Conservative manifesto opposes “one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled curriculum.”

(Updated at 2:35 p.m. with reaction to the manifesto)

Today 100 conservative education, business and political leaders issued a strong rebuke to a recent call for a national curriculum and national tests.

The manifesto counters the Albert Shanker Institute campaign for a common curriculum and criticizes the federal embrace of common assessments and the funding of two state partnerships to develop them. (Georgia is among the states involved in developing assessments for the Common Core State Standards.)

A local signatory is Kelly McCutchen of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation.

I know I risk the wrath of many, but as a parent I have no problem with a national curriculum and national tests.

I still believe testing has a role in education and agree with the answer I once heard education historian and writer Diane Ravitch give at a Hechinger Institute seminar when asked what she thought about testing: “Depends on the test.”

The manifesto garnered quick response from signers of the Shanker statement. “While we agree that curriculum should be designed before assessments, their claim that the ‘Call for Common Content’ is about creation of a ‘national curriculum’ and ‘national standards’ is just plain wrong,” said Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers , one of the signatories.

“What we argued then, and what the AFT’s own committee on implementation of common core standards will reinforce in its upcoming recommendations, was that educators need and want a set of curricular roadmaps that are aligned to common standards and developed from various high-quality, content rich, multiple curriculum resources, with strong input from teachers themselves and other curriculum experts,” she said.

“Without these resources, especially in a time of tight education budgets, it will be up to teachers to make up all of this content aligned to standards as they go along, under the guise of local autonomy. That is a recipe for failure and unfair to both students and teachers,” Weingarten said.

“A lot of my friends may need remedial reading—hopefully, with a solid curriculum—themselves because the ‘national curriculum’ bogeyman they decry isn’t even close to what the Shanker Institute has proposed nor what I would support,” said Checker Finn, president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. “Supplying teachers — and schools, districts, states — with high quality voluntary materials with which to organize and deliver a standards-aligned program of instruction to their pupils would be a huge gain for American education, and is needed now more than ever as the standards themselves become more rigorous.”

Here is part of the manifesto:

We, the undersigned, representing viewpoints from across the political and educational spectrum, oppose the call for a nationalized curriculum in the Albert Shanker Institute Manifesto “A Call for Common Content.” We also oppose the ongoing effort by the U.S. Department of Education to have two federally funded testing consortia develop national curriculum guidelines, national curriculum models, national instructional materials, and national assessments using Common Core’s national standards as a basis for these efforts.

We agree that our expectations should be high and similar for all children whether they live in Mississippi or Massachusetts, Tennessee or Texas. We also think that curricula should be designed before assessments are developed, not the other way around.

But we do not agree that a one-size-fits-all, centrally controlled curriculum for every K-12 subject makes sense for this country or for any other sizable country. Such an approach threatens to close the door on educational innovation, freezing in place an unacceptable status quo and hindering efforts to develop academically rigorous curricula, assessments, and standards that meet the challenges that lie ahead. Because we are deeply committed to improving this country’s schools and increasing all students’ academic achievement, we cannot support this effort to undermine control of public school curriculum and instruction at the local and state level—the historic locus for effective innovation and reform in education—and transfer control to an elephantine, inside-the-Beltway bureaucracy.

Moreover, transferring power to Washington, D.C., will only further subordinate educational decisions to political imperatives. All presidential administrations—present and future, Democratic and Republican—are subject to political pressure. Centralized control in the U.S. Department of Education would upset the system of checks and balances between different levels of government, creating greater opportunities for special interests to use their national political leverage to distort policy. Our decentralized fifty-state system provides some limitations on special-interest power, ensuring that other voices can be heard, that wrongheaded reforms don’t harm children in every state, and that reforms that effectively serve children’s needs can find space to grow and succeed.

–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog

59 comments Add your comment

Teaching in FL is worse

May 9th, 2011
1:49 pm

I’m so confused…..we want to be so much like the other countries that score high in standardized tests, yet do it our way?

This smacks of a philosophical ideology, not a pragmatic one.

Pragmatically, I agree with CCC, with reservations. It makes sense to have a large percentage, say 70-80%, with leeway for local standards.

My reservations are naturally, WHO is to say what the standards are? The more people’s opinions you get, the more varied they will be. It could potentially create monolpolies in testing and textbooks (may already has….)

GeeMac

May 9th, 2011
1:54 pm

I’m with you, Maureen…not opposed to national standards or the use of norm and criterion-referenced tests to periodically (not every year!) assess student progress and proficiency. However, I do oppose a national curricula, which is different than having national standards. Local systems, and most importantly, the classroom teachers should be able to decide how to teach the standards.

www.honeyfern.org

May 9th, 2011
2:02 pm

While I agree with a common high expectation for all students in all states, I believe the CCS are politically and financially motivated; they will profit test makers and curriculum companies who are now scrambling to put together new textbooks, tests and curricula aligned to the standards. Schools, of course, will feel the need to purchase this, and teachers will have to use it.

I don’t believe CCS are an altruistic move to benefit students. They may have started that way, but they have metamorphosed into something altogether different.

GeeMac

May 9th, 2011
2:06 pm

Maureen, it is important to distinguish between “curriculum” – which is the what and how of teaching, and “standards” which is the “why” of teaching. The Common Core State Standards offer a set of common learning goals. Bill Gates and Pearson want to offer a national, on-line curriculum, based on the CCSS. This means they get to choose the “what” and the “how” of teaching kids ELA and math, regardless of that kid’s background or skill level. Just plop ‘em in front of a computer and let Nanny Bill take care of ‘em.

