Enclosed are random postings from parents who have taken the Common Core tests… Remember, it is you, parents, who must decide whether Common Core is good or bad… This is nothing short of a war between parents and Corporate greed. Your children are the prize. Who gets to “own” them.

Exhibit A: My grandson, 5th grade, had a homework assignment: draw the definition of the math terms “digit” and “value”.

(loved the reply) “And if he drew a middle finger sticking up and said it had a value of negative one, would he get credit?

Exhibit B: I checked the questions for 8th grade and even the ones which didn’t look like they were written by a drunk moron picking symbols upside-down out of a math book looked like they were designed to ‘trick’ students instead of test the concepts they should understand.

Exhibit C: Went over the fifth grade test, and it got me wondering…is the central purpose of the common core to make fairly problems as abstruse as possible? None of the math was really that difficult, but the questions seemed deliberately worded to be confusing. That quote from the “standard” reinforces that feeling.

Exhibit D: if they had the numerators above the denominators instead of all printed on the same line. But once I sorted that out, the actual math isn’t difficult. It’s the wording of the question that makes it so confusing. All it really seems to be asking is to explain the simple concept of multiplying the numerators by the numerators and denominators by the denominators, but someone decided for some sadistic reason, “Hey, let’s try to word this simple concept as confusingly as possible.”

Exhibit E: I edit economics papers with a lot of complex mathematical equations that are often way over my head, but if the authors worded the accompanying text as confusingly as this, I would have asked for a rewrite to clarify what they were trying to get across.

Exhibit F: Just understanding Algebra as it relates to the concepts one should teach, does not translate into good teaching. Great teachers need to understand children, understand how their minds work, understand development of students, in other words, understand the WHOLE student as a human being; can understand and execute class management in a stern but loving way.

Exhibit G: it’s not so difficult if you write it out the way it should be set up. I can’t do math horizontally like that when it should be this over that in common language. I agree- talk about abstruse.

Exhibit H: This question makes no sense to me at all. A fifth grader would skip over it because they could not understand it.

Exhibit I: I looked at the 11th grade test… Who thought up these tests ? What a bunch of devious krap. . Set up for failure is right . I wouldn’t have passed it if I took it after 2 years college.

Exhibit J: I found some of the questions confusing. Might be that I ‘m not up on the terminology. But there were a few that seemed designed to overwhelm you with detail. The wildly gyrating graph, in particular, made me throw up my hands and say, “Forget this!”. It probably wasn’t that difficult, but neither was it that interesting to me. I just think that every legislator or school board member imposing these tests should have to take them. And be ejected from their office if they fail.

(And the reply in rebuttal points out the problem with these tests). The key to the ‘gyrating’ graph is to look where the function crosses 0. If it crosses at -2, then (x+2) is a factor. Then, to solve the solution, you have to make sure that everything multiplies up to -42 at x=0, which means that you needed to repeat one of the factors, (x-2) if I remember correctly. These were tough questions, but only insofar as they tested a deeper understanding of the math rather than just asking: x*3 + 6 = 9, solve for x.. (how many of you got the answer to his easy example?)

(Another reply) My problem with the test is that it only rewards the final result, without really rewarding understanding. What I mean is this: That “gyrating” function question is worth 1 point. Either you get ALL of the terms, and get the point, or you get nothing if you miss anything. What I would do is double or even triple the point value of each question, and allow students to EXPLAIN their work for partial credit (somewhere between 1/3 and 2/3).

Exhibit L: Just because you can’t explain the question, doesn’t mean they can’t answer the question. The answer isn’t the difficult part, it’s the ones asking the questions that are being difficult.

Exhibit M: yeah-there are definitely folks involved in the privatization movement who delight in the, “Failure,” of children, and I can’t imagine a sane person thinking kids should be able to pass this test. Did you look at 3rd grade math?? It’s full of geometry and fractions. When did we decide an 8 year old was supposed to know how to do geometry? Mine can’t tie his shoe yet.

Exhibit N: I work with 7th-9th graders who have specific learning disabilities, and I can’t begin to tell you how all of this breaks my heart. At some point down the road I suppose I’ll be declared a failure based on their test scores. That’s o.k…. I can do over things-but what of their beautiful souls? How long can you be told over and over what a failure you are before you begin to believe it is so. Heartbreaking

Exhibit O: Did you see the 11th grade math test? It is much harder than the SAT math. You can expect across the board failure for all the urban schools. Also- we are left again with the monomaniacal focus on math and english. Why is there no science test? No biology? No computer science? no history? no civics?

Exhibit P: Well, I think the 8th Grade English will be well beyond most 8th graders. I don’t think the questions were overly complex or sneaky, though the elephant science story was not what I would call well written either. It was stiff. I don’t have the patience anymore to puzzle through badly written math questions. I notice they seem to presuppose knowing “some jargon” which we did not use when I was that age.

