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#1399259 --- 04/27/13 07:30 AM Dear Parents
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Dear NYS Parents,
APRIL 27, 2013 BY CHRIS CERRONE LEAVE A COMMENT
Here is another terrific guest post from Bianca Tanis, Hudson Valley Parent and Educator.
An Open Letter to NYS Parents,

I’m sure that you have heard about some of the drama that is going down in public education and I’m sure that you have been overwhelmed by the mixed messages from teachers, reform groups, anti-reform groups, and the state. It’s a lot to process, and if you are like me, your brain is probably starting to turn off right about now. But I am going to ask you to stick with me for a few more minutes because there are some things that you need to know about the reality of your child’s education.

This month, students in grades 3-8 took the new NYS Math and ELA Exams. The state promised more rigor, and I suppose that they delivered on that promise. Over the past two weeks, your son or daughter was forced to sit for 9 hours of testing. And if he if or she required extra time, you can make that 13 to 18 hours. I would say that’s pretty rigorous. By the way, here is how the Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines rigor: harsh inflexibility in opinion; the quality of being unyielding or inflexible; an act or instance of strictness; severity; or cruelty.

I would like you to ponder how sitting for a 90 minute to 3 hour testing session at the age of 10 affects your ability to maintain focus and answer questions to the best of your ability. As an adult who has voluntarily sat for the SAT, the GRE, and multiple licensing exams, I can attest to the fatigue and “brain drain” that sets in after about an hour. Also consider the fact that children are not allowed to eat or drink while taking the test, for fear that they may soil the testing protocol, and that for many children, testing cuts into lunchtime and specials.

The NYS teacher’s union, NYSUT, recently ran a campaign called “Tell It Like It Is.” Teachers were invited to share how the new mandates are impacting their students. In one of the testimonials, a teacher talked about how her third grade student was so anxious that he vomited on the 3rd grade ELA exam. After the child was sent to the nurse, the principal called the state for guidance on how to proceed. She was told to retrieve the vomit-soaked test from the garbage, place it in a Ziploc bag and send it back to the state. Are you getting the impression that the state cares that much about the security and well-being of our kids?

You have probably heard and read various comments to the effect that tests are a part of life. A doctor must take a rigorous exam in order to practice medicine; a new driver must take a written exam to ensure that they know the rules of the road; high school students must take the SAT in order to gain entry to college. If you are trying to convince parents that an 8-year-old should sit for 9 hours of testing, you are going to have to do better than that. Yes, tests are a part of life–adult life. Can any adult really believe that forcing children to submit to tests that rival the SAT and GRE in length at the age of 8, 9, and 10 will help them later in life? 50 years ago, society used to think that bullying and hazing helped build resilience and toughness, but for the sake of our children, I would like to think that we have all grown past this “baptism by fire” mentality. And yes, I did just equate NYS testing to bullying.

If you are not already aware, the NYS Commissioner of Education, John King, has stated that he knows that kids are going to do poorly on the tests this year. In response to a question asked at a meeting this past March, about what he would say to a student who is nervous about the tests, King said:

“At the end of the day…Learning is about having challenges…sometimes one does well…sometimes one doesn’t do as well as one hopes…and one learns from that and goes on…The role of educators…is to instill in students…the ability to self regulate around those kinds of anxiety. We start at the earliest stages. That is the work that adults have to do with young people to help give them perspective. That is our job.”

Parents, you need to know that this how our Commissioner of Education views the role of teachers: To set kids up for failure so as to teach them perspective, in the third grade. As a parent, I want to be there to pick my child up when he falls. I’m not going to trip him or knock him down, just so that I can teach him perspective and how to deal with challenges. And although the commissioner is OK with this being done to our children, apparently he does not want the same treatment for his own– they go to a private school. Commissioner King may be able to spare his children the abuse and degradation of a system that intentionally sets students up for failure, but the rest of are being told that we do not have the right to refuse. Rather, we are being told that this is the price of a public education.

Maybe your child is a struggling learner. Maybe she reads below grade level and has just had her self-esteem gutted by a test. Or, maybe your child is brilliant and eats the 5th grade ELA exam for breakfast. Both are being short-changed; why go outside the curriculum to challenge a student, to help him pursue a special interest that he’s passionate about if it’s not on the test? Conversely, how can teachers spend additional time explaining and re-teaching a concept when they are under tremendous pressure to stick to a curriculum schedule dictated by the test? We must stand up for the needs of all children, and for common sense. If we continue to stick with a “one size fits all” approach, someone is going to be left out in the cold, whether it’s the struggling learner or the child prodigy.

If you are the parent of a kindergartener, you may think that this is something that you do not have to deal with yet. I hate to burst your bubble, but your child is already being prepped for the 3rd grade ELA exam. The days of carefree coloring, self-directed learning and exploration are already over. Because of the new teacher evaluation system, 4 and 5 year olds are being given pre-tests filled with questions that they can’t answer, for the sole purpose of achieving a baseline by which to grade their teachers. This is how we welcome them to the long and rigorous path to career and college readiness.

You should also know that the corporation that is making the NYS tests and profiting handsomely from them is also putting your child to work. Each test contains something known as “field test questions.” These are questions that Pearson is “trying out.” They do not count towards your child’s overall score, but they do tax their energy and efforts, efforts that could otherwise be spent on the questions that count. Also, your child may be taking something called a field test in June (and by the way, the school does not have to inform you that he will be taking it.) The field test is an experimental test to help Pearson design more tests and make more money. They are using your child as a guinea pig, and NYS state is only too happy to play pimp.

You should also know that the teachers at your child’s school are most likely responsible for scoring the test. That means that they will have to be pulled out of class for a day or even 2 days. During that time, your district will have to hire substitute teachers, and the extra money for that will come from your district’s already stretched budget. Your child’s teachers will be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement before scoring the test that prevents them from ever discussing what was on the test with you, the parent, or with anyone else. In the past, NYS tests became public after they were scored. Now, for the first time ever, after completion the tests will go under lock and key, never to see the light of day or the eye of public scrutiny. Your hard-earned tax dollars are paying for a product that will never have to undergo any kind of public quality control.

Some of you may have heard the line from Albany that parents who oppose the test do not want to know where there child stands “on the path to career and college readiness.” I hope that you find that as offensive and patronizing as I do. I would think that one of the foundational skills for college readiness is the desire to learn. It’s common sense that to succeed in college, you need to want to be there in the first place. By exposing children to developmentally inappropriate testing, we are creating burnouts. I don’t know if you care where your 8-year-old is on his path to “career readiness,” but I bet that you do care about his love for school and learning. And try as I might, I cannot explain how a test result that will not be available until next October will benefit any of our children. Their teachers won’t see the test results in time to use them to plan instruction and target areas of weakness, and the score reports do not show growth. So whom, then, do these “rigorous” tests benefit? I have a feeling that if our children flunk the test and our schools are deemed to be in failing health, Pearson will be only too happy to sell us the cure.

Parents, I know that you are busy. I know what it’s like to live a life that is an endless shuffle between work, activities, doctor’s appointments and the mini-crises that seem to pop up several times a week. You are tired. I get it. But if there was ever a time to call on that little reserve of brain power and energy that we parents save for when the s@&t really hits the fan, this is it. We are at a tipping point in education. Big money corporations and politicians with questionable motives are monitoring our apathy. They are counting on the grind of daily life to distract parents from the fact that the profiteers are twisting their moustaches while quietly tapping into the multi-billion dollar market that is our children’s education.

