robertogreco + commoncore   82

We’re Having the Wrong Conversation About the Future Of Schools
"Despite the rhetoric, modern movements to reform schools have had a devastating effect on education"



"As a full-time teacher, I don’t have a lot of time to look up from the dailiness of the job to consider something as nebulous as the “future” of education. When I do, I feel a vague unease that too many non-teachers seem to have a lot of time to do this kind of thinking.

One thing in my favor is that education reform seems to take the same basic forms, year after year. There’s the standards and accountability movement and the ongoing attempts to give it “teeth.” Then there are the tech giants peddling autonomy and self-direction in lieu of soul-crushing activities like reading The Outsiders and using protractors. And though the latter reformers are often critics of the former, the two have a lot in common.

Both represent billion-dollar industries. Both frequently co-opt a rhetoric of liberation, autonomy, and empowerment. Both can barely disguise a deep disdain for teachers and schools, especially of the “sage on the stage” variety. And both are almost exclusively headed up by white men.

These are the kind of people setting a bold agenda for the future of education.

Admittedly, us unruly American educators would have a hard time coming up with anything coherent enough to compete with the brave visions set forth by the leaders of these two industries. The very fact that such an all-encompassing solution is needed testifies to their dominance in framing the narrative around American schools. Mired in the day-to-day challenges and complexities of actually caring for and educating children, many teachers exhibit a complete failure of imagination when it comes to sweeping monolithic initiatives with pithy acronyms, eye-catching logos, and font pairings that are straight fire.

But we do need to change. Beyond the usual Alice Cooper-type critiques, we teachers have been especially complicit in the widespread marginalizing, neuroticizing, and criminalizing of our most vulnerable students. Yes, we need to stop boring future white rockstars and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. This is already well known. But, more importantly, we also need to stop harming children of color with our whitewashed curriculum, inequitable funding systems, and disparate use of punitive disciplinary measures.

Can today’s reformers help us make progress toward these goals? Or do they exacerbate, perpetuate, and contribute to the very problems we face?

Trying to pin deception, manipulation, and violence on this rag-tag bunch leaves me feeling petty and mean-spirited. After all, they’re often so upbeat and sincere, their rhetoric so humanistic and progressive. Ted Dintersmith, former venture capitalist and billionaire author of the book What School Could Be, recently teamed up with Prince Ea, who has made not one but two viral videos echoing the same message: schools must change. And on the standards and accountability side, David Coleman, “architect” of the Common Core and now CEO of the College Board, has boldly laid out a “beautiful vision” for American schools. In a field plagued by widespread mediocrity and entrenched inequities, shouldn’t we applaud any moves toward a more inspiring, inclusive future?

The problem is that, despite all the rhetoric and good intentions, both these movements have had a devastating effect on education, all while continually escaping blame for their outsized impact. Any negative outcomes are used to justify further expansion and dominance. Poor test scores and persistent achievement gaps aren’t seen as issues with the tests, but as misalignment and implicit bias on the part of teachers. Student attention deficit and boredom aren’t seen as a function of technology addiction, but rather an occasion to blast schools for their inability to fully capitalize on the promise of the digital age.

Not surprisingly, this seeming unassailable innocence reveals close links to the logics of white supremacy culture, especially the values of individualism, objectivity, and so-called meritocracy. They additionally amplify neoliberal beliefs in the absolute goods of privacy and consumer choice, thus shifting the blame away from dominant elites under the guise of “empowerment.” To borrow the central metaphor from Todd Rose’s The End of Average, they ultimately seek to style us as fighter pilots in the “cockpits of our economy,” where we must summon limitless initiative, grit, and resourcefulness just to survive.

Ultimately, their ideas are rooted in America’s original “solutions” to the problems of pluralism, wherein subtle self-effacement and silencing became stratagems for consolidating power. All of this is part of a long tradition in the United States, one that dates back to colonial times, guiding both the “Strange Compromise” of 1789 and the founding of the Common School. Although these roots may be less obvious in our day, they are arguably more powerful and moneyed than ever before."



"Ultimately, the several silences of education reform have proven a powerful gambit for privatization and profit. These industries implicitly offer themselves as neutral alternatives to our fraught political climate, much as Horace Mann’s enjoinder to “read without comment” secularized schools in a sectarian age. They also shift the onus of agency and ownership from themselves onto the student, who assumes full responsibility for finding and following their own educational path.

Whereas Mann, perhaps unconsciously, hoped to indoctrinate students into his supposedly doctrineless Unitarianism, these reformers peddle the so-called empty doctrines of individualism, personalization, objectivity, entrepreneurialism, and meritocracy—all while exacerbating inequities and deprofessionalizing teachers.

Resisting these trends starts by seeing them as two sides of the same coin. Anything that counsels and valorizes silence—before the text, the test, or even the individual student—may partake in this phenomenon. The primary effect is always to atomize: content into itemized bits, classrooms into individualized projects and timelines, and each of us into solitary individuals pursuing personalized pathways.

Among the many omissions implicit in this vision is the notion that each student has equal access to a pathway of choice. Once that false premise is established, you are truly on your own. Pull yourself up by the bootstraps, find your own personal road less traveled, dive headfirst into the entrepreneurial shark tank. Unfortunately, far too many smaller-scale reform movements espouse a similar ethos, often flooding Twitter with a toxic positivity that ignores intransigent inequities and injustices."



"None of this is intended to romanticize the educational mainstays of the past: lectures, textbooks, worksheets. But we should note how these more modern trends themselves often devolve into regressive, behaviorist, sit-and-get pedagogy.

Confronted by daunting challenges like widespread budget shortfalls, inequitable funding, increasing school segregation, whitewashed curriculum, and racial injustice, it’s no wonder we would reach for solutions that appear easy, inexpensive, and ideologically empty. At a time when we most need to engage in serious deliberations about the purposes and future of schools, we instead equivocate and efface ourselves before tests and technology, leaving students to suffer or succeed within their own educational echo chamber.

As appealing as these options may seem, they are not without content or consequences. Ironically, today’s progressive educators find themselves in the strange position of having to fight reform, resisting those who would render everything—including their own intentions and impact—invisible."
arthurchiaravalli  education  edreform  reform  history  invisibility  progressive  siliconvalley  infividualism  horacemann  2018  collegeboard  individualism  personalization  commonschool  us  inequality  justice  socialjustice  injustice  race  racism  whitesupremacy  reading  hilarymoss  thomasjefferson  commoncore  davidcoleman  politics  policy  closereading  howweread  ela  johnstuartmill  louiserosenblatt  sat  standardizedtesting  standardization  tedtalks  teddintersmith  democracy  kenrobinson  willrichardson  entrepreneurship  toddrose  mikecrowley  summitschools  religion  secularism  silence  privatization  objectivity  meritocracy  capitalism  teaching  howweteach  schools  publicschools  learning  children  ideology  behaviorism  edtech  technology  society  neoliberalism 
december 2018 by robertogreco
Radical Eyes for Equity: Why Journalists Shouldn’t Write about Education | National Education Policy Center
"Over the past couple of days, I have watched almost universal praise for Dana Goldstein’s Why Kids Can’t Write*. Since those sharing this article have tended to be people and organizations that I respect, my own response has been tempered—even though I recognize in the overview of teaching writing the same problems with edujournalism I have been confronting for many years.

Other than Jim Horn’s challenge that Goldstein takes the “blame the teachers” route, many in the writing and teaching writing community have posted and shared this article without challenge, and several have added that Goldstein does a more than adequate job covering the landscape of teaching writing.

The irony here is that this article on the failures to teach students to write is a model for both typical mainstream journalism and everything wrong with mainstream journalism: the breezy recounting of a complex field within which the journalist has no real experience or expertise and the “both sides” coverage of complex issues that treats “sides” as somehow equally credible.

The key problems in this piece can be unpacked in a few claims made by Goldstein.

Early, Goldstein asserts (without any link to evidence):
Focusing on the fundamentals of grammar is one approach to teaching writing. But it’s by no means the dominant one. Many educators are concerned less with sentence-level mechanics than with helping students draw inspiration from their own lives and from literature.

What is profoundly garbled here is a conflating of what the field of teaching writing shows through research and what teachers actually do in their classrooms.

The reality of 2017 and how students are taught writing is best reflected in a comment by former NCTE president Lou LaBrant from 1947:
A brief consideration will indicate reasons for the considerable gap between the research currently available and the utilization of that research in school programs and methods. (p. 87)

Isolated grammar instruction has been shown to have almost no transfer into student writing, and George Hillocks (among others) detailed that traditional grammar exercises could even make student writing worse.

However, I invite Goldstein and others to visit classrooms and, better yet, simply read through the Connected Community’s Teaching and Learning Forum (NCTE) where weekly English teachers voice their continued commitment to “[f]ocusing on the fundamentals of grammar.”

I want to come back to this point with another example below, but next, Goldstein wanders into the fatal flaw of edujournalism with this splash of evidence:
Three-quarters of both 12th and 8th graders lack proficiency in writing, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress. And 40 percent of those who took the ACT writing exam in the high school class of 2016 lacked the reading and writing skills necessary to successfully complete a college-level English composition class, according to the company’s data.

Poor writing is nothing new, nor is concern about it. More than half of first-year students at Harvard failed an entrance exam in writing — in 1874. But the Common Core State Standards, now in use in more than two-thirds of the states, were supposed to change all this. By requiring students to learn three types of essay writing — argumentative, informational and narrative — the Core staked a claim for writing as central to the American curriculum. It represented a sea change after the era of No Child Left Behind, the 2002 federal law that largely overlooked writing in favor of reading comprehension assessed by standardized multiple-choice tests.

The relentless and uncritical faith in what standardized tests tell us is one of the great problems with edujournalism across all discussions of education, but with writing, this is particularly problematic since standardized testing of writing is universally horrible, lacking validity and itself providing the context for why the teaching of writing is in fact inadequate.

Again, Hillocks has carefully analyzed that one of the most negative influences on teaching students to write has been the high-stakes testing movement. Teachers and their students have become slaves to state-level and national tests of writing that make writing to prompts and conforming to anchor papers as well as rubrics supersede any authentic writing goals that were endorsed by important movements such as the National Writing Project (a key focus of Goldstein’s article).

As I noted earlier, the irony is that a professional journalist’s piece in the NYT fails to provide the sort of credible evidence that many would expect as essential to student writing."



"But, again, what is incredibly important about causality in Applebee and Langer’s analysis, and what is totally subsumed by Goldstein’s focus on teachers, is that the standards and high-stakes testing movement killed the path to authentic writing instruction begun by the National Writing Project in the late 1970s and early 1980s (I outline that phenomenon in a chapter on de-grading the writing classroom).

Teachers and their students are being held accountable for writing standards and high-stakes tests—and everything we know about teaching writing well be damned.

On balance, then, Goldstein fails to expose accurately why students can’t write by glossing over the field of teaching writing without the care and expertise that topic deserves and by depending on weak evidence at the exclusion of a wealth of evidence that powerfully addresses the exact problem she seeks to examine.

Writing and teaching writing are highly complex fields, but we have a great deal of research, we do know how to teach writing well, and the field of composition, like all vibrant fields, remains a living thing driving by debate and investigation.

If we need a simple statement, then, on why students can’t write, let me offer something to consider: Students can’t write well because teachers are blocked from teaching well, and thus, the wall that must be torn down so both can excel is the standards and high-stakes testing movement.

* Goldstein’s title alludes to one of the worst but also enduring works ever on literacy, Why Johnny Can’t Read. This book spurred the school-bashing movement and engrained some of the most negative attitudes about literacy still remaining in the U.S. See Revisiting Content and Direct Instruction."
education  journalism  writing  2017  reporting  danagoldstein  katewalsh  testing  standardizedtesting  reform  schoolreform  learning  teaching  howweteach  literacy  media  standardization  commoncore  data  assessment  pedagogy  lolabrant  1947  georgehillocks  ncte  nationalwritingproject  instruction  grammar  arthurapplebee  judithlanger  1970s  1980s  rudolfflesch  policy  plthomas  paulthomas  high-stakestesting 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Christopher Emdin SXSWedu 2017 Keynote - YouTube
"Merging theory and practice, connecting contemporary issues to historical ones, and providing a deep analysis on the current state of education, Dr. Emdin ushers in a new way of looking at improving schools and schooling. Drawing from themes in his New York Times Bestselling book, and the latest album from rap group A Tribe Called Quest, Emdin offers insight into the structures of contemporary schools, and highlights major issues like the absence of diversity among teachers, the ways educators of color are silenced in schools, the absence of student voice in designing teaching and learning, and a way forward in addressing these issues."
christopheremdin  education  2017  sxswedu2017  schools  diversity  teaching  learning  howweteach  howwelearn  studentvoice  listening  socialjustice  service  atribecalledquest  dinka  culture  adjustment  maladjustment  ptsd  psychology  voice  transcontextualism  johndewey  doctorseuss  traditions  children  race  racism  trauma  trayvonmartin  violence  schooling  schooltoprisonpipeline  technology  edtech  pedagogy  disenfranchisement  technosolutionism  commoncore  soul  liberation  conversation  paulofreire  credentialism  stem  coding  economics  expectations  engagement  neweconomy  equity  justice  humility  quantification  oppression  whitesupremacy  cosmopolitanism  hiphoped  youthculture  hiphop  youth  teens  appropriation  monetization  servicelearning  purpose  context  decontextualization  tfa  courage  inequality  inequity  normalization  community  curriculum  canon  complexity  chaos  nuance  teachforamerica  transcontextualization 
march 2017 by robertogreco
The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students - The New York Times
"FOR 15 years, since the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, education reformers have promoted standardized testing, school choice, competition and accountability (meaning punishment of teachers and schools) as the primary means of improving education. For many years, I agreed with them. I was an assistant secretary of education in George H. W. Bush’s administration and a member of three conservative think tanks.

But as I watched the harmful effects of No Child Left Behind, I began to have doubts. The law required that all schools reach 100 percent proficiency as measured by state tests or face harsh punishments. This was an impossible goal. Standardized tests became the be-all and end-all of education, and states spent billions on them. Social scientists have long known that the best predictor of test scores is family income. Yet policy makers encouraged the firing of thousands of teachers and the closing of thousands of low-scoring public schools, mostly in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

As the damage escalated, I renounced my support for high-stakes testing and charter schools. Nonetheless, I clung to the hope that we might agree on national standards and a national curriculum. Surely, I thought, they would promote equity since all children would study the same things and take the same tests. But now I realize that I was wrong about that, too.

Six years after the release of our first national standards, the Common Core, and the new federal tests that accompanied them, it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.

The people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven’t come true. Even in states with strong common standards and tests, racial achievement gaps persist. Last year, average math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress declined for the first time since 1990; reading scores were flat or decreased compared with a decade earlier.

The development of the Common Core was funded almost entirely by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It was a rush job, and the final product ignored the needs of children with disabilities, English-language learners and those in the early grades. It’s no surprise that there has been widespread pushback.

In 2009 President Obama announced Race to the Top, a competition for $4.35 billion in federal grant money. To qualify, states had to adopt “college and career ready standards,” a requirement that was used to pressure them into adopting national standards. Almost every state applied, even before the specifics of the Common Core were released in June 2010.

The federal government, states and school districts have spent billions of dollars to phase in the standards, to prepare students to take the tests and to buy the technology needed to administer them online. There is nothing to show for it. The Race to the Top demoralized teachers, caused teacher shortages and led to the defunding of the arts and other subjects that were not tested. Those billions would have been better spent to reduce class sizes, especially in struggling schools, to restore arts and physical education classes, to rebuild physically crumbling schools, and to provide universal early childhood education.

Children starting in the third grade may spend more than 10 hours a year taking state tests — and weeks preparing for them. Studies show that students perform better on written tests than on online tests, yet most schools across the nation are assessing their students online, at enormous costs, because that is how the Common Core tests are usually delivered. Computer glitches are common. Sometimes the server gets overloaded and breaks down. Entire states, like Alaska, have canceled tests because of technical problems. More than 30 states have reported computer testing problems since 2013, according to FairTest, a testing watchdog.

Standardized tests are best at measuring family income. Well-off students usually score in the top half of results; students from poor homes usually score in the bottom. The quest to “close achievement gaps” is vain indeed when the measure of achievement is a test based on a statistical norm. If we awarded driver’s licenses based on standardized tests, half the adults in this country might never receive one. The failure rates on the Common Core tests are staggeringly high for black and Hispanic children, students with disabilities and English-language learners. Making the tests harder predictably depresses test scores, creating a sense of failure and hopelessness among young children.

If we really cared about improving the education of all students, we would give teachers the autonomy to tailor instruction to meet the needs of the children in front of them and to write their own tests. We would insist that students in every school had an equal opportunity to learn in well-maintained schools, in classes of reasonable size taught by expert teachers. Anyone who wants to know how students in one state compare with students in other states can get that information from the N.A.E.P., the existing federal test.

What is called “the achievement gap” is actually an “opportunity gap.” What we need are schools where all children have the same chance to learn. That doesn’t require national standards or national tests, which improve neither teaching nor learning, and do nothing to help poor children at racially segregated schools. We need to focus on that, not on promoting failed ideas."
2016  dianeravitch  commoncore  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  government  us  nclb  rttt  georgehwbush  gatesfoundation  billgates  standards  education  schools  publischools  poverty  inequality  segregation  naep  statistics  achievementgap  opportunitygap  politics  policy 
july 2016 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Writing Junk
"First, we need to understand that the state of writing instruction has never been great.

If you are of a Certain Age (say, mine) you may recall a type of writing instruction that we could call the Lego Building Approach. In this method, students are first taught to construct sentences. Then they are taught how to arrange a certain number of sentences into a paragraph. Finally, they are taught to assemble those paragraphs into full essays.

This is junk. It assumes that the basic building block of a piece of writing is a sentence. No-- the basic building block of a piece of writing is an idea. To try to say something without having any idea what you want to say is a fool's errand.

Not that the Lego Building Approach should feel bad for being junk. The instructional writing landscape is littered with junk, clogged with junk, sometimes obscured by the broad shadow of towering junk. And on almost-weekly basis, folks try to sort out what the junk is and how best to clear it away.

Here's John Warner at Inside Higher Ed trying to answer the question, "Why can't my new employees write?" Warner reports that he hears that question often from employers. With a little probing he determines that what they mean by "can't write," is "They primarily observe a fundamental lack of clarity and perceive a gap between the purpose of the writing and the result of what’s been written, a lack of awareness of audience and occasion."

In other words, they don't seem to get the idea that they are supposed to be communicating real ideas and information in a real way to real people. It's not a question of rigor or expectations, Warner notes. It's that they were trained to do something else entirely.

I believe that in many cases, these young professionals have never encountered a genuine and meaningful rhetorical situation in an academic or professional context. They are highly skilled at a particular kind of academic writing performance that they have been doing from a very early age, but they are largely unpracticed at that what their employers expect them to do, clearly communicate ideas to specific audiences.

My students’ chief struggle tends to be rooted in years of schooling where what they have to say doesn’t really matter, and the primary focus is on “how” you say things.

This is the flip side of our current bad ideas about reading-- the notion that reading is a set of skills that exist independent of any actual content. Current writing standards and therefor instruction assume the same thing-- that a piece of writing involves deploying a set of skills, and the actual content and subject matter are not really important. This is not so much a pedagogical idea as a corporate one, somehow filtered down form the world where it's believed that a great corporate manager will be great whether the company makes lubricating oil, soup, soap, or fluffy children's toys.

Michelle Kenney at Rethinking Schools talks about how this skills-based writing turns to junk in "The Politics of the Paragraph." Innumerable schools have found ways (or borrowed or bought ways) to reduce writing to a simple set of steps, providing a checklist for students to follow when writing (and for teachers to use when scoring). Kenney writes about the inevitable outcome of this approach, even when using a procedure developed in house:

I also noted a decline in the overall quality of thought in these paragraphs. Students had more confidence in their writing, but they were also less invested in their ideas. Writing paragraphs and essays was now a set of hoops to jump through, a dry task only slightly more complex than a worksheet.

Mediocre writing starts with the wrong questions, and a focus on a set, proscribed structure and process encourages students to ask the wrong questions. Hammer them with writing templates, and students start to see an essay as a slightly more involved fill in the blank exercise. "I have to have five paragraphs-- what can I use to fill up the five paragraph-sized blanks?" "I need three sentences to make a paragraph-- what can I use to fill in the the three sentence-shaped empty spaces." This gets you junk.

The appeal of the template is easy to see-- teaching writing is hard and grading writing is even harder. Every prompt has an infinite number of correct answers instead of just one, and every piece of writing has to be considered on its own terms. The very best writing includes a unique and personal voice, and teaching a students to sound like him- or herself is tricky. Much easier to teach them all to sound like the same person.

The important questions for writing are what do I want to say, who do I want to say it to, and what's the best way I can think of to say it. But the results of those are really hard to scale up, if not impossible. So it comes as no surprise that the Age of Common Core College and Career Ready Standards has provided us just with more junk writing instruction."



"I know there are teachers who think they are swell. I've met some. Here's why some teachers like these writing standards:

1) They are teaching their own set of standards and pretending that their own standards have something to do with the Core standards.