(And the reply) You’re right that the elephant selection was stiff and then the questions about it were strangely set up. There was so much going on in that story and for so many questions there was going to be only one correct answer supposedly, even as several of the potential answers matched stuff that was going on in the selection.

Exhibit Q: The Smarter Balance ELA questions will ask students to synthesize from multiple sources. Okay, I guess I can see that. I teach that. However, some of the released problems use video clips. Imagine, two 11th grade classes of 27 kids each on computers (old ones) accessing video at roughly the same time in high schools all over the state. Now imagine grades 3 through 11 doing this within the testing window. Forget any other subjects getting to use the schools computers. Our districts are struggling as it is. How are they ever going to be able to afford to obtain and maintain the necessary infrastructure? We can’t get the old tests we have now to work consistently.

Exhibit R: My 13 year old takes somewhere between 2 and 3 standardized tests per year. Each test is stretched over the course of a week — the whole week isn’t devoted to actual testing, but the time between tests isn’t devoted to regular classes or teaching. So the week is a washout for any regular part of school. If they finish the test early, they are not allowed to:
read, draw, sleep or anything else — they just have to sit there. The schools spend time preparing them for the test. I figure between 4 and 6 weeks of the school year is for testing. And that doesn’t include the fact that the curriculum is built around the tests. What a total waste of time.

Exhibit S: my kid used to come home in tears over this stuff.. and I didn’t understand because I couldn’t fathom how much things have changed since my school days. I thought she was exaggerating because she didn’t like school anyway. I’m sorry now for having put her through it.

(Reply to that): My slap happy kid comes home to XBox after flagrantly and nonchalantly filling out the bubbles at random.

(reply to reply): Also gets teachers fired. Doesn’t render it useless for the folks who think the problem with education is that we aren’t firing enough teachers.

(Reply to above reply) gets teachers fired- is a good point that I didn’t think of, but I certainly won’t blame the children for misbehavior in a setting like that. I blame the adults for creating the set up.

Exhibit T: I have a Ph. D. in math and am trying tutoring my grandson in 7 th grade math… The text book is based on the OH test and each chapter has a section of the OH test at its end..but, I couldn’t understand how anyone could learn from the book; first, the teacher didn’t hand out the text book, instead she handed assorted out printed pages. What was completely missing were the fundamentals including the vocabulary so that he could use language along with his his computation skills. In ohter things he is very bright but he went down the drain with linear equations, slope intercept form, etc., etc. What in the world would an average student do with this crap???

Exhibit U: I have… issues with math. For comparison: On my GED I scored 99th percentile in science. 56th in math. I would have failed every single question on that 11th grade test. All of them. I spent years being tutored, of my own free will. I wanted to get better. I would get none of those questions on that test right. Not a single one.

Exhibit V: Not every 11th grader takes algebra, let alone algebra at this level. How the hell are they supposed to pass this thing? And on top of that, the vast majority of people will never, ever, in a million years, use any of this. Basic math, basic geometry, basic trig even, you might use those. But this? No way.

Exhibit W: At one point when we went to a parent-teacher conference (this was an annual event throughout the elementary school years), we asked a teacher to explain what the scores on a particular state-created standardized test meant — what was actually being tested. The teacher couldn’t explain it — and he’s quite a good teacher. The problem was with the tests which were beyond foolish, created by people whose opinion of themselves greatly exceeded their expertise in writing a test.

Exhibit X: Reminds me of various ETS tests. You have a conference call to check in if you are wrong about an answer, and 95% of us — most who are at the Grad level or above — can’t figure out why the questions are, to be blunt, so stupid. I am highly adverse to tests of this nature for English for this reason. I can appreciate a factual test or a holistically scored analytical writing exam. I can understand interpretive questions graded on the coherence and thought put into the response rather than the answer being correct or not. But I don’t believe that these tests are much more than money-makers, by and large. Universities shouldn’t use them, to be blunt. Or if they do, they should be created in-house and not outsourced so that at least there is a shared collective type of knowledge that is understood and being solicited…

Exhibit Y: Public education is the foundation of democracy. We’re on the decline, people, and the primary problem is not a “failure” of public education. (Public education is doing quite well in upper middle class and affluent communities.) The problem is a failure of policy to support the common good..

Exhibit Z: Follow the money…if students earn good scores on common core exams, how will corporations sell all those very expensive educational programs designed to “improve” student test scores on common core exams to school districts across the nation? If teacher-effectiveness is not brought into question, who will buy all those inane programs that claim to measure and improve teacher-effectiveness? My state, which drastically cut state educational funds, just spent almost $50 million for a corporation-developed computerized teacher-effectiveness program. Who knows how much each school district has spent on implementation.

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That’s enough for this week.

I figured I have enough comments for half a year. Should this become a regular Friday feature?