Act now, before a corporate, high stakes test driven education becomes a way of life. Be the Rosa Parks, the Erin Brockovich, the Rachel Carson, the Homer Plessy, the Karen Silkwood. Better yet, do what a friend did, and engage in some real learning. Play hooky from work, take your kid to the library, and read about these whistle blowers and activists. Make some signs. Make some noise. Your kids will never forget that you took a stand for them.

Sincerely,
Bianca Tanis
Hudson Valley Parent and Educator
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1399390 --- 04/28/13 02:46 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
VM Smith Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 11/28/05
Posts: 38160
Loc: Ship of Fools
Quote:
and the score reports do not show growth.


In this:

http://www.opportunitynyc.net/education/elamath

Is this:

HOW TO GET YOUR ELA AND MATH TEST REWARDS!

Families with children in public school in grades three through eight automatically receive Rewards if a child scores a level 3 or 4 or improves an ELA or Math test score by one level over the previous year.
GRADES 3-5: Families earn $300 per ELA and Math test. If the child passes both tests, families will receive $600.
GRADES 6-8: Families earn $350 per ELA and Math test. If the child passes both tests, families will receive $700.

It looks like this effort, from the evil private sector, gives rewards for growth, which "improvement" can be categorized as, year to year.

Quote:
And although the commissioner is OK with this being done to our children, apparently he does not want the same treatment for his own– they go to a private school.


http://www.time4learning.com/testprep/index.php/new-york-state-standardized-test-prep/

'New York State Testing Program at a Glance
New York State public, charter, and private school students take the following New York State standardized tests:

NYSTP: 3rd Grade – 8th Grade
Aligned to New York State Standards, which define what students should learn each year, the NYSTP tests measure how well students are meeting grade-level expectations. Students in 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades take level-specific NYSTP tests in English language arts, which includes writing, and math. Fourth graders and eighth graders also take the New York State science test for their level. In addition, 5th grade and 8th grade students are given the New York State social studies test."

Quote:
Maybe your child is a struggling learner. Maybe she reads below grade level and has just had her self-esteem gutted by a test...If we continue to stick with a “one size fits all” approach, someone is going to be left out in the cold, whether it’s the struggling learner or the child prodigy.


"Other New York State Standardized Tests
The New York State Testing Program uses a balanced range of assessments that promote learning for all students. The New York State Alternate Assessment (NYSAA) is designed to measure the progress of students with severe disabilities who require special accommodations. Students in grades K-12 with Limited English Proficiency take the New York State English as a Second Language
 Achievement Test (NYSESLAT), which annually measures their progress in meeting NYS standards in reading and language arts."


Edited by VM Smith (04/28/13 03:08 PM)
_________________________
If you vote for government, you have no right to complain about what government does.

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#1399521 --- 04/29/13 08:30 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 31962
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
The NYS teacher’s union, NYSUT, recently ran a campaign called “Tell It Like It Is.” Teachers were invited to share how the new mandates are impacting their students. In one of the testimonials, a teacher talked about how her third grade student was so anxious that he vomited on the 3rd grade ELA exam.


what if a school taxpayer gets sick writing out the check for the school taxes

can they avoid paying them?
_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1399545 --- 04/30/13 08:56 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 31962
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
You should also know that the teachers at your child’s school are most likely responsible for scoring the test. That means that they will have to be pulled out of class for a day or even 2 days.


just volunteer your weekend

after all it is about the STUDENTS
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"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1399817 --- 05/02/13 07:04 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: bluezone]
Festus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 1478
Loc: On yer nerves.
We used to sit for hours to take the Iowa Tests. What's the issue? Are you afraid your child might actually leave school with an education?
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I was brought into this world without my consent,
and will leave in the same manner.

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#1399899 --- 05/02/13 02:57 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: Festus]
Dr117 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 435
Loc: Way out West
Festua isn't that what parents are for? You children and my god-sn all turned out educated very well as have all mine.
Parents need to get involved a 100% more.
_________________________
Attitude is everything!

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#1399903 --- 05/02/13 04:12 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: Dr117]
Festus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/31/10
Posts: 1478
Loc: On yer nerves.
The kids couldn't have learned without the teachers doing their job. Do you remember how things were when we were in school? It didn't matter if you "felt good". What mattered was learning.
_________________________
I was brought into this world without my consent,
and will leave in the same manner.

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#1400106 --- 05/03/13 08:06 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: Festus]
Dr117 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/27/12
Posts: 435
Loc: Way out West
I too learned we had to walk a mile both ways up hill to get to the bus. Snow.rain sleet,hot it did not matter we had to go sick or not and we learned. 1st to respect others then ourselves.
Never talk back. No gum was allowed,no talking unless called upon or playing around nothing but complete attention at all times. You had to stay late if help was needed. No kids left behind like todat.Today if you can learn fast you are a star. need help,teachers do not have the time after an all day of work.
So some kids are left behind to depend on their parents and that's only if the parents could care enough to help other wise just just shove you onto the next grade. NOT GOOD!
_________________________
Attitude is everything!

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#1404499 --- 06/10/13 09:30 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: bluezone]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 31962
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
You should also know that the teachers at your child’s school are most likely responsible for scoring the test. That means that they will have to be pulled out of class for a day or even 2 days.


and how many days have you been absent?


_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1407559 --- 07/01/13 03:37 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: bluezone]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: bluezone
Originally Posted By: twocats
You should also know that the teachers at your child’s school are most likely responsible for scoring the test. That means that they will have to be pulled out of class for a day or even 2 days.


and how many days have you been absent?




In some cases they even wrote the test.
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1421710 --- 10/13/13 11:43 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 31962
Loc: USA
must have been over their long summer 'vacation'...

lol
_________________________
"OUR COUNTRY IS IN MOURNING, A SOLDIER DIED TODAY."

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#1423506 --- 10/24/13 06:51 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
In the spring of 2011 I received a receipt for the sale of my children. It came in the form of a flyer that simply notified me that my state and thereby my children’s school would comply with the Common Core. No other details of the transaction were included. The transaction was complete, and I had no say. In fact, it was the very first time I’d heard about it.

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

Okay, so the idea that the State School Board and Governor who’d made this decision could be described as “selling” my children is hyperbole. It is an exaggeration intended to convey an emotion regarding who, in this land of the free, has ultimate authority over decisions that directly affect my children’s intellectual development, privacy, and future opportunities. It is not even an accurate representation of my initial reaction to the flyer. I say it to make a point that I didn’t realize until much, much later… this isn’t just an issue of education, but of money and control. Please allow me to explain.

That first day my husband picked up the flyer and asked me, “What is Common Core?” To be honest, I had no idea. We looked it up online. We read that they were standards for each grade that would be consistent across a number of states. They were described as higher standards, internationally benchmarked, state-led, and inclusive of parent and teacher in-put. It didn’t sound like a bad thing, but why hadn’t we ever heard about it before? Again, did I miss the parent in-put meeting or questionnaire… the vote in our legislature? Who from my state had helped to write the standards? In consideration of the decades of disagreement on education trends that I’ve observed regarding education, how in the world did that many states settle all their differences enough to agree on the same standards? It must have taken years, right? How could I have missed it?

