Last night was my son’s parent information night at school. There were five topics and you could pick three of them. I chose Common Core, Assessments and Home Access (the parent computer system for seeing grades, attendance, etc.). For 25 minutes each session, parents got to learn about these topics. All three were very entertaining.
For Common Core, it started off with a quiz. True or False: The Common Core Standards is a government conspiracy and forced on the schools. My answer was true. Now the principal is well aware of this blog, and he looked at me and started laughing. Of course my answer was wrong. It’s voluntary, and states have a choice….bwaahahahaha! Another question was about how teachers have to follow the common core exactly for their curriculum. The right answer was no, but one of the choices was teachers must follow it and adhere to a strict dress code. Of course this was written by a Common Core sponsored company.
Parents complained about no cursive being taught, the “rigor” with math, having to write down and explain easy math answers, and the insanity of it all. A short video was shown and it explained all students need to walk up the same stairs at the same pace at every public school in America. Because every student is the same and learns at the same pace, even though students are grouped into separate groups all day for reading intervention and small groups. It showed how students have to be able to follow step by step instructions for things in life, and it actually gave an example of building a sandcastle. The principal said the school is really pushing decimals, fractions, and percents this year cause “studies” have found kids in college don’t know how to accurately understand money. Yup, it all comes back to $$$!
Next up was the Assessment topic. The moderator went over the Scholastic tests, SRI and SMI. The tests are still the same, and the Lexile scoring is the same, but how students are rated proficient has changed. Say a student scores at 660 in 5th grade. That was considered proficient last year, but the feds raised it to over 800 now. So parents shouldn’t be alarmed when they see the new reports on it. “We’ll get them caught up.” This increase was, you guessed it, due to the Common Core Standards.
My favorite, Smarter Balanced Assessment, was up next. Parents can take the test at home, but you don’t take the full test or get a score. And, you have to shut down everything on your computer, and it’s recommended to use Firefox or Google Chrome, otherwise it won’t work. The moderator explained the test is very hard, and students will have to learn to type better. The average 5th & 6th grade student types about 10 words a minute, but parents can teach their kids how to type and build their skills. This will be after they read to us, cite the text, go over math, and have an aneurysm trying to explain in words why (3×5) + 6 is less than 20.
The panel was up for questions, and by the end the moderator asked if anyone else had any questions. I smirked and bit my tongue. This moderator is also aware of this blog. I said “you really don’t want to ask me”. She said “Go ahead.” So I did. “Can parents opt out of the test?” She explained that is a parent decision, not the school district. Another parent said that will affect the funding for the schools. I explained, as a very wise man told me, that this a “zero sum” game. If enough parents in every district do it, what are they going to do, cut funding for every school district in the state? I advised we only need 6% of parents to do this across the state, in each district. Someone said this will never happen. “I think it will,” I said.
The last presentation was on the Home Access system. I was somewhat familiar with it, having subbed in a long-term paraprofessional position at Campus Community School. The presenter explained how the system is more user-friendly this year because there is more information on it. I asked if the state DOE can see it, and he said they see everything. More data crunching down at the DOE.
As I drove home, I applied some common core magic and determined 6% is a great number, but I would like 50/100, and the state can threaten to cut $1,000,000.00 or more out of their state funding but it’s all just a silly little game children play.