“The development of the Common Core State Standards is a success story of meaningful, state-led change to help all students succeed.
Statement appearing on the site www.corestandards.org
For more than 20 years now, we have been told that a major component of the “standards movement” was the creation and use of large-scale assessments required by federal funding programs. These were sold as a critical source of information about how much our kids are learning. While the reliability, validity and usefulness of the large scale assessments required by No Child Left Behind and its successor, Race To the Top, have been refuted almost unanimously by assessment specialists without challenge, the research has been clear. These annual tests are far more reliable predictors of family wealth than as tools for helping teachers better respond to student needs.
Educators have known this and have frequently tried to alert us to the misunderstanding and the misuse of these tests. What has happened as a result? These teachers and school leaders have been vilified. They have been described as lazy, casual about the failure of their students, and opponents of accountability. And who are the loudest critics of these educators? No surprise there. It’s the test companies, the publishers of test prep materials, and politicians for whom school bashing is low-hanging fruit and who have rarely set foot inside a school except for a photo op.
This is a multi-billion dollar business folks… a multi-billion dollar business that sees the pandemic as a perfect opportunity to solidify their hold on the educational establishment. And how are they seeking to do this. Simple. Two words. Learning Loss! We need to continue these tests. We need to measure exactly how much our children have lost during the pandemic response to schooling. BTW…It will surprise almost no one that students who take the same science test in September that they took in May, score significantly lower. Summer learning loss?
But what if the tests required by various pieces of federal legislation never really tested learning at all. What if they tested recall of the many isolated and disconnected facts that were championed under the “Success Story” of the core curriculum standards? What if the tests provide almost no insight into the real learning needs of kids… not the recall of information easily found in mere minutes on Google, but the development of a set of contemporary skills which includes creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, entrepreneurship, collaboration, communication, growth mindset, global competence, and a host of skills with different names (Duckworth and Yeager, 2015; Zhao et al. 2019).
And none of this even considers a new dimension of the big lie of learning loss… The reality that our kids have suffered and are suffering through the worst disruption of “normal” most of them have ever experienced. Their social worlds have been turned upside down, the contact with their friends disrupted, their schooling moving between remote, in-person, hybrid experiences… often with almost no notice. But more than that… say that again… more than that, they have heard or watched the impact of COVID on their families and loved ones. They may have lost friends, relatives, perhaps even parents. And our response… Let’s measure learning loss and, oh yeah, let’s use a test that no one believes in.
That can’t be our response. Couldn’t we at least contact our elected representative (both state and federal) and join the many organizations who have asked for the elimination of tests? Thank you. Be well.