via Tom Hoffman at TuttleSVC:
Choice Quotes on the NYS ELA Exam
Many thanks to Lucy Calkins for having someone throw up a site to gather comments about the recent Common Core-aligned ELA exams in New York state. It is a bit of a mess, but kind of charming that in 2013 they chose to hack something together from scratch in PHP instead of just giving Google all the data directly.
Here are some quotes I plucked — sorry they aren’t attributed or individually linked. I spent way too much time reading the giant list of comments in the first place and couldn’t get too fussy.
For example, two of the questions asked students, “Which of the following is the best summary of the article.” For each of these questions, there were four lengthy summaries (a,b,c, or d). Students could easily narrow the four summaries down to two possible choices, but the differences between the two possible choices were so subtle that you’re no longer measuring that student’s ability to summarize! You’re measuring if they can pick up on matters of inclusion and exclusion. It’s more trickery than actually measuring the mastery of a particular skill, especially in this multiple-choice format.
I started my former position in banking based on two abilities; being able to do basic coding in fourth-generation languages (dBase, Access, etc.), and being able to write a solid one-page memo to outline situations to my management. My experience, and the demand for my writing since, tells me that what is being tested with this fad for “close” reading is the exact opposite of what business is looking for. A good analysis/synthesis memo does not involve your reading of minute details, but instead includes only the details that are pertinent to the situation at hand, or some future problem. Sharing with management that the program to pay loan officers for originations is occurring at two points in the program resulting in double payments, is the kind of detail they want to hear. Telling them the program is working as expected, and then detailing each example from the code is only prized in auditors, and is way more information than most Senior VPs and even Assistant VPs want or need. Including a comment on some random piece of code doesn’t make you a prized employee, it just makes you a wanker in their eyes. Really, this whole system is just ready to implode under the weight of its own stupidity.
A few weeks back, the California State Democratic Convention came to Sacramento, and I was there. Although I was not able to win a seat as a delegate, I helped out at the CTA (California Teachers Association) booth and got a non-voting pass. During my booth time, I talked to a political consultant from the Southland. He bemoaned the unwillingness of teachers to engage in direct political campaigning (phoning, going door-to-door, etc.), because teachers are “gold” in a campaign as we have a high level of trust with the public. I opined that there are many reasons why teachers shy away from political involvement, but often it’s a desire to stay out of partisanship, or above the fray. I got involved in politics because I realized that politics was going to get involved with me, and my profession, and my staying out of that fight would not keep it from coming to me. In this piece, I’m going to share why I got involved (and why other teachers should take an active role in politics), and what happened at the convention that supports my thinking on this. The views expressed are my own, and do not reflect the opinion of the many organizations I’m affiliated with (Sacramento City Teachers Association, California Teachers Association) except where explicitly stated.
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I took the picture above before the start of the day at my school a few weeks back. The fog was lifting off the field, and the air was still. It seemed to capture the moment, and the time of year well. Since then spring, and all the “hell” that goes with it, has broken out. There is no stillness. This week was capped by two-days of extreme wind that had everyone on the edge of madness. If you’re a teacher, I don’t have to explain why a windy day makes everyone crazy. I also don’t have to explain that the sixth graders are doing things that leave all of us thinking (and occasionally uttering), “Have you completely taken leave of your senses?” — which they have, because their brains are slowly being bathed in a hormonal mix that favors action over thought. As the oldest grade in our elementary, they are going through a process of “separation” which involves loving me and their classmates madly one moment, and loathing us the next. Some manage to do both at once. My favorite adjective to describe my class is “fractious”, because they are. And, as badly as they are getting along with the adults, it’s like a rose garden compared to how they are getting along with each other. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been doing a lot with short constructed writing response. Part of this is due to trainings I’m going to on Common Core for my district. The standards emphasize a written response that
sites the information from the text the question is based on. I’m not in love with the standards, but feel I can live with the upper-elementary level ones (mostly because as Tom Hoffman points out, it’s not like their worse than what was here before). I make no claims about their appropriateness for primary (the fact that NO early childhood educators or experts were included in their development is appalling), and high school (where the discussions of implementation have degenerated into a ridiculous metrics like “50% of text reading should be informational” – like you don’t get information from reading Moby Dick?).
I’ll be writing a post soon on the results of this exploration of writing I’ve been doing (two thumbs up, IMHO) for those who prefer action in the classroom to my gassing on about policy, etc. which I’ll continue to do in here in the remainder of this post. Read the rest of this entry »
Fellow Sacramento teacher (and friend), Larry Ferlazzo, asked me to help him out by contributing to an article at EdWeek on “implementing Common Core”. Little did I know the minefield I was stepping into. The article has morphed into a fight between the “agnostics” (Common Core skeptics like myself and Larry), and the atheists (folks who view Common Core with the same suspicion and loathing that Richard Dawkins has for Creation “Science”).
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