At first it was really difficult to get answers to all my questions. I started by asking the people who were in charge of implementing the standards at the school district office, and later talked with my representative on the local school board. I made phone calls and I went to public meetings. We talked a lot about the standards themselves. No one seemed to know the answers to, or wanted to talk about my questions about how the decision was made, the cost, or how it influenced my ability as a parent to advocate for my children regarding curriculum. I even had the chance to ask the Governor himself at a couple of local political meetings. I was always given a similar response. It usually went something like this:

Question: “How much will this cost?”

Answer: “These are really good standards.”

Question: “I read that the Algebra that was offered in 8th grade, will now not be offered until 9th grade. How is this a higher standard?”

Answer: “These are better standards. They go deeper into concepts.”

Question: “Was there a public meeting that I missed?”

Answer: “You should really read the standards. This is a good thing.”

Question: “Isn’t it against the Constitution and the law of the land to have a national curriculum under the control of the federal government?’

Answer: “Don’t you want your kids to have the best curriculum?”

It got to the point where I felt like I was talking to Jedi masters who, instead of actually answering my questions, would wave their hand in my face and say, “You will like these standards.”

I stopped asking. I started reading.

I read the standards. I read about who wrote the standards. I read about the timeline of how we adopted the standards (before the standards were written.) I read my state’s Race to the Top grant application, in which we said we were going to adopt the standards. I read the rejection of that grant application and why we wouldn’t be given additional funding to pay for this commitment. I read how standardized national test scores are measured and how states are ranked. I read news articles, blogs, technical documents, legislation, speeches given by the US Education Secretary and other principle players, and even a few international resolutions regarding education.

I learned a lot.

I learned that most other parents didn’t know what the Common Core was either.

I learned that the standards were state accepted, but definitely not “state led.”

I learned that the international benchmark claim is a pretty shaky one and doesn’t mean they are better than or even equal to international standards that are considered high.

I learned that there was NO public input before the standards were adopted. State-level decision makers had very little time themselves and had to agree to them in principle as the actual standards were not yet complete.

I learned that the only content experts on the panel to review the standards had refused to sign off on them, and why they thought the standards were flawed.

I learned that much of the specific standards are not supported by research but are considered experimental.

I learned that in addition to national standards we agreed to new national tests that are funded and controlled by the federal government.

I learned that in my state, a portion of teacher pay is dependent on student test performance.

I learned that not only test scores, but additional personal information about my children and our family would be tracked in a state-wide data collection project for the express purpose of making decisions about their educational path and “aligning” them with the workforce.

I learned that there are fields for tracking home-schooled children in this database too.

I learned that the first step toward getting pre-school age children into this data project is currently underway with new legislation that would start a new state preschool program.

I learned that this data project was federally funded with a stipulation that it be compatible with other state’s data projects. Wouldn’t this feature create a de facto national database of children?

I learned that my parental rights to deny the collection of this data or restrict who has access to it have been changed at the federal level through executive regulation, not the legislative process.

I learned that these rights as protected under state law are currently under review and could also be changed.

I learned that the financing, writing, evaluation, and promotion of the standards had all been done by non-governmental special interest groups with a common agenda.

I learned that their agenda was in direct conflict with what I consider to be the best interests of my children, my family, and even my country.

Yes, I had concerns about the standards themselves, but suddenly that issue seemed small in comparison to the legal, financial, constitutional and representative issues hiding behind the standards and any good intentions to improve the educational experience of my children.

If it was really about the best standards, why did we adopt them before they were even written?

If they are so wonderful that all, or even a majority of parents would jump for joy to have them implemented, why wasn’t there any forum for parental input?

What about the part where I said I felt my children had been sold? I learned that the U.S. market for education is one of the most lucrative – bigger than energy or technology by one account – especially in light of these new national standards that not only create economy of scale for education vendors, but require schools to purchase all new materials, tests and related technology. Almost everything the schools had was suddenly outdated.

When I discovered that the vendors with the biggest market share and in the position to profit the most from this new regulation had actually helped write or finance the standards, the mama bear inside me ROARED!

Could it be that the new standards had more to do with profit than what was best for students? Good thing for their shareholders they were able to avoid a messy process involving parents or their legislative representatives.

As I kept note of the vast sums of money exchanging hands in connection with these standards with none of it going to address the critical needs of my local school – I felt cheated.

When I was told that the end would justify the means, that it was for the common good of our children and our society, and to sit back and trust that they had my children’s best interests at heart – they lost my trust.

As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.

When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.

Finally, I learned one more very important thing. I am not the only one who feels this way. Across the nation parents grandparents and other concerned citizens are educating themselves, sharing what they have learned and coming together. The problem is, it is not happening fast enough. Digging through all the evidence, as I have done, takes a lot of time – far more time than the most people are able to spend. In order to help, I summarized what I thought was some of the most important information into a flowchart so that others could see at a glance what I was talking about.

I am not asking you to take my word for it. I want people to check the references and question the sources. I am not asking for a vote or for money. I don’t expect everyone to agree with me. I do believe with all my heart that a decision that affects the children of almost every state in the country should not be made without a much broader discussion, validated research, and much greater input from parents and citizens than it was originally afforded.

If you agree I encourage you to share this information. Post it, pin it, email it, tweet it.

No more decisions behind closed doors! Let’s get everyone talking about Common Core.

_________________________________

Thanks to Alyson Williams for permission to publish her story.

Sources for research: http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/FlowchartSources.pdf
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1423679 --- 10/25/13 06:24 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
Teonan Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 4306
Loc: West End
Originally Posted By: twocats

I know what you’re thinking. That’s outrageous! Common Core has nothing to do with selling things, especially not children!

As I listened to the Governor and education policy makers on a state and national level speak about my children and their education in terms of tracking, alignment, workforce, and human capital – I was offended.

When I was told that this is a done deal, and there was nothing as a parent or citizen that I could do about it – I was motivated.


Quite offensive.


Motivational article! Chant down these fools...

"We are striving to align educational outcomes with employer needs more than ever before, and that starts with greater flexibility on federal education policies that affect states."
- Utah Governor Herbert was also recently tagged for the NGA's Executive Committee.

_________________________
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."
-John Trudell


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#1423745 --- 10/26/13 10:49 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: Teonan]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Some schools in DC are implementing standardized testing to 3 and 4 year old students to judge their pre-school program. This has changed some classroom instruction. Everything is high stakes now, and there will be consequences. From the comment section in the Washington Post article:

Forty years ago psychologists Mark Lepper and David Greene demonstrated in an experiment with preschoolers how rewards can backfire. Particularly with an activity that students already enjoy-intrinsic motivation- (in the instant case helping friends) rewarding students-extrinsic motivation- leads to less enjoyment. http://www.spring.org.uk/2009/10/how-rewards-can-b...

