The Testing Charade: Pretending to Make Schools Better by Daniel Koretz

10. Will the Common Core Fix This?

  • In short, no. The basic failed model of educational improvement has remained unchanged. It sets arbitrary performance targets on tests and applies them uniformly without regard to circumstances. The Common Core hasn’t changed this and it won’t. The proponents are mainly on the left with the Obama administration pushing it and the Trump administration opposing it, but the support and opposition are both bipartisan. The biggest and most valid criticism is that it wasn’t field tested. This would be like the FDA approving a drug without clinical testing. The reformers make the arrogant assumption that they know so much they don’t have to bother evaluating their ideas prior to implementation. The Common Core also promotes one-size-fits-all teaching as if all student were headed to occupations with the same needs.

11. Did Kids Learn More?

  • Daniel uses the NEAP data to see how students have done over the years. There is a lot of detail here, but the summary is that reading hasn’t improved much, and math shows substantial improvement in elementary school, less improvement in middle school, and no substantial improvement in 12th grade. Achievement gaps between various demographic groups have shown little change. These results are in spite of the fact that teachers shifted a great deal of instruction time to the tested subjects.
  • What we have is little or no improvement in learning with lots of harmful side effects. They include corrupted instruction, severe stress for teachers and students, and educators having their careers negatively impacted or ended. Daniel easily comes to the conclusion that the reforms have clearly been a failure due to massive side effects and so little benefit.

12. Nine Principles for Doing Better

  • To do better we must: 1. Pay attention to other important stuff. 2. Monitor more student achievement. 3. Set reasonable standards. 4. Stop just kicking the dog harder. (I think this means stop focussing on punishing teachers.) 5. Don’t expect schools to do it all. 6. Pay attention to content. 7. Accept the need for human judgment. 8. Create counterbalancing incentives. 9. Monitor, Evaluate, and Revise.
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