2) They don't like to teach writing, and what they want someone to do is just reduce it to some simple rules so that they can just go through the motions and be able to say they're teaching writing without having to suffer through the hard work.

3) They don't know how to teach writing.

I'm sorry, but if you tell me that you think the standards are great for writing instruction, I will judge you. I'm not proud of it, but there it is (especially in Pennsylvania, where we have found ways to make the writing standards even worse). Will argues that teachers need more support, that there are "veteran teachers who had no practice in teaching the kind of writing, particularly argumentative writing, that the standards call for," and that's probably true, but I'm okay with that, because the standards call for junk. Teachers do need "support" in the teaching of writing (I do love how "needs support" is now our code word for "needs to be whacked upside the head and straightened the hell out"), but the standards are not the place to find it, and they're not the foundation on which to base it. I promise that I'll present my Writing Instruction Professional Development in a Can but this is already a long post, so we'll save that for another day.

But I will give you Step One, because summer is the perfect time to work on it.

Write. Write for a blog. Write letters to the editor of your newspaper. Write long thoughtful letters to friends. You can no more teach writing without actually doing writing than you can teach reading if you've never cracked open a book. So go do that. And don't consult any standards or templates when you do. Just ask yourself-- what do I want to say? That's the only thing you need to get started."
writing  education  teaching  teachingwriting  schools  2016  howweteach  howwewrite  commoncore  templates  fiveparagraphessays  sfsh  pedagogy  curriculum  practice 
july 2016 by robertogreco
Learn Different - The New Yorker
"Students at AltSchool are issued a tablet in pre-K and switch to a laptop in later years. (For now, AltSchool ends at the equivalent of eighth grade.) When I visited a mixed classroom for second and third graders, most of the children were sunk into their laptops. All were engaged in bespoke activities that had been assigned to them through a “playlist”—software that displays a series of digital “cards” containing instructions for a task to be completed. Sometimes it was an online task. Two children were doing keyboarding drills on a typing Web site. Their results would be uploaded for a teacher’s assessment and added to the student’s online Learning Progression—software developed by AltSchool which captures, in minute detail, a student’s progress.

The curriculum is roughly aligned with the Common Core, the government standards that establish topics which students should master by the end of each grade. But AltSchool’s ethos is fundamentally opposed to the paradigm of standardization that has dominated public education in recent decades, and reflects a growing shift in emphasis among theorists toward “personalized learning.” This approach acknowledges and adapts to the differences among students: their abilities, their interests, their cultural backgrounds.

A girl in the class was completing an offline task—reading a book about polar bears. A boy lay on his stomach on the carpeted floor, headphones on, using a Web site called BrainPOP to learn how to calculate the perimeters of basic shapes. “Two out of five!” he shouted at one point, as oblivious of those around him as a subway rider wearing earbuds and singing along to Drake.

Not all the activities were solitary. Two girls sat together, laptops before them, using Google Images to scroll through pictures of seals for a social-studies assignment; occasionally, they paused to compare notes. Every so often, a student spoke with the teacher, a young woman in jeans and a loose top, her iPhone tucked under her thigh as she sat on the carpet. One girl had been using her laptop to research castles—an area of sustained interest. She and the teacher discussed princesses and castles, and whether they always went together. “That’s a good question,” the teacher said, and then asked, “Does America have princesses?”"



"At the same time, educators at AltSchool are discussing whether children really need to attain certain skills at particular stages of their educational development, as the Common Core implies. Seyfert thinks that it might be more useful to think of learning not as linear but as scrambled, like a torrent file on a computer: “You can imagine all the things you need to learn, and you could learn it all out of order so long as you can zip it up at the end, and you are good to go.”

Like other AltSchool teachers, Seyfert was drawn to the startup because of its ambition to make systemic change. Two or three times a week, she told me, she gives colleagues feedback about the school’s digital tools. The Learner Profile, Stream app, and other tools are only about a year old, and AltSchool’s personalization still requires considerable human intervention. Software is updated every day. Carolyn Wilson, AltSchool’s director of education, told me, “We encourage staff members to express their pain points, step up with their ideas, take a risk, fail forward, and fail fast, because we know we are going to iterate quickly. Other schools tend to move in geologic time.” (Ventilla may question the utility of foreign-language acquisition, but fluency in the jargon of Silicon Valley—English 2.0—is required at AltSchool.)

Ventilla told me that these tools were central to a revised conception of what a teacher might be: “We are really shifting the role of an educator to someone who is more of a data-enabled detective.” He defined a traditional teacher as an “artisanal lesson planner on one hand and disciplinary babysitter on the other hand.” Educators are stakeholders in AltSchool’s eventual success: equity has been offered to all full-time teachers."



"Some education advocates are wary about potential privacy violations that might result from data collection on the scale intended by AltSchool, particularly given that AltSchool is a for-profit company. (Most independent schools are not-for-profit institutions.) These concerns could complicate the adoption of AltSchool software by public school systems. Ventilla says that there is no intention to use AltSchool data for commercial purposes, and that AltSchool can gather data in a way that will respect a student’s anonymity. Only salient moments in the classroom videos are saved, he says, and most are not even stored. “I would never want to record all the things a kid says and keep them around,” he said. But he added that looking at vocabulary-acquisition patterns in aggregate could provide teachers with valuable information that will help them teach each individual more effectively. “The collection of any kind of data is not free,” Ventilla acknowledged. “But the alternative is the incredibly invasive, inaccurate standardized-testing regimen that we have now, which comes at a lot of cost, psychic and otherwise, and doesn’t provide nearly the amount of benefit that we want.”

Daniel Willingham, an education scholar at the University of Virginia, told me that adopting technology in schools can be maddeningly inefficient. “The most common thing I hear is that when you adopt technology you have to write twice the lesson plans,” he told me. “You have the one you use with the technology, and you have the backup one you use when the technology doesn’t work that day.” Willingham also notes that the most crucial thing about educational software isn’t the code that assesses student performance; it’s the worthiness of the readings and the clarity of the math questions being presented onscreen. “People are very focussed on the algorithm,” he said. “But equally important is the quality of the materials.”

The gap between AltSchool’s ambitions for technology and the reality of the classroom was painfully obvious the morning that I spent in the Brooklyn school. One kindergartner grew increasingly frustrated with his tablet as he tried to take a photograph of interlocking cubes that he had snapped into a strip of ten. (He was supposed to upload the image to his playlist.) He shook the unresponsive tablet, then stabbed repeatedly at the screen, like an exhausted passenger in a cab after an overnight flight, unable to quell the Taxi TV.

Even when AltSchool’s methods worked as intended, there were sometimes questionable results. The two girls whom I watched searching for seals on Google Images found plenty of suitable photographs. But the same search term called up a news photo of the corpse of a porpoise, its blood blossoming in the water after being rent almost in half by a seal attack. It also called up an image in which the head of Seal, the singer, had been Photoshopped onto a sea lion’s body—an object of much fascination to the students. To the extent that this exercise was preparing them for the workplace of the future, it was also dispiritingly familiar from the workplace of the present, where the rabbit holes of the Internet offer perpetual temptation."



"There had been some bumpy moments for the Palo Alto school, which opened last fall. One family left after concluding that there wasn’t enough homework. Other parents wanted to know the curriculum in advance—an impossible demand in a school dedicated to following children’s interests. A look around the classrooms confirmed that for some children the ability to follow their own passions reaped rich dividends. I observed the kindergarten-and-first-grade classroom during afternoon “choice time,” and saw two children separately involved in complicated long-term projects. A seven-year-old boy with an avid interest in American history had built a dining-table-sized model of Fort Sumter out of cardboard—he was painting black-splotch windows on its perimeter. He had also composed a storybook about Paul Revere, which was vibrantly written, if impressionistically spelled. Another seven-year-old boy had undertaken a physics experiment, building two styles of catapult out of tongue depressors and tape. He was measuring their power with the help of a yardstick affixed to the wall, and recording the data in a notebook. The AltSchool environment—and an inspiring young teacher named Paul France—had liberated these children’s individual creativity and intellectual curiosity in just the way that the parents of a potential Elon Musk might hope.

The boys’ classmates, however, had made less demanding use of their choice time, and this had apparently allowed the teaching staff to provide the necessary support for the more ambitious projects. Four boys were seated on the floor making primitive catapults with Jenga blocks. Half a dozen girls had chosen “art creation,” and were sitting around a table affixing stickers to paper and chatting. One girl had opted to work in clay. But no students had chosen to engage in dramatic play, or to work at the light table, or to do jigsaw puzzles—options that were displayed on a wall chart. The remaining eight children—six boys and two girls—had selected “tablet time.” They were sitting around a table, each with headphones on, expertly swiping and clicking their way through word or number games. Their quiet immersion would be recognizable to any parent who has ever bought herself a moment’s peace from the demands of interacting with her child by opening Angry Birds on her phone."



"When the AltSchool technologists who participated in the December hackathon shared their discoveries at the end of the session, the team that had focussed on bookmarking video seemed particularly pleased with its innovations. The team had decided to try to find a “fun route” to help … [more]
altschool  education  schools  2016  children  learning  pedagogy  amplify  teachtoone  brooklyn  paloalto  maxventilla  surveillance  standardization  blendedlearning  howweteach  howwelearn  automation  technology  edtech  sanfrancisco  gender  siliconvalley  commoncore  standards  brainpop 
march 2016 by robertogreco
Setting the record straight on early literacy instruction - The Washington Post
"By Diane E. Levin and Nancy Carlsson-Paige

There has been much well-deserved criticism of the increase in direct instruction in reading skills to young children, resulting from the demands of the Common Core State Standards. However, when we and others argue for abandoning the current one-size-fits-all approach to early literacy, we are not proposing “natural learning environments,” where children learn to read on their own with little teacher intervention.

Yet this is the only alternative to direct, skills-based instruction that Peter Gray describes in “The Reading Wars: Why Natural Learning Fails in Classrooms,” a 2013 post at Psychology Today that he recently published on his Facebook page.

In his essay, Gray argues that learning to read in and out of classrooms is different, by its very nature. This is true. But we do not agree with his assumption that the progressive alternative to direct teaching of phonics and reading skills is to set up natural conditions that allow children to learn to read on their own. He is creating a dichotomy that illustrates an enduring misconception of progressive practice.

Decades ago, in the Harvard Education Review, Lawrence Kohlberg, an American psychologist known for his theory of moral development, and Rochelle Mayer, now a professor at the McCourt School of Public Policy at Georgetown University, astutely described a “romantic” view of learning which grows out of psychological theories that promote inner growth and development. They argue that Romantic educators create an environment where children are free to flourish and grow based on their innate and inner needs, through self-discovery.

Kohlberg and Mayer contrast this view with progressive education—the outgrowth of cognitive theory, as seen in the work of Jean Piaget, and the educational philosophy of John Dewey. In the progressive approach, the main focus is not on the skills to be learned or on the individual child, but on the interaction between the two. It’s a dynamic and complex process in which the teacher has a vital role to play.

With respect to reading, the teacher must understand the developmental progression of skills in oral language, reading and writing. The teacher must know the level of each child’s skills, as well as understand his or her unique learning needs and abilities, culture and linguistic background. With this knowledge, the teacher can purposefully build curriculum for every child that is developmentally appropriate, meaningful, and lasting.

In “Lively Minds,” a short paper that Lillian Katz wrote for Defending the Early Years, this beloved professor emerita at the University of Illinois draws a distinction between academic goals and making meaning through learning. Education, she argues, must “provide a wide range of experiences, opportunities, resources, and contexts that will provoke, stimulate, and support children’s innate intellectual dispositions.”

[Report debunks ‘earlier is better’ academic instruction for young children]

Teachers in progressive classrooms are intentional about literacy education and employ many strategies to expose children to rich oral language and print. Among them are telling and enacting stories; reading picture and chapter books; singing, reciting, and reading from posted charts (teachers using pointers to read along and helping children isolate specific letters and sounds); drawing and writing with invented and conventional spellings; taking dictation from children; and helping children write their own stories.

In organic and meaningful ways, teachers use print throughout the day—labeling block structures and interest areas, writing recipes, transcribing children’s stories, making charts for attendance and classroom jobs. Teachers tune these activities to the developmental skill levels of individual children, scaffolding new learning in ways that will build a strong foundation for lifelong success in reading.

In contrasting the whole-language and phonics skills-based approaches, or what he calls “training,” Gray ignores the complex role of the teacher in a progressive classroom. Good literacy programs integrate both phonics and meaning; for effective learning, skill-building must be connected to children’s interests and developmental levels in meaningful ways.

In these times of policy mandates and standardized education for even our youngest children, it is vital that critics be clear about the alternatives. And it’s equally important that critics not misrepresent appropriate practice, or what its proponents are advocating for. We hope that clarifying these issues will help us move forward toward best educational practice for all of our children."
literacy  children  pedagogy  progressive  progressiveeducation  reading  writing  teachingwriting  teaching  petergray  dianelevin  nancycarlsson-paige  howweteach  learning  education  schools  earlyliteracy  commoncore  johndewey 
december 2015 by robertogreco
CURMUDGUCATION: Gates Says Some Stuff
"Like many teachers, I could not tune in to Bill and Melinda Gates' trip down Ed Reform Memory Lane because I was busy doing my actual job. This seems metaphorically perfect-- Gates talks about schools while, meanwhile, teachers are in schools doing actual work. However, I've scanned some accounts of the speech from this afternoon, and I think I've piece together the general drift of his gist. So let me channel my faux Gates voice to summarize what you, I and all of us missed today.

So, hey there.

It's been fifteen years since we started trying to beat public education into submission with giant stacks of money, and it turns out that it's a hell of a lot harder than curing major diseases. Turns out teachers are not nearly as compliant as bacteria. Who knew?

Actually, there's a whole long list of things that came as a surprise to us. Teachers and politicians and parents all had ideas about what ought or ought not to be happening in schools, and damned if they would just not shut up about it. At first stuff was going great and we were getting everyone to do just what we wanted them to, but then it was like they finally noticed that a bunch of clueless amateurs were trying to run the whole system, and they freaked out.

I have to tell you. Right now as I'm sitting here, it still doesn't occur to me that all the pushback might be related to the fact that I have no educational expertise at all, and yet I want to rewrite the whole US school system to my own specs. Why should that be a problem? I still don't understand why I shouldn't be able to just redo the whole mess without having to deal with unions or professional employees or elected officials. Of course nobody elected me to do this! I don't mind, really-- happy to take over this entire sector of the government anyway, you're welcome.

I have noticed that when you give teachers really shitty feedback based on crappy tests, they prefer that you just shut up and leave them alone. This is bad. How will they know whether they're crappy teachers or not, or whether they're doing well or not. Surely they don't think by just using their professional judgment and paying attention to their students they'll be able to figure out how they're doing all by themselves? Where are the numbers and the charts and the data? I tell you-- it's almost as if they think they understand things about teaching and education that I do not, and that surely can't be right.

I'll admit-- we were a bit naive about rolling all our ideas out, and by "we" I mean various state governments that we spent our money on. Those guys just screwed up the implementation. I know the ideas themselves were sound because, you know, I do. I mean, not everybody messed it up. In Kentucky they stayed the course on using standards to prep for those tests, and damned if that test prep didn't pay off in higher test scores. What else could anyone possibly want.

And resistance to Common Core. Well, some of that was just crazy people telling internet lies. And the rest was people who just wanted to assert their autonomy, like all the people who work in public education wanted to make a point that they don't actually work for me. My bad. Sometimes I forget that there are people like that. Although Melinda will tell you that teachers actually all love the Common Core. Love it.

Look, I'm a simple man. I had some ideas about how the entire US education system should work, and like any other citizen, I used my giant pile of money to impose my will on everyone else. It's okay, because I just want to help. We're not done yet-- I'm going to keep trying to fix the entire teaching profession, even if nobody in the country actually asked me to do it. And no, I don't intend to talk to anybody actually in the profession. What do they know about teaching? Besides, when you know you're right, you don't have to listen to anybody else."
2015  billgates  gatesfoundation  policy  influence  money  politics  education  schools  commoncore  petergreene  us  schooling 
october 2015 by robertogreco
Why Isn't Sex Education a Part of Common Core? - Pacific Standard
"Maybe it's not politically feasible, but most kids will need sexual knowledge more than Shakespearean verse to be functioning adults. Here's a sample curriculum."
2015  alicedreger  sex  sexed  education  pleasure  commoncore  sexuality  parenting  teaching 
april 2015 by robertogreco
My Objections to the Common Core State Standards (1.0) : Stager-to-Go
"The following is an attempt to share some of my objections to Common Core in a coherent fashion. These are my views on a controversial topic. An old friend I hold in high esteem asked me to share my thoughts with him. If you disagree, that’s fine. Frankly, I spent a lot of time I don’t have creating this document and don’t really feel like arguing about the Common Core. The Common Core is dying even if you just discovered it.

This is not a research paper, hence the lack of references. You can Google for yourself. Undoubtedly, this post contains typos as well. I’ll fix them as I find them.

This critique shares little with the attacks from the Tea Party or those dismissed by the Federal Education Secretary or Bill Gates as whiney parents.

I have seven major objections to the Common Core State Standards (CCSS)

1. The CCSS are a solution in search of a problem.

2. The CCSS were implemented in a remarkably undemocratic fashion at great public expense to the benefit of ideologues and corporations.

3. The standards are preposterous and developmentally inappropriate.

4. The inevitable failure of the Common Core cannot be blamed on poor implementation when poor implementation is baked into the design.

5. Standardized curriculum lowers standards, diminishes teacher agency, and lowers the quality of educational experiences.

6. The CCSS will result in an accelerated erosion of public confidence in public education.

7. The requirement that CCSS testing be conducted electronically adds unnecessary complexity, expense, and derails any chance of computers being used in a creative fashion to amplify student potential."

[continues on to elaborate on each objection, some pull quotes here]

"there is abundant scholarship by Linda Darling-Hammond, Diane Ravitch, Gerald Bracey, Deborah Meier, and others demonstrating that more American kids are staying in school longer than at any time in history. If we control for poverty, America competes quite favorably against any other nation in the world, if you care about such comparisons."



"As my colleague and mentor Seymour Papert said, “At best school teaches a billionth of a percent of the knowledge in the world and yet we quibble endlessly about which billionth of a percent is important enough to teach.” Schools should prepare kids to solve problems their teachers never anticipated with the confidence and competence necessary to overcome any obstacle, even if only to discover that there is more to learn."



"When teachers are not required to make curricular decisions and design curriculum based on the curiosity, thinking, understanding, passion, or experience of their students, the resulting loss in teacher agency makes educators less thoughtful and reflective in their practice, not more. The art of teaching has been sacrificed at the expense of reducing pedagogical practice to animal control and content delivery."



"The singular genius of George W. Bush and his No Child Left Behind legislation (kicked-up a notch by Obama’s Race-to-the-Top) was the recognition that many parents hate school, but love their kids’ teachers. If your goal is to privatize education, you need to concoct a way to convince parents to withdraw support for their kid’s teacher. A great way to achieve that objective is by misusing standardized tests and then announcing that your kid’s teacher is failing your kid. This public shaming creates a manufactured crisis used to justify radical interventions before calmer heads can prevail.

These standardized tests are misunderstood by the public and policy-makers while being used in ways that are psychometrically invalid. For example, it is no accident that many parents confuse these tests with college admissions requirements. Using tests designed to rank students mean that half of all test-takers be below the norm and were never intended to measure teacher efficacy.

The test scores come back up to six months after they are administered, long after a child advances to the next grade. Teachers receive scores for last year’s students, with no information on the questions answered incorrectly. These facts make it impossible to use the testing as a way of improving instruction, the stated aim of the farcical process."



"It is particularly ironic how much of the public criticism of the Common Core is related to media accounts and water cooler conversations of the “crazy math” being taught to kids. There are actually very few new or more complex concepts in the Common Core than previous math curricula. In fact, the Common Core hardly challenges any of the assumptions of the existing mathematics curriculum. The Common Core English Language Arts standards are far more radical. Yet, our innumerate culture is up in arms about the “new new math” being imposed by the Common Core.

What is different about the Common Core approach to mathematics, particularly arithmetic, is the arrogant imposition of specific algorithms. In other words, parents are freaking out because their kids are being required to solve problems in a specific fashion that is different from how they solve similar problems.

This is more serious than a matter of teaching old dogs new tricks. The problem is teaching tricks at all. There are countless studies by Constance Kamii and others demonstrating that any time you teach a child the algorithm, you commit violence against their mathematical understanding. Mathematics is a way of making sense of the world and Piaget teaches us that it is not the job of the teacher to correct the child from the outside, but rather to create the conditions in which they correct themselves from the inside. Mathematical problem solving does not occur in one way no matter how forcefully you impose your will on children. If you require a strategy competing with their own intuitions, you add confusion that results in less confidence and understanding.

Aside from teaching one algorithm (trick), another way to harm a child’s mathematical thinking development is to teach many algorithms for solving the same problem. Publishers make this mistake frequently. In an attempt to acknowledge the plurality of ways in which various children solve problems, those strategies are identified and then taught to every child. Doing so adds unnecessary noise, undermines personal confidence, and ultimately tests memorization of tricks (algorithms) at the expense of understanding.

