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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Refuse to be standardized! Be the first lone nut!


I am a lone nut.  I am not a-lone nut.  I cannot be alone in this.  Where is everyone? 
"The first follower is what transforms a lone nut into a leader," (Derek Sivers; How to Start a Movement TED Feb. 2010).
Daring Greatly does not always mean being a leader.  Sometimes it means being a great follower,  even that of a leader considered a "crazy nut".  If we didn't have great followers, there would not be a movement of any kind. 
So, this is from a draft I had waiting from last year!  I have been stewing over all of this CCSS (Common Core State Standards) PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) nonsense.  I am not a leader here, or at least I wasn't.  I do believe, however, that I am the beginning of the "first lone nut".  I have shared posts, tweets, letters, and stories/truths.  I have refused the test for my son for the second year in a row (he's a fourth grader).  I have helped others decide and act on refusing this nonsensical test for their own children.

And meanwhile, as a teacher, I have to give it, practice for it, sit through countless meetings about it, spend hours of instructional time on all the different aspects around it, and assess formatively despite it. My students need me to make them feel comfortable no matter my personal/professional feelings.  They deserve my very best, even in this.

To me, this CCSS and the PARCC are obvious destructive and shameful mandates in countless ways.  Maybe it is because I am a professional.  I am an educator for 21 years and have a Master's degree plus many more credits.  I have taught many Professional Development opportunities for colleagues and other professionals.  I have taken, as a learner, hundreds of hours of Professional Development as well to continue to inform myself and to keep current.  But I don't know, what do you think?  Listen to just a few of the real facts... not my opinion, the facts:
  • All the evidence shows standardized tests don’t actually measure student learning. They show socioeconomic status.  Richer kids generally score higher and poorer kids score lower.
  • The Common Core kills innovation, creativity, and authentic assessment.
  • The Common Core Standards are a set-up for national standardized tests, tests that can’t evaluate complex thought, can’t avoid cultural bias, can’t measure non-verbal learning, can’t predict anything of consequence.  They also waste millions of dollars in creation, preparation, administration, assessment, technology, training, etc.
  • Decades of child development shows the vast differences in chronological age during which students learn each area to scaffold further learning.  Simply by stating in the Common Core State Standards, "By the end of Grade 2..." negates all of that brilliant, historical work.  It's like telling an 18 month old they have failed because they have not mastered walking yet.  No remediation.  Movin' on to running.  We've got standards to meet.
  • Did you know the PARCC grade 3 test has a digital ruler.  It is difficult enough to learn to use a ruler digitally.  But, it doesn't even start at zero.  In fact, it starts almost exactly 1/4 inch below the zero mark.  Yet another set up for failure.
  • The PARCC does not give feedback to the teachers to work with their students from its results.  The results are available only the next year and questions and answers are strictly kept confidential.  Educators may not see them.  Summative assessments are not worthwhile.
 There are just so many more, I had to limit myself.  The emperor wears no clothes!  The "standards" are not fit for elementary/middle school students.  They are not fit for gifted students.  They are not fit for special education students.  They are punitive rather than prescriptive (see my blog post The prescription is not standardization, it's magic!).  The "test" does not measure anything - okay - we have stated before, and it is true, it does measure wealth.  The company that makes the test makes the test prep makes the workbooks to prepare for the preparing for the test that measures nothing.  Whew!  Which part is confusing again?

Join this lone nut.  Spread truth.  Help children.  These requests all seem human, one may even say... standard.  Remember, you don't have to be a leader to dare greatly.