Last night the Delaware Educational establishment made a major push the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  From a marketing point of view, I’m sure they consider it a success…..

If education was water… it went something like this…

Darrell Q Public……. Wait, you are taking water from the tap, putting it into a bottle, and selling it as a gourmet item?

Delaware Educational Establishment:   Perhaps, but look, isn’t that water so clear?  And look, see how those bubbles when you shake it, reflect the rainbow colors like a prism?  And look, see the beautiful shape of the bottle?  We tapered it to fit your hand.  And look, we used 5 colors of ink in our labels to accent the colors you might see if you shake our water in the sun.  We took regular water, and made it into something special, magical, something that is truly unique.  If you want plain old water, go get that anywhere… this is special for all those reasons above….

Darrell Q. Public (from some of his tweets)….. Oh wow… That is so much better than water.  I becoming a big fan.  I want to take lots and lots of it home.  I want to bath in it. I want it in my swimming pool it is so wonderful….

Yes, It sort of went like that…….

Have you ever seen those pumped up late night infomercials which hype a product so well that you want it, and you call immediately to save $30 dollars off a $730 order?  Because you had to act right then, because they actually had… operators standing buy?

Yes, it sort of went like that……

Have you ever been to a carnival, and the barkers in the game trailers point you out, and draw you over telling you how easily you can win, all you have to do is flip a penny into goldfish bowl with a very small opening, but if you get one, keep trying for the fifth, and you will own the stuffed animal of your dreams?  You spend $50 dollars on a $16 dollar toy?

Yes, it sort of went like that…..

For when you strip the myths from the man, when you remove the magic cloak, when you focus on the total outcome….. here were the four reasons we have to switch to the Smarter Balanced Assessments…..

  • We now don’t test the skills and knowledge required for college and career readiness.
  • We need a test that measures students progress to college and career readiness throughout the k-12 experience. 
  • This moves us away from test primarily assessing by multiple choice questions.
  • The new test requires application better measuring student knowledge skills.

The fifth reason and the only reason we are going forward with this program in reality,…. it this one….

  • We’ve already paid for the test using your money, and so we have to use it.  $8,000,000 we paid last year alone!

So keep thinking about the tap water analogy while we dissect his reasoning one by one…

A.  We now dont test the skills and knowledge required for college and career readiness.

We don’t test for the skills and knowledge required for “college and career readiness”?  SAT’s?  NYEP’s, ACT’s? .  “College and career readiness” is a trademarked slogan representing the mark of 1550 on the SAT.  It is a mark.  In fact, we never have tested all public schools for 1550 on the SAT… If you take the entire population and rate them with an intelligence test, and create a bell curve of every American’s intelligence,    1550 sits right on the 65% line…

65% of the population, both children and adults, they arbitrarily say, are not capable of hitting the benchmark being proposed…  Is that why we are sending our kids to school?  It begs the question…. More graphically expressed,… should every child be forced to go to Harvard?  Or Yale? Or a school of their equivalence?  Those regular inner city children at Harvard and Yale, how will they do?  Is being exposed to something too far advanced for them to understand,… , helpful to them?

This standard was created out of very thin air.  It could have been the 50% level, which would then lower our failure rate to half of America.  it could be at even lower as of around the 33% level, but probably, since we are talking about placing a stigma on all those who fail, we should put passing at just where we think it is needed to sort out a) who can function in our society, and b) who needs extra care.

All this “College and Career Ready” nonsense is doing is moving the bar.  if you were an A student, you will now be a B- one at the stroke of a key.  If you were at a C, you will now be an F+ one…  What you know, what you learn, won’t change, doesn’t have to change.  That stays the same. All that is happening is that you get a lower grade for the same work and will now be called stupider, and those who were A+ students will now have to work a little to make sure they stay at the top of the curve.  For that top slot now becomes narrower. But there will always be an A student; someone has to anchor the top….

It’s the equivalent of saying Sallie may think they’re a good football team, but they couldn’t hold their own against the Eagles, so we will rate High School Football by how well they can perform in the NFL today…  Which means we will need a new test,

So what the Delaware Educational Establishment is saying in plank one, is we chose to set the bar higher (so we could fire teachers we said weren’t meeting it) and now we need a test that is harder, (so it makes the students look dumber, and we can then fire those teachers who are not creating top notch students)…..  Got it?

B.  We need a test that measures students progress to college and career readiness throughout the k-12 experience. 

Do we?  Really?  The DSTP didn’t?  Of course they did.  The DCAS didn’t?  Of course they did!  The old tests created by the teachers when we were children, didn’t prepare us for college and career?  Of course they did!……..  What is being said here, is that since we can’t just fire 11th grade teachers, who are the last ones on the testing ladder.  We need harder tests all down the line to kindergarten, so if any teacher is not making her children look good on them, we can fire her and hire someone who can make children look good on them….   So children who are A students, but listed as C+ now in kindergarten, will have to order remedial tutoring to learn the secrets of the new test and climb back upon the pedistle of being an A student again.  I hope her parents are rich….  So, do we really need new tests from kindergarten up that essentially test the same thing we have been ( what 2+2 isn’t 4 now?)  In reality.  No.

C.  This moves us away from test primarily assessing by multiple choice questions.

This is the one good thing. There is a downside.  Not so much in mathematics where a number answer is right and no interpretation is needed.  However interpretation is what ELA is all about.  The grader of a child’s ELA written test grades 1000’s of tests in each single workday.  He has 5 seconds to rate your child a 3 or 4… It is done by skimming, and if the rubric is not followed, the score is lowered.  If you were to grade this essay I am now writing… What would you give it?  Why?  See, that is a problem we have to cross.   And as we have seen, due to the scale of hiring so many people to grade all these tests, it won’t be done. Cut labor cost, give more multiple choice questions….

D.  The new test requires application better measuring student knowledge skills. What this means is can a student fill out a real life dilemma?  So it tests them on that.  What we have found, is that the problemsit gives are rather simple math, and the explanations of what to find in the question, are tortuous and difficult.  Imagine doing a math problem with all the instructions given in Chinese?  It is like that.  As an adult, it is hard to understand what the question is asking……  But the math is rather poor.  In fact, currently the math curriculum is eliminating Algebra II.  Almost every graduate currently takes algebra II.  Under Common Core, their math level will stop at the level of  Algebra I….

Which brings up this conundrum.  Why if our standards are not high enough now, are we applying a new curriculum to Math, which sets a lower bar from what we now do?

The reason is simple.

E.  We already paid for it before we knew what it was, We bought magic beans in other words.  All we can do is now climb this beanstalk and see if there is anything up there we can steal to get our money back…

So it is one thing to try and sell tap water for something better… If that is one’s job, one needs to do it well.  But the rest of us need to keep our heads, and as Darrel Q. Public, remain skeptical over this selling of tap water in fancy new bottles… If we are buying it for the bottle, for the label, then say so.. I’ll admit. I’ve bought beer and wine for that very reason.  Just don’t think the H2O is any different…. or that your children will become Einsteins from drinking it…. .

Most of us never call after the infomercial goes off the air.  Just the occasional dumb ones do.

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