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

Sunday, May 04, 2014

"Pressing needs" in American education

S. Krashen
Diane Ravitch recently observed that there has been a big hurry to implement the Common Core. In 2009, she urged the authors of the Common Core to field test it before implementation, advice they did not follow. Again in 2010, at the White House, she urged field testing, but officials "quickly dismissed the idea. They were in a hurry. They wanted Common Core to be rolled out as quickly as possible, without checking out how it works in real classrooms with real teachers and real children." (http://dianeravitch.net/2014/05/02/my-reply-to-alexander-nazaryan-of-newsweek/)
At about the same time, the US Department of Education, in their National Education Technology plan, was in a big hurry to introduce new technology into the schools. They argued that this must be done immediately, because of the "the pressing need to transform American education ...",  even if this means doing it imperfectly: Repairs can be done later: "... we do not have the luxury of time: We must act now and commit to fine-tuning and midcourse corrections as we go."  In other words, there will be no attempt to see there is any evidence that new technology could, in fact, "transform American education."  (Transforming Education: Learning Powered by Technology. US Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology.  http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010 Quotes here are from the Excutive Summary.)
I think there are two "pressing needs" in education. One is to protect America's children from the effects of poverty. The other is to stop the admittedly unvalidated Common Core, delivered through  admittedly incompletely vetted technology.

1 comment:

  1. It is not Common Core that is the problem. The idea behind Common Core is to have a standard national curriculum with high-qualitty standards--something the states have, in some cases, failed to provide. The real problem seems to be with "accountability"-- the idea that we can use student performance results to evaluate teachers. Others site the problem of too much testing. But, we have been standardized testing for decades and there really can be no justification for not doing such assessments. The issue is that "accountability" forces too much emphasis on the tests. Jobs, pay, and school evaluation becomes based on the test results, which make schools and teachers do more to address the testing (teach to the test, practice tests, etc.). All standards are subjective--what we expect students to know or do at a specific age based on...well, opinion and experience. If the Common Core standards are too high, then many students across the country will not meet them (i.e., get low test scores) and CC will have to be adjusted. Simply because specific school districts do poorly, however, is not a fault of testing or Common Core. We need a standard measuring stick of performance. If your school does poorly, then there should be no rush to judgement--we are not sure why though many people have opinions based on ideology. It certainly is not the fault of the teachers, generally speaking. it is also not the fault of the standards.