professornana (professornana) wrote,

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authentic voices, real concerns

Diane Ravitch had this a posting on her blog today that featured a teacher discussing her CCSS experience. How refreshing to hear from someone in the trenches about how CCSS works (or does not work). I urge you to read the entire piece here:

There are a couple of paragraphs I would like to highlight here. They provided those moments I call head nodding. I am reading and find my head is nodding, sort of a non-verbal: Yes. This. moment.

"CCSS declare that “students will . . . .” So we are left with a system that reforms by fiat. And students who last year were considered at grade level are suddenly half a year or more behind, simply by declaration of the CCSS authors, with no consideration given to the fact that they weren’t subject to the ruling by fiat levels of success the previous year. How is this declaration and raising of the bar differ in any way from the misguided fiats of NCLB that declared all students would read on grade level by 2014?"

Reform by fiat. I love that phrase. I often joke in presentations that whenever I hear the phrase, "all children will" I think immediately about kids and development and think, "no, not all of them will. Some of them might. Many will not." This is the concern with CCSS and was the concern with NCLB and No Pass No Play and the great Texas education "reforms", the cornerstone of which was this fiat: all children will read on level by 3rd grade and never fall below level thereafter. Apparently, kids do not read or cannot comprehend these fiats because they do not all meet those bloody bars set by others.

And here is the second salient quote from my perspective: "The authors and supporters of CCSS are not willing to “weaken” their vision in any way nor are they open to revision, discussion, or compromise so I don’t see how it would be possible to maintain any kind of moratorium to “get things right”. I’m disappointed and saddened that so many professional organizations seem to want to ignore this simple fact and pretend that their calls for moratoria will have any effect at all."

I have written about this in the past. While I applaud the call for a moratorium on testing, it is insufficient. We need to demand that educators, those folks in the classroom and those who are teacher educators, review CCSS. If we must have CCSS, then let's make certain it addresses developmental needs, that it does not dictate how instruction is to be given or favor one means of reading over another or one genre over another, that it does not come with TESTS but with real assessments that offer more than a one day snapshot, that it does not come with corporations writing the lessons and assessments. Better yet, scrap the whole thing (and end the miserable life of NCLB, too, along with RttT). End this discussion of rigor, too. Here is the tweet of the day, possibly the year:

“Rigor can be measured by a value-added assessment of the quantity of tears a child produces while he does his homework” -@KarenMFraid

Or the tears shed during 9+ hours of testing, or the stomach aches and headaches produced by the tests to get ready for the tests or the palpable fear instilled in teachers by those up the food chain about VAM and nonsensical measures of effectiveness. Just as an FYI, our grad program is held accountable for the scores of our students on the certification exam they take to become a school librarian. We are not unfamiliar with pressure for our "kids" to do well. However, no one from outside our department is telling us what and how and why and when. We are the professionals. We make the decisions. We modify and adjust as needed. And sometimes a student does not do well and that is not our "fault." But there is a report soon to be released that suggests VAM for us as well. We are talking to one another across the various departments about how to address this business model superimposed on education. And is that not the bottom line: this misapplication, superimposition of a business model to a profession that is NOT a business? I will say it again. WE. ARE. NOT. A. BUSINESS. We do not churn out products. We educate kids.
Tags: ccss, teacher assessment, testing, vam, voices
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