’s just another source of frustration for our children. So, its no wonder that more and more parents are wanting to opt their children out of testing. Unfortunately, the Tennessee Department of Education refuses to recognize that parents do have opt-out rights.

“​So, wouldn’t it be great if we had a state law that settled things once and for all by giving parents the explicit right to opt out of standardized testing?

“YEAH!!! Momma Bears would love to see a law giving parents explicit opt-out rights!!! But guess what?

“​If you are a Momma Bear PTA leader, you are not allowed to publicly advocate for legislation allowing parents to opt out of standardized testing. That’s right. A couple of dozen uppity-ups in the National PTA all got together last year and decided that parents didn’t want the right to opt their children out of testing.

[National PTA said:] “National PTA does not believe that opting out is an effective strategy to address the frustration over testing. Mass opt-out comes at a real cost to the goals of educational equity and individual student achievement.”

“We know, parents are scratching their heads on that one!! When did dues paying PTA members vote to oppose a parent’s right to opt their children out of abusive standardized testing?

“Oh, yeah, they …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

“Smarter Balanced” Common Core Test Finds a New Home

By dianeravitch

If you recall, I posted a visit to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium at UCLA and there was no one home, just empty offices and empty bookshelves.

But happily, SBAC has found a new home: the University of California at Santa Cruz. This is a strange marriage because I remember visiting Santa Cruz and discovering it to be the least likely place in the world to house an agency for standardized testing. It was the most non-standardized, singular, individualistic campus I have ever visited. It is the campus of the Free Spirit. At that time–maybe 15 years ago, there was a Department of the History of Consciousness. I think there still is. What an odd marriage this is. Maybe SBAC might make ties with that department and turn the testing into something new and enthralling.

According to Politico Pro:

UC Santa Cruz is taking over as the fiscal agent for the Smarter Balanced test consortium, the two announced today.

The university’s work with the consortium begins immediately and will be conducted by its UCSC Silicon Valley Extension. In its new role, the university will provide administrative support in human resources, financial resources, purchasing and other areas.

Smarter Balanced is a public agency that developed a Common Core-aligned test used in 15 states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and by the Bureau of Indian Education.

It, along with PARCC, was one of two testing consortia started with the help of federal funds. Both have lost support from some states in recent years amid political discourse over the Common Core standards and standardized testing.

In October, UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies said it would not renew its contract to do the work with Smarter Balanced. And the three-year deal between Smarter Balanced and UCLA ends June 30.

“We are excited to partner with UC Santa Cruz Silicon Valley …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Steven Singer: No, Mr. Trump, You Can’t Curb the Federal Rile While Imposing Vouchers

By dianeravitch

Steven Singer dissects Trump’s latest diktat: He wants to limit the federal role and return control to states and districts. Or he might make available billions for school choice (like Obama’s Race to the Top) while slashing Title 1 and other programs.

At the same time, he wants to impose school choice on states and districts. He might even make federal aid conditional on states and districts accepting vouchers and charters.

Steven Singer says it is impossible to do both.

…read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core

Kelvin Smythe: When Pooh and Christopher Robin Went Searching for a 21st Century Education

By dianeravitch

Kelvin Smythe is an educator and blogger in New Zealand who left the education system when the ideas of the New Right took over. He has since been a critic and an activist.

A friend Down Under sent me one of his recent writings, in which Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet and Christopher Robin go searching for a 21st Century Education.

But first a bit about Smythe. He wrote this about his views:

Kelvin Smythe makes a plea for teachers to see behind the commodification of education, the managerialism, the data gathering, the claims of new knowledge, the fads, the array of electronics to what teaching is really about – key interactions between teacher, child, and what is being learnt. He knows that many of his concerns about education, his aspirations for education, his style of writing about them will be dismissed as out-of-date. His claim, though, is that these key interactions are the essence of what teaching should be, and are timeless.

In the story he tells about Pooh and friends, there is this beginning:

Just as they came to the Six Pine Trees, Pooh looked around to see that nobody else was listening, and said in a very solemn voice: ‘Piglet, I have decided something.’

‘What have you decided Pooh?’

‘I have decided to catch a 21st Century Education.’

Piglet asked, ‘But what does a 21st Century Education look like? Then continued thoughtfully: ‘Before looking for something, it is wise to ask someone what you are looking for before you begin looking for it.’

Smith then observes:

We are, it seems, getting ourselves tied in knots about something called 21st century education – before looking for it, as Piglet suggests, it might be wise to find out what we are looking for.

This could be done in respect to how it might differ from what went before, how …read more

Source: Diane Ravitch Common Core