State Rep Candidate Steve Newton Educates The News Journal About the Truth Behind Standardized Testing @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog @nannyfat #netde #eduDE

Smarter Balanced Assessment

This is why I really wish Steve Newton lived in my district.  I would vote for him, and go to each home in my district and convince them why Steve is the right choice to represent families and students in Legislative Hall.  It isn’t about Republican or Democrat anymore.  Those lines blurred a long time ago in Delaware when it comes to education.  It warped into legislators not doing the right thing for kids in return for political favors.  There are some who are not afraid to speak out about the education reform and all the fraud that has come with it.  Steve will, in my most fervent hope, join them in crusading against the shame our Delaware education has become.

Steve Newton’s response:

The WNJ editorial board COMPLETELY misses the point on testing:

“Just what is it that we Americans don’t like about school testing? Is it too tough on our children? Is it too tough on the education establishment, especially teachers? Or is it a plot to totally federalize our school system, report cards and all?

“The answer probably is: All of the above.”

Actually, folks, the answer is far more fundamental: high-stakes testing transforms our schools from public education to workforce training establishments. What we lose in the myopic insistence on standardized testing is the impetus to value every child, to let every child grow and find new ways, to give a hand up to every child who has ever overcome obstacles just to show up in our classrooms with or without her homework.

No test can capture that moment when, in an English class, an abused child first sees himself and his life in a Shakespearian play.

No test can assess the impact on the child who has always struggled with reading as he becomes the first trumpet in the middle school marching band, and realizes that there are modes of self-expression at which he can excel.

No test can assess the impact of a teacher who does the best she can every single day with the little girl who never has her homework and never wants to talk, because that teacher knows there is one overworked parent too busy trying to pay the rent to keep “involved” parent hours for homework.

I could do this all day.

It’s not that the tests are too hard. It’s not that they’re somehow too tough on teachers. It’s not even that they lead to a Federal takeover.

High-stakes testing is systematically destroying the very strength of the American educational system–and there are strengths within that system, for all it faults and creaks and groans.

I know whereof I speak, because I have designed content standards, I have written and graded test items, I have been on the other side, and I understand that the high-stakes testing people are 110% sincere, just like anybody else trapped within the confines of a cult.

They BELIEVE that “assessment drives instruction” is the 11th Commandment. They BELIEVE that if we don’t impose the factory-like schools of Shanghai on our students that the entire American system will collapse. They BELIEVE that testing, rigorously applied, can wipe out the inequalities of poverty, and sand down the edges of all those square-peg children that corporate America wants to jam into those round holes. They are religious fanatics.

Assessment is critical to teaching, just like medicine is critical to health care. Yet if a doctor suddenly develops the belief that every patient, regardless of his or her malady, requires massive doses of antibiotics, then something is wrong.

Public education in America is NOT a business and children (along with their test outcomes) are NOT a product.

I’ll say this one last time for the two people still reading this screed: the Americans who are resisting high-stakes testing are NOT afraid of them, they simply understand what the education bureaucrats and corporate reformers don’t: they will destroy, not fix, our educational system.

What Will This Generation of Students Be Known For? Will They Have Their Own Minds? @KilroysDelaware @ed_in_de @dwablog #netde #eduDE

The Future

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately.  We have five generation titles currently living and influencing America.  The first is “The Greatest Generation” (born between 1927-1945), then “The Baby Boomers” (1946-1964), “Generation X” (1965-1980),  “Generation Y” or “The Millennium Generation” (1981-2001), and “Generation Z” (born after 2001). What will Generation Z, educated under Common Core and No Child Left Behind become?  The expectations put on these students have never been higher.  Is this causing long-term damage though?  If the current curriculum trends continue with Common Core and high-risk tests, I would say the graduating classes of 2018 to 2029 will have severe problems in their adult lives.

Generation Z was born in the aftermath of 9/11.  As a country, we became very suspicious of everything around us and demanded immediate change.  We would not, and could not, let an attack like 9/11 ever happen again.  So we set out to fix things.  Under the wings of the Baby Boomers, Generation X went to work.  They gained more and more power, until eventually they were the ones in control.  When they got their hands on education, they dismantled it and tried to put it back together again.

Common Core Standards as a theory is not my problem.  I don’t have an issue with every state being compatible with each other in terms of what is taught to our country’s children.  As a special education advocate, I see a multitude of differences in special education within single school districts in Delaware.  So I can only imagine how the US Government would look at education at a national level.  It has to be very confusing, and having something more uniform across every state is certainly something to be desired.

My problems are with how it was brought about, how it was implemented, and the extra parts that are taught to children that are really unnecessary.  I posted a math problem on this blog a couple weeks ago, with the Common Core seal of approval on the worksheet.  It was my biggest story ever.  But the reality was that I was just a pissed-off parent seeing the “rigor” my son was going through with this type of math.  Tens of thousands of readers read this story, and most parents thought it was absolutely ridiculous.  Teachers seemed split down the middle.  Some thought it was acceptable math, while others thought it was confusing to students and was not age appropriate.  These children are taught things a certain way, and it should not be like that.  I come from a generation where the answer is the answer, it doesn’t matter how you came to it.  But today, everything has to be explained and to show your work and to think outside the box no matter what shape it is.  Sometimes an answer is just an answer.

Our current leaders, who are most likely part of the Generation X crowd (a group I belong to), see things a bit differently.  We were a different kind of generation compared to the earlier ones.  We were very focused on trends and we were at the dawn of the computer age.  We were stuck in an industrial transition with education.  Things changed rapidly with education from 1975 to 1995.  I graduated high school in 1988.  The internet was just starting to be mentioned as some type of database where students would be able to go to libraries and access information right off a computer.

My son, born in 2004, can find out anything on the internet by going to Google and typing it in.  My son also can become very fixated on his iPad, iPod, X-Box, and the many brands of toys his generation is surrounded by, especially Legos.  He can watch anything from tv at any hour of the day, from anywhere he wants as long as there is wi-fi access.  This generation has technological advances previous generations couldn’t even dream about.  So why are we trying to make them all the same type of student?  Why do so many members of my generation who have gained power want today’s youth to be one big collective entity, and not the individuals they truly are?  I don’t get it.  Is it because when we were young we did what we wanted?  We were a very cynical generation.  We started to lose trust with the organizations and groups that served us, from a local level to an international one.  We became more self-absorbed, more insular to the events of the world.  It almost seems like this ruling generation doesn’t want the youth of today to question anything.  They just need to follow orders.

The problem with this is Generation Z.  They are a hearty and tough lot, and are used to getting their own way.  They are also a generation with the highest amount of disabilities and disorders.  They will not take crap, and do not like being told to be the same as anyone else.  They do need structure and routine, nobody will deny that, but they also don’t want to be put in the same sandbox as everyone else.

But there is a subset of Generation X that has learned how to rise above the trappings of our generation.  We are helping to guide Generation Y to rise against Generation X.  We are speaking, and we are speaking with every bit of strength we can muster against members of our own generation.  Because we want to help Generation Z become more than what they are destined to become if these current education reforms continue.  And we need Generation Y to lead them out of this quagmire we call modern education.

Each generation helps to guide the ones before them, and the results are cultural mind-shifts where the greatest inventions and the most horrible events can take place in society.  Never before in history have so many generations been alive, influencing and shaping all the others.  I can imagine our ancestors looking down on us thinking “what a mess” America has become.