Monday, October 29, 2012

Susan Ohanian: Snookered by Gates on Common Core

They are all drinking the Kool-Aid being passed around by Bill Gates.... I read the released items in English Language Arts/Literacy, and I wanted to vomit... we’ve all been snookered by the U. S. Department of Education, working in cahoots with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but the release of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium sample assessment items makes the flimflam obvious ....

Twenty-three states belong to the other testing consortium–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which received $186 million of your tax dollars from the U. S. Department of Education as part of the Race to the Top scheme. -------Susan Ohanian
Susan sent this message along, along with a few cartoons:
It would be good if you'd go read it and recommend it to Twitter and Facebook. These recommendations act as counters--and let the world know something is important. If we could ever get a huge count, someone might listen. As it is, education items remain in the pathetic category, with the same few people taking note.
So go forth and read it at the Daily Censored or below and like it on FB and retweet.
Attention people who care about children in Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming.

You’ve been snookered.

The truth of the matter is that we’ve all been snookered by the U. S. Department of Education, working in cahoots with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, but the release of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium sample assessment items makes the flimflam obvious to people in the above states. Their leaders gave promissory notes to the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

U. S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan says the new assessments will be “an absolute game changer in public education.” Translation: They’ll rob you blind, ruin your curriculum, and turn your children into test-taking drudges.

On Oct. 24, 2012, the Vermont State Department of Education issued an enthusiastic  press release trumpeting these sample test items. Acting as an echo chamber for the U. S. Department of Education, Vermont Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca says, “These sample items will provide Vermont teachers with an early look into the rigor and complexity students will see on the Smarter Balanced assessments.”

It’s sad to see an ed commissioner who actually has a lot of experience working in schools act as a megaphone to power, but certainly it’s no surprise that the U. S. Secretary of Education, a man with no teacher experience,  employs exclamation points to voice his enthusiasm for the new tests. After all, Arne Duncan is the one who handed out $361 million taxpayer dollars to the testing consortia: Smarter Balanced and PARCC.

There are two to avoid accusations of politicos forcing a National Test on public education. By the way, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who financed the development of the Common Core as a delivery system for these tests and many millions to outfits ranging from the PTA to ASCD to promote it, kicked in another $743,331 “to support capacity building” at Smarter Balanced.

State Departments of Education across the country echo Vermont in  urging teachers to use these Smarter Balanced test items “to begin planning the shifts in instruction that will be required to help students meet the demands of the new assessments.” Bring on ugly, brain-numbing skill drill worksheets on apostrophe use.

Linda Darling Hammond, professor of education at Stanford University (which is well rewarded by the Gates Foundation) as well as senior research advisor for Smarter Balanced, said this: Performance tasks ask students to research and analyze information, weigh evidence, and solve problems relevant to the real world, allowing students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in an authentic way. The Smarter Balanced assessment system uses performance tasks to measure skills valued by higher education and the workplace–critical thinking, problem solving, and communication–that are not adequately assessed by most statewide assessments today.

Indeed. I read the released items in English Language Arts/Literacy, and I wanted to vomit.

Smarter Balanced showed their capacity for coming up with new, innovative assessments by hiring CTB/McGraw-Hill to deliver 10,000 test items–bland passages with no authors and no voice–and lots of items requiring copy-editing skills. Now I  know why these Smarter Balanced released items look so familiar: CTB/McGraw-Hill has been selling this stuff since 1926.

I wrote the Smarter Balanced Help Desk, asking why they offered students so many items with no authors and no voice. They replied, “Authors write the items. For passages, internal authors write some of them and others require external permissions.” They invited me to ask any other questions I might have.

The “authors” are work-for-hire freelancers who aren’t allowed to exhibit personality. These Smarter Balanced items don’t qualify as fiction or non-fiction; they are simply test tommyrot. Putting such artificial passages on tests sends a terrible message to teachers, provoking the use of tons of workbook paragraphs–to get kids ready for an ugly test.

In addition to the antiquated copy-editing chores, Smarter Balanced ignores research on how children acquire new vocabulary and asks testees to use context clues to figure out the meaning of words. I summarized the research refuting this notion in a book chapter: Context Clues: Cure-All or Claptrap? Research shows that when students read for pleasure they experience multiple encounters with new words–and it’s those multiple encounters that result in significant vocabulary growth.

Twenty-five states have signed on to this boondoggle.
The examples of  “innovative, technology-enhanced items that take advantage of computer-based administration to assess a deeper understanding of content and skills” provided by Smarter Balanced are hilarious. Here’s one: Highlight the part of the text. . . . Highlighting as innovative technology? Should taxpayers in the Hendrick Hudson School District pay $1.5 million to upgrade their computers so students can highlight text on a test?

In math, the testee sees a silhouetted swimmer’s animated legs before getting to a question that requires rounding swimming times to the nearest 10th, something kids who know anything about racing know would never happen in the real world. In another problem, the testee is instructed to make use of technological innovation to drag a juice bottle into a grocery bag. The Main State Education Department calls this “innovative, technology-enhanced items that take advantage of computer-based administration to assess a deeper understanding of content and skills than would otherwise by possible with traditional item types.”

They are all drinking the Kool-Aid being passed around by Bill Gates.
Twenty-three states belong to the other testing consortium–Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), which received $186 million of your tax dollars from the U. S. Department of Education as part of the Race to the Top scheme. A few states belong to both consortia and five states–Nebraska, Minnesota, Texas, Utah, and Virginia–belong to neither.

