Unlike me, my child doesn’t live in that shining land of the common core. She goes to school in the real world, where the most random reality can bump up against brilliant ideals and knock them clean off their pedestals.

As her mother was penning patient exhortations on the virtue of high standards, here’s a tally of what my daughter was dealing with last month as she, her classmates, and her teachers were field-testing the Smarter Balanced assessments in their California elementary school computer lab.…..

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“You can’t believe the affidavit I had to sign for the tests,” Mr. M. tells me curbside one morning. “It was like they were threatening to put me in jail.” The tests, he added, were going to “completely disrupt instruction” for the next three weeks. “I wish parents would just say, no, I’m not allowing you to do this to my child.”

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Nineteen Apple computers, circa 2008, that shut down midtest or failed to work the way they were supposed to. “Some kids got halfway through writing an essay, and they lost it all,” my daughter explained. “My audio didn’t work so I had to start over on another computer. Other kids never got their video to work.” Some students couldn’t log on because “the button wouldn’t click.” Some computers never managed to get online at all.

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Thirty-one classmates who show varying levels of commitment to their duty as Smarter Balanced field-testers. “Everybody was asking the teacher, does this count on our grades?” my daughter told me, her voice quavering.  “When the teacher said no, everybody just started filling in all the answers randomly so they could get done as fast as possible. One boy who was supposed to write three paragraphs had written one, then he just added two paragraphs with just letters.

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“Everybody was talking about it afterward. No one took it seriously.” And that is when the tears began to flow. “Except me. But everything took three times as long. And the questions just kept getting harder, and some of them didn’t make any sense, and everyone else was gone, and now I’m way behind everyone else because they just filled in random answers.”

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The tests are not the standards, but for many kids and parents and teachers around the nation, they are the clearest example of the common core in practice. ITTS.  It’s the test, stupid.

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One Smarter Balanced question asked students to finish an essay that began with a boy waking up and going down the hall to talk to his mother. Then, in the next paragraph, he’s suddenly jumping out of bed.

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A PARCC reading-comprehension question asked students to pick a synonym for “constantly” out of five possible sentence options. I reread the sentences 10 times before I realized that no words or phrases in those sentences really meant “constantly,”  but that the test-writer had confused “constantly” with “repeatedly.”

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If they are making mistakes like this in public, what are they doing in the privacy of our children’s real test?

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We need to slow the Smart Balanced Assessment for another two years to allow additional testing before rolling a damaging product out to our children.   Delaware needs a bill keeping the DCAS inA simple bill striking out the 2014 cut-off date and changing it to 2017 should be sufficient.

 

 

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