First, both 8th grade texts are books with ATOS below 6th grade. They are BRIAN'S WINTER by Gary Paulsen and THE CALL OF THE WILD. My first reaction was a strangled cry of outrage that Paulsen is being used. I can see teachers scurrying now to teach the living daylights out of this book, to do close reading after close reading. In other words: to kill the joy of reading Paulsen for many kids. Then, a second reaction: why are the texts for an 8th grade assessment 2+ years below the level CCSS has mandated for this grade? Click here for the sample questions: http://www.parcconline.org/samples/ELA. Evidence Based Selected Response questions ask kids to select the correct definition from choices presented (and given context clues). Technology Enhanced Constructed Response questions ask kid to drag and drop (gee, technology enhanced, really?)sentences to give a chronological summary. I will admit that I was confounded by a couple of the other question that ask for the BEST response (but I have not read the excerpts, so that could be part of the problem).
Then, there are these statements when one reches the end of the power point with the sample items:
•The Common Core State Standards in English language arts/literacy and mathematics were created by educators around the nation.
REALLY? I call BS. The standards were not created (or even written) by educators from around the nation. See Anthony Cody, Diane Ravitch, and a host of others who have walked through the "creation" of the standards and the lack of teacher involvement in the process.
•Nearly every state in the nation is working individually and collectively to improve its instruction and assessments to ensure students graduate with the knowledge and skills most demanded by college and careers.
Well, nearly every state is being told what to do. I do not see much collectively except for assessments and lesson plans. Implementation seems to be pretty individual and quite disturbing in places. And I call BS because no one has yet to show me how these standards make kids more college and career ready than the curricular standards it replaced. I am not sure instruction has improved (no data on that yet) and I assure you assessment is the same-old-same-old given what I have seen so far.
•The PARCC assessment rewards this commitment by providing an assessment focused on the instructional shifts and academic skills needed to prepare all students for college and career readiness in the 21st century.
I call BS here as well. There are no shifts, folks. This is Emperor's New Clothes meet the Wizard. As for 21st century, the TECR items on PARRC demonstrate just how much PARRC does not get how technology can and should be used in the classroom. Their understanding of tech seems to be drag and drop. Yikes! Could we get them to come into this new century do you think?
When I think of the monies being spent to put all this into place, all the positions gone (school librarians, counselors, nurses, fine arts) and all of the books that could be purchased in lieu of these new assessments, I want to weep. Instead, I am calling BS. I hope you will, too. I hope you will show parents how their tax monies are being misspent. I hope parents will call BS as well. The kids already know it is BS.