Good parable here too. A shopkeeper was frustrated because kids in the neighborhood would come and throw rocks at his shop, often breaking the windows and he couldn't get the police to do anything. One day he came out while the kids were throwing rocks and told the leader that if they would come back the next day and throw rocks at his shop he would reward them by giving each a quarter. The next day when the kids threw the rocks he paid them off and then told them that if they came the next day and threw the rocks he would pay them each a dime. After paying them off on that day he told the leader that because business was bad he would only be able to pay them each a nickle the next day. The leader snorted and said that the boys weren't going to waste their time for just a nickel. The kids never returned and the shopkeeper's problem was solved.
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1424317 --- 10/30/13 04:18 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY





From a hard working educator



I work hard. I spend my days (and most evenings) preparing the best education I can for the children of my district. I have spoken to comissioner King, I have read and studied the common core, I have attended meeting after meeting in Albany. I have THE most current and accurate information at my fingertips. I have worked with my teachers to help them to accept the responsibility that is theirs as professional educators. I have resisted the urge to post on facebook as I try to leave my professional life out of my personal life, however, I can stay silent NO MORE. Today I have seen posts about petitions to fire King and for paretns to protest common core by keeping their children home from school. This witch hunt needs to end. To my friends that are parents and frustrated with "common core"...educatate yourself. Many of you are frustrated with curriculum modules, NOT common core. You don't even know what you are referring to! Just because "New math" is HARD doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it!! Kids are learning to problem solve and persist in ways that will help them succeed in life. There is no other way!! I would also warn you against keeping your children home from school to run from something that is challenging and difficult. Sending a message to your children to hide when times are hard, is NOT going to help the situation. We have raised enough children that think everything should be handed to them and that they don't have to work for anything. Teaching them to persist through difficult times is what will make them better people...you are mistaken if you think that keeping kids home from school will help...you will be damaging their beliefs about school and the importance of hard work. To my teacher friends that are constantly complaining about "common core"....you are professionals. DO NOT mix your frustration of being held accountable with what is best for kids. The reality is that over 60% of the students going into the college setting from graduating high school HAVE to be placed in remedial math and english. You can complain all you want and say that we are doing just fine the way we are, but the TRUTH is we AREN'T. We MUST do something different. What we have been doing DOES NOT WORK. To fix something broken, we have to try something new. This is what we are trying. Is it hard? yes. But as I tell students, hard just means that there is learning happening! I have met Comissioner King and spoken to him directly. I believe in common core and what is happening in our state. Is it perfect? NO. It's messy. But so was the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, and so will be the educational reform movement. You are making history. Be proud.
_________________________
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#1424370 --- 10/30/13 10:39 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
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Shame on her for waiting for a national curriculum to raise the standards for her students. All of the educators I work with teach each child to the fullest extent of their abilities. None of them need a set of national standards to take each child to his or her fullest potential. Our children are not common and they do not all learn at the same rate nor in the same way. She should be ashamed if it took a set of 'standards' to make her realize that.


Edited by twocats (10/30/13 10:39 PM)
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#1424406 --- 10/31/13 06:32 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: twocats
Shame on her for waiting for a national curriculum to raise the standards for her students. All of the educators I work with teach each child to the fullest extent of their abilities. None of them need a set of national standards to take each child to his or her fullest potential. Our children are not common and they do not all learn at the same rate nor in the same way. She should be ashamed if it took a set of 'standards' to make her realize that.


Wow that is what you took from that. So sad. You have really have the blame somebody else tactic down to a science. No wonder our education system is in ruin.
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1424495 --- 10/31/13 06:54 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: cwjga
Originally Posted By: twocats
Shame on her for waiting for a national curriculum to raise the standards for her students. All of the educators I work with teach each child to the fullest extent of their abilities. None of them need a set of national standards to take each child to his or her fullest potential. Our children are not common and they do not all learn at the same rate nor in the same way. She should be ashamed if it took a set of 'standards' to make her realize that.


Wow that is what you took from that. So sad. You have really have the blame somebody else tactic down to a science. No wonder our education system is in ruin.


See, that is exactly the blind follower answer I expected out of you. I think most politicians are scam artists. I don't think they know more about teaching young children than I do. But, hey, it's a free country. If you want to blindly follow Obama and Cuomo into this education $$$ throwaway, that's your right.

You also have the 'blame game' backwards. I didn't need someone to tell me to do my job. Apparently, the teacher you quoted did.

Thank God my principal has more faith in teachers than in politicians. I am still allowed to design my own lessons to meet the needs of my students.
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#1424501 --- 10/31/13 07:52 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Add ANOTHER superintendent who gets it.

SOME OF YOU ARE ASKING ABOUT WRITING S.L.O.s (SED has a lot of SLOWS) anyway... I would recommend

1. TEACH KIDS
2. TEACH KIDS WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW
3. TEACH KIDS WHAT THEY NEED TO KNOW WHEN THEN NEED TO KNOW IT

That is what BATs do!!!!
Dr. John Metallo (teacher, AD, Coach, HS Principal, Superintendent in NY for 40+ years and proud to serve with all of you) johngmetallo@live.com 518 577 7530
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#1424550 --- 11/01/13 06:39 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
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Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY
It is unfortunate that you can not see the forest for the trees. Rather than reading the educators comments and looking at them from a different perspective, you lash out and make that person the enemy.

Sad that you are both right, but you just can not see it.
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1424565 --- 11/01/13 09:50 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
We don't agree. I believe teachers know more about their students than politicians do. She doesn't. She is thankful to be part of a movement to raise standards, something she should have been doing all along.
I will always see and teach my students as individuals (trees) and not as forests.

I see the forest, and it looks like this:

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#1424567 --- 11/01/13 10:01 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY
Originally Posted By: twocats
I believe teachers know more about their students than politicians do. She doesn't. She is thankful to be part of a movement to raise standards, something she should have been doing all along.


Where do you get any of that from?
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1424592 --- 11/01/13 07:16 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Originally Posted By: cwjga
Originally Posted By: twocats
I believe teachers know more about their students than politicians do. She doesn't. She is thankful to be part of a movement to raise standards, something she should have been doing all along.


Where do you get any of that from?


Your post.
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#1424593 --- 11/01/13 07:18 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
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This is what we are competing against. Is this what you want for your children? Apparently, these students are studying with the aid of IV's to help with their exhaustion. Disgusting.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answ...Zw2GU_blog.html


Edited by twocats (11/01/13 07:18 PM)
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#1424719 --- 11/03/13 02:05 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Catholic schools are getting it.











Edited by twocats (11/03/13 02:06 PM)
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#1425619 --- 11/11/13 02:56 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
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New York State constantly changes the score needed to pass on ELA and Math tests. Only AFTER the tests are graded, a score needed to pass is established. All questions go through extensive field-testing before the tests go live. The question remains why this practice is needed? Perhaps it might have something to do with matching the NYSED Commissioner’s failure rate prediction given 4 months before the test was administered…

From 2006 to 2013 the score needed to pass went on a wild ride. One year, a 63% was needed to pass. In another year, students had to score 87% in order to pass.

In 2013, the score needed to pass the NYS ELA dropped to a record low 63%. While we are not able to see the actual test, we were informed about the make-up of the test. The 3rd grade practice set contained items that proved to be on readability levels above 8th grade: http://www.engageny.org/sites/default/files/resource/attachments/ela-grade-3-sample-questions.pdf

The 3rd grade ELA also contained some of the same exact questions/passages as the 4th and 5th grade test. NYSED called the items “calibration items”. They were affectionately known as “dummy items” by everyone else: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/new-...ticle-1.1318781

What will the scores need to be in order to pass the 2014 ELA and Math tests? That can only be answered by a few select members of the NYSED and will be done AFTER the test is graded. They have already guaranteed scores will go up next year.

No matter what they decide, we know that our children are more than predetermined test scores.



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#1425774 --- 11/12/13 08:36 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
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Love the sarcasm of nyceducator.com.