This scenario goes something like this. Kids estimate in lots of different ways. Let’s teach them nine or ten different ways to estimate, and test them along the way. By the end of the process, many kids will be so confused that they will no longer be able to perform the estimation skill they had prior to the direct instruction in estimation. Solving a problem in your head is disqualified."
garystager  commoncore  2015  education  policy  schools  publicschools  standardization  standardizedtesting  standards  learning  teaching  pedagogy  technology  testing  democracy  process  implementation  agency  howweteach  howwelearn  publicimage  seymourpapert  numeracy  matheducation  math  mathematics  numbersense  understanding  memorization  algorithms  rttt  gatesfoundation  pearson  nclb  georgewbush  barackobama 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Defies Measurement on Vimeo
"DEFIES MEASUREMENT strengthens the discussion about public education by exploring why it is so important to address the social and emotional needs of every student, and what happens when the wrong people make decisions for schools.

For information on how to screen this film for others and for resources to learn more and take action, visit defiesmeasurement.com

By downloading this film, you are agreeing to the 3 terms listed below:

1) I will only use portions of Defies Measurement or the whole film for educational purposes and I will NOT edit or change the film in any way. (Educational purposes = viewing a portion or complete version of the film for an individual, private or public event, free of charge or as a fundraiser)

2) I will post a photo or comment about the film and/or screening on the Defies Measurement Facebook page

3) I will spread the word about the film to others via social media and word of mouth. Follow us @defymeasurement #defiesmeasurement"

[See also:
https://www.shineonpro.com/
https://robertogreco.tumblr.com/post/115791029088/defies-measurement-via-will-richardsondefies ]
testing  standardizedtesting  nclb  rttt  schools  education  middleschool  chipmanmiddleschool  lindadarling-hammond  alfiekohn  martinmalström  socialemotionallearning  poverty  iq  assessment  policy  howweteach  howelearn  learning  competition  politics  arneduncan  jebbush  measurement  quantification  inequality  finland  us  edreform  tcsnmy  community  experientiallearning  communitycircles  morningmeetings  documentary  film  terrielkin  engagement  meaningmaking  howwelearn  teaching  sylviakahn  regret  sellingout  georgewbush  susankovalik  lauriemclachlan-fry  joanduvall-flynn  government  howardgardner  economics  anthonycody  privatization  lobbying  gatesfoundation  marknaison  billgates  davidkirp  broadfoundation  charitableindustrialcomplex  commoncore  waltonfamily  teachforamerica  tfa  mercedesschneider  dianeravitch  davidberliner  publischools  anationatrisk  joelklein  condoleezzarice  tonywagner  business  markets  freemarket  neworleans  jasonfrance  naomiklein  shockdoctrine  karranharper-royal  julianvasquezheilig  sarahstickle  ronjohnson  alanskoskopf  soci 
april 2015 by robertogreco
How Common Core serves white folks a sliver of the black experience - The Hechinger Report
"The sky hasn’t fallen and the Constitution is still in place, even though most children are taking Common Core tests.

But it’s not a moment to celebrate either.

In Louisiana, administering the first phase of tests aligned with the new state standards to 99 percent of eligible students isn’t exactly like the Freedmen’s Bureau coming to save formerly enslaved blacks. It’s not even saving students from the Tea Party (they’re still complaining about the tests).

Relax. Take it from black and brown children who are used to being tested. Students will overcome. However, privileged adults who aren’t used to being tested may never stop crying.

This curriculum debate will soon taper off, chiefly because Common Core isn’t what’s failing students or teachers. Standards do not threaten the Constitution. However, something radical is happening. Common Core is serving white folks a sliver of the black experience.

I simply can’t manufacture the passion for or against curricula reboots or changes that eventually must happen. I’m sure there’s someone still lobbying for Home Economics as a required course, but gladly most have progressed. The researcher in me can’t argue against wanting a better means to measure educational performance nationwide. However, having the ability to compare performances among groups hasn’t brought educational justice to black and brown students. Still, I know that kids overcome.

I didn’t like how the usual suspects profited politically and financially from the development of the tests – someone other than poor folk usually do. I got a bigger chuckle from ideas of a federal overreach than money-grab claims – but only slightly bigger. I’m trying to remember a time when a cabal of individuals and companies didn’t profit from education reform.



"Black, brown and poor people take tests every single day. Confrontations with police, hunger, unemployment and biased teachers overshadow the feelings of taking computerized tests. Low expectations, a lack of inclusion, a leaky teacher pipeline for communities of color, and punishing disciplinary policies all threaten authentic learning and teaching more than PARCC and Smarter Balanced tests ever will.

For good reason, people in the ’hood have always been more worried with how test results are used.

Consequently, the battle around accountability is real and extremely complex. But it’s easier to shout down Common Core than battle for a viable solution to our accountability problem.
As Sen. Lamar Alexander-Tenn., chairman of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. rewrite No Child Left Behind, they must consider giving teachers the freedom to teach while providing consequences to those districts and schools that don’t provide the education all students deserve.

Hopefully, Sens. Alexander and Murray can wipe away privilege from the bill the way Common Core did."
commoncore  2015  andreperry  testing  assessment  standardizedtesting  edreform  curriculum  us  constitution  policy  parcc  testresults  school  race  accountability 
march 2015 by robertogreco
No profit left behind - Stephanie Simon - POLITICO
"In the high-stakes world of American education, Pearson makes money even when its results don’t measure up."
2015  pearson  stephaniesimon  education  schools  politics  policy  testing  curriculum  us  standardizedtesting  textbooks  commoncore 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Science teacher: CCSS: Creative, Competent, Social Students
"You do not need to know anything about mitosis to know how to live.
You do not need to know anything about how to live to learn mitosis.

Too many of us strive to do whatever it is we must do without a thought to why we do anything the way we do it.

It's not learning that matters, it's living. Learning is an evolutionary tool shared by a lot of species better at this living thing than the current version of H. sapiens. Animals who choose to ignore the world around them do not last very long. Humans are no exception.

We have fetishized education as some sort of independent structure, institutionalizing what we think matters without thinking about what actually does matter. Why else care who graduated from where, or class ranks, or SAT scores?

Why do we let a few strangers dictate a "common core" defining what should be learned?

Here's my CCSS--we need to foster competent, creative, and social students. It's not my place (or anyone else's) to dictate a child's life path, but if we must have common standards, here are a few I think are worth sharing:

• Students should know what's edible in their area, and how to prepare it. Around here it could be wild cherries, dandelions, squirrel, deer, clams, or hundreds of other fine food sources. Not saying they need to forage like Wildman Steve Brill, but using primary sources for food ought to be at least as important as using primary sources for some term paper no one will read besides a teacher.

• Students should know the basics of their dwellings, and be able to use truly digital tools like hammers, screwdrivers, and saws to make and repair the things we need within our dwellings. Knowing how to approach a simple plumbing problem (or any mechanical problem) matters more than knowing how to "apply the Binomial Theorem."

• Students should know what they need to stay alive, what goes into them (and where it came from) and what goes out of them (and where it goes). If they don't know this, they literally don't know shit.

Our economy depends on sustaining learned helplessness; our current way of schooling does just that.

Our children need to learn to read, to write, to develop reasonable number sense, and to solve problems. They need a reasonable sense of what's real (and what's not), and a reasonable chance to live a happy and productive life.

They also need to live as the animals that they are."
michaeldoyle  2015  education  standards  living  life  helplessness  economics  commoncore  howwelive  howwelearn  schools  arneduncan  problemsolving  context  local  experientiallearning  animals  humans  bighere 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Broken Windows, Broken Schools: A Panel Discussion on Education & Justice on Livestream
[So much here.]

"Many times schools are looked at as a solution to an in-equal society. This panel brings together a range of experts on the connections between schools and communities to highlight what policies and practices be undertaken to make both more just. **PANELISTS ** ZAKIYAH ANSARI - Advocacy Director, Alliance for Quality Education R. L'HEUREUX LEWIS-MCCOY - Sociology & Black Studies, City College of New York/City University of New York; IRAAS Adjunct Faculty CARLA SHEDD - Sociology & African-American Studies, Columbia University JOSÉ LUIS VILSON - NYC Public School Teacher and Author"
education  publicschools  policy  2015  inequality  community  privatization  choice  teaching  howweteach  commoncore  schooltoprisonpipleine  zakiyahansari  l'heureuxlewis-mccoy  carlashedd  discipline  pedagogy  race  institutionalracism  bias  class  society  canon  expectations  neworleans  chicago  nyc  advocacy  parenting  children  learning  overseers  justice  socialjustice  doublestandards  edreform  agency  democracy  voice  empowerment  josévilson  nola  charterschools 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Beautiful Bytes of Data | The Jose Vilson
"The word data slides easily off the tongue but has no personality and sounds as dry as a funeral drum. School administrators try to grace the word by telling parents that “data-driven school districts” will radically change public education, hoping that a staccato of words and a flare of alliteration will impress a captive audience. Some disingenuous school officials assert that “data-driven” is an essential tool for effectively managing a business, so why not a school system?

But it’s all a ruse. The sum of all the rhetoric about the importance of designing data-driven school districts is a shell game, a slight of hand practiced by illusionists to distract trusting parents who believe school administrators know what is best for their children. Anything “data-driven” must be beneficial for schools, parents are told, because data is information, and information is necessary to make sound decisions about curriculum, instruction and learning. And since even the best used car salesperson can no longer sell the faux elixir of Common Core now that this failed one-size-fits-all education policy has been exposed, school administrators need a new mantra to mystify parents.

Data has an ugly side, a face that frequently emerges when it is misinterpreted or convoluted to justify a faulty assumption or bad decision. The countless financial manipulations practiced by Wall Street brokers and bankers have repeatedly proven that data can be exploited and cause financial ruin for millions of people. Data may be defined as a set of values of quantitative and qualitative variables, and business savors at the trough of data, but schools should be people-driven rather than data-driven institutions.

The young man who stepped in front of the train was a beautiful byte of data, but he was more than the sum of the quantitative information collected by a data-driven school district. His social and emotional data fills less space on his school district’s list of quantifiable student data than math and science scores, and that is the shame of the present state of American public education.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24, and more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease … combined. Need quantitative data? Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 suicide attempts by young people grades 7-12, and four out of five teens who have attempted suicide give clear warning signs. Maybe its time to take off the blinders of a data-driven school district to see clearly that our students are suffering.

Data is not our generation’s penicillin. It is an ugly word used by school administrators, policy makers, and government officials to demean the greatest social institution ever designed by human hands – a public school. Data is being used to compare the United States with countries such as Finland because the Finns score higher on international math and science tests, but can someone – anyone – tell me what Finland produces with their wealth of science and math knowledge?

[crickets]
The United States may score lower on international math and science tests, but somehow we instill creativity in our students and produce amazing technologies.

I taught and helped mentor the young man who stepped in front of the train. I helped him get a scholarship to a vocational school after he earned a high school diploma. He wanted to be an electrician, but I also knew about the many demons that tormented his gentle soul. He endured a miserable childhood, never knew his father, drank too much, and could not leash his black dog of depression. I tried to place him on a road that could lead him to a better place, believing that terra firma would make him feel a clearer path to success and salvation, but he could not see nor feel the ground beneath his feet. I failed.

I believe the vast majority of classroom teachers are not opposed to collecting data that may enhance instructional strategies or improve learning, but do object to a school system trying to emulate a business model designed to increase production and profits rather than enhance social and emotional growth. The social and emotional learning needs of children are too often omitted when describing the purpose of a “data-driven school district” and this is a flawed education philosophy.

The young man was a beautiful byte of data. Now he is a cold dead statistic."
2014  data  depression  metrics  schools  publischools  comparison  standardization  standardizedtesting  politics  policy  pisa  finland  us  testing  commoncore  josévilson 
november 2014 by robertogreco
Balance : Stager-to-Go
"Ah, balance!

Balance is the Fabreze of education policy. It is a chemical spray designed to mask the stench of a two year-old tuna sandwich found in the minvan with the artificial bouquet of an April rain dancing on a lily pad.

• Balanced literacy got us systemic phonics.
• Balanced math begot Singapore Math worksheets.
• Balanced standards produced The Common Core.
• Balanced policy debates produced No Child Left Behind and Race-to-the-Top

A balanced approach to educational technology made computer science extinct in schools and has now taught two generations of children to find the space bar in a computer lab-based keyboarding class.

I could go on.

Balance is elusive. It is fake and lazy and cowardly and sad. Balance is embraced by those who don’t know or can’t/won’t articulate what they truly believe. Balance fills the void left by the absence of alternative models and excellence. It is anonymous.

Educators are told that passion should be tempered. Every pedagogical idea is just fine as long as it is “for the children.” We should just do our jobs and not complain about outrageous attacks on our dignity, paycheck, curriculum, working conditions, or the living conditions of the students we serve.

Balance fills the school day with mandates and directives and lots of interruptions that while offering an illusion of options make it impossible for a learner to focus on anything long enough to become good at it.

Balance teaches children that teachers are helpless pawns in a system they don’t control or cannot understand.
Balance is the absentee parent of incrementalism. As educators take “baby steps” towards what they know is right or righteous they lead a long and meandering hike after which the followers cannot remember the original destination.
“This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.” (Martin Luther King, Jr., 1963)


Educators are to remain neutral and seek consensus at all-costs. Balance programs us to find the silver lining in tornados. There MUST be SOMETHING good in what Bill Gates or Sal Khan or any number of a million corporations with ED or MENTUM or ACHIEVE or VATION in their names happen to be peddling.

The laws of the political universe, and education is inherently political, greet each embrace of “balance” as ten steps in a more conservative direction. There is no balance – just weakness.

I urge you to read one of my favorite passages ever written about “balance” in education. It is from a lesser-known classic, On Being a Teacher,”  by the great American educator, Jonathan Kozol. Please take a few minutes to read, “Extreme Ideas. [http://stager.tv/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/Kozol-Extreme-Ideas.pdf ]”
garystager  balance  compromise  mediocrity  submission  2014  jonathankozol  resistance  hybridmodel  politics  policy  weakness  dilution  unschooling  deschooling  tcsnmy  curriculum  commoncore  phonics  rttt  nclb  mandates  directives  rules  standardization  helplessness  gradualism  teching  pedagogy  schools  education  khanacademy  socialjustice  leadership  learning 
november 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core State Standards and The Code To Equity — Teaching, Learning, & Education — Medium
"We’re trying to close the achievement gap by trying to talk to the winners of this game instead of asking harder questions about the game itself.

Whenever we center education on the dominant norms while laying blame on the less-dominant for not being more like the normal, we implicitly exclude the traditions and cultures of those, 30-day annual celebrations notwithstanding. As a person of color who’s ostensibly learned the ways of the mainstream, I’ve seen firsthand the effects of getting so deep into learning these norms that acculturation (learning another culture) can easily be mistaken for assimilation (discarding one’s culture completely for another).

Instead of asking “How can we find equity while still keeping the more fortunate as fortunate,” we need to ask, “How do we address communities with the same humanity that we afford the dominant culture?” This discussion also has financial and political ramifications, but it has a root in ideas and ideals. We need better tools to dismantle the inequity, because the ones we have at our disposal just won’t do it."
commoncore  equity  race  inequality  2014  education  policy  us  politics  josévilson 
august 2014 by robertogreco
“No Excuses” in New Orleans | Jacobin
[via: http://tinyletter.com/audreywatters/letters/hack-education-weekly-newsletter-no-70]

[part 2 here: https://www.jacobinmag.com/2014/07/the-charter-school-profiteers/ ]

"Extensive observational research one of us conducted (Sondel) in two of these “No Excuses” schools (an elementary KIPP school and a locally based middle school modeled after KIPP) provides evidence that assessment data is no longer the proxy for educational quality but has in fact become the purpose of schooling itself.

At both schools, as is the case in many “No Excuses” charters in New Orleans, the principals were white males, under the age of thirty, and TFA alumni. TFA corps members and alumni also constituted five of the six collective administrators and over 60 percent of the instructional staff.

With few exceptions, the curriculum was characterized by a narrow interpretation of state standards at the expense of all other material. Students rarely learned local history or current events. Instead, science and social studies were relegated to ancillary classes in the elementary school and reduced to the accumulation of vocabulary and lists of facts at the middle school. Teachers stopped introducing new material a month prior to state assessments in order to begin review.

This curriculum was delivered almost exclusively through direct instruction — what TFA corps members refer to as the “five step lesson plan,” and educator and philosopher Paulo Freire calls “banking education,” wherein students are treated as passive and empty receptacles into which information can be deposited. In nearly every lesson Sondel observed, teachers stood in front of students to introduce new content or an isolated skill, after which students were asked to parrot, practice, and then perform their newly acquired knowledge on worksheets and multiple-choice assessments. There were no student debates, projects, or science experiments.

In a literacy lesson, for example, a teacher started by reviewing the definitions of figurative language. The teacher then projected on the Smartboard sentence after sentence, poem after poem, and, finally, a short story while students raised their hands and waited to be called on to identify idioms, similes, and personification.

After this series of questions and answers, the students sat silently at their desks, read four short passages, and identified figurative language on multiple-choice questions. The students were not asked to read the poem, analyze the story, or discuss the purpose of metaphors. After the lesson, upon being asked if students practice this skill in their independent reading or writing activities, the teacher responded, “You know the problem with that is then they have a difficult time identifying metaphors on the test.”

Perhaps because there was little inherently interesting or relevant to students about the curriculum or the classroom activities, teachers often attempted to control rather than engage students in lessons.

There were, for example, specific expectations about where students should put their hands, which direction they should turn their heads, how they should stand, and how they should sit — practices referred to at one school as SLANT (Sit up, Listen, Ask and Answer Questions, Nod, and Track the Speaker) and at the other as SPARK (Sit up straight, Pay attention, Ask and answer questions, React to show I’m following along, Keep tracking the speaker). Students were kept silent, or what teachers called “level zero,” through most of the day.

Silence seemed to be especially important in the hallways. At the sound of each bell at the middle school, students were expected to line up at “level zero” with their faces forward and hands behind their backs and, when given permission, step into the hallway and onto strips of black duct tape. There they waited for the command of an administrator: “Duke, you can move to your next class! Tulane, you can walk when you show me that you are ready!”

Students then marched until they reached the STOP sign on the floor, where their teacher checked them for hallway position before giving them permission to continue around the corner. Throughout this process, students moved counter-clockwise around the perimeter of the hallway (even if they were going to a classroom one door to the left).

This system of control was administered through intricate systems of reward and punishment. Elementary students received and lost stars for each “behavioral infraction.” In one classroom, a teacher circulated the room with a timer in her hand while students read silently. Every three minutes, after the buzzer, she put a single goldfish on the desk of each student who had remained silent. In another classroom, a teacher silently glared at a student and then typed into his iPhone, which was connected through Class Dojo — an online behavior management system — to his Smartboard. Numbers would increase and decrease on little avatars representing each student.

At the middle school, stars matured into fake money that students could use to buy access to brass band and spoken word performances. When they were not compliant, or did not have enough money to attend the weekly celebration, they were sent to the “behavior intervention room,” where they were expected to copy a piece of text word for word on lined paper. One particular afternoon, the text in question was Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

Despite the reputation that people join TFA to pad their resumes, many get involved in an attempt to contribute to society. Some are even convinced they are a part of the Civil Rights Movement of their generation. Implementing the “No Excuses” approach is equated with social justice, under the assumption that it is the most effective way to improve students’ test scores — which will get them into college and out of poverty. One teacher explains: “Because these days with the economy the way it is, you need a college degree. So this is a movement of social justice and giving everyone that wants an opportunity access to education.”

Teachers unconvinced by this ideology tend to acquiesce to the “No Excuses” approach for fear of losing their jobs or negatively influencing their students’ futures. One social studies teacher who wishes he could develop his students into historically curious, community-oriented citizens told Sondel why he focuses on teaching standards and test prep instead of current events: “I would be afraid of seeing a whole lot of sixth graders end up back in sixth grade and I would, frankly, be equally afraid that I wouldn’t be the one teaching them next year.”

Yet this pedagogy is far from justice-based or reflective of the radical ambitions of the Civil Rights Movement. Instead, this type of schooling extinguishes young people’s passion for learning and potentially pushes out those who fail to or are unwilling to comply. At best, the “No Excuses” approach attempts to develop within students the compliant dispositions necessary to accept and work within the status quo."
neworleans  education  kipp  schools  2014  policy  edreform  control  socialjustice  democracy  politics  tfa  civilrights  economics  forprofit  via:audreywatters  commoncore  standards  measurement  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  detroit  publicschool  crisis  exploitation  bethsondel  josephboselovic  teachforamerica  nola  charterschools 
july 2014 by robertogreco
The Common Core Commotion
"We can assume that if Goals 2000 or NCLB or any of the other reform programs had been effective, the reformers could congratulate themselves for a job well done and go off to find another line of work. They haven’t, which brings us to the third reason that educational reform is an enterprise without end. 

