Now, to the heart of things once more. I watched a video produced by CCSS the other day. I think I have whiplash. The video opens with charges against NCLB, chiefly that that law resulted in tests being dumbed down and made easier (which should come as a surprise to some). The standards under NCLB and within districts were too broad and, therefore, the curriculum was unteachable. Other charges include their facts that while reading of complex texts has increased in the work place (no sources cited for this), the reading of complex texts has decreased in K-12 classrooms (again, would love to see their data). The video went on, then, to point out the advantages of CCSS. For one thing, the video states, the standards are broad. WHOA! Wait a minute! My neck hurts here. If a criticism was that NCLB and state curriculum was too broad, why praise CCSS standards for being broad? Better, why make the changes? OK, moving on. Next the video makes a great fuss about having two different set of standards: one for fiction and one for nonfiction. 50% of reading by 4th grade and 70% by high school need to be focused on nonfiction. Yes, there is a mention that this reading should be done in disciplines other than English, but we know that this is not happening in most places. And here are those dicey percentages again. Toss in another fact that adults read informational texts for 80% of their reading (and the current Pew Internet Study might have issue with that plus the stats today that over 80% of YA sales are to adults) and we have the case made for CCSS, a curriculum that will save mankind.
As I continue to dig deeper into the videos and articles, I feel a bit like Dorothy from the WIZARD OF OZ when she and her friends discover the truth about the Wizard. "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain." In this case, perhaps it is pay no attention to the fact that this is curriculum written without input from leading literacy organizations (they were not invited to the table despite their requests to be included) or even from many teachers at all. And pay no attention to the backtracking some of these folks are doing as pushback comes from actual teachers. And pay no attention to the fact that there are not many models coming from PARCC (and the few I have seen are deeply flawed). And forget that a chief component of their assessments will be multiple choice basic comprehension questions. And forget that some of what is being asked of kids is beyond their developmental abilities (use of computers for instance, abstract thinking for kids who are not quite formal operational). Better yet, let's just forget this whole debacle that is shuttling money into pockets instead of into classrooms.
Maybe we should take our cue from the heroic folks in Seattle who are pushing back against all of the testing madness?