Here’s an article from National Review on Common Core. The central tenet of the article is that we can’t have a debate on Common Core because even it’ advocates aren’t being honest about who they are and what they want. Well, inside the article there is something more interesting. It seems Common Core is collapsing without any outside interference. Like everything else the liberals do, it is unorganized and chaotic. Conflicting standards, overly bloated textbook selections, unclear goals, and no sense of authority whatsoever.
As Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas Fordham Institute and a longtime champion of national standards, observed in 2010, “For these standards to get traction . . . a whole bunch of other things need to happen. Curriculum needs to happen, textbooks need to be aligned with the curriculum, teacher preparation and professional development need to be aligned, tests need to be aligned, [and] the accountability system that is built on those tests needs to make sense.”
There’s little evidence that Common Core boosters really believe that states, school districts, and commercial providers will make this work on their own. For instance, a quick search of Amazon for “Common Core” shows more than 30,000 books — and superintendents and teachers are quick to acknowledge that no one knows how to tell the good from the bad. Finn’s Fordham Foundation just released a report noting that most English teachers are not assigning the kinds of reading envisioned by the Common Core. The National Council on Teacher Quality recently reported that the vast majority of education schools are not preparing new teachers to teach the Common Core. Right now, school districts, states, and Common Core advocates don’t have an answer for any of this.
In each case, plenty of Washington-based Common Core enthusiasts think the feds need to help get this stuff right. In 2011, the American Federation of Teachers endorsed the creation of a national curriculum to support the Common Core. The National Governors Association has previously called on Uncle Sam to help fund and encourage Common Core implementation. The Obama Department of Education has embraced a much more prescriptive role in telling states how to measure teacher effectiveness and where teachers should teach.
States including Oklahoma, Georgia, and Florida have announced that they’re abandoning the federally recognized Common Core tests, and other states are weighing similar moves. These states have promised to develop their own tests. But someone will still feel obliged to determine whether those new tests meet promises states have made to Washington in order to secure federal education funds. This opens the door to federal officials’ micromanaging test design and even test scoring.
As most here now, I loathe the Politico, I think they are a bunch of leftist radicals masquerading as middle of the road. But, here is something interesting from them.
Common Core testing problems seem inevitable
By CAITLIN EMMA | 12/27/13 11:46 AM EST
The education world is scrambling to avoid its own version of a full-scale HealthCare.gov meltdown when millions of students pilot new digital Common Core tests this spring.
Technological hiccups, much less large-scale meltdowns, won’t do: The results of the Common Core tests will influence teachers’ and principals’ evaluations and other decisions about their jobs. Schools will be rated on the results. Students’ promotion to the next grade or graduation from high school may hinge on their scores. And the already-controversial Common Core standards, designed to be tested using a new generation of sophisticated exams that go beyond multiple-choice testing, may be further dragged through the mud if there are crises.
States and the test developers have thought through some of the possible pitfalls. For example, some schools are stocking up on technology, and the tests have been designed to go easy on schools’ Internet infrastructure.
But problems with the exams seem imminent if issues during other large-scale online assessments are any indication: Schools’ bandwidth could collapse under the stress of too many students testing at the same time. Computers could hang up or crash. And schools in some places will have to come up with creative schedules to test all of their students, who may far outnumber available computers. Some schools are already planning to take paper exams until their districts can get up to technological speed — even though those tests will cost more per student than online counterparts and might throw off comparisons with computer-based tests.
“There will be bumps in the first couple years,” said Jeff Livingston, senior vice president of education policy and strategic alliances at McGraw-Hill. “There’s no question in my mind about that … It’s an engineering problem and a policy problem.”
The tests will be given on a massive scale: Roughly 4.2 million third through eighth graders will test the exams in math and English this spring, and 29 million students nationwide will use them starting next school year.
Last spring, Kentucky students taking digital end-of-course assessments designed by ACT had to switch to paper and pencil after slow and dropped connections complicated the testing. Alabama and Ohio students also had problems.
The Kentucky Department of Education wanted ACT to conduct a “stress test” in mid-November to see if the server could handle 20,000 students at one time. ACT was supposed to make software corrections and hardware fixes to improve the online system, but the testing company told the state those fixes wouldn’t be ready for the stress tests or next round of end-of-course exams. The stress test was ultimately canceled.
In addition, CTB/McGraw-Hill apologized last spring for interruptions after its digital testing service disrupted exams in Indiana and Oklahoma. About 3,000 students in Oklahoma lost their connections to the testing provider’s servers. And nearly 80,000 out of a half million Indiana students who took the company’s tests in the spring had their testing postponed and about 30,000 were kicked off of the testing platform on a single day of testing. One Indiana charter school has said the errors are to blame for its F grade from the state.
The company said the Indiana outage occurred because “our simulations did not fully anticipate the patterns of live student testing.” Members of the Indiana Board of Education called the situation “disastrous.”
Oklahoma dropped out of one of the groups developing Common Core tests in early July, citing technology challenges as one of its leading reasons.
Wyoming ditched its online testing system a few years ago, after network infrastructure buckled when 80,000 students tried to take state exams. The debacle cost the state superintendent his job.
Those problems and others have the potential to play out on a much larger, more public stage in the coming years.
“There’s a lot of anxiety in the field, and I think it’s rational,” said Brian Lewis, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education.
At least four states have officially withdrawn from the testing consortia. Other states are teetering on the edge of their relationships with the federally funded groups devising the tests, decrying cost, federal overreach and the potential tech troubles. A shaky roll out could burn more bridges with those organizations and drive up the cost of testing for remaining states.
Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2013/12/common-core-testing-problems-seem-inevitable-101568.html#ixzz2okBO24oP
Of course there are many out there that think these problems were planned in order to pave the way for even more government interference. I see this as possible, however, this administration has shown itself over and over as incapable of even getting their own nefarious schemes done right.
So, time will tell. Is this a monumental disaster and screwup? Or is this another plan for a huge federal power grab? Feel free to fight it out in the comment section.