Monday, December 7, 2015

Some Educators Claim Standard's Review Rigged to Rebrand Common Core

This post on the blog Block the Agenda blog contains a letter of resignation by Brenda DeFelice. She is the third member of the Standards Review Committee to resign recently in protest of the management of this committee which was created by an act of the Legislature last legislative session. The Standards Review Committee was set up to revise the controversal Common Core standards. There was also a piece of legislation that greatly modified and limited the PARCC-like testing that is to be done in math and English Language arts to no more than 49.9% of the weight of each such test. The teacher who most recently resigned is from Calcasieu and particularly objected to the heavy handed tactics of the Louisiana Department of Education in providing so called experts to "guide" the work of the Review Committee.

I am not an expert in curriculum standards for math and ELA, but I sure have received numerous emails and complaints from parents and educators who object to the developmental inappropriateness of both the math and ELA standards and the convoluted and nonproductive instruction methods required by these standards.  I learned my reading the old fashoned way without being forced to read boring instructional manuels and without being straightjacketed into "close reading", so I don't get the value of some of these top-down mandates to reading teachers. My wife who was a 4th grade teacher got a lot of kids hooked on the love of reading by reading Charlott's Web to her classes in sort of a serial schedule that teachers have no time to do in today's classrooms.

But I do know a little about tests and measurments, and I can tell you that there was a lot of screwy and highly questionable stuff that happened with our math and ELA testing last Spring.

I wonder how many of the parents of our students know that the average passing score on the PARCC -like tests were set at approximately 30%? Would they think that these passing scores represent a high bar?

One of my concerns is that Louisiana obviously gave a different test than was given by the other PARCC states. At first J.W. said that the test was exactly the same as other states, with the same questions and the same everything, but later he said our questions were really Louisiana designed questions. So how can we compare ourselves to other states if our questions are Louisiana specific? The official statements describing our state tests keep changing to fit the particular situation.

If you read this excellent analysis of our recent PARCC-like tests by Herb Bassett, you will see that the tests we gave did not meet any of the stated design objectives. Our tests are not comparable to NAEP and cannot be compared to other states. Bassett's analysis shows that the Louisiana  PARCC-like test for 8th grade ELA produces almost twice the proficiency rate as does the NAEP test which was given at approximately the same time. Our cut scores are totally different from Ohio and other PARCC states. No one other than the LDOE testing staff and the testing company executives know how our passing scores were set. John White just takes the position that we are supposed to trust his decisions on testing and rating our students and of course on rating our schools and educators based on these tests. No other industry I know allows it's business decisions to be made by a person with no experience or expertise in the enterprise.