It has to do with the old rule that supply creates its own demand. Over the last two generations, as the problem became unignorable and as vast freshets of money poured from governments and nonprofit foundations, an army of experts emerged to fix America’s schools. From trade unions and think tanks they came, from graduate schools of education and nonprofit foundations, from state education departments and for-profit corporations, from legislative offices and university psych labs and model schools and experimental classrooms, trailing spreadsheets and PowerPoints and grant proposals; they found work as lobbyists, statisticians, developmental psychologists, neurological researchers, education theorists, entrepreneurs, administrators, marketers, think tank fellows, textbook writers—even teachers! So great a mass of specialists cannot be kept idle. If they find themselves with nothing to do, they will find something to do. 

And so, after 40 years of signal failure, the educationists have brought us the Common Core State Standards. It is a totemic example of policy-making in the age of the well-funded expert."



"The foundation’s generosity seems indiscriminate, reflecting the milky centrism of its founder. Evidently Bill Gates doesn’t have a political bone in his body. His intellectual loyalty lies instead with the ideology of expertise. His faith is technocratic and materialist: In the end he believes the ability of highly credentialed observers to identify and solve problems through the social sciences is theoretically limitless. “Studies” and “research” unlock the human secret. This is the animating faith of most educationists, too. All human interactions can be dispassionately observed and their separate parts identified, isolated, analyzed, and quantified according to some version of the scientific method. The resulting data will yield reliable information about how and why we behave as we do, and from this process can be derived formulas that will be universally applicable and repeatable.

“One size fits all” may be a term of mockery used by people who disdain the top-down solutions of centralized power; in the technocratic vision, “one size fits all” describes the ideal.

A good illustration of the Gates technocratic approach to education reform is an initiative called “Measures of Effective Teaching” or MET. (DUH.) The effectiveness of a truly gifted teacher was once considered mysterious or ineffable, a personal transaction rooted in intuition, concern, intelligence, wisdom, knowledge, and professional ardor, combined in a way that defies precise description or replication. Such an old-fashioned notion is an affront to the technocratic mind, which assumes no human phenomenon can be, at bottom, mysterious; nothing is resistant to reduction and measurement. “Eff the Ineffable” is the technocrat’s motto."



"Exciting as it undoubtedly is for the educationist, MET research tells us nothing about how to improve the world that students and teachers inhabit. It is an exercise by educationists for educationists to ponder and argue over. Three hundred and thirty five million dollars can keep a lot of them busy."



"In the confusion between content and learning, the Standards often show the telltale verbal inflation that educationists use to make a simple idea complicated. The Standards for Reading offer a typical example. They come in groups of three—making a wonderful, if suspicious, symmetry. Unfortunately, many of the triplets are essentially identical. According to the rubric Key Ideas and Details, a student should “read closely to determine what the text says explicitly.” Where one standard says the student must be able to “analyze the development of central ideas,” the next standard says the student should be able to “analyze” “how ideas develop.” One “key detail” is to “learn details.” Under Craft and Structure, the student should be able to “analyze” how “portions of text” “relate to each other or the whole.” Another says he “should cite specific textual evidence” and still another that he should “summarize the key supporting details.” All of this collapses into a single unwritten standard: “Learn to read with care and to explain what you’ve read.” But no educationist would be so simple-minded.

There are standards only an educationist could love, or understand. It took me a while to realize that “scaffolding” is an ed-school term for “help.” Associate is another recurring term of art with a flexible meaning, from spell to match, as when third graders are expected to “associate the long and short sounds with the common spellings (graphemes) for the five major vowels.” This seems like students are being asked to spell vowels, but that can’t be right, can it? And when state and local teachers have to embody such confusing standards in classroom exercises, you’re likely to wind up with more confusion."



"THE RISE OF THE RIGHT

Most of the criticism of the Standards has come from the populist right, and the revolt of conservative parents against the pet project of a national educationist elite is genuine, spontaneous, and probably inevitable. But if you move beyond the clouds of jargon, and the compulsory gestures toward “critical thinking” and “metacognitive skills,” you will begin to spy something more interesting. There’s much in the Standards to reassure an educational traditionalist—a vein of subversion. At several points, Common Core is clearly intended as a stay against the runaway enthusiasms of educationist dogma.

The Standards insist schools’ (unspecified) curriculums be “content-rich”—meaning that they should teach something rather than nothing. They even go so far as to require students to read Shakespeare, the Preamble and First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and works of Greek mythology. Phonics is the chief means of teaching reading in Common Core, rejecting the notorious “whole language” method first taken up in the 1970s and—research shows!—a likely culprit in the decline in reading scores. The Standards discourage the use of calculators, particularly in early grades where it has become a popular substitute for acquiring basic math. The Standards require memorization of multiplication tables as an important step in learning arithmetic, striking a blow against “fuzzy math.” Faddish notions like “visual literacy” are nowhere to be found.

Perhaps most impressively, at least in language arts, the Standards require students to read and write ever larger amounts of nonfiction as they move toward their high school diploma. Anyone familiar with the soupy “young adult” novels fed to middle- and high-school students should be delighted. Writing assignments, in tandem with more rigorous reading, move away from mere self-expression—commonly the focus of writing all the way through high school—to the accumulation of evidence and detail in the service of arguments. The architect of the Language Arts Standards, an educationist called David Coleman, explained this shift in a speech in 2011. He lamented that the most common form of writing in high school these days is “personal writing.”

It is either the exposition of a personal opinion or it is the presentation of a personal matter. The only problem, forgive me for saying this so bluntly, the only problem with those two forms of writing is as you grow up in this world you realize people really don’t give a shit about what you feel or what you think.

Now, it is hard to imagine a more traditionalist sentiment than that. Yet conservative Common Core activists single out Coleman as a particularly sinister adversary, perhaps for his potty mouth. The populist campaign against the Standards has been scattershot: Sometimes they are criticized for being unrealistically demanding, at other times for being too soft. Even Common Core’s insistence on making the Constitution part of any sound curriculum has been attacked as insidious. Recall that students will be required to read only the Preamble and the First Amendment. That is, they will stop reading before they reach the Second Amendment and the guarantee of gun rights.

Coincidence? Many activists think not. "



"Conservative hostility to the Common Core is also entangled with hostility to President Obama and his administration. Joy Pullman, an editor and writer who is perhaps the most eloquent and responsible public critic of Common Core, wrote recently in thefederalist.com: “I wager that 90 percent of the debate over Common Core would instantly dissipate if states adopted the top-rated standards from, say, Massachusetts or Indiana and dropped the Obama administration tests.”

While the personal hostility to Obama might be overwrought, the administration’s campaign on behalf of the Standards has borne all the marks of the president’s other efforts at national persuasion."



"THUNDER ON THE LEFT

The administration’s bullying and dishonesty might be reason enough to reject the Standards. The campaign has even begun to worry its natural allies, who are losing trust in assurances that the Common Core is an advance for progressive education. Educationists on the leftward edge point to its insistence that teachers be judged on how much their students learn. This bears an unappealing resemblance to NCLB requirements, and they worry it will inject high-pressure competition into the collegial environment that most educationists prefer. Worse, it could be a Trojan horse for a reactionary agenda, a return to the long-ago era when students really had to, you know, learn stuff.

“The purpose of education,” says … [more]
education  reform  edreform  anationatrisk  nclb  georgewbush  georgehwbush  ronaldreagan  barackobama  jimmycarter  money  policy  experts  commoncore  curriclum  2014  andrewferguson  via:ayjay  1990  2000  1979  departmentofeducation  edwardkennedy  tedkennedy  goals2000  1983  gatesfoundation  billgates  arneduncan  bureaucracy  markets  aft  nonprofits  centralization  standards  schools  publicschools  us  ideology  politics  technocracy  credentialism  teaching  howweteach  measurement  rankings  testing  standardizedtesting  abstraction  nonprofit 
july 2014 by robertogreco
Education Reform: A National Delusion | Steve Nelson
"As I watch the education "debate" in America I wonder if we have simply lost our minds. In the cacophony of reform chatter -- online programs, charter schools, vouchers, testing, more testing, accountability, Common Core, value-added assessments, blaming teachers, blaming tenure, blaming unions, blaming parents -- one can barely hear the children crying out: "Pay attention to us!"

None of the things on the partial list above will have the slightest effect on the so-called achievement gap or the supposed decline in America's international education rankings. Every bit of education reform -- every think tank remedy proposed by wet-behind-the-ears MBAs, every piece of legislation, every one of these things -- is an excuse to continue the unconscionable neglect of our children.

As Pogo wisely noted, "We have met the enemy and he is us." We did this to our children and our schools.

We did this by choosing to see schools as instructional factories, beginning in the early 20th century.

We did this by swallowing the obscene notion that schools and colleges are businesses and children are consumers.

We did this by believing in the infallibility of free enterprise, by pretending America is a meritocracy, and by ignoring the pernicious effects of unrelenting racism.

We did this by believing that children are widgets and economy of scale is both possible and desirable.

We did this by acting as though reality and the digital representation of reality are the same thing.

We did this by demeaning the teaching profession.

We did this by allowing poverty and despair to shatter families.

We did this by blaming these families for the poverty and despair we inflicted on them.

We did this by allowing school buildings to deteriorate, by removing the most enlivening parts of the school day, by feeding our children junk food.

We did this by failing to properly fund schools, making them dependent on shrinking property taxes and by shifting the costs of federal mandates to resource-strapped states and local communities.

We did this by handcuffing teachers with idiotic policies, constant test preparation and professional insecurity.

America's children need our attention, not Pearson's lousy tests or charter schools' colorful banners and cute little uniforms that make kids look like management trainees.

America's teachers need our support, our admiration, and the freedom to teach and love children.

The truth is that our children need our attention, not political platitudes and more TED talks.

The deterioration began in earnest with the dangerously affable Ronald Reagan, whose "aw shucks" dismantling of the social contract has triggered 30 years of social decline, except for the most privileged among us. The verdict is in. The consequence of trickle down economics has been tens of millions of American families having some pretty nasty stuff dripping on them.

Education was already in trouble and then, beginning in 2001 with the ironically named No Child Left Behind Act (which has left almost all children behind), the decline accelerated. When a bad policy fails, just rename it. In a nation where "branding" reigns supreme, you get Race to the Top. It's changing the paint color on a Yugo and expecting it to drive like a Lamborghini.

In the 13 years since NCLB there has been no -- zero, nada -- progress in education. Most claims of improvement can be attributed to changing the standards or shifting kids from one place to another -- educational gerrymandering. We've reduced education to dull test-prep and we can't even get improved results on the tests we prep for! That is a remarkable failure.

Doing meaningful education with the most advantaged kids and ample resources is challenging enough with classes of 20. Doing meaningful work with children in communities we have decimated through greed and neglect might require classes of 10 or fewer. When will Bill Gates, Eli Broad, the Walton Family, Michelle Rhee, Arne Duncan and other education reformers recommend that?

No, that's not forthcoming. Their solution is more iPads and trying to fatten up little Hansel and Gretel by weighing them more often. Pearson will make the scales.

Only in contemporary America can a humanitarian crisis be just another way to make a buck."
2014  stevenelson  education  publicschools  nclb  rttt  arneduncan  edreform  gatesfoundation  broadfoundation  elibroad  commoncore  poverty  billgates  michellerhee  attention  parenting  teaching  learning  politics  policy  pearson  classsize  charterschools 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Death to Common Core! Long Live Failed Education Policy! | the becoming radical
The problem for education reform, then, is not specifically Common Core, but that the evidence base shows standards-based reform has not and will not address issues of equity or achievement.

As a parallel example of how most of the current education reform commitments simply do not and cannot address the fundamental problems facing education, consider that New Orleans has now replaced the entire public school system with charter schools; the result?:
White students disproportionately attend the best charter schools, while the worst are almost exclusively populated by African American students. Activists in New Orleans joined with others in Detroit and Newark last month to file a federal civil rights complaint, alleging that the city’s best-performing schools have admissions policies that exclude African American children. Those schools are overseen by the separate Orleans Parish School Board, and they don’t participate in OneApp, the city’s centralized school enrollment lottery.


The partisan political backlash against Common Core, then, is not reason to celebrate because the essential political commitments to misguided education reform policy (such as accountability built on standards and testing, charter schools, Teach For America, and value-added methods of teacher evaluation) remain robust below the partisan posturing against Common Core as a uniquely flawed set of standards.

Adopting and implementing Common Core and the related high-stakes testing and accountability mechanisms are tremendous wastes of time and money that we cannot afford. Yes, let’s stop Common Core, but as a key step to stopping the entire flawed education reform movement built on ever-new standards and tests."
plthomas  education  commoncore  standards  poverty  schools  us  politics  policy  edreform  standardization  accountability  testing  standardizedtesting  neworleans  paulthomas  nola  charterschools  high-stakestesting 
june 2014 by robertogreco
How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution - The Washington Post
"The standards have become so pervasive that they also quickly spread through private Catholic schools. About 100 of 176 Catholic dioceses have adopted the standards because it is increasingly difficult to buy classroom materials and send teachers to professional development programs that are not influenced by the Common Core, Catholic educators said.

And yet, because of the way education policy is generally decided, the Common Core was instituted in many states without a single vote taken by an elected lawmaker. Kentucky even adopted the standards before the final draft had been made public.

States were responding to a “common belief system supported by widespread investments,” according to one former Gates employee who spoke on the condition of anonymity to avoid antagonizing the foundation."



"Gates grew irritated in the interview when the political backlash against the standards was mentioned.

“These are not political things,” he said. “These are where people are trying to apply expertise to say, ‘Is this a way of making education better?’ ”

“At the end of the day, I don’t think wanting education to be better is a right-wing or left-wing thing,” Gates said. “We fund people to look into things. We don’t fund people to say, ‘Okay, we’ll pay you this if you say you like the Common Core.’ ”

Whether the Common Core will deliver on its promise is an open question.

Tom Loveless, a former Harvard professor who is an education policy expert at the Brookings Institution, said the Common Core was “built on a shaky theory.” He said he has found no correlation between quality standards and higher student achievement.

“Everyone who developed standards in the past has had a theory that standards will raise achievement, and that’s not happened,” Loveless said.

Jay P. Greene, head of the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, says the Gates Foundation’s overall dominance in education policy has subtly muffled dissent.

“Really rich guys can come up with ideas that they think are great, but there is a danger that everyone will tell them they’re great, even if they’re not,” Greene said."



"The decision by the Gates Foundation to simultaneously pay for the standards and their promotion is a departure from the way philanthropies typically operate, said Sarah Reckhow, an expert in philanthropy and education policy at Michigan State University.

“Usually, there’s a pilot test — something is tried on a small scale, outside researchers see if it works, and then it’s promoted on a broader scale,” Reckhow said. “That didn’t happen with the Common Core. Instead, they aligned the research with the advocacy. . . . At the end of the day, it’s going to be the states and local districts that pay for this.”"



"There was so much cross-pollination between the foundation and the administration, it is difficult to determine the degree to which one may have influenced the other.

Several top players in Obama’s Education Department who shaped the administration’s policies came either straight from the Gates Foundation in 2009 or from organizations that received heavy funding from the foundation.

Before becoming education secretary in 2009, Arne Duncan was chief executive of the Chicago Public Schools, which received $20 million from Gates to break up several large high schools and create smaller versions, a move aimed at stemming the dropout rate.

As secretary, Duncan named as his chief of staff Margot Rogers, a top Gates official he got to know through that grant. He also hired James Shelton, a program officer at the foundation, to serve first as his head of innovation and most recently as the deputy secretary, responsible for a wide array of federal policy decisions.

Duncan and his team leveraged stimulus money to reward states that adopted common standards."



"Now six years into his quest, Gates finds himself in an uncomfortable place — countering critics on the left and right who question whether the Common Core will have any impact or negative effects, whether it represents government intrusion, and whether the new policy will benefit technology firms such as Microsoft.

Gates is disdainful of the rhetoric from opponents. He sees himself as a technocrat trying to foster solutions to a profound social problem — gaping inequalities in U.S. public education — by investing in promising new ideas.

Education lacks research and development, compared with other areas such as medicine and computer science. As a result, there is a paucity of information about methods of instruction that work.

“The guys who search for oil, they spend a lot of money researching new tools,” Gates said. “Medicine — they spend a lot of money finding new tools. Software is a very R and D-oriented industry. The funding, in general, of what works in education . . . is tiny. It’s the lowest in this field than any field of human endeavor. Yet you could argue it should be the highest.”

Gates is devoting some of his fortune to correct that. Since 1999, the Gates Foundation has spent approximately $3.4 billion on an array of measures to try to improve K-12 public education, with mixed results.

It spent about $650 million on a program to replace large urban high schools with smaller schools, on the theory that students at risk of dropping out would be more likely to stay in schools where they forged closer bonds with teachers and other students. That led to a modest increase in graduation rates, an outcome that underwhelmed Gates and prompted the foundation to pull the plug.

Gates has said that one of the benefits of common standards would be to open the classroom to digital learning, making it easier for software developers — including Microsoft — to develop new products for the country’s 15,000 school districts.

In February, Microsoft announced that it was joining Pearson, the world’s largest educational publisher, to load Pearson’s Common Core classroom materials on Microsoft’s tablet, the Surface. That product allows Microsoft to compete for school district spending with Apple, whose iPad is the dominant tablet in classrooms.

Gates dismissed any suggestion that he is motivated by self-interest.

“I believe in the Common Core because of its substance and what it will do to improve education,” he said. “And that’s the only reason I believe in the Common Core.”

Bill and Melinda Gates, Obama and Arne Duncan are parents of school-age children, although none of those children attend schools that use the Common Core standards. The Gates and Obama children attend private schools, while Duncan’s children go to public school in Virginia, one of four states that never adopted the Common Core.

Still, Gates said he wants his children to know a “superset” of the Common Core standards — everything in the standards and beyond.

“This is about giving money away,” he said of his support for the standards. “This is philanthropy. This is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had . . . and it’s almost outrageous to say otherwise, in my view.”"
commoncore  2014  education  billgates  gatesfoundation  2008  policy  schools  lyndseylayton  politics  money  influence  arneduncan  barackobama  rttt  standards 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Just My Imagination Running Away With Me (A Post-CCSS World) - The Jose Vilson
"I‘ve seen this article in my e-mails and feeds no less than ten times this morning. Much of this is old news for me since, if you’ve put all the pieces together for the last four years, it’s fairly obvious just how invested Bill Gates has been in getting Common Core State Standards moved across different desks. It’s also obvious how many folks, from union leaders to business leaders, have put their hat in at least some part of the CCSS ring. The publishers, as I expected, are having a field decade with the CCSS because, they don’t necessarily need to care whether people get it. Districts will unconsciously still pay up for outside expertise.

Yet, the push-and-pullback against the CCSS has been palpable. Opponents on the left and right have joined forces on a small set of issues related to CCSS, specifically the overemphasis on testing and student data privacy, things that pre-date CCSS, but that have been conjoined with CCSS implementation agreements. State after state keep dropping from CCSS allegiance. Regardless of “who” you root for in the CCSS debate, it seems that there needs to be a conversation about what happens if CCSS collapses.

What will you fill the CCSS “gap” with if it goes away?

This question has the feel of “Well, what’s your religion?” There’s a whole set of educators who’ve been following the Dewey-Meier model for some time already have an idea of where things might go. Others who lean on the E.D. Hirsch / Core Knowledge works may still fall back on a CCSS-like structure because that framework depends on a knowledge base from which learning arises. There are so many frameworks to choose from that it begs the question as to why these two are the only camps that have actually proffered theirs.

In other words, we can’t just say no to everything.

From a math lens, as much as I dislike the way CCSS came about, I also don’t want children of color (!) to only learn multiplication tables in the 10th grade. In literacy, we need a balance of fiction and non-fiction texts, but they can’t all be from the “normal” canon, meaning we need more diverse books, not just from one dominant perspective.

As my readers know, I have legitimate concerns about the Common Core. But, in the midst of protests and pullbacks, I’m already seeing a scenario where states that pull back are simply replicating CCSS and giving it another name. This leads me to believe that the discussion isn’t in the “what,” but the “how.” Again.

I imagine that more folks will find their edu-beliefs rooted somewhere because, otherwise, the people squarely in the CCSS camp win. If folks can’t work towards a better set of standards and curricula than the CCSS, then they’ve lost. I imagine that we can do better than no, but it might be just my imagination, running away with me."
commoncore  2014  curriculum  education  policy  teaching  josévilson 
june 2014 by robertogreco
Politicizing the Trapezoid | JD2718
"In this case, a vendor was imposing a change in definition with little warning, and no discussion. Teachers haven’t heard about it (the majority probably still haven’t), textbooks aren’t updated. And the decision was made implicitly, by accepting a test, not by people responsible to the public. AMTNYS should have worked to stop SED. Instead, they told teachers about the new definition. AMTNYS’ leaders can claim they are not an advocacy organization. But when they accept the new testing regimen without complaint, education reform, including in mathematics, without complaint, new curricula without complaint, changes made to a mathematical definition by a vendor, without complaint, and in fact transmit each of those to mathematics teachers – they are in fact adding their weight to the direction of change advocated by the Ed Reformers in Albany, they are advocating, and they are advocating against teachers and against students. I am disappointed.