It's vital that we enact Common Core Standards immediately. That's why Reformy John King has actually been compelled to go out there and listen to parents and teachers before ignoring them utterly as per usual. Because without the valuable lip service of New York's education commissioner, where would we be?

More importantly, there are books and supplies to be sold. Common Core is the only way we can teach our children to think critically, and those of us who haven't been trained in it will never know how to question anything. As Reformy John says, in front of God and everybody, anyone who doesn't like it is a "special interest." Perhaps, given they're getting in the way of the healthy commerce caused by Common Core, such opponents are communists or worse! It's too bad they haven't been trained in the essential critical thinking skills of Common Core, or they'd know that now is the time to sit down and shut up.

As John King likes to point out, this is an emergency. We haven't got time to worry about whether or not Common Core does any of the things he claims it does. We can't take time to question it, or wonder whether or not it works. And if it's damaging to our children, that's just part of the cost of business. If three of four of them fail and are traumatized by it, so be it. This is the price of opposing the status quo! Our children need this even if it's total crap, because doing nothing is not an option. And by our children, I don't mean John King's children, who go to a Montessorri school.

That's just one reason why it doesn't matter at all if the Pearson materials we pay billions for are riddled with errors. That's just another incidental cost of business. The only way we can solve the crisis that Reformy John King says we're in is to buy the materials at full price and use them anyway.

Because how can we teach kids to be critical thinkers if we don't use low quality crappy materials that they can criticize?
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#1426483 --- 11/20/13 10:29 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
That Doesn't Seem Like Lobbying for Children
By Peter DeWitt on November 20, 2013 5:55 PM

In January, 2012 Governor Andrew Cuomo said that he was going to be a "Lobbyist for children." Waldman (Times Union) wrote, Arguing that New York is "driven by the business of education more than achievement in education," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said education would be a "priority mission" for his administration in 2012."

What a difference a year makes.

Closing in on the end of 2013, Governor Cuomo seems to be delivering a very different message. In a recent press conference, Cuomo spoke about the New York State Education Department's implementation of the Common Core State Standards saying, "It's something we're watching very closely, and it's something that might be the subject of legislative changes next year," Cuomo told reporters on Staten Island. "But it's not anything that I control, so we are watching."

Cuomo continued by saying, "some of the rollout of Common Core, which started last school year, has been "problematic." Oddly, the Governor who labeled himself the "Lobbyist for Children" didn't take ownership over any of the implementation...nor did he discuss standardized testing...nor did he say he was going to fix everything. He actually said, "It's actually a decision that the state Education Department is going to make."

That doesn't sound like lobbying for children. That sounds like lobbying for time to get a better answer during an election.

Losing Public Education Support

In a post last year after he referred to himself as the lobbyist for children, I offered some suggestions for his children-centered focus, which would help the public school system. Click here to read those suggestions.

In a recent Democrat & Chronicle, it was reported that the Governor may have a reason behind his silent stance on N.Y. public education, and it has to do with his own HEDI score. "Gov. Andrew Cuomo's job performance rating hit its lowest point this month, a Siena College poll released Monday found, dipping to 44 percent positive." The D & C went on to report, "The Democratic governor's job performance sank to 44 percent positive and 56 negative, down eight percentage points from last month, Siena said."

The D&C continued, "While Cuomo maintains his nearly two-to-one favorability rating, voters are less enthralled with the job he is doing as governor." The D&C quoted Siena pollster Steven Greenberg as saying, "More than twice as many voters think he's doing a poor job compared to an excellent job, and more voters now think Cuomo is doing a fair (39 percent) or poor job (17 percent) than at any time in his three years as governor."

"The lobbyist for children" needs to mend some fences with the public school system and work with them rather than against them.

Connect with Peter on Twitter.
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#1426608 --- 11/21/13 04:48 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
State legislators gathered in Rochester Wednesday to hear opinions on the state's Common Core standardized test curriculum.

More than 100 people, many of them educators, gathered at the Memorial Art Gallery auditorium, and more than two dozen speakers vehemently opposed the standardized tests, which began statewide last spring.

Assemblyman Al Graf (R- Holbrook), who is sponsoring a bill in opposition to the tests, attended the session along with Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R- Canandaigua), Assemblymen Mark Johns (R-Webster), Steve Hawley (R- Albion), Bill Nojay (R-Lakeville), Robert Oaks (R-Macedon), and Edward Ra (R- Garden City).

"What you have here is state-sanctioned abuse of our children," Graf said. "Other states are pulling out of this. It's time for New York State to wake up and smell the coffee, and stop hurting our children."

Parents, current and retired teachers, school administrators, and college professors were among those who expressed opposition to the standardized tests – saying the timed, 90-minute tests, which are given three consecutive school days are poorly written, not age- or grade-appropriate, and are basically stressing kids out because kids are being tested on an supposed standard on things they haven't yet been taught.

Thirty-one percent of New York State students passed the exams.

GMCLENDN@DemocratandChronicle.com

Twitter.com/NightCopsReport
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#1427600 --- 12/01/13 10:58 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
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From Valley View:

Common Core appears based on a social, ideological premise that “It’s not fair that your child gets to be a doctor if mine can’t. Everyone grab a mop. We’re all janitors now.” Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for janitors. In fact, I married one. He’s now a licensed engineer, the “top mop.”

But with Common Core dictating exactly what every child will learn at every grade level, there is no longer opportunity for children to achieve their individual potential. There is no opportunity for the doctors and engineers to break out of the pack where they need to be if we are to remain “competitive in the global economy.” There is no place for art, design, trades. And there is no place for anyone who cannot meet the bar as it is set, such as our special-education students.

Common Core is not “rigorous.” It is simply rigid. It dictates where our children will be at every stage of their education, everyone at the same place at the same time.

This is not how a free society educates its students. This is how a free society abdicates its freedom by delivering their children into the hands of financial and political stakeholders for placement in their ideological workforce. Not this mom.
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#1427602 --- 12/01/13 12:25 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
Teonan Offline
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Registered: 05/30/12
Posts: 4306
Loc: West End

Conscious Mom's unite!


Superintendent Cohen vocally joins the ranks of parents and educators in opposition to Common Core/College and Career Readiness.


LI Superintendent Blasts Board of Regents for “Educational Apartheid”

By dianeravitch
30 Nov. 2013

Steve Cohen, superintendent of the Shoreham-Wading River School District, published an editorial in the local newspaper blasting the New York Board of Regents.


Many educators are afraid to speak out against what they know is wrong because they fear for their jobs. Teachers may be fired. Principals may be fired. Superintendents may be fired. When anyone expresses their professional judgment without fear and says what’s right for children, it takes courage. For teachers, it is best to do it en masse. The same for principals. Superintendents are leaders of their community and are in a position to make a new path. They can lead opinion. More should do so.

I am happy to add Steve Cohen to our honor roll.

High schools have always prepared students for college and careers, he writes. But the Regents have a new idea.


He writes:

First, consider exactly how the Board of Regents defines “College and Career Ready.”

If a student passes an algebra test in 8th or 9th grade at a level that correlates to a C in freshman mathematics in college, and if that same student passes an English test in 11th grade at a level correlated with a C in freshman English in college, along with earning 22 credits in high school and passing three other Regents exams, then she or he is set and ready to go to college and into the world of work.

No music, art, advanced study in much of anything; no community service, no sports, no occupational training; no independent work in any academic or other creative field is required. In addition, to do well on these tests, it is not necessary to read entire novels or histories or write papers of any length or complexity. It is not necessary to develop a love of anything or demonstrate an ability to think on one’s own feet.

