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This post is just a light-hearted caveat provided to prove a point often made by parents against reformers who have no children of their own, or if they do, who have sequestered them far away from the very programs they try to pin on public schools.

In a quarterly review with a student, I noticed this one student was now getting A’s on Chemistry. Point was, he F’d it all marking periods the previous year…

“I actually like chemistry” he said. “It makes such sense I don’t know why I didn’t pick up on it last year.”

“Is their a difference in the difficulty level perhaps”I asked.

“Last year was AP Chemistry, and this year it is just regular… ”

“Why do you think you didn’t learn it last year?”,  I asked.

“Well, we covered too much too fast.  It was impossible to ask questions, and at first when I did, I was kinda told I was stupid, so I never did again. ”

“Also there was so much homework, I couldn’t keep up with all my other classes, and we were given an old textbook for reference, since it was AP and there was not book, just sheets of handouts.”

I responded: “Are you saying essentially that AP is too difficult and emphasizes doing busy work, but your class now is easier and so the emphasis is more on learning?”

A look of realization crossed his face… “Why, yes,… that is exactly it.”….


Ladies and Gentlemen:  Rigor is bad, and has no business being in any classroom in America, unless those classrooms are in our most prodigious universities which at that point, are undergoing the process of selection for future pre-Med.

A new study published by Stanford University’s Center for Education Policy Analysis shows that doubling up on math courses in one year, has negative impact… Rigor causes people to forget what they would have retained otherwise…

In other words when it comes to learning. Rigor actually MAKES us stupid….

The test was ingenious… Two groups of students in the same school; all with math scores within 5 points apart… Half were above the arbitrarial line of cut off; half were below… Those below were required to take a remedial class along with the next level of math. Those above, just took the one math class their grade required…

The difference between the two could be classified as rigor… Those below got a hearty dose of RIGOR… Those above didn’t, and yet except for an arbitrarily drawn line in the sand, all were of equal intelligence…

Here is what he found…..

At the end of the year, students with double math scored substantially higher than their peers who took just one math class. However, a year after returning to the traditional schedule with one math class, those gains were about half as large. Two years into a regular schedule, that difference was down to about one-third of the original gain. 

And when those students reached high school, the gains all but diminished completely. 

But during that wasted time, they could have learned something in another discipline and changed their life forever….


This is common sense and is the natural way of the world.  How many of you played high school sports?… How many of you who did, are in great shape now?  How many of you did not play high school sports… How many of you are in great shape now?

We are all a mess….  RIGOR has no shape on our future… Immediate gains, perhaps.  Longterm… zero.

The only good that RIGOR gains:…. are higher arbitrarily set scores on arbitrarily created  tests that arbitrarily cover what was taught across the school year…  In other words, the roll of the dice.  One can win at Yatzee if one knows where the secret weight was placed changing all the odds of how a dice may roll.  But that is specialized knowledge only good for that one game and one set of dice…

To expend RIGOR on how dice will roll, is insane… RIGOR itself is insane…. Just imagine studying history instead?…  To lose all history classes in order to take another math class just to make the Governor and Rodel look good to their peers?

Madness…  RIGOR doesn’t work….  Look at your own lives.. Are you more productive when your boss is huffing and puffing, standing over you? Or when he is somewhere else?  If you are more productive in his presence, you SHOULD  be fired… because that would mean you weren’t doing work when he was somewhere else… No one is more productive under pressure.

RIGOR  is a punishment, It comes from prisons, slave ships, and impressed militaries.  It does not work for learning..




Test a child for 3 days and over 500 minutes with text levels clearly defined at or above “frustration” level. Yet, that is exactly what the Common Core tests are all about!  Rigor?


The most valuable assessments in schools today is the running record. Running records measure both fluency and comprehension for each student. From this data, teachers can determine the appropriate level to instruct a child in reading. Teachers can also determine the child’s “frustration” level. “Frustration” is determined when a child’s accuracy falls below 90% or there is a complete lack of comprehension. Testing young children to the point of “frustration” may sound inhumane, but it is for a very brief moment in time and the assessment is done in a 1:1 setting. The teacher can end the assessment at any point.

Teachers are well aware of the reading levels for each child in their classroom. They are also aware of each child’s “frustration” level. While it is good practice to instruct students at or above their reading levels, it makes no sense at all to test a child for 3…

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