Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Common Core Backlash

Here’s the NYT article about the whining and crying, with a great quote from David Coleman, the new president of the College Board:

Students at the Hostos-Lincoln Academy in the Bronx blamed the English exams for making them anxious and sick. Teachers at Public School 152 in Manhattan said they had never seen so many blank stares. Parents at the Earth School in the East Village were so displeased that they organized a boycott.

As New York this week became one of the first states to unveil a set of exams grounded in new curricular standards, education leaders are finding that rallying the public behind tougher tests may be more difficult than they expected.

Complaints were plentiful: the tests were too long; students were demoralized to the point of tears; teachers were not adequately prepared. Some parents, long skeptical of the emphasis on standardized testing, forbade their children from participating.

…Adopted by 45 states, Common Core aims to foster independent thinking, with an emphasis on relating material to real-world issues. Common Core tests made their debut in Kentucky last year, and scores fell significantly.

New York officials are expecting a similar decline. But officials say leaving the old standards intact would be worse, forcing thousands of students into costly remediation programs in college.
David Coleman, president of the College Board and an architect of the Common Core standards, said he did not understand skepticism about the tests.

“When the alternative is shallower passages and shallower questions, what are we debating here?” he said.

A similar WSJ article with a good quote from Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who is standing strong, correctly calling this a “healthy problem”. Indeed!

Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch, who helps set education policy for the state, said she visited several schools this week, and students told her they found the passages interesting and engaging. She said she "only saw one kid crying."
Ms. Tisch said the boy was a "sweet" fourth-grader, and she and his classmates tried to console him. She told the student that many other students were also having trouble completing the exam.

"We have to address that issue about finishing," she said.

But she called it a "healthy problem." It would be worse, she said, if tests were described as unfair or poorly done. Last year, for example, the state had to toss out questions related to a passage that was widely ridiculed for being confusing. "I would be so bold as to say they were better than most people expected them to be," she said.

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