Friday, June 6, 2014

Sharing How I Learn about Ed Reform (Updated 6/19/14)

Being against high-stakes standardized testing (HST) or the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) does not make you against your community school or your child's teacher.  Teachers cannot share this information freely with parents. Most school districts treat teachers speaking freely about ed reform as speaking against the district or school.  In some places, teachers are threatened or sanctioned for speaking out (I have no evidence of this happening locally).  One reason to be against HST and CCSS is that your local educators did not choose these reforms. 

First of all, here is a link to the CCSS document that lists the standards.  They are divided by math and English Language Arts (ELA) or literacy.  Click on the area you'd like to investigate.  Then, the standards are divided by grade levels.  Scroll down to see ELA Appendix B if you want to see the recommended (NOT required) reading lists. 

Facebook Groups:
The top two groups below are all about reform in Maine, and the bottom three are national.  FB groups are a great place to find information, either by reading articles posted or asking questions.  

Articles about Ed Reform:
Many education articles are in my FB newsfeed daily.  The ones shared below give the best introduction to HST and CCSS, including local Maine information. 
  1. Common Core FAQ - This article is perfect for those new to CCSS.  Its question and answer format reflects what people really want to know and allows you to skip to the information you are most interested in.  
  2. Everything You Need to Know about Common Core -  This is a transcript of a speech given by education historian Diane Ravitch to the MLA.  It covers the creation of the standards. 
  3. Parents: Question School Testing! - This article has an extensive list to ask your local educators regarding the standardized assessments used at your school.  
  4. Should Parents Opt Their Children out of High-Stakes Testing? - This is an opinion piece from the Bangor Daily News.  It provides a lot of information specific to Maine.  
  5. How Do You Act When You're Hungry?  What LePage's Letter Grades Show - Another opinion piece from the Bangor Daily News ripe with local Maine information. 
  6. Six Reasons to Reject Common Core K-3 Standards -This piece address concerns about the standards for our youngest students. 
  7. Fifteen Reasons Standardized Tests are Problematic - A list that gives an overview of why we don't want to place so much emphasis on HST. (See the documentary and website Standardized and web site Fair Test below for more complete information on HST).
  8. Casting Doubt on Linking Teacher Evaluations to Test Scores - A short piece from the Los Angels Times about VAM (value-added measurements). 
  9. Data Mining Your Children - This is one of the most factual pieces I've seen on this topic thus far.  
  10. Ravitch: Time for Congress to Investigate Bill Gates' Role in Common Core - I usually do not jump on the bandwagon to demonize Bill Gates, but this one was pretty convincing.  

  • Fair Test: The National Center for Fair and Open Tests - Check out here, and here, and here in particular for good starter information. 

Videos / Film:
  1. Building the Machine - This documentary is 40 minutes long. 
  2. Standardized  - You can watch the trailer here.  Local groups are working to offer showings of this film. 

  1. Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice are Undermining Education by Diane Ravitch
  2. Reigne of Error: The Hoax of the Privitization Movement and the Danger to America's Public Schools by Diane Ravitch  (Here's a book review, too). 
  3. The Case Against Standardized Testing by Alfie Kohn
  4. The Schools Our Children Deserve by Alfie Kohn
  5. Children of the Common Core by Kris Nielsen

A Final Thought:
As we fight against HST and CCSS, we have to keep focus.  Be careful of blaming every problem with education on HST and CCSS.  Some problems have been around for decades and some problems are due to poor local choices.  Try not to blame a faceless "them."  When exploring complaints about ed reform, determine who is making the choices to them decide if it is a HST or CCSS related problem. 

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