I hope people understand that this is much much more than just a quarrel over curriculum preference, but  I’ll get to the penultimate concern of the taxpayer: What does all this cost? After the initial infusion of cash from the U. S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top grants, the claim is that most states can expect to spend less on Smarter Balanced assessments than they do on current assessments. But even taking this claim with a truckload of salt doesn’t make it believable. According to an Oct. 28, 2012 article in www.loud.com, the Hendrick Hudson School District estimates that it will cost “$1.5 million to upgrade its computers and infrastructure to comply with the Common Core mandates.” This is for the three elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school attended by the 2,845 students in the Hendrick Hudson School district.

That’s just computer compliance–to get started.  Gene Wilhoit, Executive Director, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, makes it clear that states that have signed on for the tests have agreed to pay annual administrative fees associated with the tests. Vermont school administrators were told recently to budget $300 per pupil for each year hereafter to buy the computer platforms to deliver the tests and other technology. That’s just the technology. Nothing said about administrative costs, test prep costs, test tutoring costs, and so on and so on.

There are 50 million schoolkids out there in K-12. You don’t need any innovative, technology-enhanced, computer-based highlighting to do the math. What you need is the grit and stamina to say “No!”
Below the break are the last 2 Ohanian reports which are loaded with common core stuff. Click her links and get some of her great commentary. And Never Forget: Our national and local union leaders support Common Core which shows you exactly where they are at --- can you spell V-I-C-H-Y?




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Lesson Plan Examples For Common Core State Standards
Susan Ohanian

2012-10-22
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=359

Here's more CCSS offal for those with strong stomach.

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Controversial standards place more emphasis on students' critical thinking skills
Lori Higgins
Detroit Free Press
2012-10-15
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=358

This isn't Republicans vs Democrats. The corporate imperative has  hijacked the narrative--and the substance of public education. It's about herding teachers and students into obedience.

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Bestselling Author Nicholas Sparks Creates "Novel Learning Series"™ To Help Teens Prepare for College
Susan Ohanian

2012-10-10
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=357

Nicholas Sparks joins the Common Core alignment wannabes in just about the goofiest thing I've seen in a month of Sundays.

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Educational Technology in Schools
Diane Cordell, et al
AASL White Paper
2012-10-08
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=356

I post the conclusion of this paper just so you know it exists, one more way to claim allegiance with the Common Core.

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Follow Obama’s/Duncan’s North Star to Educational Disaster via Common Core
Gretchen Logue

2012-10-07
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=355

A conservative look at Arne Duncan's words.

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KKR Leverage Buyout Thugs of 'Barbarians at Gates'  Infamy Team up with Kaplan Entrepreneurs to Capitalize on Common Core Goldmine
Press Release
Weld North
2012-09-24
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=354

Kaplan crew sees Common Core as $3.6 Billion gold mine

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KKR Leverage Buyout Thugs of 'Barbarians at Gates'  Infamy Team up with Kaplan Entrepreneurs to Capitalize on Common Core Profit Goldmine
Press Release
Weld North
2012-09-24
http://susanohanian.org/core.php?id=353

Kaplan crew sees Common Core as $3.6 Billion gold mine

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Against Obedience
Susan Ohanian

2012-10-22
http://susanohanian.org/show_commentary.php?id=1055

This article was originally delivered as the Second Annual Adam Renner Education for Social Justice Lecture at the Rouge Forum's Occupy Education! Class Conscious Pedagogies and Social Change Conference held at Miami University in Oxford, OH.

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To the editor
Susan Ohanian
New York Times
2012-10-11
http://susanohanian.org/show_letter.php?id=1477

Rage over drugging students into submission.

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Dallas ISD principals given buzzwords and phrases for when parents ask about the district
 Matthew Haag
Dallas Morning News
2012-10-10
http://susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=1461

 Communications chief has distributed flyers to principals and assistant principals on how to best communicate with parents and community members--with power words.

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Is Education Reform Like Crack for Columnists?
EduShyster
New York Times
2012-09-18
http://susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=1460

 This analysis of the New York Times coverage of the Chicago strike is especially important because this is the disreputable way their columnists cover all education issues. We are all Chicago.

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Older, Wiser and Not Giving Into Fear
Michael Winerip
New York Times
2012-10-01
http://susanohanian.org/outrage_fetch.php?id=1459

Further proof that Pearson Rules. . . .but it's in context of someone who spoke out against this.

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 Parents, do you know where your child's data is? My interesting but not reassuring afternoon with the Gates Foundation's Shared Learning Collaborative
Leonie Haimson
NYC Public School Parents blogspot
2012-10-21
http://susanohanian.org/show_research.php?id=498

Take a look at what the Gates Foundation has in mind for data collection. This is important. If teachers had unions looking out for their best interests, they'd be fighting this--instead of pushing the Common Core.

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 School board debates issues surrounding DIBELS test
Jessica Lane
 The Express-Star Oklahoma
2012-10-10
http://susanohanian.org/show_nclb_atrocities.php?id=4262

Note to Chickasha school board: Primary graders would do much better with Chicka Chicka Boom Boom than DIBELS.

2 comments:

  1. Link: Darling-Hammond, Linda | Stanford University School of Education

    Perhaps this is why she has been so quiet about Duncan. She has been complicent in some of the policies he also spouts. How unfortunate.

    ReplyDelete
  2. DON'T FORGET ABOUT KENTUCKY! WE WERE THE FIRST TO DRINK IT ALL UP. NOW LOOK AT WHERE WE ARE 3 YEARS LATER- EVEN LOWER TEST SCORES ACROSS THE BOARD.

    ReplyDelete

Comments are welcome. Irrelevant and abusive comments will be deleted, as will all commercial links. Currently, comment moderation is on, so if your comment doesn't appear it is because I haven't gotten to it yet. (Don't know how to do that from my cell phone.)