Of all the bad things ed reform is doing and has done, changing a definition without discussion is not high on the list. And, in this case, its not that Coleman is out to screw kids (he is, but does he care about trapezoids? He has millions of children who he treats with disregard, what’s a silly shape to him?) It’s not that John King and Andrew Cuomo were out to get kids to get one more question wrong (they don’t care). It’s not that Barack Obama and Arne Duncan, when they pushed Common Core on the states thought about ways to change one definition. And it’s not that AMTNYS’ leadership is so badly compromised by needing to be friendly with powerless state bureaucrats that they forgot to speak up.

No, it’s just one more, small, bizarre episode: Common Core redefines Trapezoid."
commoncore  math  mathematics  geometry  2014  policy  process  trapezoids  politics 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Between the By-Road and the Main Road: Let's Stop (re)Inventing The Committee of Ten: Getting Over School
"I often wonder how different school might be had the NEA task force, Committee of Ten, (a group of 90 elite men) determined that observation, reasoning, and judgment could be cultivated through multiple methods and studies as opposed to tying each to a discrete subject. I often wonder how different their recommendations might have been had a few women, some newly arrived immigrants, some people of color, some students, and representatives who hailed from work other than teaching been part of the committee. How might the recommendations have been different? Replacing 90 elite men who served on the Committee of Ten in the 1890s with corporations in the 2010s who are informing the Common Core really isn’t much of a change…

If you take 90 men, hailing from elite schools (college presidents, headmasters, professors) and ask them to name what an excellent education contains—we should not be surprised that their answers (all were in agreement) will reflect their lives, their truths. Habermas told us that without a metalanguage to challenge the given assumption, power tends to serve up itself as the model of excellence. Today it is Achieve, Inc., Pearson, McGraw Hill, ETS, state DOE, federal DOE who are the new Committee of Ten."
committeeoften  maryannreilly  2014  education  unschooling  deschooling  competition  curriculum  ivanillich  johndewey  legacy  alternative  learning  commoncore  standards  standardization  readiness  schooling  schools  policy  measurement  assessment  shrequest1 
april 2014 by robertogreco
This Is Not a Test (This Is a Review of José Vilson's New Book)
"Unlike a “traditional” bildungsroman, Vilson’s narrative doesn’t contain a simple triumph or teleology. This isn’t your typical “American success story.” It isn’t your typical “American education success story” either.

It’s not surprising that the Vilson gives a nod to Jaime Escalante, the East LA high school math teacher whose story was the basis for the movie Stand and Deliver – probably one of the most well-known stories of contemporary (math) education. Vilson admits that Escalante’s story influenced his decision to become an educator, and there are some similarities: Latino educators working with disadvantaged students.

But the story of Escalante and his students centers on a test – the AP Calculus exam. The title of Vilson’s memoir gestures elsewhere: This Is Not a Test. Indeed, when picked up and told by Hollywood (by Washington Post reporters, etc), education stories do take a different bent; they become stories of redemption, for example – neatly packaged in narratives that resolve far more neatly than real life could ever afford us. In the movies, there’s a trial – a test – and a triumph. All in 103 minutes.

Moreover, our current education system isn’t focused on a test; rather it’s become a regime of year-round testing. (Testing is a touchstone again and again in Vilson’s memoir.) He writes that
“I can’t help but feel that when my students walk out of their exam, they aren’t just frustrated by the inordinate amount of testing they’re subjected to. They’re starting to sense that the process of schooling in and of itself was not actually designed with them in mind — a feeling those of us born into poverty and racism know all too well.”

The onslaught of testing means that, unlike the story of Stand and Deliver, we aren’t working with a narrative in education that affords a win - for teachers or for students – based on the scores of a single exam. The wins are to be achieved elsewhere. And they’re complicated, not the things captured on multiple choice exams or in grade-books. (This is not a test. This is life.)

The students and their stories, they’re complicated too. But instead the education system often sees students, particularly students of color, as pathological. “When we assume poor kids behave as they do just because of their poverty and not as a manifestation of their frustration with poverty,“ writes Vilson, ”we do an injustice to their humanity.”

I’d add too that we do an injustice to the humanity of educators when we pretend as though they are not “whole people,” when we demand their private lives and their personal beliefs be “pure” by some ridiculously paternalistic (and gendered and racialized) standards.

There is much justice and much humanity and so much bravery in this book. But that’s José Vilson."



"One of the things that privilege affords you is that your stories get told. Your voice gets heard. Your coming-of-age narrative fits neatly into – hell, makes – the bildungsroman genre, if you will, because you become the individual that society wants or expects.

Vilson offers instead, as the subtitle of the book suggests, “a new narrative of race, class, and education.” The stakes are high in doing so, and they are, no surprise, incredibly political. (Vilson’s popular blog remains blocked in NYC public schools, it’s worth noting.) After all, we aren’t simply talking about a new entry into the coming-of-age literary genre. The book is an entry into the ideological battles in education and education reform – battles that draw on narratives about grit, for example, and “no excuses,” narratives that I’d argue, configure students of color as objects to be transformed and assimilated, not as subjects to seize their own learning and lives and tell their own story."



"In This Is Not A Test, José Vilson writes a personal narrative that counters folks like Coleman’s concept of education, literacy and language, their valuation of people’s voice and experience. This Is Not a Test is a refusal to be silent. It’s a refusal to capitulate or conform. It’s an expression of a vision where we do give a shit about what you feel or what you think, because we care about people. Because in doing so – particularly in education – we help support one another in growth, in coming-of-age, in learning, and in liberation."
audrewatters  narrative  davidcoleman  commoncore  race  class  education  2014  testing  standardizedtesting  standards  standardization  jaimeescalante  voice  bildungsroman  josévilson  high-stakestesting 
april 2014 by robertogreco
Wilson’s 1997 “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” (updated 2013)
[A comment in reaction to a post on Diane Ravitch's blog "The Fatal Flaw of the Common Core Standards", via Taryn who quotes Duane Swacker. Bookmark points to the comment.]

"the [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true [...] true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you"

[The full comment:]

"That educational standards, in this instance CCSS and standardized testing have “fatal flaws” has been know for quite a while. In 1997 Noel Wilson identified at least 13 epistemological and ontological “fatal flaws” that render the processes of the educational standards and standardized testing completely invalid. That this is not wider known is beyond me because it seems like common sense, but we know there isn’t much common sense in the Common Core. To understand why CCSS is such educational malarkey and, in reality educational malpractice read his “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” found at: http://epaa.asu.edu/ojs/article/view/577/700

Brief outline of Wilson’s “Educational Standards and the Problem of Error” and some comments of mine. (updated 6/24/13 per Wilson email)

1. A quality cannot be quantified. Quantity is a sub-category of quality. It is illogical to judge/assess a whole category by only a part (sub-category) of the whole. The assessment is, by definition, lacking in the sense that “assessments are always of multidimensional qualities. To quantify them as one dimensional quantities (numbers or grades) is to perpetuate a fundamental logical error” (per Wilson). The teaching and learning process falls in the logical realm of aesthetics/qualities of human interactions. In attempting to quantify educational standards and standardized testing we are lacking much information about said interactions.

2. A major epistemological mistake is that we attach, with great importance, the “score” of the student, not only onto the student but also, by extension, the teacher, school and district. Any description of a testing event is only a description of an interaction, that of the student and the testing device at a given time and place. The only correct logical thing that we can attempt to do is to describe that interaction (how accurately or not is a whole other story). That description cannot, by logical thought, be “assigned/attached” to the student as it cannot be a description of the student but the interaction. And this error is probably one of the most egregious “errors” that occur with standardized testing (and even the “grading” of students by a teacher).

3. Wilson identifies four “frames of reference” each with distinct assumptions (epistemological basis) about the assessment process from which the “assessor” views the interactions of the teaching and learning process: the Judge (think college professor who “knows” the students capabilities and grades them accordingly), the General Frame-think standardized testing that claims to have a “scientific” basis, the Specific Frame-think of learning by objective like computer based learning, getting a correct answer before moving on to the next screen, and the Responsive Frame-think of an apprenticeship in a trade or a medical residency program where the learner interacts with the “teacher” with constant feedback. Each category has its own sources of error and more error in the process is caused when the assessor confuses and conflates the categories.

4. Wilson elucidates the notion of “error”: “Error is predicated on a notion of perfection; to allocate error is to imply what is without error; to know error it is necessary to determine what is true. And what is true is determined by what we define as true, theoretically by the assumptions of our epistemology, practically by the events and non-events, the discourses and silences, the world of surfaces and their interactions and interpretations; in short, the practices that permeate the field. . . Error is the uncertainty dimension of the statement; error is the band within which chaos reigns, in which anything can happen. Error comprises all of those eventful circumstances which make the assessment statement less than perfectly precise, the measure less than perfectly accurate, the rank order less than perfectly stable, the standard and its measurement less than absolute, and the communication of its truth less than impeccable.”

In other word all the logical errors involved in the process render any conclusions invalid.

5. The test makers/psychometricians, through all sorts of mathematical machinations attempt to “prove” that these tests (based on standards) are valid-errorless or supposedly at least with minimal error [they aren't]. Wilson turns the concept of validity on its head and focuses on just how invalid the machinations and the test and results are. He is an advocate for the test taker not the test maker. In doing so he identifies thirteen sources of “error”, any one of which renders the test making/giving/disseminating of results invalid. As a basic logical premise is that once something is shown to be invalid it is just that, invalid, and no amount of “fudging” by the psychometricians/test makers can alleviate that invalidity.

6. Having shown the invalidity, and therefore the unreliability, of the whole process Wilson concludes, rightly so, that any result/information gleaned from the process is “vain and illusory”. In other words start with an invalidity, end with an invalidity (except by sheer chance every once in a while, like a blind and anosmic squirrel who finds the occasional acorn, a result may be “true”) or to put in more mundane terms crap in-crap out.

7. And so what does this all mean? I’ll let Wilson have the second to last word: “So what does a test measure in our world? It measures what the person with the power to pay for the test says it measures. And the person who sets the test will name the test what the person who pays for the test wants the test to be named.”

In other words it measures “’something’ and we can specify some of the ‘errors’ in that ‘something’ but still don’t know [precisely] what the ‘something’ is.” The whole process harms many students as the social rewards for some are not available to others who “don’t make the grade (sic)” Should American public education have the function of sorting and separating students so that some may receive greater benefits than others, especially considering that the sorting and separating devices, educational standards and standardized testing, are so flawed not only in concept but in execution?

My answer is NO!!!!!

One final note with Wilson channeling Foucault and his concept of subjectivization:

“So the mark [grade/test score] becomes part of the story about yourself and with sufficient repetitions becomes true: true because those who know, those in authority, say it is true; true because the society in which you live legitimates this authority; true because your cultural habitus makes it difficult for you to perceive, conceive and integrate those aspects of your experience that contradict the story; true because in acting out your story, which now includes the mark and its meaning, the social truth that created it is confirmed; true because if your mark is high you are consistently rewarded, so that your voice becomes a voice of authority in the power-knowledge discourses that reproduce the structure that helped to produce you; true because if your mark is low your voice becomes muted and confirms your lower position in the social hierarchy; true finally because that success or failure confirms that mark that implicitly predicted the now self-evident consequences. And so the circle is complete.”

In other words students “internalize” what those “marks” (grades/test scores) mean, and since the vast majority of the students have not developed the mental skills to counteract what the “authorities” say, they accept as “natural and normal” that “story/description” of them. Although paradoxical in a sense, the “I’m an “A” student” is almost as harmful as “I’m an ‘F’ student” in hindering students becoming independent, critical and free thinkers. And having independent, critical and free thinkers is a threat to the current socio-economic structure of society."
assessment  learning  tests  testing  authority  dianravitch  duaneswacker  measurement  1997  noelwilson  commoncore  stadards  standardization  error  epistemology  grades  grading  ranking  rankings  standardizedtests  dtandardizedtesting  hierarchy  hierarchies  via:Taryn  power  tcsnmy  criticalthinking  freedom  democracy  sorting 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Why all high school courses should be elective
"I don’t reject the notion that there are ideas so important every kid should understand them. The titles of two of my books—”What’s Worth Teaching?” and “What’s Worth Learning?”—make clear what I think kids need to know. I’m convinced, for example, that a thorough understanding of the sense-making process radically improves student performance in every field of study.

Not far behind in importance I put an understanding of the unexamined societal assumptions that shape our thoughts, actions, and identities. At a less abstract level I have kids look at the familiar until it becomes “strange enough to see,” raising their awareness of how built environments manipulate them in subtle, freedom-depriving ways, and I help them develop a skill obviously lacking at the highest levels of American policymaking—the ability to imagine unintended consequences of well-intended actions (just to start a list of matters the Common Core State Standards ignore).

Yes, I have strong feelings about what kids should learn, which is why I’d put them in charge of their own educations. Experience assures me they’ll get where they need to go, and do so more efficiently than will otherwise be possible. Experience also tells me that won’t happen as long as they’re fenced in by a random mix of courses required because they’ve always been required, by courses based on elitist conceits, by courses shaped by unexamined assumptions. The core’s boundaries are far too narrow to accommodate the collective genius of adolescents.

Kids bring to the curriculum vast differences—differences in gender, maturity, personality, interests, hopes, dreams, abilities, life experiences, situation, family, peers, language, ethnicity, social class, culture, probable and possible futures, and certain indefinable qualities, all combined in dynamic, continuously evolving ways so complex they lie beyond ordinary understanding.

Today’s reformers seem unable or unwilling to grasp the instructional implications of those differences and that complexity. They treat kids as a given, undifferentiated except by grade level, with the core curriculum the lone operative variable. Just standardize and fine-tune the core, they insist, and all will be well.

That’s magical thinking, and it’s dumping genius on the street.

Don’t tell me I’m naïve, that high school kids can’t be trusted with that much responsibility, or that they’re too dumb to know what to do with it. Would it take them awhile to get used to unaccustomed autonomy? Sure. Would they suspect that the respect being shown them was faked and test it out? Of course. Would they at first opt for what they thought was Easy Street? You can count on it.

Eventually, however, their natural curiosity and the desire to make better sense of experience would get the better of them, and they’d discover that Easy Street connected directly to all other streets, and that following it was taking them places they had no intention of going, or even knew existed.

I know this because I’ve been there with them."
marionbrady  highschool  electives  choice  self-directedlearning  self-directed  interest-driveneducation  education  commoncore  noticing  sensemaking  teaching  learning  motivation  curriculum  pedagogy  howwelearn  howweteach  schools 
march 2014 by robertogreco
An Education Spring in Our Step: Reflections on the #NPEconference | Chris Thinnes (@CurtisCFEE)
"2. ACTIVE LISTENING AND SELF-AWARENESS

… I have, for some time, been deliberately studying the ways that white men – particularly those vested with authoritative roles and rights that extend even beyond their white privilege, and their male privilege — understand their presence and their impact in conversational dynamics and in space. I do this purposefully in an effort to explore – sometimes helpfully, and sometimes ham-handedly – my own identity, responsibility, and opportunity as a white man, as a school leader, as a parent, as a partner, as a friend, and as a citizen. Sometimes this presents itself in relatively banal and mundane examples worth noting – the dude last night in the movie theater, for example, who splayed his arms across the armrests on both sides of his seat, stared over at my phone before the movie started to take a peek at my twitter stream, and offered his audible commentary to his friend throughout the coming attractions. And sometimes this presents itself in profound examples of people who understand the significance and symbolism of the space they occupy, the meaning of the boundaries they presume to cross, and the impact of the things they say on others.

Recently at the Project Zero conference in Memphis, I was struck by the example of Rod Rock, Superintendent of Clarkston Community Schools, who was only too content to support the leadership of a principal who co-facilitated their workshop, and the learning of participants who’d gathered to exchange their ideas, by listening. “Listening” sounds simple, and innocuous enough, but what I’m talking about is a kind of active listening that intentionally elevates the contributions of others above the inclination to influence, to alter, or to question those contributions. The kind of listening that doesn’t respond to the notes that people play as good chords, or as bad chords, but simply as unexpected chords. We do not often see that in our leaders.

And yet I saw this regularly in the dispositions, behaviors, and actions of leaders at the NPE conference – men and women, white folks and people of color, ‘management’ and ‘labor,’ young and old. And the personal preoccupation I described with white male identity drew me emphatically to the examples of white men in leadership roles who the defy prevailing examples of white men in leadership roles. In the same spirit as my example above, I offer this image of Principal Peter DeWitt and Superintendent John Kuhn, alongside co-panelist and Superintendent H.T. Sánchez:

[photo]

I was taken by the purposeful efforts they made – at this instant, and in many others like it over the course of our time in Austin — to really hear and to honor the contributions of others; the authenticity of their responses to questions, even and especially when they presented them with a challenge; their willingness to take steps back in order that others might take steps forward; and their seeming preference to defer to the insight and experience of others, in order that they might learn themselves. Imagine what could happen – in and among our schools, and in the public discourse about them – if our extended conversations and collective decision-making were framed by such an ethos.

3. FACILITATION AS ACTIVE INCLUSION

Naturally our capacity – in the immediate relationships of our personal and professional lives, and the collective dynamics of a shared effort to support all our nation’s children – depends on more than our resistance or repudiation of dynamics that limit teacher, students, and parent voice. We need urgently to challenge the dynamics of hierarchy, prestige, and privilege that have seemingly determined who should have the most influential voices in a national conversation, and we need actively to recognize and to challenge our own dispositions to marginalizing the input of others who may not share, or who may not have a space to share, their views.

But we also need to make active, purposeful, intentional, conspicuous, and fierce efforts to create a space for other people and ideas. We need to develop active facilitation and inclusion skills alongside those interruption and resistance skills with which we may be more practiced.

To that end, words cannot describe the influence on me of Jose Vilson’s example. There’s a lot that has inspired me in Jose’s work, and a lot that has made me dig deeper in the healthiest kinds of ways, over the time I’ve been familiar with him. But at the NPE conference I got to see him do his thing in a real-life situation for the first time. In the first case, I watched him quietly, respectfully, and clearly create and protect a safe and productive space for the contributions of exceptional student leaders:

[photo]

He did so not just by lauding the efforts of these brave young activists, but by creating a structure of adult participation that limited our inclination — no matter how noble or well-meaning our intentions might be — to steer or shape the conversation. He did so by noticing the impact of our responses (applause, silence, commentary) on the dynamics of the conversation, and by providing subtle cues to adults that helped us co-create an inclusive space. He did so by gently and respectfully pushing two student participants’ thinking further – not at all to question or to critique that thinking, but to lure these students’ wisdom past the threshold of their nerves, and to give their insights the wings of words that might carry us all further forward in our recognition, support, and deference to authentic student voice in the months and years to come.

He did it again during a Common Core panel with several other extraordinary participants, but in a different way. In that context, he managed to create a space for voices and dynamics who are rarely present in such conversations — either about the ‘standards,’ or the high-stakes testing and evaluation schemes with which they are inextricably intertwined. Jose insisted, through his words and through his example, that we examine the implications and impact of education policy and politics through the lens of race and ethnicity; that we deconstruct and challenge the facile assertions of some policymakers and pundits that they are fighting for “the civil rights issue of our time;” and that we recognize and honor the many, many thousands who won’t have a seat at a table until and unless we demand and create a shared, inclusive, respectful, and honest Common Conversation."
christhinnes  npeconference  20145  listening  activelistening  race  self-awareness  power  leadership  servantleadership  inclusion  facilitation  diversity  activism  inclusivity  relationallearning  learning  conversation  hierarchy  hierarchies  relationaldynamics  peterdewitt  deborahmeier  anthonycody  leoniehaimson  dianeravitch  petergow  commoncore  karenlewis  relationships  community  johnkuhn  education  policy  josévilson  inlcusivity 
march 2014 by robertogreco
Everything you need to know about Common Core — Ravitch
"These two federal programs, which both rely heavily on standardized testing, has produced a massive demoralization of educators; an unprecedented exodus of experienced educators, who were replaced in many districts by young, inexperienced, low-wage teachers; the closure of many public schools, especially in poor and minority districts; the opening of thousands of privately managed charters; an increase in low-quality for-profit charter schools and low-quality online charter schools; a widespread attack on teachers' due process rights and collective bargaining rights; the near-collapse of public education in urban districts like Detroit and Philadelphia, as public schools are replaced by privately managed charter schools; a burgeoning educational-industrial complex of testing corporations, charter chains, and technology companies that view public education as an emerging market. Hedge funds, entrepreneurs, and real estate investment corporations invest enthusiastically in this emerging market, encouraged by federal tax credits, lavish fees, and the prospect of huge profits from taxpayer dollars. Celebrities, tennis stars, basketball stars, and football stars are opening their own name-brand schools with public dollars, even though they know nothing about education.

No other nation in the world has inflicted so many changes or imposed so many mandates on its teachers and public schools as we have in the past dozen years. No other nation tests every student every year as we do. Our students are the most over-tested in the world. No other nation—at least no high-performing nation—judges the quality of teachers by the test scores of their students. Most researchers agree that this methodology is fundamentally flawed, that it is inaccurate, unreliable, and unstable, that the highest ratings will go to teachers with the most affluent students and the lowest ratings will go to teachers of English learners, teachers of students with disabilities, and teachers in high-poverty schools. Nonetheless, the U.S. Department of Education wants every state and every district to do it. Because of these federal programs, our schools have become obsessed with standardized testing, and have turned over to the testing corporations the responsibility for rating, ranking, and labeling our students, our teachers, and our schools.

