Sunday, January 11, 2015

Preparing Students for the Wrong Test

Education reformers have claimed that the PARCC test would allow Louisiana to compare its students' performance to all other states and would insure that our students would be prepared to compete effectively for jobs with students everywhere.

Now with only 12 states out of 50 planning to require the PARCC test, and with our LDOE designing its own PARCC "imitation test", it looks like we will be compared to no one!

Louisiana has been spending more and more of our scarce tax dollars on purchasing and administering state tests. Our local school systems have been forced to purchase more testing technology and more test prep materials for a test that compares us to no one. Yet there is a test being given that compares Louisiana to all other states and it is free! The test is called the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) and has been given to representative samples of students from all states since the 1970s.

The NAEP test results for each state are used by the editors of Education Week Magazine to produce the annual Quality Counts report. The most recent Quality Counts report issued last week ranks Louisiana 50th out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia in academic achievement. So after all this effort to adopt and teach Common Core and to convert our testing to the PARCC test, Louisiana still ranks second to last in student achievement on the test that really counts for the rankings. It looks like we were sold a bill of goods in adopting CCSS and PARCC. We should be preparing our students for NAEP not PARCC.. . . . No not really. We should not be spending valuable school time preparing our students for any standardized test! Louisiana should simply adopt a curriculum that provides a sound education in basic skills as well as addressing the varied career needs and interests of our students, and teach that curriculum. Teachers and students should not be slaves to standardized testing.

It is Foolish and Counter Productive to be Spending all this Effort and Money in Preparing Students for Standardized Tests

In my third post of this blog on January 29th 2010, I suggested that our education system was preparing our students for The Wrong Future. For several years at that time our education leaders had pushed more and more of our students into pursuing the Core 4 college prep curriculum for high school graduation.

In that January 2010 post I pointed out that some of the best jobs in Louisiana, require a technical education, not a college prep education. The college prep push has resulted in the near elimination of our career and technical education courses in high schools and the layoff of most experienced voc-tech teachers. It turns out that the Core 4 college prep curriculum has prepared the majority of our students for absolutely nothing. Pressuring all students to take Core 4 ended up watering down the curriculum for the true college prep students and did not result in more students attending college.

Now after 10 years of emphasis on college prep for every student, our State Superintendent has finally started to promote his Jump Start program which is designed to prepare some students for good career alternatives to the 4 year bachelor's degree.  However his system of school grading and the adoption of Common Core still rewards mostly college prep efforts.

It is clear from their own statements that the designers of the Common Core State Standards totally ignored career and technical education in designing the CCSS. It is strictly a college prep program, and it is a poor one at that. CCSS is a huge mistake for early childhood education. It is a huge mistake for the teaching of basic math, which is what is needed by the great majority of students, and it is a huge mistake for the teaching of reading and language arts. By focusing on close reading, non-contextual analysis, and academic themes, the CCSS ignores the needs of most of the students in Louisiana. 

With the adoption of the CCSS, our curriculum has become the test! Nothing else matters to John White and his staff. They are moving now to focus all Student Learning Targets and the evaluation of every principal on preparing kids for the PARCC test (or the Louisiana imitation PARCC test). This new standardized test-based curriculum is continuing to prepare most Louisiana students for the wrong future. Our amateur "education leaders" have learned nothing about education in the last five years.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It clear that all this is about money. No one really cares about students, but additional way to make extra money attracts a lot of people. While I do care whether students use writing services, they only care how to make their wallets fatter. It is all wrong. This way American traditional education system will keep on failing. No good results can be achieved when people use such methods. It is nice of you to cover this.