Second, note that 16 of the 17 Board of Regents members, in addition to the commissioner of education himself, send their children to private schools — ones that have not embraced the reforms the Board of Regents and the commissioner claim are needed to make students “College and Career Ready.” I mention this fact because its relevance becomes obvious once one understands what “College and Career Ready” means for the children of our educational leaders. You see, the colleges that the children of Regents and commissioners of education are expected to attend, places like Harvard University, define “College and Career Ready” differently.

But this is not what is expected by elite universities, who want so much more for their students.

And he adds:

So it turns out that “College and Career Ready” means two different things depending on whether you are a public school student in New York or a student at an expensive private school. “College and Career Ready” for public school kids means achieving at a decidedly mediocre level when compared to the expectations the Regents have for their own children. Perhaps that’s one reason they would never send them to schools that are benefiting from their wonderful reforms.

For “College and Career Ready,” once one digs a bit below the surface, suggests readying public school students for work that does not demand advanced learning in anything and is not oriented toward preparing students to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.” No, these loftier expectations, and the courses and other resources needed to achieve them, are to be reserved for students not subject to the glories of the Regents Reform Agenda, students whose parents have the money and connections to keep them out of the public school system.

Most new jobs created in our economy are low-paying service jobs. We should be concerned that “College and Career Ready” actually refers to a curriculum that guides public school students to these jobs, leaving the few good jobs to students who receive a private high school education that prepares them to “take advantage of future learning opportunities of all kinds.”


Make no mistake about it, “College and Career Ready” is code for education apartheid. Do not let your children breathe the stale air of low expectations, reduced exposure to the arts and music, limited engagement with sophisticated science and little, if any, prolonged, deep and thoughtful contact with great literature.

“College and Career Ready” is a trap. Don’t fall for it. Your kids deserve better. Just like theirs.

http://dianeravitch.net/2013/11/30/li-su...onal-apartheid/
_________________________
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."
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#1429196 --- 12/14/13 06:10 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
Design Lessons for Students, not Standards

By Adam Heenan
I consider most conflicts to be problems of design. As a teacher, my first task is always to design lessons that are engaging. Some teachers do this very easily with humor, or great storytelling. I do this by prioritizing relevant and valuable ideas shared by the students in the room, and I excel at that… or so my students and their parents tell me. If my designs are off, my lessons will not be engaging and my students will not learn. And, believe me, students are quite effective at letting me know when my lessons are not engaging.
In general, learning standards are implemented as a design solution for a problem that never was. In my nine years of teaching social studies and Spanish, I have had to learn and prioritize the Illinois Learning Standards – of which there are six different sets for the social studies ‑ along with socio-emotional standards, the ACT-aligned College Readiness Standards, and now the Common Core State Standards for literacy. (There are no social studies standards for this newest set, so by default, I am directed to use the non-fiction reading and writing standards.) As part of my evaluation, all of these standards are to be accounted for in my lesson plans, as if they add value that wasn’t already there in the lessons I’ve been teaching. Please consider the value and relevance of the following lesson currently happening in my classroom.
I teach Financial Literacy as a semester-long social studies course for high school juniors in a Chicago public school. The first quarter, which just finished on October 31st, focused on professional skills; the second quarter revolves around money management. This week my students – who have just completed their mock interview for a future career – must go through the steps of determining a place to live on a fixed salary, and then present their decision to their peers in the form of a brief PowerPoint presentation.
To complete this project, the students must first determine their biweekly net pay and cost of living expenses (determined by scale based upon their grade from last semester, e.g. students who received an “A” earn $42,000, and performance in the mock interview), and then they must find a place to live. To do this, students scour the Internet for classified ads on webservers like Craigslist. They quickly realize that the students who did really well in the mock interview have an easier time finding a desirable living arrangement, while the ones who didn’t do so well might have to find a classmate willing to be a roommate. Some even have to explain in their presentations why they are living at home in their parents’ attic!
Year after year, this is one of the most popular lessons I do with my students because they consider it both relevant and valuable to their real lives. Students will (hopefully) be moving out of their parents’ homes in a few years, and this lesson is usually the first opportunity they have had to navigate their possibilities for determining their living options. This is an assignment that requires some adult support, but relies on students’ autonomy and ingenuity. They love being able to compare who got the “better deal” on the “coolest” apartment.
They apply mathematical skill-sets of adding, subtracting, multiplying and proportioning for the paychecks; techno-literacy, geo-spatial mapping, and economic decision-making to determine a place to live; and communication skills both in the presentation of their PowerPoint and in the negotiations of “what’s fair” between roommates for who get different sized rooms. Some of the students argue that since their partners/roommates are contributing unequal amounts money, than perhaps that person’s bedroom will be the size of a walk-in closet. We all get a good laugh, and then move on to budgeting in the real world the following week.
If I have explained the purpose of this activity clearly, the reader probably wasn’t judging this lesson based upon their determining what standard I was trying to teach. That’s because I’m not trying to teach a standard, I am teaching a valuable lesson to young people: how to find a place to live when you are on your own, something that most people have to do sometime in their young adult lives.
This lesson has changed very little over the years I have taught it. Neither the Common Core nor the College Readiness Standards, and not even the Illinois Learning Standards have any bearing on the value of this lesson. The standards are inconsequential. The activities are not derived from or determined by standards; the lesson comes from the students’ needs to master content that is relevant and valuable to their lives.
Most of the lessons I design prioritize what is relevant to the content and valuable to students and our community. But this is changing in my classroom, as it is across the profession, with the pressure either to align our current curricula to the standards, or to design different activities that justify the assessments (read: standardized tests). What then happens to valuable lessons like the one I’ve describes? They get relegated to “extra credit” instead of being the subject matter of everyday learning, and teachers have to tailor classroom learning to the assessments that teachers most likely did not design.
This is not an appeal for more help in learning how to implement the standards better in my teaching. If I wanted support for applying the Common Core in my classroom, I could get it. I could ask my administration or my union, and both would be responsive. I could attend any number of professional development sessions, or sign on for some webinars in my pajamas any night of the week. Google turns up unlimited implementation ideas I could put in place immediately, and Education Week is forever advertising a new solution system for my administration to buy. Yes, the Common Core has designed an entire market of solutions for a problem that didn’t exist five years ago. What if all that money went directly into classrooms instead?
No, I don’t want support for Common Core. I simply believe we should not do it, because it does not prioritize the needs of the people in the teaching and learning process: students and educators. In fact, I believe we should actively resist its implementation, and provide educators with the autonomy, support and time to design engaging lessons in the ways they know best: by prioritizing the people in the room.
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1429344 --- 12/15/13 08:26 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
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Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
In Kentucky and New York, the Common Core tests caused test scores to tumble by 30 points or more.

State officials assume–with no evidence–that the scores will go up every year. What if they don’t? What if they go up only by a small increment? What if 50-60% of students don’t pass?

In New York, the “passing” rate on the Common Core tests was 30% statewide. Only 3% of English learners passed, and only 5% of students with disabilities. The pass rate for African American and Hispanic students was 15-18%.

If the state continues to insist upon a wildly unrealistic passing mark, the percentage of students who do not graduate will soar.