The Pearson Corporation has become the ultimate arbiter of the fate of students, teachers, and schools.

This is the policy context in which the Common Core standards were developed. "



"Early childhood educators are nearly unanimous in saying that no one who wrote the standards had any expertise in the education of very young children. More than 500 early childhood educators signed a join statement complaining that the standards were developmentally inappropriate for children in the early grades. The standards, they said, emphasized academic skills and leave inadequate time for imaginative play. They also objected to the likelihood that young children would be subjected to standardized testing. And yet the proponents of the Common Core insist that children as young as 5 or 6 or 7 should be on track to be college-and-carer ready, even though children this age are not likely to think about college, and most think of careers as cowboys, astronauts, or firefighters."



"I fear that the Common Core plan of standards and testing will establish a test-based meritocracy that will harm our democracy by parceling out opportunity, by ranking and rating every student in relation to their test scores.

We cannot have a decent democracy unless we begin with the supposition that every human life is of equal value. Our society already has far too much inequality of wealth and income. We should do nothing to stigmatize those who already get the least of society's advantages. We should bend our efforts to change our society so that each and every one of us has the opportunity to learn, the resources needed to learn, and the chance to have a good and decent life, regardless of one's test scores."

[See also: http://teachertomsblog.blogspot.com/2014/02/everything-you-need-to-know-about.html ]
dianeravitch  commoncore  2014  government  policy  education  democracy  us  standards  nationalstandards  meritocracy  testing  standardizedtesting  society  arneduncan  rttt  nclb  schools  publicschools  pearson  michellerhee  joelklein  billgates  jebbush 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Teflon, Fatalism, and Accountability | the becoming radical
"Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, and a wide assortment of political leaders (notably governors and superintendents of education) have some important characteristics in common: most have no background in education, many grew up and were educated in privileged lives and settings (such as private schools with conditions unlike the reforms they promote), many with children send those children to schools unlike the reforms they promote, and few, if any, suffer any real consequences for their misguided claims or policies. This crop of education reformers are Teflon reformers."



"For teachers, the self-defeating characteristics of that fatalism are captured in the current implementation of Common Core, which, as with all the preceding waves of new standards and tests, are imposed on teachers, not called for, designed by, or directed by teachers."



"For teachers, their own fatalism against the power of Teflon reform has resulted in low morale and scattered CC implementation (directly contradicting a central call for CC as a way to standardize what is taught across the U.S.).

Both Teflon reform and teacher fatalism doom any reform efforts in our schools. Teflon reformers continue to prosper despite the credibility of their claims or the outcomes of their policies.

And at the bottom of this power chain are students, themselves fatalistic."


In contrast to mutual accountability, Wormeli notes, an alternative and more familiar definition of accountability values threat over concern (i.e., advocacy) for others….This is the ‘caughtya’ and ‘gotcha’ mentality,” and grading “is one of the default tools teachers use to play the ‘gotcha’ game.” When we play the gotcha game, according to Wormeli, “There is no growth in accountability within the student that will carry over to the next situation” (“Accountability” 16). Students learn to do whatever it takes to get the grade. (pp. 74-75)



"When Teflon reformers are neither mutually accountable nor personally invested, their policies create fatalistic, and thus, ineffective teachers—in the same way that students become fatalistic (and learn less or simply check out of the learning opportunities) when teachers are above the accountability and thus not mutually invested in learning with students."
reform  education  2014  accountability  teaching  learning  fatalism  policy  arneduncan  billgates  michellerhee  commoncore  mutualaccountability  high-stakestesting 
february 2014 by robertogreco
New Criticism, Close Reading, and Failing Critical Literacy Again | the becoming radical
"When the Common Core debates drift toward advocacy or critiques of the standards themselves, I have refused, mostly, to engage with that conversation because I believe debating the quality of CC concedes too much. I remain opposed to CC regardless of the quality of the standards because of the following reasons: (1) CC cannot and will not be decoupled from the caustic influence of high-stakes testing, (2) all bureaucratic and mandated standards de-professionalize teaching, (3) accountability/standards/testing as a reform paradigm has failed and nothing about the CC iteration offers a different approach, except that this is called “national,” and (4) there is absolutely nothing in the CC agenda that addresses social or educational inequities such as disproportionate discipline policies, course access, and teacher assignment.

So with due trepidation, I now wade into the few but needed challenges being offered about how CC encourages “close reading” of texts."

First, let me highlight that my primary field of teaching writing offers a powerful and disturbing parallel model of how the accountability/standards/testing movement supplanted and destroyed evidence-based pedagogy.

I have detailed that the rise of best practice in the teaching of writing in the 1970s and 1980s was squelched by the accountability era begun in the 1980s; see Why Are We (Still) Failing Writing Instruction? [http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/why-are-we-still-failing-writing-instruction/ ]

As well, Applebee and Langer offer a chilling refrain of best practice in writing wilting under the weight of standards and testing in their Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms. [http://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/01/13/tcr-review-writing-instruction-that-works/ ]

Reading instruction and reading experiences for children, we must acknowledge, will suffer the same negative consequences under CC and the related high-stakes tests because there are no provisions for implementing CC that change how standards and tests are implemented (often each round of standards and tests are simply infused into the current practices) and, in reality, CC approaches to reading are new names for traditional (and flawed) reading practices.

Next, I strongly recommend the following pieces that essentially confront the central problem with CC’s focus on close reading (and as I’ll expand on below, how close reading continues the traditional view of text-based analysis grounded in New Criticism—and thus excluding critical literacy and the powerful contributions of marginalized writers and critics [1]):

Reading Without Understanding — Common Core Versus Abraham Lincoln, Alan Singer
[http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alan-singer/reading-without-understan_b_4323239.html ]

Martin Luther King Jr. and the Common Core: A critical reading of “close reading,” Daniel E. Ferguson
[http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/28_02/28_02_ferguson.shtml

I want here, then, to add just a few more thoughts on why committing to CC and close reading fails against the gains we have made in understanding the complexity of responding to texts in the context of the words on the page, the intent and biography of the writer, the biography of the reader, and the multiple historical contexts that intersect when anyone reads any text.

Let me start with an example. …"
commoncore  ela  closereading  criticalliteracy  2014  standards  standardization  paulthomas  alansinger  danielferguson  davidcoleman  newcriticsm  reading  teaching  writing  literacy  learning  education  policy  plthomas 
february 2014 by robertogreco
Education Week: Why Make Reform So Complicated?
"In the realm of organizational improvement, complexity kills. It demoralizes employees and distorts the critical connection between effort and outcomes. It is the enemy of the most indispensable elements of improvement: clarity, priority, and focus.

That is the message of multiple prominent studies, from Jim Collins' 2001 best-seller Good to Great to more recent books like The Laws of Simplicity, by John Maeda, and Simple: Conquering the Crisis of Complexity, by Alan Siegel and Irene Etzkorn. These experts implore us to simplify: to prioritize, minimize, and employ only the clearest language in the service of focus. Only this will allow teams and individuals to understand, practice, and perfect those few, highest-priority skills and actions that are most critical to progress.

Education clearly doesn't get this. Perhaps no enterprise is more crippled by complexity than school improvement. For two decades, I've worked with educators in every kind of school and district. For every major initiative, a common theme emerges: There is simply too much to do, and most of it is maddeningly ambiguous and confusing.

Maybe it started with state-mandated strategic planning, which produced those book-length, jargon-laced documents with their impossibly long bulleted lists of goals, tasks, and action plans—which turned out to have no substantive effect on teaching quality.
Then came the standards movement."



"The transition to simple, priority-driven school improvement might require a kind of civil disobedience: a refusal, by a critical mass of educators, to implement anything unless it has been adequately piloted, amply proven, and then made clear and simple enough for educators to learn and implement successfully. If we insist on such conditions, we will move forward at a rate not seen before."
via:lukeneff  simplicity  education  policy  standards  commoncore  2014  complexity  organization  curriculum  mikeschmoker  standardization  leadership  administration  pedagogy  johnmaeda 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Cristal Ball | EduShyster
"Reform hits the *g* spot
You know what tastes great when you’re done *crushing* the achievement gap? A Venti soy, half-caff, caramel macchiato with two shots of vanilla syrup. And by vanilla, I mean va*nil*la. It turns out that Reform, Inc. may finally have cracked the code for overcoming poverty without actually doing anything about poverty. It’s called *gentrification,* and it’s all the rage in reformy hot spots like Chicago, Washington, DC and New Orleans. 2014 prediction: the Fordham Institute opens up a satellite office in Cleveland because, well, Cleveland rocks."



"Fick val?
Reader: have you been longing to witness a decades-long experiment with school choice for yourself but lack the krona to get to Sweden? Great news! Now you can experience the wonders of choice-i-fi-cation, right here at home. Today’s destination: Minnesota, the first state to permit charter schools, where academies of excellence and innovation are popping up like ice fishing shanties atop one of the state’s 10,000 frozen lakes. The newest of these schools share a common trait with the snow that currently blankets the North Star State: whiteness. In the last five years, the number of mostly white suburban charters grew by 40%. In fact choosy Minnesota moms and dads now have a dazzling array of single race charters to choose from. 2014 prediction: this alarming trend will be completely ignored and, thanks to reform $$ falling like snowflakes, Minnesota will only charter harder."
education  commoncore  2014  schools  learning  policy  gentrification  sweden  minnesota  poverty  jenniferberkshire  edreform  reform  chicago  washingtondc  cleveland  neworleans  dc  nola  charterschools 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Education Outrage: The top ten mistakes in education. Twenty years later.
"Twenty years have passed. Surely my writing about this and other’s re-posting and writing about this have had a big effect on education. Let’s look at them one by one:

Mistake #1: Schools act as if learning can be disassociated from doing.
Yes. Things have changed. They are worse. The latest horror is MOOCs which is just more talking and insists on the idea the education means knowledge transfer and that knowledge can be acquired by listening.

Mistake #2: Schools believe they have the job of assessment as part of their natural role
Yes. Things have really changed here. They are much worse. Before there were just a lots of bad tests. Now there are tests at every grade. Tests to get ready for the test. And now, teacher evaluations based on the tests.

Mistake #3: Schools believe they have an obligation to create standard curricula.
Wow! This one has gotten even worse than the others. Now it isn’t schools that create standard curricula it is Bill Gates, Common Core, the US Department of Education and every state Department of Education. We sure fixed that one.

Mistake #4: Teachers believe they ought to tell students what they think it is important to know.
I am not sure about this one. I don’t think teachers think much of anything anymore other than how to survive in a system where they are not valued and teaching doesn’t matter except with respect to test scores.

Mistake #5: Schools believe instruction can be independent of motivation for actual use.
No change. Still no use for algebra, physics formulae, random knowledge about history or literature. No use for anything taught in school actually after reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Mistake #6: Schools believe studying is an important part of learning.
No change.

Mistake #7: Schools believe that grading according to age group is an intrinsic part of the organization of a school.
No change.

Mistake #8: Schools believe children will accomplish things only by having grades to strive for.
No change.

Mistake #9: Schools believe discipline is an inherent part of learning.
Perhaps this has changed. There seems to be a lot less discipline.

Mistake #10: Schools believe students have a basic interest in learning whatever it is schools decide to teach to them.
Nah. No one believes that anymore.

I am not only one loudly talking into the wind. There are lots of people who agree with me and say thing similar to what I say.
Is there anyone listening?

Sure. Parents are noticing how stupid the test are and how stupid Common Core is. The kids are noticing, now more than ever. The teachers are upset.

Is anyone listening to them? No. There is big money at stake in keeping things as they are.

Well, that the report from 20 years on the front lines. We shall not retreat, but victory looks to be far away."
via:audreywatters  education  testing  standardizedtesting  2014  1994  learning  teaching  howweteach  howwelearn  commoncore  grades  grading  motivation  assessment  schools  mooc  moocs  instruction  rogerschank 
january 2014 by robertogreco
Are Progressive Critics of Common Core "Getting Played" By Enemies of Public Education? - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher
"But blaming progressive critics of Common Core for the rise of this conservative movement turns reality on its head. The people who have let down our public schools are those who are willing to embrace standardization and high stakes tests as some sort of "progressive" guarantor of equity. We have been down this path with No Child Left Behind, which was sold to us by an alliance of liberal and neo-conservative politicians. We were told children in poverty would get more attention and resources once standardized tests "shed light" on just how far behind they were. We got teacher 'evaluation' schemes built around faulty VAM metrics, leading to mass demoralization and too-many losses of strong educators, simultaneous with a hypocritical push to replace seasoned teachers with Teach for America novices. The result? Intense pressure to raise test scores, narrowed curriculum, and school closings by the hundreds - all with the mantle of approval by our "liberal" leaders. Who really got played here?

Then Common Core came along in 2009. Everyone was weary of NCLB, and ready for change. But some of us could read the writing on the wall. The fancy words about critical thinking and "moving beyond the bubble tests" sounded nice, but a closer look revealed standards that were originally written with little to no participation by K12 teachers. The promises to get rid of bubble tests only meant that the tests would be taken on expensive computers. The promise to escape the narrowing of curriculum only meant we would be testing more often, in more subjects.

So many of us started raising concerns. The basic premise of Common Core was similar to NCLB - our schools are failing, and we must respond with "higher standards," and more difficult tests. But the indictment of public education has been wrong from the start, and we should not lend it credence by supporting phony solutions."



"It is not progressive opponents of Common Core who have set our public schools and unions up for this. It is the corporate reformers, and those willing to promote their grandiose Common Core project.

There are some attempts under way to separate Common Core from high stakes tests, most notably in California, as described in today's letter from Bill Honig. This is the ONLY condition under which these standards ought to be even considered."

[Bill Honig's letter: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/07/bill-honig-why-california-likes-the-common-core-standards/
via: http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/07/anthony-cody-who-are-the-critics-of-common-core/ ]
commoncore  2014  policy  education  nclb  rttt  standards  testing  criticalthinking  standardizedtestinganthonycody  billhonig 
january 2014 by robertogreco
In 'The Spirit of Liberty' - Bridging Differences - Education Week
[in response to: http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/Bridging-Differences/2013/12/dear_deborah_i_trust_you.html ]

"It's probably easier to teach about liberty than democracy. The former is perhaps "natural" to the human species. Even little tots object when their liberty is infringed upon. It is within the context of democracy—or so people like me believe—that one's liberty is best protected, but also where one's liberty is best restricted. Only kings of yore believed they had unrestricted freedom. But where to draw the line? That's where democracy comes in.

I'm not for defining democracy once and for all, or liberty. These are ideas that have evolved and are still evolving. The "struggle" to define them is ongoing. Schooling ideally prepares us to join in that struggle. It's what politics is about—drawing the line. Like justice, which is represented by a scale that always needs some readjusting.

That's where we get back to my claim that democracy is not "natural" or intuitive. It's a means, not an end. No two nations, states, or organizations that may rightly call themselves democratic have the same bylaws, etc.

Democracy hopefully is precisely what protects other rights, such as fairness, liberty, equality, privacy, even "happiness." And the "common good." Different contexts and histories have led to different ways of organizing the power of the people, including deciding who "the people" are. The idea that the right to vote should be universal is new—and still shaky. In 1789, most of those living within our borders could not vote: women, slaves, Native Americans, and, in most states, men without property.

We agree: Most of the dialogue about power is conducted in a language unfamiliar to many citizens. Meanwhile, our fellow citizens—those who seem to lack the proper language for understanding "us"—may well be speaking with equal depth and understanding but in a form that "we" do not understand. Maybe those with more power have an obligation to better understand their fellow citizens, not just vice-versa. Expanding the world that "belongs to us all" is something schools could do if ... rich and poor, black and white attended "common schools" devoted to such a task.

Do we really have to "teach" a common core to promote thinking—or do we mean "thinking like us"? I have friends from abroad who think quite well, but share a different set of "common" and "uncommon" knowledge. I find our discourses even more interesting for that fact.

I never found that my students, even at 5, were less interesting because their "home language," dialect, or vocabulary were different than mine. In fact, it was these differences that drew me into becoming a teacher. Sometimes because of their age, but also because of their own situations and histories, they aroused my curiosity and added to my knowledge. It is often a handicap to good thinking when we share too much "common sense" knowledge and vocabulary, or pretend to. "You know what I mean."

Whether we're creating essay, short-answer, or multiple-choice tests, we have a "bias." There's no way not to. As I recognized in my college courses, it was easier to get an A on an essay question where I agreed with my professors than when I didn't. We naturally think that those who say what we believe have more sense than those who don't. Ditto for multiple-choice tests.

The solution? I'd like to use those 12-plus years of school to come closer to "getting it"—who we are. There's a huge body of knowledge that such a course of study could uncover, and a lot that would remain uncovered. My hope? That the "test prepping" prepared our students to demonstrate strong intellectual habits in a range of academic and nonacademic domains, on topics of their choice—subject to the judgment of a committee of faculty, family, and external public experts. Over and over. Until it truly becomes habitual. Like good driving.

I'd hope that all publicly funded schools have the freedom to develop their own assessment tools (or even choose a pre-existing standardized one). But I hope that they also would be required to articulate the connection between the idea of democracy (and liberty) and whatever curriculum and assessment system they have chosen.

I'd also ask the schools to "show me" the connection between their purposes and the structure of the classroom and school as a whole. What do kids learn about democracy and liberty from the school's adult world? Who are the school's citizens? What are their liberties? Do parents or those whose taxes the schools rest upon have citizenship rights? Whose expertise trumps whose? And where do children of different ages fit into this web of cross-cutting citizenships?

Given the fragile state of our democracy (about which we agree), we must sometimes sacrifice some other more strictly private purposes (being more successful than others, having more money, or—god forbid—even pursuing a private hobby of pleasure only to a few). Public schools funded and controlled by the priorities of their citizens will each draw the lines differently. But without considerable locally based control we will flit from one all-size-fits-all fad to another.

Local communities, operating within the law, may even figure out forms of choice that enable people to make some decisions collectively and others more selectively, while agreeing not to substantially injure the available choices of others. They will swing back and forth between the party of order and the party of flexibility. A diversity of knowledge claims is essential for democracy and liberty, as well as for the arts, sciences, technology, etc. When one "best practice" rules, it undermines liberty, democracy, and progress, in general. We need collaborators and resisters, collegiality and ornery individualists.

I do not want to specify for others which of all the wars Americans have fought they most need to understand. Reality tells me that there is NO WAY they seriously understand even one if obliged to cover all. But ... let others try. Ditto for the sciences. And for math. Mastery of basic probability and statistics, however, would surely serve democracy better than calculus.

Central Park East, Central Park East Secondary School, and Mission Hill— schools where I've had a direct influence—each approached curriculum differently, although all three built their studies around "habits of mind." I've learned from each, and I am very aware that each made some painful trade-offs. Still, talking with graduates of each reassures me that what right-wing blogger Danette Clark calls "the Marxist-Communist political, amoral, and social ideology behind Theodore Sizer's Coalition of Essential Schools" flourished in all of them.

There are some things effectively mandated centrally, but not as many as even "my team" acknowledges. Democracy and liberty both are safer when we all see ourselves as more or less in the same boat together, where my liberty and yours rise or fall together. We're a long way from achieving that spirit of liberty in our schools. "
education  deborahmeier  democracy  liberty  testing  standards  standardization  2013  tedsizer  commoncore  power  curriculum  publicschools  teaching  learning  testprep  assessment  local  bias  knowledge  robertpondiscio  citizenship  civics  missionhillschool  coalitionofessentialschools 
december 2013 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: The Wilful Ignorance of Richard Allington
"Now, since "Doctor" Allington has called me a "cheater" and "illiterate" - let me list my credentials - and I will argue that these are contemporary - post-Gutenberg - credentials. Sure "Doctor," I struggle mightily with decoding alphabetical text, and sure, unless I am drawing my letters, copying them in fact, my writing is just about useless, and - well, to go further, I've never learned to "keyboard" with more than one finger. So yes, "Doctor," by your standards I can neither read nor write. And to get around that I do indeed "cheat." I use digital text-to-speech tools, from WYNN to WordTalk to Balabolka to Click-Speak and I use audiobooks all the time, whether from Project Gutenberg or LibriVox or Audible. Yes, I "cheat" by writing with Windows Speech Recognition and Android Speech Recognition and the SpeakIt Chrome extension.

And "Doctor," I not only use them, I encourage students all over the United States, all around the world in fact, to cheat with these tools as well. I've even helped develop a free suite of tools for American students to support that "cheating."

But beyond that, I'll match my scholarship with "Doctor" Allington's anytime, including my "deeply read" knowledge of the history of American education, and my "actual" - Grounded Theory Research - with real children in real schools in real - non-laboratory, non-abusive-control-group - situations.

