"A child's learning is the funtion more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Friday, April 11, 2014

A weapon of mass distraction

Response to (“We Need to Talk About the Tests,” Op-Ed, April 10), published under the heading "A Need to Go Public With Test Data"  New York Times, April 16, 2014

Yes, there’s a big problem with the state tests. But there’s a bigger problem: the whole idea of the Common Core standards. Accurately described by Susan Ohanian, a writer and former teacher, as “a radical untried curriculum overhaul” and “nonstop national testing,” the Common Core is an outrageous scheme with no justification and no empirical support.
The problems described by Elizabeth Phillips will eventually be solved, or at least reduced enough to stop complaints from coming, but the Common Core boondoggle will continue, with new and very expensive tests delivered online.
I suspect that these bad tests are a weapon of mass distraction, so that we forget what the real problem is.

STEPHEN KRASHEN
Los Angeles, April 11, 2014
The writer is professor emeritus at Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California.
This letter and other responses: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/17/opinion/a-need-to-go-public-with-test-data.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=0

Original version:
Yes, there's a big problem with the tests ("We need to talk about the tests," April 10). but there's a bigger problem: The whole idea of the common core. Accurately described by Susan Ohanian as  “a radical untried curriculum overhaul and ... nonstop national testing," the common core is an outrageous scheme with no justification and no empirical support.
The problems described by Elizabeth Phillips will eventually be solved, or at least reduced enough to stop complaints from coming, but the common core boondoggle will continue, with new and very expensive tests delivered online.
I suspect that the tests are horrible on purpose, to encourage resistance and debate over  details. When changes are made, it will give critics a sense of accomplishment, while they forget what the real problem is. The lousy tests are a weapon of mass distraction.
Stephen Krashen

2 comments:

  1. beautiful metaphor Dr. Krashen, I will look to see if they publish this one but won't get my hopes up
    never thought of this scheme from that perspective, mass distraction, hmmmm......

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  2. On the other hand, there would be no Common Core without high stakes testing to enforce it. The billions going to the Common Core industrial complex is one huge aspect of privatization, but the other is set into motion when the test results come in. Just as NCLB set off a tsunami of "underperforming" schools, so will the new PARCC tests or whatever they will call them if the effort to kill PARCC is successful. With a new list of failing schools, the Wall Street charter operators, with TFA in tow, move in for the kill.

    The linchpin is the high stakes test, and the focus has to remain on getting enough parents to understand that testing is not learning. It takes 6 percent of parents to bring down the entire enterprise, which cannot function or feed without high stakes testing.

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