If Pearson aligns the GED with the Common Core, a startling number of students will never have high school diplomas of any kind. They won’t even qualify for the military. Will they be doomed to a life of poverty, of working in fast-food shops at minimum wage?

It is time to think of multiple ways to earn a diploma. It is time to think about career and technical education for students who want and deserve a chance to have a fruitful life. It is time to re-think what schools should do in addition to preparing students for college.

School should be a place for opportunity, not a single program–not one-size-fits-all, where the losers end up on the streets with no diploma and no hope.

What exactly is the point of making tests so “hard” that only 30% or 40% or maybe 50% can pass them? What will happen to those who never get a diploma? Do we really want to manufacture failure, knowing that those who fail will be those who already have the fewest advantages in life? As we follow this path, what kind of a society will we be 10 years from now?

Diane Ravitch
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1430321 --- 12/23/13 10:23 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
This month, for the third time in a row, the Asians kicked American butt — academically, that is. On reading, science and math, students in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore earned the top scores on the international PISA test. U.S. students scored below or near the worldwide average, prompting suggestions that American education as a whole is failing. As a Hong Kong educator, I’m confident that the last thing the United States needs to copy is Chinese education.

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Here in this city of 2 million parents , there are 2 million school principals, all ordering after-school academic courses like appetizers in a restaurant. Parents are the headmasters because our schools no longer control the education process. A 2011 survey estimated that 72 percent of Hong Kong high school students receive tutoring outside of school, often until late in the evening. So when our schools get out, the school day is just beginning for most kids.

Long before the term “tiger mom” was coined, Chinese parents had a history of obsessing over academics. The other day, I overheard two parents talking about their sons. One mom turned to the other and shrieked, “I found him in his room, just sitting there. Not doing anything!” The other gasped and shook her head in disbelief.

Their sons are 6 years old.

It is not uncommon at parent get-togethers to hear references to an “inadequate foundation,” “unsystematic approach” and “syllabus gap.” Such phrases point to a fundamental distrust in our schools and, specifically, in the role of the schoolteacher as the official executor and judge of a child’s educational needs. This, coupled with the irrational fear that somewhere out there, some child is learning more and working harder, sets into motion the tremendous after-school education Chinese children are subjected to.

This after-school education is my world. I am one of the thousands of tutors helping Hong Kong students achieve high test scores. To me, the recent test results were no surprise: Of course East Asian kids test well. They are tested every day, even when they are sick. Our children sit for lengthy, rigorous and confusing examinations, starting at age 6. Weekends, summers and holiday breaks are golden opportunities to catch up on some R&R — review and revision, that is.

But the thing about testing is that it creates excellent followers, not leaders. Doing well on tests requires constant test prep. Granted, when it comes to buckling down and cramming for hours on end, Asians kids will beat their U.S. counterparts to a pulp. But give them a task that is not testable or not directly related to school, ask them to do something not for their college application but for themselves, and they’ll draw a blank.

That’s because one usually has to be bored to innovate. And Asian kids don’t have time to be bored; they are too busy acing tests. The fact that our kids are never idle will, I fear, ultimately cause our students to lag behind in ways that would be disastrous to our society. Even if the end goal is admission to an Ivy League university — which I don’t believe it should be — the statistics are alarming. An October study found that one in four Chinese students attending Ivy League universities in the United States drop out.

As a Hong Kong educator, I don’t view Hong Kong’s stellar PISA results as an indication of success. To me, it’s a sign that our education system is out of control. Likewise, I urge American parents and schools not to take the U.S. PISA results as an indication of defeat. I’d like to see Asian kids stop acing tests and start changing the world.
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Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1434089 --- 01/26/14 02:25 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
"A teacher is the best person to evaluate a student, period. They know them, they know the character of each incoming class-- and they ARE different, just as each individual is different. Some classes go very smooth[ly] others struggle. Even as the year progresses you find that certain topics engage them more, or are better or not so better understood.

My analogy is the teacher as a gardener. You start out with a solid plan to grow tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, onions, etc. Each with an allotted space and anticipated production. So many variables out of your control are already in place: the weather (which changes every year), the soil makeup with yearly variances, pests of all sorts, new diseases, hail, and freezing, but you have the motivation and determination to do the best with what you have.

However as the season progresses, you notice that the tomatoes are coming along very nicely, but the carrots are a little sub-par. So after intimate examination along with your experience, you tweak the soil so you can at least get some reasonable carrot harvest. At the end of the season, you have some good crops, and some so-so. But what you have done is maximized the potential for each crop in a very dynamic system through your OWN daily interaction, one in which you don't just "set it and forget it". (The next season you start all over again, but you can't just repeat what you did this year, because the variables will again change.)

So now you have all of your produce in a neat pile, and proud of yourself for all of the hard work, but already you reflect on what worked and what didn't, and you start getting prepared for next year.

Now comes along some tool in a suit and clipboard and she says "I'm the NCLB!, your carrots are 12.3 pounds short! and those tomatoes aren't perfectly spherical and 3 inches in diameter. What? There's no pineapples? Wrong Wrong Wrong! You are supposed to produce exactly 40 pounds of each product we specify, no more, no less, and you can't grow anything from seeds not sold by us. So we are going to pay you less than the market rate. Also we are going to reduce the size of your plot because you can't produce; obviously it's your fault." Then she sends you a bill for assessing you."

Opt out.


Edited by twocats (01/26/14 02:27 PM)
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1444369 --- 04/12/14 06:29 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
twocats Offline
Silver Member

Registered: 02/09/10
Posts: 11903
Loc: NYS
When many of my students entered my third-grade classroom this year, they told me they didn’t like to read, and they definitely didn’t like to write. I made them a promise that by the end of third grade, I would change their minds.

Before the winter’s end, many of my children confirmed that—would you believe it?—they couldn’t stop reading. Parents were reporting flashlights under the covers because they just had to know what Ramona was going to do next. Kids were choosing to read during indoor recess instead of zoning out in front of the computer screen. They lit up when it was time for Writing Workshop because they had become teachers through their writing, and they had LOTS to teach about being a big sister, the right way to swing a tennis racket, and how to bake the perfect cupcake. Better still, I had tangible quantitative data that this love for their work was translating into elevated reading levels, stronger spelling and grammar, and better elaboration of ideas in writing. There was proof. I have numbers, letters, grades, written reports—all kinds of things that show that yes, love pays off, and that yes, kids will excel when they are engaged and committed because they are, well, engaged and committed. We get better at doing things we like doing, because we’ll do them again, and again, and again. Practice makes progress, proficiency, and beyond.

These tests are turning reading and writing into chores, sucking the life and love out of the students’ young literary lives.
When the winter started to come to an end, it was time to start preparing for the ELA, the New York state standardized test in English Language Arts, which, for the second time now, is supposed to be aligned with the new Common Core expectations of what students at each grade level should know and be able to do. I have been a teacher for seven years, this is my third year teaching on a testing grade, and I felt that I’d learned a thing or two about how to make the test-prep process less arduous and monotonous for my young students: test-prep games instead of workbook pages every so often; basing some essays and short response questions on high-level but fun read-alouds such as Time for Kids articles, the fictional tales of Chris Van Allsburg, and short, kid-friendly biographies about famous historical figures, instead of irrelevant and obscure texts; partnership and small group work when possible; etc. I used every trick in my test-preppy pocket, because while it’s part of my job to make sure my students feel ready and confident for this test, it’s all of my job to take care of them and their learning. I won’t lie to you and say they loved it, because they didn’t. But we managed. I did my job. They felt ready. They were ready. They had practiced, and practiced hard. Their love for reading was weakening, because they were reading with the intention of answering complex questions, rather than to authentically respond or have a conversation with a reading partner. But still, they were reading. We reminded ourselves weekly of the books we were reading and enjoying outside of test prep, such as My Father’s Dragon, Superfudge, and Encyclopedia Brown. We did what we could to hold on to the most important factor in our progress: the actual desire to do the work, the love of reading and writing.