And beyond that, I tend to think I'm as "well read" as any non-literature major around. So if the "Doctor" wants to debate James Joyce or Seamus Heaney or current Booker Prize shortlist fiction, or argue over why American schools often teach literature and the real part of reading, the understanding - so badly, I think I'll be able to hold my own."
irasocol  2013  richardallington  literacy  multiliteracies  credentialism  assistivetechnology  learning  education  accommodations  testing  speechrecognition  gutenbergparenthesis  audiobooks  cheating  specialeducation  commoncore  universaldesign 
december 2013 by robertogreco
The Fischbowl: What If We Said No?
"In each group we were having really interesting conversations around a variety of education topics and the topic of standardized testing came up (of course). In each group there was pretty much a group groan, and then a general statement of dislike of the tests (or at least the quantity and frequency of them). But what really struck me in each case was the sense of inevitability, the feeling of being powerless. In each one of those discussions the assumption was that we did not have any control over this situation, that some things were "out of our control" and we just had to deal with them. That got me wondering:
What if we said no?


I'm serious. What would happen to us if we simply said no (or perhaps, "no thank you" to be a bit more polite). It reminds me of a story I heard once from Cris Tovani who was talking about some social studies teachers in her building talking about how they "had to do" such and such. She simply asked them, "Why?" They responded that the "state" mandated it. So she went and researched it and came back and told them that no, actually, the state didn't. So they then said the "district" mandated it, so she looked into that and it turns out that wasn't true. They then replied with "well, we have to cover it in our curriculum." Turns out that wasn't the case either. They just had assumed all these years that someone was telling them they had to do it. Turns out it was no one but them.

So here are my (serious) questions. What if Arapahoe High School said "no thank you" to the PARCC tests? What exactly would happen to us? Is there state funding associated with (not) taking those tests? Accreditation? Would our school board close us down? Would Secretary Duncan stop by and yell at us? What exactly would happen? I mean parents can choose to opt their students out of the tests, so what if all of our parents did - surely that's their right and they couldn't close the school down. Could they? (By the way, I truly don't know the answer to these questions, but I think someone should ask them.)

Arapahoe is a high performing school in a high performing district. We've been a John Irwin School of Excellence with the Colorado Department of Education since the award's inception, and we consistently exceed the state averages on the state-mandated CSAP/TCAP/ACT. What if we said that we'll give the PARCC tests, but only once every four years. It's not like the Common Core State Standards are going to change during those four years. (After all, next year's Kindergartners will likely still be employed in 2075, and we're implicitly saying to them that the Common Core State Standards will still be relevant to them then - so surely once every four years right now is enough.)

What if we said that would give us a baseline of data to work with (and to be held "accountable" with), with a check-in every four years, but that we didn't need to spend weeks testing all of our students each and every year? What if we said that we believe that the high quality assessments that our teachers already develop and give our students provide us with the timely, relevant, meaningful on-going data necessary to help our students learn? After all, we devote ten PLC days a year to develop those essential learnings and common assessments, either we think those are worthwhile and provide us valuable information about our students - or we don't. If we do, why would we need to take away instructional time, spend a significant amount of money, and put stress on our students and teachers each and every year simply to give the PARCC test?

Who is the someone that says we have to do this? What exactly are the consequences if we don't? If there actually are consequences that we don't like, can we propose that those consequences be modified or waived if we can demonstrate that we are already doing better, more timely, and more effective assessments, and that giving the PARCC tests each and every year is not only a waste of time, but actually decreases learning time for our students?

I wonder if we'll find out that - just like at Cris Tovani's school - it turns out it's nobody but us. I anxiously await the answers."
karlfisch  teaching  2013  cv  excuses  education  cristovani  fear  courage  criticalthinking  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  commoncore 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Orange Crate Art: High-school student Ethan Young on the Common Core
"Ethan Young, a senior at Farragut High School in Knoxville, Tennessee, speaks to his local school board about the Common Core. An excerpt:
The task of learning is never quantifiable. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I haven’t learned anything. I’d like to repeat that. If everything I learned in high school is a measurable objective, I have not learned anything. Creativity, appreciation, inquisitiveness: these are impossible to scale. But they’re the purpose of education, why our teachers teach, why I choose to learn.

That Young is now the toast of the right-wing Internets is of no concern to me: his perspective here is one that I agree with. I find the Obama adminstration’s efforts in education a great disappointment."

[Related: http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/kindergarten-teachers-effects-on-five-year-olds-futures/ ]
commoncore  education  quantification  relationships  teaching  learning  schools  policy  politics  accountability  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  standards  data  cv  intangibles  2013  high-stakestesting 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Kindergarten Teachers’ Effects on Five Year-Olds’ Futures | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"And here is the rub. Policymakers have largely ignored the teacher-child relationship–arguing that they are more concerned with tangible outcomes not how teachers teach or children learn. As for researchers, they have been of little help since they have a hard time identifying metrics that capture the quality of that child-teacher relationship and its links to socializing children and subsequent academic and non-academic effects  on adult behavior. Without quantitative measures to capture the impact of the teacher-child relationship, policymakers skip over it and grab at what can be reduced to numbers; that all-important relationship is missing-in-action when policymakers make decisions. And that is unfortunate.

In the current climate of test-driven standards and coercive accountability, policymakers and researchers depend far too much upon test scores and not whether what is measured captures the cognitive and social-psychological habits young children acquire and the all-important relationship they have with their teachers. If there are no measures, then these important outcomes do not exist."

[via: http://willrichardson.com/post/67064787088/more-on-the-immeasurable ]

[related: http://mleddy.blogspot.com/2013/11/high-school-student-ethan-young-on.html ]
education  quantification  relationships  teaching  learning  schools  policy  commoncore  politics  accountability  testing  standardizedtesting  standardization  standards  data  cv  intangibles  2013  larrycuban  high-stakestesting 
november 2013 by robertogreco
A ridiculous Common Core test for first graders
"My speech teacher came to see me. She was both angry and distraught. In her hand was her 6-year-old’s math test. On the top of it was written, “Topic 2, 45%”. On the bottom, were the words, “Copyright @ Pearson Education.” After I got over my horror that a first-grader would take a multiple-choice test with a percent-based grade, I started to look at the questions.
The test provides insight into why New York State parents are up in arms about testing and the Common Core. With mom’s permission, I posted the test here. Take a look at question No. 1, which shows students five pennies, under which it says “part I know,” and then a full coffee cup labeled with a “6″ and, under it, the word, “Whole.” Students are asked to find “the missing part” from a list of four numbers. My assistant principal for mathematics was not sure what the question was asking. How could pennies be a part of a cup?"



"I am amused by all of the politicians and bureaucrats who love the Common Core and see it as the salvation of our nation. I suspect they are supporting standards that they have never studied. I wonder if they have ever read the details that ask first-graders to “compose and decompose plane and solid figures” and “to determine if equations of addition or subtraction are true or false.” It is likely that much of the support for the Common Core is based on the ideal that we should have national standards that are challenging, yet the devil in the detail is ignored.

When one actually examines the standards and the tests like the sample I provided, it quickly becomes apparent why young students are crying when they do their homework and telling their parents they do not want to go to school. Many New York children are simply not developmentally ready to do the work. Much of the work is confusing. When you add the pressure under which teachers find themselves to quickly implement the standards and prepare students for standardized testing, it becomes clear why New York parents are expressing outrage at forums across the state.

It is time for New York State to heed, at the very least, the New York State United Teachers’ call for a three-year moratorium on high-stakes testing, thus providing time for New York to re-examine its reforms, and change course. New York, sadly, has been a canary in the Common Core coal mine, and if we do not heed the danger a generation of students will be lost."
commoncore  education  policy  assessment  standardizedtesting  carolburris  newyork  high-stakestesting 
november 2013 by robertogreco
Process Matters in a Democracy: Common Core Fails the Test - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher
"Process issue #1: As everyone (except Arne Duncan) now acknowledges, the Dept of Ed made an end run around the rule that forbade it from promoting national standards.

Process Issue #2: The Common Core was written by a small group of people which did not include any experts in early childhood, or any classroom educators.



Process Issue #3: States were coerced and bribed into signing on to the standards, and could do so with the signature of the governor and the state superintendent of education. In some ways this is the most egregious abuse of process of all. A decision to completely overhaul the way millions of students would be taught and tested was made by TWO people in each state, with no public hearings, no debate. It is no wonder that to this day, most members of the public have no idea what the Common Core really is. The public was never a part of the process. Schneider gives chapter and verse of how this took place. It is a fascinating look at the way the sausage has been made in this case, and we are clearly being fed some unsavory products."
commoncore  process  democracy  education  policy  decisionmaking  2013 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Common Core Assessment Myths and Realities: Moratorium Needed From More Tests, Costs, Stress | FairTest
"Myth: Common Core tests will be much better than current exams, with many items measuring higher-order skills.
Reality: New tests will largely consist of the same old, multiple-choice questions. …

Myth: Adoption of Common Core exams will end NCLB testing overkill.
Reality: Under Common Core, there will be many more tests and the same misuses. …

Myth: New multi-state assessments will save taxpayers money.
Reality: Test costs will increase for most states. Schools will spend even more for computer infrastructure upgrades. …

Myth: New assessment consortia will replace error-prone test manufacturers.
Reality: The same, incompetent, profit-driven companies will make new exams and prep materials. …

Myth: More rigor means more, or better, learning.
Reality: Harder tests do not make kids smarter. …

Myth: Common Core assessments are designed to meet the needs of all students.
Reality: The new tests put students with disabilities and English language learners at risk. …

Myth: Common Core "proficiency" is an objective measure of college- and career-readiness.
Reality: Proficiency levels on Common Core tests are subjective, like all performance levels. …

Myth: States have to implement the Common Core assessments; they have no other choice.
Reality: Yes they do. Activists should call for an indefinite moratorium on Common Core tests to allow time for implementation of truly better assessments. …"
commoncore  education  testing  assessment  2013  debunking  standardizedtesting  nclb  educationindustrialcomplex 
september 2013 by robertogreco
Why Common Core Standards Will Succeed | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"Reform-minded policy elites–top federal and state officials, business leaders, and their entourages with unlimited access to media (e.g., television, websites, print journalism)–use these talking points to engage the emotions and, of course, spotlight public schools as the reasons why the U.S. is not as globally competitive as it should be. By focusing on the Common Core, charter schools, and evaluating teachers on the basis of student test scores, these decision-makers have shifted public attention away from fiscal and tax policies and economic structures that not only deepen and sustain poverty in society but also reinforce privilege of the top two percent of wealthy Americans. Policy elites have banged away unrelentingly at public schools as the source of national woes for decades.

National, state, and local opinion-makers in the business of school reform know that what matters is not evidence, not research studies, not past experiences with similar reforms–what matters is the appearance of success. Success is 45 states adopting standards, national tests taken by millions of students, and public acceptance of Common Core. Projecting positive images (e.g., the film Waiting for Superman, “everyone goes to college”) and pushing myths (e.g., U.S schools are broken, schools are an arm of the economy) that is what counts in the theater of school reform.

Within a few years–say, by 2016, a presidential election year–policy elites will declare the new standards a “success” and, hold onto your hats, introduce more and better and standards and tests.

This happened before with minimum competency tests in the 1970s. By 1980, thirty-seven states had mandated these tests for grade-to-grade promotion and high school graduation. The Nation at Risk report (1983) judged these tests too easy since most students passed them. So goodbye to competency tests. That happened again in the 1990s with the launching of upgraded state curriculum standards (e.g., Massachusetts) and then NCLB and later Common Core came along. It is happening now and will happen again.

Policy elites see school reform as a form of theater. Blaming schools for serious national problems, saying the right emotionally-loaded words, and giving the appearance of doing mighty things to solve the “school” problem matter far more than hard evidence or past experiences with similar reforms."
larrycuban  policy  edreform  commoncore  politics  businessasusual  standards  2013  success  theater  blame  schools  publicschools  poverty  inequality  economics  distraction 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Purpose of the Common Core is Creating "Better" Data
"It is incredibly important to reformers to be able to say things like "This teacher/school produced three more months of learning than that one." It is essentially the whole ball game. It is also pretty much a load of crap. But it is somewhat less bogus if you have the opportunity to authoritatively redefine the nature of learning on a year by year basis, limited to things that are relatively easily tested. That's the whole point of the Common Core, to tighten up and entrench their whole construct."
tomhoffman  commoncore  2013  standards  standardization  assessment  yearoveryear  edreform  education  policy 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Editorial: The Trouble with the Common Core
"We'd like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can't.

For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They're national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.)

Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.

The standards are tied to assessments that are still in development and that must be given on computers many schools don't have. So far, there is no research or experience to justify the extravagant claims being made for the ability of these standards to ensure that every child will graduate from high school “college and career ready.” By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates.

We have seen this show before. The entire country just finished a decade-long experiment in standards-based, test-driven school reform called No Child Left Behind. NCLB required states to adopt “rigorous” curriculum standards and test students annually to gauge progress towards reaching them. Under threat of losing federal funds, all 50 states adopted or revised their standards and began testing every student, every year in every grade from 3–8 and again in high school. (Before NCLB, only 19 states tested all kids every year, after NCLB all 50 did.)

By any measure, NCLB was a dismal failure in both raising academic performance and narrowing gaps in opportunity and outcomes. But by very publicly measuring the test results against benchmarks no real schools have ever met, NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them. By the time the first decade of NCLB was over, more than half the schools in the nation were on the lists of “failing schools” and the rest were poised to follow.

In reality, NCLB's test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them."



"Rethinking Schools has always been skeptical of standards imposed from above. Too many standards projects have been efforts to move decisions about teaching and learning away from classrooms, educators, and school communities, only to put them in the hands of distant bureaucracies. Standards have often codified sanitized versions of history, politics, and culture that reinforce official myths while leaving out the voices, concerns, and realities of our students and communities. Whatever positive role standards might play in truly collaborative conversations about what our schools should teach and children should learn has been repeatedly undermined by bad process, suspect political agendas, and commercial interests.

Unfortunately there's been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one."
assessment  standards  commoncore  inequality  nclb  rttt  2013  education  schools  us  policy  democracy 
august 2013 by robertogreco
Moving at the Speed of Creativity | Getting it WRONG: The Economist on Educational Technology, Testing and School Reform
"Two articles published in The Economist‘s print and online magazines at the end of June 2013 are filled with errors and misleading statements concerning educational technology, testing, and school reform. The articles, “E-ducation: A long-overdue technological revolution is at last under way” and “Catching on at last: New technology is poised to disrupt America’s schools, and then the world’s” are both dated June 29, 2013. Here are the misleading statements, falsehoods, and outright lies the articles portray as truth in the name of further discrediting public school systems in the United States as failing, incapable of meaningful improvement or reform, and in need of private companies through charter schools and online programs saving the day after “evil teacher unions” are finally discarded by an indignant public sick of “lazy teachers” standing in the way of corporate America’s educational reform agenda."
wesleyhill  education  policy  edreform  theeconomicst  2013  unions  teacherunions  privatization  manipulation  falsehoods  commoncore  technology  edtech  charterschools  rocketshipschools 
july 2013 by robertogreco
The Testing Obsession Widens the Gap - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"Once one concludes, as I did through 50 years of close observation, that the tests are measuring something other than "reading" skill—decoding and restating—our problem looks different. Yes, E.D. Hirsch is right: You can't measure reading qua reading. I not merely observed but ran little mini-focus groups to understand why some kids got "right" answers and others "wrong" ones. It had little to do with their reading skill."



"It's easier to guess the right answer if your perspective is similar to what the test-makers expect it to be, just as their forebears did when they invented IQ tests a century ago. We don't all have the same "common experience" upon which the tests are normed. Their "wrong" answers, in fact, were often far more logical and sensible than the "right" ones.

These facts also remind me of why teachers can be more powerful than TV or online schools if they use their time to build authentic relationships with their students—and join with rather than dictate to them. It's for the same reason that studies of how children learn their native language demonstrate that, even if kids spend far more time listening to TV than listening to the talk of adults at home, they will speak like their families. Schools must become second homes."



"Progressive preschools never rejected a rich reading culture or knowing facts as "developmentally inappropriate." They just didn't think you needed direct instruction to kick in this love of reading, of hobbies, of facts, of curiosity, of indefatigable and repetitive practice in subjects and skills they were fascinated by. The kids come to us with curiosity—and our job is to extend it. Progressives understood that the playful mindset that serious learning depends on is too often silenced in school. For example, I frequently step into classrooms where well-meaning teachers are doing as they are told: stopping at the end of every paragraph or page to ask didactic questions that turn great stories into "lessons" with "objectives" that can be "measured." That's hardly likely to whet children's appetite for "more, more."

Even "guided" discussions—another fad—at best lead the more teacher-pleasing kids to try to read what the teacher wants them to say, rather than discuss, argue, and maybe act out their own interpretations for each other. And indeed, you are also right that it was in low-poverty and "minority" schools like those I got to know so well in Chicago in the 1950s and 60s that the least "progressive" strategies have always been applied—even by educators who thought of themselves as "progressives." (Richer kids are sometimes getting some of this too now, under pressure to do well on tests.)

They've forgotten. Children are BORN experts at learning. Poor and rich. They couldn't survive a week if they weren't born intellectuals. They experiment over and over, until they find a pattern that "works." And then they find out that it's more complicated than that and start over again! In the first three years of life they are learning at a pace we never again achieve—unless we are, as you note, under so much stress and physical deprivation not typical of most of "the poor." Statistically, of course, it's more likely to impact those with the fewest resources—as you acknowledged.

But, Mike, it cannot be fixed by the common core. It can only be fixed by teachers who know how to join the "common core" of the children and the families they first meet, when children are 4 or 5, and use it wisely and creatively ever after."



"It is our job to use our precious public funds to increase the odds that democracy won't have to be reinvented. If the poor were less poor, their schools less poor, and bigotry less a part of our culture—it would be easier. But still not inevitable."

[via: http://www.tuttlesvc.org/2013/05/the-progressive-reading-instruction.html ]
reading  education  deborahmeier  2013  teaching  progressive  progressiveeducation  objectives  testing  commoncore  democracy  canon  learning  children  poverty  curiosity  instruction  guideddiscussions  perspective  howwelearn  howweteach 
may 2013 by robertogreco
The Coming Revolution in Public Education - John Tierney - The Atlantic
"• It's what history teaches us to expect.

• Education policies based on standardization and uniformity tend to fail.

[Related: http://quod.lib.umich.edu/j/jep/3336451.0014.103/--why-standardization-efforts-fail?rgn=main;view=fulltext ]

• Policies based on distrust of teachers tend to fail.

• Judging teachers' performance by students' test scores is both substantively and procedurally flawed.

• More people are realizing that many of the organizations involved in "corporate reform" seem to need reforming themselves.

• People wonder why reformers themselves aren't held accountable."
education  policy  trust  2013  schools  schooling  reform  edreform  johntierney  testing  standardization  standardizedtesting  commoncore  local  testscores  us  capitalism  business  pearson  accountability  teaching  learning  dianeravitch  thomaspaine  pushback  davidpatten  geraldconti  michellerhee  doublestandards  richardelmore  mildbreywallinmclaughlin  incentives  corruption  motivation 
may 2013 by robertogreco
Science teacher: "Scientists" never said that, experts did
"All the scientists say that the quahogs don't move, they don't go up and down [in the winter when the water is colder]. We claim they do… You have a rake with longer teeth, you catch 'em. With shorter teeth, you don't." —Howard Drew, Bayman

"We confuse experts with scientists.
We confuse the process of science with its results.

A child with a decent grasp of science knows less of a bigger world, and that's the point.
No expert ever made a living by claiming ignorance, but pleading ignorance is what scientists do.

It's hard to test ignorance when "knowledge" is the point, and it's hard to teach science when standardized tests focus on this-thing-we-do-in school-we-call-science."

"Every field has charlatans, and right now the charlatans are winning.

Me? I'm teaching science while I can, and clamming when I can.

The flats feed me, literally and metaphorically.
Experts do neither."
michaeldoyle  quahogs  clamming  clams  knowledge  ignorance  standardizedtesting  standardization  commoncore  resutls  process  howarddrew  charlatans  learning  teaching  science  2012  robertmarzano  howardgardner  from delicious
december 2012 by robertogreco
What Should Children Read? - NYTimes.com
"There are anthologies of great literature and primary documents, but why not “30 for Under 20: Great Nonfiction Narratives?” Until such editions appear, teachers can find complex, literary works in collections like “The Best American Science and Nature Writing,” on many newspaper Web sites, which have begun providing online lesson plans using articles for younger readers, and on ProPublica.org. Last year, The Atlantic compiled examples of the year’s best journalism, and The Daily Beast has its feature “Longreads.” Longform.org not only has “best of” contemporary selections but also historical examples dating back decades.

If students read 100 such articles over the course of a year, they may not become best-selling authors, but like Mr. Gladwell, they’ll get the sound and feel of good writing in their heads. With luck, when they graduate, there will still be ranks of literary nonfiction authors left for them to join."
2012  narrativenonfiction  radiolab  thisamericanlife  learning  teaching  davidcoleman  sandrastotsky  dianeravitch  standards  writing  malcolmgladwell  saramosle  commoncore  curriculum  schools  nonfiction  education  reading  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Why do we read? Why do we write?
"Why do we read? Why do we write? How do we bring reading to children? How do we encourage children to write?

Will we accept a true democracy of voices? Or do we continue to pursue the colonialism of conversion, the colonialism of standardization?"

