As the school year moves along, many districts are forging ahead with revised curriculum or curriculum that is a work in progress. In either case, the goal is to meet the Common Core standards. That being said, I would like to discuss my thoughts on this. There are a few things that are very concerning to me.
Districts have been informed that they are "free" to develop their own curriculum, but in reality, they are not. Curriculum is ultimately driven by the the standardized tests (and the standards of course, which are copyrighted). So, every district could potentially have their own curriculum, whether it be a good or a bad one. But....then every student in the state has to take the same exact test. Tests that are of no real value to educators and students, are developmentally inappropriate, contain vague questions, unnecessary product branding and deprive students of 6 days of quality classroom instruction. Not to mention more lost instructional time during the subsequent grading of the tests. This doesn't seem fair and reasonable at all. This continues to promote teaching to the test, especially in elementary grades when there are not designated time periods for each subject and excess time is spent on Math and ELA. It is happening year over year in districts across the state of New York. In some districts, state standardized test scores are not even being given weight to determine placement. Other proven, valid assessments are preferred and being used. So, I beg the question, why are students even participating in taking these supposed high stakes tests? Who out there can provide valid documentation and studies that show that these assessments are good and that they can help us determine if students are college and career ready? I'm still waiting for the answer.
As you see below, Laura Slover admits that the standards and the tests are intended to drive curriculum. We are NOT really free as a district to choose what we feel is the best for our students. Free to modify but not free to choose.
The federally funded Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a Common Core assessment consortium, issued a press release Friday that confirmed the Common Core standards and their associated tests are intended to drive curriculum.Though developers and proponents of the Common Core initiative have argued that Common Core is merely “standards” and not “curriculum,” the latter of which local school districts can decide themselves, chief executive officer of PARCC Laura Slover said in the release, “High quality assessments go hand-in-hand with high quality instruction based on high quality standards. You cannot have one without the other. The PARCC states see quality assessments as a part of instruction, not a break from instruction.”
The time is now for widespread civil disobedience in the way of standardized test refusals. The message to New York State needs to be sent louder than in previous years. Those who have related concerns about repercussions for their school district need to read the links provided below.
Local control continues to be stripped away from districts, and students and educators are suffering. School districts need to be released from the reigns and be freed from state and federal overreach. The Common Core standards are unproven and unacceptable, the standardized tests are useless and the looming PARCC assessments are worse. Change needs to happen now, because as I've said before, today's school age children do not get a do over.