(Jerry Heverly is an English teacher at San Leandro High School. He has written before about how the Common Core State Standards, a new federal mandate, will affect students and teachers.)
I’m starting a new organization at San Leandro High School
It’s called the Common Core Resistance Army.
It would be sort of like those 60’s radical groups that were run by ex-con’s.
I’ll need a pretty young woman to be my deputy, of course. We’ll preach mass resistance to standardized tests.
We’d hold our meetings in a phone booth—if there were such things as phone booths anymore.
What I mean to say is, there is absolutely no appetite in our district for resistance to the coming new thing: Common Core State (sic) Standards. (My friend Susan Ohanian in Vermont insists we put that (sic) there to make sure everyone knows that the states had nothing to do with originating these foolish tests.)
I haven’t done a formal poll of San Leandro teachers or administrators (or parents) but my sense is that we are going to do everything that the feds tell us to do without protest. Questioning the validity of these changes isn’t even on anyone’s radar.
For a moment I thought I detected the beginnings of a genuine national resistance movement.
A group of teachers in Seattle at Garfield High School recently refused to administer the “Measures of Academic Progress” (MAP) tests to their students. It’s a state exam much like our STAR tests that kids take in April.
“Finally”, I thought to myself, “somebody is going to stop the madness.”
The rebellion quickly spread to a few other Seattle high schools with minor reverberations as far as Chicago and Texas.
But this week the Seattle school district ordered vice principals to administer the tests and they began threatening punishments to the obstructive teachers. It looks MAP will go on as usual. Sigh.
The one hopeful sign was that several hundred Seattle parents signed “opt out” letters to the district exempting their children from the test.
Does California have an opt-out law?
One website I found says we do (http://www.pencilsdown.org/california.html ) but I haven’t found any official confirmation.
In researching this column I learned a few things about the Common Core that I didn’t know before:
- It costs approximately $13/student to administer the STAR tests we have now; it will cost around $20/student to administer the CCSS.
- The state superintendent of schools, Tom Torlakson, estimates it will cost California $1 billion to carry out the federal mandates connected to CCSS.
- By 2018 San Leandro High School will need to invest heavily in computers and computer memory to allow us to give “computer adaptive” tests. In these kinds of tests each student gets different questions based upon whether they got the previous question right.
What will you, the taxpayer, get for all this cash?
Right now we do nothing but multiple-choice tests.
In two years we will still have lots of multiple choice questions but here is how one site described the new questions:
“The heart of the tests in both English language arts and math will be short-answer questions and lengthy performance tasks. The latter questions, involving multiple steps, taking perhaps an hour or two, are designed to see if students can demonstrate a deeper understanding of the standards, can explain the reasons behind their answers and can think critically.”
Can you imagine how much it will cost to pay someone to grade those latter questions?
Common Core boosters claim that their tests will fundamentally alter teaching. They say that we teachers will be forced to teach “critical thinking”. Common Core will get us to teach “higher order comprehension”.
I keep asking myself how this is different from what I do now.
The Common Core State (sic) Standards are a fraud.
The Common Core State (sic) Standards are a clever way to fleece the taxpayers, to dress up old ideas in new clothing
For this they will charge you, the taxpayers, $1 billion.
You would think there would be at least a few teachers, administrators, parents or just plain taxpayers, who would exhibit outrage at these new national tests.
But, as far as I can tell, there aren’t.
(You can read more essays like this in the archives of Entirely Secondary.)