"And so I wonder, (a) where does my communication fit into your school? your Common Core? your library? your classroom? and (b) where does that democracy of voice fit in? How do we embrace that and not squash it?

The world is a place of constant reinvention. If we all follow the rules, the paths, nothing changes. There is a reason the books of the colonials so often fill the Booker Prize shortlists, there is a reason Irish fiction and poetry are prized so much more highly than that of the English or Americans. The rules have never fully taken root away from "the Queen's English," and the paths begin in very different places, and it is the uncommon, not the common, which has extraordinary value."
fiveparagraphessays  curriculum  why  howweread  howwewrite  schools  deschooling  unschooling  rules  sequence  time  memory  rebeccanewbergergoldstein  jamesjoyce  ulysses  umbertoeco  literature  standardization  commoncore  colonialism  democracy  linearity  learning  teaching  2012  communication  writing  reading  irasocol  linear  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Will · Interesting Disclaimer by Common Core Assessors
"Since these non-academic factors are so important, PARCC College- and Career-Ready Determinations can only provide an estimate of the likelihood that students who earn them have the academic preparation necessary to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing courses."

[This is the small print. Too bad we don't lead with "There are no guarantees." That's what I've tried to do. Then we could stop pretending that curriculum is important and get on with letting kids learn. We need to step aside and focus on being examples of good humans. That's all that matters.]
comments  whatmatters  2012  standardization  standardizedtesting  testing  parcc  standards  curriculum  schools  learning  education  disclaimers  commoncore  smallprint  from delicious
november 2012 by robertogreco
Will · Our Numbers Obsession Will Kill Us
"You may think the Common Core is more about critical thinking and skills than about content, a move in the right direction, but it doesn’t matter. The assessments will HAVE TO BE about the quantifiable, since we’ve done such a good job at raising the stakes around how the results will be used.

We’re borked.

"According to the late Gerald Bracey, who conducted extensive research and authored numerous books about the misuse of data on education among policymakers, politicians, and the media, a measure of some of the most valuable achievements that test results cannot capture include: creativity, critical thinking, resilience, motivation, persistence, curiosity, endurance, reliability, enthusiasm, self-discipline, leadership, resourcefulness, and a sense of wonder."

The immeasurable."
numbers  softskills  jamespaulgee  geraldbracey  standards  standardizedtesting  standardization  education  learning  immeasurables  measurement  assessment  commoncore  2012  willrichardson  shrequest1  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Steve Hargadon - The Future of Education | Connected Learning
"Questions Asked/Key Comments Made

(16:54) As we're having these national conversations with a lot of hand-wringing about [...] the state of our education system, I think that we need to have some serious conversations about 'What is the purpose of education?'

(19:07) If the conversation about the purpose of education takes place at the EduCon or Steve Hargadon level, is that actually going to create the kind of change that we're looking for? Or does the conversation need to be taken down to a much more grassroots level?

(26:52) The first question coming in is about another elephant in the room: the assessment system of testing. That really is identified by the questioner as one of the deficiencies that you're referencing, Steve. And the question is very simply, "How can this be changed?"

…"

[I mentioned the chat here: http://branch.com/b/what-is-the-future-of-education with the following notes.]

I just watched a chat on "The Future of Education" [http://connectedlearning.tv/steve-hargadon-future-education ] (with Steve Hargadon, Jeff Brazil, Audrey Watters, Bryan Alexander, Monika Hardy) and I think it's worth sharing. Steve Hargadon kicks off the discussion with a pair of stories and a list of his four core beliefs regarding education, all of which I agree with:

1. "the worth and inherent value of every child" as opposed to defining children by deficiencies, as is mostly the case with the system that we currently have

2. "agency: the ultimate goal of education should be to develop the ability for students to take responsibility for their own lives and become increasingly self directed"

3. "the value of learning in helping us lead better lives by overcoming our biases, by overcoming simplistic thinking, by overcoming cognitive errors"

4. "the value of participation" for learning, democracy, professional development, etc.

One of the important points made in the conversation that follows is that that future could (and I hope it will) be found in networks rather than institutions or *a* system, both of which imply hierarchical power maintained through standardization. That's why I'm also leaving a link to Tricia Wang's talk "Dancing with Handcuffs: The Geography of Trust" [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TRKh4mdboM ], in which she gives a great description of the power of social networks while describing how they differ from social circles.

One final wish from me to add to all of this: I hope the future of education involves the elimination of age segregation. Networks can make that easy to accomplish.
us  society  lcproject  individualization  standardization  commoncore  autonomy  hierarchy  alternatives  future  generations  socialnetworking  socialnetworks  learning  purpose  economics  power  politics  schoolboards  institutions  insiders  deschooling  unschooling  assessment  technology  change  networks  education  2012  jeffbrazil  bryanalexander  audreywatters  monikahardy  stevehargadon  self-preservation  from delicious
september 2012 by robertogreco
Everything You've Heard About Failing Schools Is Wrong
"Overall, the last 10 years have revealed that while Big Data can make our questions more sophisticated, it doesn't necessarily lead to Big Answers. The push to improve scores has left behind traditional assessments that, research indicates, work better to gauge performance…

Even the godfather of standardized testing, the cognitive psychologist Robert Glaser [26], warned in 1987 about the dangers of placing too much emphasis on test scores. He called them "fallible and partial indicators of academic achievement" and warned that standardized tests would find it "extremely difficult to assess" the key skills people should gain from a good education: "resilience and courage in the face of stress, a sense of craft in our work, a commitment to justice and caring in our social relationships, a dedication to advancing the public good.""

"A look at Maria's schoolwork, on the other hand, is a glimpse at a learner's progress. …"
standardization  standards  commoncore  publicschools  history  tfa  wendykopp  billgates  michellerhee  latinos  immigration  learning  sanfrancisco  missionhigh  bigdata  education  policy  robertglaser  assessment  standardizedtesting  rttt  nclb  kristinarizga  2012  teachforamerica 
august 2012 by robertogreco
The Washington Monthly - Transcontinental Education
[Notes/quotes from Taryn: http://pinboard.in/u:Taryn/b:ae0ee7689d5a ]

"
[way-off analogy at beginning, defense of chronic failure, use of word 'globalization', narrow understanding of 'competition', measurable education achievement divorced from cultural considerations, narrow definition of education]

[the most we ought to expect of each other] "the standards expect all students to be able to draw on relevant evidence, cite it appropriately, and use it to make a case—and to write effectively and correctly while doing so"

[money trail] adopting the new standards was merely the first step. The steps necessary to implement the standards in classrooms, and to support that implementation through new materials and training for teachers

[do these people belong in positions of leadership] http://youtu.be/2dKRA7ZP1Hk
"
education  journalism  academia  conference  video  via:Taryn  standardization  commoncore  money  policy  2012 
july 2012 by robertogreco
Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core
"The Common Core is unstoppable now. But there are a few things we, as parents, educators, and taxpayers, can do to minimize its damages on our children:

1. Don’t be fooled by the claims of the Common Core advocates. …

2. Don’t narrow your curriculum. Don’t cut arts, music, sports, recess, field trips, debate teams, or other programs in order to align with the Common Core. …

3. Don’t standardize the teachers. Don’t force the teachers to become Common Core machines. Don’t make them standardized knowledge transmitters. …

4. Don’t waste your money. Don’t waste your precious dollars on the numerous Common Core products and services purport to help with your children’s college and career readiness. …

5. Don’t judge your students or teachers based on test scores…"
teaching  curriculum  yongzhao  2012  standardizedtesting  standardization  learning  tcsnmy  policy  education  standards  commoncore  from delicious
june 2012 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao Interview: Will the Common Core Create World-Class Learners? - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher
"This is getting silly. The world is not filled with heartless, cruel, cold individuals, and the world actually needs individuals who understand emotions and feelings. If they had read any recent studies about creative, innovative, and entrepreneurial talents or books related to multiple intelligences, they would understand the importance of emotional intelligence and the value of empathy."

"I have tackled this issue in my upcoming book World Class Learners: Educating Creative and Entrepreneurial Students, to be released by Corwin Press in mid August. My basic suggestion is that excellence comes from the individual--individual students, individual teachers, individual schools, and individual communities. A true high expectation comes from the students themselves when are allowed autonomy and rewarded for genuine contribution to the society using their talents, passion, time, and efforts."
self-assessment  autonomy  teaching  empathy  well-being  children  learning  policy  standards  standardizedtesting  standardization  2012  education  yongzhao  commoncore  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Yong Zhao in Conversation: Education Should Liberate, Not Indoctrinate - Living in Dialogue - Education Week Teacher
"Using standardized tests to measure student performance in a few subjects distorts the whole picture of education, confuses test scores with real education that prepares competent and responsible citizens, and reduces education to test preparation. These simplistic accountability measures distract policy makers, educators, parents, and students from addressing what really matters in education, waste precious political and financial assets, and unfairly blames educators for societal problems. The lack of faith in public education could lead to the demise of the great American tradition--a decentralized public education system that strives to educate all children in their local context…

I think educators have to shoulder the responsibilities of public intellectuals--we need to advocate, educate, and act…"

[See aslo: http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/05/yong_zhao_common_core.html ]
standards  accountability  assessment  publicschools  schools  2012  well-being  learning  teaching  policy  commoncore  standardizedtesting  standardization  us  education  yongzhao  from delicious
may 2012 by robertogreco
Borderland » Search for Meaning
"The main work of the teacher, I believe, is to recognize those peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers, and to assist them in their efforts to attain their most noble ambitions. And this is not necessarily about career or college readiness, or data-driven lesson planning.

Viktor Frankl, psychiatrist, and Nazi concentration camp survivor, believed that an individual’s primary motivational drive is the search for meaning.

The clip below is from a lecture Frankl gave in 1972. In it, he expresses what he claims is the “most apt maxim and motto for any psychotherapeutic activity.”

“If we take man as he is, we make him worse. But if we take man as what he should be, we make him capable of becoming what he can be.”

Common Core, Race to the Top, No Child Left Behind – all are standards-based afflictions that are dragging us into the pits."
humanism  lcproject  commoncore  wisdom  peacemaking  love  storytelling  vocation  deschooling  unschooling  purpose  davidworr  viktorfrankl  meaningmaking  meaning  life  learning  teaching  2012  dougnoon  from delicious
april 2012 by robertogreco
Better Test Scores Lead to Better Lives and Strong Economy: Fact or Hunch? | Larry Cuban on School Reform and Classroom Practice
"To say “tread carefully” and “proceed with care” after three decades of steel-toed boots stomping of public schools, not to mention, the transfer of an audit culture soaked in high tech from the corporate sector to national educational policy is, well, almost funny. It is, at the least,  a disappointing end to  such a clear laying out of the assumptions embedded in the reigning “tough love” reform ideology in which Mike Petrilli has been a card-carrying member."
via:tom.hoffman  ideology  policy  education  schools  us  publicschools  testing  standardizedtesting  commoncore  nclb  rttt  mikepetrilli  2012 
february 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Changing Gears 2012: reconsidering what "literature" means
"So my seventh step in Changing Gears 2012 is to look as widely as you can for the literature which will touch your students, for the canon which will help them know themselves and our world. This matters. When we prescribe a Common Core we proscribe all that lies beyond that, and what lies beyond is truly the 99 percent."
storytelling  variety  learning  deschooling  unschooling  communication  expression  video  literacy  2012  commoncore  literature  irasocol  culture  reading  from delicious
january 2012 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: for whom the medium is the message...
"And that is very sad. Or worse than sad. It is a kind of evil, an insistence that one's preferred medium, or in this case, textural and olfactory experience, is superior to any other. It is the worst kind of cultural imperialism."

"It is essential that we understand this now. It is essential that we stand up to those, from Mr. Jarrard to those who push "Common Core" standards, who seek to rank media in a hierarchy according to their personal preferences and in order to preserve their own status, wealth, and power ("I am important and intelligent because I am highly literate.").

Our students can, and will, tell stories in many, many ways. They will read stories in many, many ways…

So give your students stories this year. And give them the freedom to tell stories. The medium may matter, but the medium is only the message if the message can effectively be received through the medium chosen. Otherwise, an unreceived story, is, well... not much at all."
expression  video  books  kylejarrard  standardization  standards  academicelitism  deschooling  unschooling  learning  tcsnmy  literacy  literacies  commoncore  2011  irasocol  teaching  writing  reading  multiliteracies  diversity  culturalimperialism  from delicious
december 2011 by robertogreco
Between the By-Road and the Main Road: Rhizomatic Learning: Maps as Lived Performance, not as Artifact
"Folks, there are no made roads worth traveling at the cost of your freedom. The entryways and exits have all been preplanned and the attractions delineated. Alongside that made map is a calendar to keep you and your young charges from dreaming, dallying, racing, reversing, erring, collapsing space, making a detour. 

No musing allowed/aloud.  

And there you are motoring about and you get an itch to go left and you just can't do it. The road you are on is an accident. So what's a body to do? 

Live wide awake lives and let's call that "the content". Dwell in the imagination and we might consider that akin to process. A little of each of these, along with consistent learner agency and we would find that would be enough."
maryannreilly  2011  rhizomaticlearning  learning  maps  mapping  deleuze  guattari  athousandplateaus  commoncore  curriculum  curriculumisdead  conversation  unschooling  deschooling  teaching  life  living  freedom  curiosity  emergentcurriculum  deleuze&guattari  gillesdeleuze  félixguattari 
november 2011 by robertogreco
Impressive Empathy: An Interview with Michael Fullan - Finding Common Ground - Education Week
"PD: You wrote a lot about impressive empathy, which is the ability to understand others who disagree with you; how can we educate our students on that concept?

MF: This is really part of our curriculum conversation. If you look at 21st century goals, they have to deal with race and cultural diversity. We have to teach students about understanding diversity and citizenship. We do not have to look at these issues one item at a time. Rather, we need to look at these issues and build empathy as an integrated system and teach students these things in an effort to educate them on how to be a global citizen."
michaelfullan  empathy  teaching  education  globalcitizens  2011  schools  policy  commoncore  impressiveempathy  learning  from delicious
september 2011 by robertogreco
SpeEdChange: Pygmalion
"There has always been a tension in the US between expressed ideal of multi-ethnic, multi-cultural society - you know…and the reality on the political ground, which is that "our leadership" would find things "much easier" if we were all "white, protestant, straight, northern Europeans."

Actually not.

They don't want that. If everyone were "the same" the "leadership class" would not know at-a-glance who belonged and who did not. So, what they want is for everyone "else" to waste enormous effort trying to be like them, while they race comfortably ahead…

You know, there's a reason great universities crave diversity in their student bodies (exclude Harvard, Princeton, & Penn from that group because…social class finishing schools): It is because, education, like societies, work best - makes the greatest strides - when there is neither "Common Core Knowledge" nor "Common Culture."…

We don't need E.D. Hirsch, Jr, Bill Gates, and Arne Duncan making Eliza Doolittle's out of us."
commoncore  irasocol  pygmalion  2011  diversity  edhirsch  kipp  colonialism  deschooling  unschooling  schooliness  properness  identity  whiteness  history  literature  universities  colleges  learning  education  instruction  decolonization  billgates  arneduncan  elizadoolittle  georgebernardshaw  class  wealth  power  control  cities  homogeneity  language  speech  fordenglishschool  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
The Outrage of the Week - Bridging Differences - Education Week
"agreement btwn Gates & Pearson Foundation[s] to write nation's curriculum. When did we vote to hand over American ed to them? Why would we outsource nation's curriculum to for-profit publishing & test-making corp based in London? Does Gates get to write national curriculum because he's richest man in US? We know his foundation is investing heavily in promoting Common Core standards…will [now] write K-12 curriculum that will promote online learning & video gaming…good for tech sector, but is it good for nation's schools?…Gates & Eli Broad Foundation[s], both…maintain pretense of being Democrats &/or liberals, have given millions to…Jeb Bush's foundation…promoting vouchers, charters, online learning, test-based accountability, & whole panoply of corporate reform strategies intended to weaken public ed & remove teachers' job protections…

…scariest thought…Obama admin welcomes corporatization of public ed. Not only welcomes rise of ed entrepreneurialism, but encourages it."
education  reform  2011  pearson  gatesfoundation  billgates  jebbush  elibroad  broadfoundation  publicschools  publiceducation  barackobama  arneduncan  forprofit  technology  gamification  commoncore  nationalcurriculum  curriculum  accountability  onlinelearning  corporatization  corporations  corruption  policy  politics  testing  money  influence  dianeravitch  charitableindustrialcomplex  corporatism  philanthropicindustrialcomplex  capitalism  power  control  from delicious
may 2011 by robertogreco
Education Week: Expert Issues Warning on Formative-Assessment Uses
"While summative tests can provide valuable information for decisions about programs or curriculum, she said, the most valuable assessment for instruction is the continuous, deeply engaged feedback loop of formative assessment. Channeling money into building teachers’ skills in that technique is a better investment in student achievement, she said, than paying for more test design."

"Mastering formative assessment carries profound implications for changing teaching from a top-down process to a more collaborative one, said Caroline Wylie, a research scientist with the Princeton, N.J.-based Educational Testing Service who also appeared on the panel.

“This is not a follow-the-pacing-guide sort of teaching,”…“I used to do a lot of explaining, but now I do a lot of questioning,” said the teacher. “I used to do a lot of talking, but now I do a lot of listening. I used to think about teaching the curriculum, but now I think about teaching the student.”"
formativeassessment  testing  standardizedtesting  socraticmethod  teacherascollaborator  peer-assessment  self-assessment  cv  tcsnmy  learning  pedagogy  commoncore  instruction  feedback  questioning  curriculum  student-centered  from delicious
november 2010 by robertogreco
Tuttle SVC: The Tao of the ELA Common Core
"The first step to the Tao of the ELA Common Core is Reading standard number one.

"Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text."

The Teacher said to the True Student of the Common Core, "Agree or disagree with the following statement: The wise soul does without doing, teaches without talking.' Use at least three pieces of textual evidence from the Tao Te Ching to support an original thesis."

And the True Student said, "A thesis is no more a part of the Tao of the Common Core than a pebble is part of a stream. I will cite three pieces of textual evidence that the wise soul does without doing and three showing that he does by doing; three that he teaches without talking, and also three by talking.""
tomhoffman  commoncore  standards  humor  evidence  thesis  writing  teaching  learning  rttt  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
What the Bill Gates Crew Wants 8th Graders to Read (Susan Ohanian Speaks Out)
"When I started teaching in New York City--quite literally in the middle of someone else's lesson plan, I complained to my department chair that one 9th grader refused to read the prescribed Johnny Tremain. "Then find a book he will read," he advised me.

And I did.

This remains the best advice I ever received about teaching: Find books they will read became my mantra. I added read and savor.

Make no mistake about it, what is "recommended" here will become the law of the land. Bill Gates carries a bucket of money and a big stick.

Money and big stick be damned: What's going on here amounts to grand theft. It should be declared a felony. Elitists with rear-view mirrors permanently attached to their foreheads are stealing from children their right to an appropriate, exciting, and joyful education."
education  reading  standards  literature  susanohanian  tcsnmy  teaching  schools  commoncore  elitism  gatesfoundation  arneduncan  money  influence  books  classideas  curriculum  rigidity  prescriptivelearning  suckingthejoyoutoflearning  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Answer Sheet - Primer for ed reformers (or, it’s the curriculum, stupid!)
"*Learning, real learning—trying to make more sense of what’s happening—is as natural & satisfying as breathing. If your big reform idea requires laws, mandates, penalties, bribes, or other kinds of external pressure to make it work, it won’t. You can lead the horse to water, & you can force it to look like it’s drinking, but you can’t make it drink."

[via: http://stevemiranda.wordpress.com/2010/07/22/the-most-comprehensive-awesome-189-words-ever-written-about-school/ ]
curriculum  reform  criticalthinking  policy  education  learning  tcsnmy  progressive  standards  standardizedtesting  testing  rttt  nclb  motivation  elibroad  billgates  malcolmgladwell  wealth  influence  money  collaboration  understanding  humans  lcproject  deschooling  unschooling  teaching  commoncore  accountability  autonomy  righthererightnow  hereandnow  sensemaking  bighere  longnow  toshare  topost  interdisciplinary  marionbrady 
july 2010 by robertogreco
Uniform National Standards Are Not Equal - Room for Debate - NYTimes.com
"The top-down, test-driven, corporate-styled “accountability” movement -- featuring prescriptive state standards -- has already done incalculable damage to our children’s classrooms, particularly in low-income neighborhoods. Just ask a teacher. It’s no coincidence that the most enthusiastic proponents of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, etc., tend to be those who know the least about how kids learn. And now they’re telling us that a single group of people should shape the goals and curriculum of every public school in the country.

What they don’t understand is that uniformity isn’t the same thing as excellence; high standards don’t require common standards. And neither does uniformity promote equity. One-size-fits-all instructional demands actually offer the illusion of fairness, setting back the cause of genuine equity."

[It's not long. Read the rest.]
alfiekohn  education  learning  national  standards  us  rttt  nclb  policy  schools  politics  competitiveness  equity  testing  accountability  standardization  standardizedtesting  tcsnmy  uniformity  commoncore  onesizefitsall  fairness 
july 2010 by robertogreco
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