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

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

ESSA and the Selling of CBE

During the stitching together in 2015 of the federal Frankenstein known as ESSA, the corporate unions, along with their support groups (NPE and FairTest) and activist arms (BATs and SOS), were working to get annual testing in all grades reduced to one time each in elementary, middle, and high school.  The corporate foundations said no, and that was that.  

In order for testing accountability to continue its stranglehold on schools in terms of the taught content and teaching methods used, and in order for comparative testing among schools can continue as the effective battering ram for public school charter conversion for the ever-present bottom five percent of schools, testing had to remain a permanent fixture of school.

Having just witnessed the testing opt by parents and students that spread like wildfire in many states, the corporate foundations scurrying in 2015 for another testing accountability system that might be opt-out proof.  CorpEd didn't have to look far for a tried and failed system to present itself in the form of competency-based learning (self-paced) via individual computer screens (personalized). 

You may remember that Microsoft and Apple had been trying for years to get computers imposed in every classroom.  With another opportunity looming with ESSA, if Common Core textbooks could be moved into digital format and if testing could be made into a daily exercise, several birds could be killed with the same virtual stone: 1) the opt out movement would fall, for how can you opt out of tests if tests are given every day, 2) the resistance to computerization would fall, for computers would necessary for content and assessment, 3) teacher influence could be made even more negligible, as the pacing of instruction and even the lessons offered could be determined by digital analytics, 4) the compiling of longitudinal data on individuals and groups could finally become a valuable resource for corporations of all kinds, whether selling sneakers or degrees or jobs. 

Research for the past fifty years has never demonstrated superiority of online methods for simple or complex learning tasks, and the research has consistently shown that those individuals with economic and academic disadvantage are further disadvantaged by online environments. 

Not to worry, for every student will now succeed, black or white, disabled or able, rich or poor, and will have such personalized, deep, and whole learning experiences that special education will be a thing of the past, since all children in the new millennium will be special, indeed.  Praise the Lord. 

This capitalist camp meeting sermon had to be sold, and for AFT and NEA to sell it to teachers and parents for Gates and the other oligarchs, ESSA had to offer the possibility of potentially authentic assessments like portfolios.  And, thus, the ESSA messaging by Fairtest/NEA and NPE/AFT was focused on the unquestioned acceptance of accountality, but this time around it would be based on "multiple measures" that would allow attempts to standardize assessments that cannot be standardized and to establish quantitative reliability and validity for measures that are entirely qualitative.

Similar experiments with portfolio assessments were tried in Kentucky and Vermont in the early 1990s, and teachers were worked into the dirt trying to standardize the unique and to rigidify the fluid.  Failure was assured.  This will happen again in New Hampshire, I predict, and what will be left standing are the daily and weekly standardized assessments that were intended to replace the annual standardized testing to begin with. 

Nevertheless, FairTest and the rest are playing their parts in pumping the continued futile acceptance of the dead concept of "accountability," this time around by measures that will never satisfy the accountabilists.  Rather than challenging the notion that schools can be accountable even as politicians, businessmen, and policymakers refuse to be accountable, NEA, AFT, NPE, and FairTest have accepted the unacceptable once again.  In doing so this time around, children's mental and physical health have been put on the bargaining table, along with the privacy rights of parents and teachers. 

The good news is that parents have the power to stop it, and teachers can be their allies if they stop taking their marching orders from the enemy.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:47 AM

    The current issue of AFT propaganda arm American Educator features an article proclaiming the advantages of using technology for early childhood literacy instruction.

    Abigail Shure