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Nothing could have adequately prepared these 8-year-olds for the testing they were subjected to last week. As many other teachers have reported, the multiple-choice questions (and answer choices) were so complex and nonsensical that many adults struggled to determine the right answers. One of the reasons I actually support certain parts the Common Core is due to the emphasis on getting kids to go beyond the surface level of a text, but none of these questions tested their ability to do that. Instead of a question like: “What caused the character to (insert action here) in the middle of the story?” (which, mind you, is hard enough for an 8-year-old to identify as it is), there were questions like: “In Line 8 of Paragraph 4, the character says … and in Line 17 of Paragraph 5, the character does … Which of the following lines from Paragraph 7 best supports the character’s actions?” This, followed by four choices of lines from Paragraph 7 that could all, arguably, show motivation for the character’s actions in the preceding paragraphs. Additionally, MANY of the questions on the third-grade tests were aligned with fifth-grade standards (especially related to the structure of the text itself, rather than its meaning), and did not address the third-grade expectations. I wish I could give you more than hypotheticals, but teachers aren’t allowed to publicize test material.

If you got these questions right, it meant that you had an advanced enough memory to retain what had happened in Paragraphs 6 and 8 as you read the question that referred to Line 9 in order to determine what the test writer thought was the relationship among all three parts of the text. Question after question required undue scrutiny of individual words and phrases as they connected to other words and phrases. That isn’t close reading. That isn’t what we did all year, as we read and reread to talk about authorial intent, point of view, character motivations—things that I didn’t talk about as a student until middle school, that now I was watching my third-graders slowly but surely be able to do. But no: This was text dissection and process of elimination. Nobody really reads like that. It’s not how I taught, and it’s not what the Common Core expects. One of the huge goals of the Common Core is to prepare students for real-life reading, to be able to engage with text in the real world no matter the genre. Hear, hear! I would love for someone at Pearson, the company that produced the ELA, to find me one 8-year-old who would, on any given day in the “real world,” somehow come into contact with a level X (sixth-grade) novel that is set during the Great Depression, with characters who speak in local vernacular and are facing the problems of poverty and bankruptcy. But this is what’s used to measure how well my students can understand “authentic texts.” Give me a break.

During the test, my readers, who months ago couldn’t get their noses out of books, complained of stomachaches as they persevered and tried to read texts that were over their heads and had no relevance to their lives, age, or backgrounds. They struggled to hold their heads up and were doing hand stretches at the 60-minute mark as they tried to do what they were taught, what they know how to do—to back up their ideas with strong text evidence. But at the end of the day, their close reading and thinking put them at a disadvantage because they barely had enough time to finish writing about topics and texts that not only were inappropriate for their age and developmental level, but that they would never, EVER encounter in their reading lives, inside of school or out.

My kids are now totally fried and frustrated, and so am I. Worst of all, these tests are turning reading and writing into chores, into something that more closely resembles punishment than it does a way to enrich thinking. This is sucking the life and love out of their young literary lives. Did I break my promise from September? Do they not love to read and write anymore because of this insane culture? The hard work that we put in earlier in the year, showing them that there was so much to love about reading and writing, and doing it in a way that really does support these higher standards of learning, will not be reflected in their test results. It’s not what they needed to show New York state that they are grade-level readers (which, ironically enough, almost all of them are).

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Again, it is my job to take care of them and their learning. Recently it has become part of my job to try and push their thinking beyond what many child psychologists would consider “developmentally appropriate” for 8-year-olds, and I was, and still am, up for that challenge, even though it’s a little crazy. It is not my job to take children who are developing, who are trying to make sense of the world and the books around them, and turn them into test-taking drones who read and write with the intention of dissection and choosing the best answer out of four complex answer choices that all say little to nothing about what the text actually meant.

The past few days have made it seem as though that’s what my job is supposed to be, and that all of the love (and skill!) they have developed for literature and writing this year is irrelevant, as is the progress my kids have made that will not be shown by this absurdity. You can assess me all you want. I will number-crunch and data-report until the cows come home, but leave my kids out of it. They’re trying to become stronger readers and writers, and this is getting in the way. We need a way to measure their growth from start to finish, not to see where they fall on a bell curve that is already skewed because of the flawed measures that it rests on.

And if you’re not sure what I mean … try going back to Paragraph 2, Lines 8–10, as well as Paragraph 5, Lines 1–4, and then choose the sentence from Paragraph 7 that best supports the main idea found in both of those paragraphs. Because if you can do that, you will have shown me that you have a deep understanding of the message I am trying to convey.
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Edited by twocats (04/12/14 06:32 AM)
_________________________
Humanity is an ocean; if a few drops of the ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty.

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#1444709 --- 04/15/14 01:55 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY


Edited by cwjga (04/15/14 03:30 PM)
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1445136 --- 04/19/14 10:37 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
cwjga Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/06/08
Posts: 9524
Loc: NY
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Annoying liberals, it's just too easy. Hard to believe how easy it is.

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#1445778 --- 04/26/14 09:28 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
bluezone Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 12/19/04
Posts: 31962
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: twocats
Again, it is my job to take care of them and their learning.


if they fail to perform then should your compensation be reduced?
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#1446162 --- 04/30/14 05:00 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: cwjga]
Red22 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 06/21/06
Posts: 746
Loc: ny


I guess there are crappy teachers. Just like there are crappy doctors, car salesmen, dentists, farmers, mechanics, police officers, electricians, cosmetologists, lawyers, nurses, governors, senators, presidents, carpenters, principals, bus drivers, plastic surgeons, bartenders, pizza delivery guys, taxi drivers, etc.

Nothing changes the fact that some people are lazy. On the other hand, some people go above and beyond and do superior work.

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#1446337 --- 05/02/14 06:52 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: Red22]
VM Smith Offline
Diamond Member

Registered: 11/28/05
Posts: 38160
Loc: Ship of Fools
Quote:
I guess there are crappy teachers. Just like there are crappy doctors, car salesmen, dentists, farmers, mechanics, police officers, electricians, cosmetologists, lawyers, nurses, governors, senators, presidents, carpenters, principals, bus drivers, plastic surgeons, bartenders, pizza delivery guys, taxi drivers, etc.


The difference between the government teachers and most of the other occupations is that with the others, taxpayers aren't forced, at gunpoint, to pay them even if they don't use them. If they want to use another lawyer or pizza person, or not use a plastic surgeon, they are free to do so without penalty.
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#1461139 --- 10/10/14 11:06 PM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
MissingArty Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/11
Posts: 1967
Loc: Waterloo, NY
"Bought" the movie is out.

http://ykr.be/7o2aiv553
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Arty turns 8 this summer.

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#1461989 --- 10/22/14 12:20 AM Re: Dear Parents [Re: twocats]
MissingArty Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 12/18/11
Posts: 1967
Loc: Waterloo, NY
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Arty turns 8 this summer.

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