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Common Core, Testing, UPK

Friday, April 25, 2014

A pre-k classroom at P.S. 261 in Brooklyn (Yasmeen Khan)

As applications are sorted, what are the logistical challenges for staffing, finding space, and evaluating the impact of universal Pre-K? Beth Fertig, contributing editor for education at WNYC and Schoolbook.org, reports on the behind-the-scenes work at the Department of Education, plus what teachers told her about testing and common core.

Guests:

Beth Fertig

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Comments [15]

Mike from Brooklyn

That would be sad, since it would make exposing poor classrooms more difficult. But I guess protecting entrenched interests is more important than actual education in your mind. The tests may not be perfect, but all kids are taking the same exam, so and problems will be shown in the stats. It also starts an idea that one can opt out of difficulty. Great lesson there.

It seems we have a battle between two behemoths. Teacher's unions and test prep corporations. Guess who loses out. Hint, they are between 5 and 18 years old.

Apr. 25 2014 11:43 AM
Michael Elliot from brooklyn

34,000 New York children refused to take the ELA state tests. Many more will choose to refuse the math, especially now that principals and educators are speaking up. Watch and spread the video. Parents have a right to refuse!
http://youtu.be/2ayYajsQjg8

Apr. 25 2014 11:35 AM
Michael Elliot from brooklyn

The ELA test is a perfect example of everything that's wrong with Corp Education Reform. As Liz Phillips, Principal from PS 321 said... "its a terrible test." It's all about money, privatization, union busting and putting the Oligarchy in charge of our future. Beth Fertig and Brian, you have become spokespeople for the 1%.

Apr. 25 2014 11:33 AM
Mike from Brooklyn

wrong, the teachers, wanting to protect themselves would devote huge amounts of time to test prep. They will also, as they have done, stress the kids. These should be pop quiz type tests, no prep and random times of the year. If the classroom is unprepared, it would be exposed and something can be done. We cannot lose year after year of children to poor educations.

Apr. 25 2014 11:12 AM
NYC parent from NYC

Pearson's contract not allowing disclosure of test questions benefits Pearson in multiple ways. Here are two: 1. Pearson can avoid criticism of years past for preposterous "pineapple" questions 2. Pearson can make a bundle selling test prep material and regular curricular materials. Even more so, when test takers report that passages on the test showed up in their Pearson text books earlier in the year. With teachers' careers and school closures riding on test results, but no access to the old tests, professionals desperately turn to the test prep materials and curricula provided by the test maker, Pearson. How much has Pearson profited by non-disclosure?

On a related note, the complaints I see about the tests echo complaints I have seen about the Common Core, including an over-focus on analyzing the mechanics of writing, instead of focusing on the actual content, and tasks not appropriate for age level, almost as though the standards were developed without any actual classroom teachers or early child developers able to have any great effect on the outcome of the standards. Oh wait, that is EXACTLY what happened.

The problem isn't JUST the tests, it is the Common Core. I urge people to check out Diane Ravitch's blog www.dianeravitch.net for links to many thoughtful parents, teachers, and intellectuals objecting to the tests AND the Common Core. The Common Core sounds laudable. Who wouldn't favor high standards? But looking at the nitty gritty details of the actual standards and what they expect kids to learn when, and how the standards have been implemented in books, model lesson plans, etc. you can see how faulty the standards are. The whole idea of making kids deeper thinkers and more creative is great, but you can't achieve it by mandating THESE standards or by testing it with fill-in-the bubble tests and essays graded by checklist-check-off. It seems preposterous that almost every state in the country adopted these untested standards that don't comport with research on what motivates kids to learn and helps them learn, and that teacher effectiveness will be measured by these test scores.

I'm not a teacher, I'm a parent, and I am mad about what has happened to our schools.

Responding to Alice from Manhattan, the tests are used for much more than to compare teachers and schools. Until this year, test scores determined promotion and were used for middle and high school admissions. It determined which kids had to stay at school or come early for remediation. There are real reasons teachers would want to know test results in a current year, given the outcomes. Going forward, state test scores cannot be used as a "primary factor" for promotion or middle or high school admission. I presume they will still be used to put kids in math tracks, and will still be very large "secondary factor" in admissions.

Apr. 25 2014 11:04 AM
philior from Brooklyn

Dear Beth,

I am sure you are genuinely wishing to contribute to public education. However, it is possible that your way of speaking - saying "you know" every few seconds - negates all positive impact you may have made.
Negligence in language one uses, leads to inaccurate thinking and vice versa.
The medical mantra "Do No Harm" may be applicable here. Think about it.

Apr. 25 2014 10:58 AM
julie from Brooklyn

I have no problem with the test. I have issue with not being able to see what questions my son gets wrong so that we can identify where he is going wrong and how we can guide him.

Apr. 25 2014 10:43 AM
julie from Brooklyn

I have no problem with the test. I have issue with not being able to see what questions my son gets wrong so that we can identify where he is going wrong and how we can guide him.

Apr. 25 2014 10:43 AM
Megan

In terms of how representative the rallies in Manhattan were, it's important to point out that these protests were born out of frustrations that an initial rally led by PS 321 Principal Liz Phillips was being viewed as isolated. These Manhattan demonstrations were motivated by fellow principals who wanted to prove that other educators shared Phillips’ concerns, so they began contacting other principals who they knew were dismayed by the tests.

Apr. 25 2014 10:42 AM
Barb from NYC

I'm not an educator, but it seems to me that everyone's getting riled up about the Common Core and the tests without realizing that this is NEW and will take some time to work out the bugs.

Of course, during that time, the teachers should NOT be punished for bad test scores.

It's a new program, and we need time to see if it's working. So, chill.

Apr. 25 2014 10:42 AM

If our tax dollars are paying for these tests, do we not have the right to request that our schools get access to them? Also, critical thinking and basic calculation should be evaluated seperately.

Apr. 25 2014 10:41 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

These "tests" are being prepared by "progressives" who more interested in verbalizing, and that is because most "progressives" are big on talking a lot, art and writing a lot, but couldn't do a math problem to save themselves so they are making sure that our kids cannot do math either but can "express their feelings."

Apr. 25 2014 10:39 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

These "tests" are being prepared by "progressives" who more interested in verbalizing, and that is because most "progressives" are big on talking a lot, art and writing a lot, but couldn't do a math problem to save themselves so they are making sure that our kids cannot do math either but can "express their feelings."

Apr. 25 2014 10:38 AM
Mei

I think most of the controversy here is coming from the teachers. At least I've seen it in my district. Then many parents of course follow suit without really thinking. We need some way to evaluate how each classroom is doing, otherwise we cannot fix the system which based on our results in the past few years is not working. We've been socially passing kids and teachers for too long. This would not happen in where I came from.

Apr. 25 2014 10:37 AM
Alice from Manhattan

The teacher is a nut. This is not a test about test-prep. It is to make comparisons between schools and teachers within schools. It is to see how the student's performed on a comparative basis. It could be a graduate level test and everyone's results would show that statistically on curves they can use to see individual classroom performance. If the teachers are teaching the grade material to the best of their ability and adequately there is no problem.

Apr. 25 2014 10:33 AM

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