Really Amazed

May 9th, 2011
2:09 pm

I agree with the fact that every state should use a national test yearly (same test for all states) to see where students stand compared to each state. ITBS or Stanford 10 yearly. No state level crct etc. waste of time and money. Especially if going with a common core curr. that will be the same for all states. CRCT won’t make sense anymore. I do know that one is a ref. test and other is a norm. CRCT is useless and a waste money period! It is more parent self esteem boster to say little Susie exceed the CRCT. Wait until they get the results of the national test.

Top School

May 9th, 2011
2:14 pm

As long as there are unethical administrators and the business community is involved in the corruption there will be problems.

The connected elite continue to manipulate the banking systems, Wall Street, and the media. Their choice in public/private education is based on how much money they can roll.

http://www.TopPublicSchoolCorruptionAtlanta.com

Top School

May 9th, 2011
2:19 pm

And don’t forget the mockery of the judicial system they operate, too. Depending on who you know…and how much money you can throw into the boiling secret pot… determines your outcome.
Disgraceful, shameful, and the continued deterioration of all of our systems of government.

atlmom

May 9th, 2011
2:20 pm

testing every kid every year is a completely and total waste of time. CRCT is over – what are they doing in school now? Pretty much nothing.
I *know* where the good schools are. Why do we need to test the kids? So we can create statistics around them? So we can put numbers together? WHY OH WHY. What we are doing is NOT WORKING. Testing the kids doesn’t change this.

Roach

May 9th, 2011
2:22 pm

“Decentralization is good?” Have you been to a local school board meeting lately? Have you seen these local boards who want creationism taught as science, who want pi rounded off to 3, and who want “Harry Potter” books banned from the library? Isn’t “decentralization” really code for “localized intellectual tyranny from which there would be no appeal?”

atlmom

May 9th, 2011
2:25 pm

Roach: But then if you are unhappy – you can pull your kid out and put them in another situation. If every single school is run the same (crappy) way – what is one to do?

What's best for kids?

May 9th, 2011
2:31 pm

Roach,
The school board is elected by the people, and they will abide by the limits set of the constituents of voters; otherwise, they will be voted out. Yes, local control for curriculum is the way to go. When a community is unhappy with the performance of the board, the community will vote the board out.

What's best for kids?

May 9th, 2011
2:45 pm

And I agree with GeeMac; we must differentiate between standards and curriculum.

Clueless

May 9th, 2011
2:53 pm

There is no reason states can’t teach more than the national curriculum. If Georgia is involved in the development, I doubt they’d want to teach less.

Pluto

May 9th, 2011
3:05 pm

All of these educational improvement efforts are inherently flawed because they begin with expectation of equality of results. No matter how much testing, training of teachers, firing and replacing of teachers and more testing, we will never achieve the desired result. People are different in so many ways that a nationalized set of standards will be achieved by the same proportion of individuals regardless. This is about the firms making money from the testing process.

atlmom

May 9th, 2011
3:08 pm

part of the problem is with much that is wrong in our society. We have been teaching our society that they are never at fault about anything – there is always someone else to blame.
We have been teaching people that they are not responsible for their kids – someone else should teach them.
We have been teaching people that they shouldn’t worry about being responsible for themselves, there is a government program out there that will take care of them.
We can talk all day about standards. Until the citizens rise up and take responsibility for themselves and their kids, there is not much that can be done, unfortunately.

thomas

May 9th, 2011
3:18 pm

Please, everyone, read what GeeMac wrote.

There is nothing wrong with a common standards, and even with a national standards, we can have multiple curricula. A (national) common tests should be based on the (national) common standards, not based on a curriculum.

I doubt mathematics contents have changed much since 1900 (or before).

Attentive Parent

May 9th, 2011
3:19 pm

Gee Maureen, no hat tip?

Gee Mac-the assessments under Common Core are not normed. That’s why special assessments, which are not tests in the sense of measuring whether a body of knowledge is being transmitted, had to be developed. To mask the poor academic effects that consistently result when schools adopt inquiry learning.

I was just reading about the French results after 15 years of this which they called “non-directed” teaching. By the early 1980s there was a backlash of bestsellers with titles like “Do you want your Child to be an Idiot?”.

The truth is Common Core is about limiting what each child can know and do to a low threshold accessible to all. It is the antithesis of what a democracy needs from its schools if the school is to have the desirable effect of being a social elevator.

I remain shocked that Fordham is still publishing such nonsense on Common Core. Its like they cannot be bothered to read the collateral documents that clearly lay out the terms of the planed implementation.

Which is light years from what politicians have been told.

Teachers are about to feel like they’ve been manacled in their classrooms.

Or am I the only one who read the final version of the INTASC Model Teaching Standards published in late April?

another view

May 9th, 2011
3:19 pm

I’m ecstatic a few people seem to get that there’s a difference between “standards” and “curriculum” but “standards” are not appropriate for education – never have, never will be. Factory model-based “standards” are fine for car door to fender clearances, not for complex human beings. Worse, they way they are translated into tests is frequently patently silly – let’s say a “standard” is “The kid shall understand the importance of the American Revolution in establishing democracy in the United States” – it’ll get translated by some out-of-work social studies bachelor’s degree (we hope) type working for one of those low-bid testing companies we hear so much about who you wouldn’t let near a classroom into something like “How long did it take for Washington to cross the Delaware?” (a) 4 minutes (b) 12 minutes (c) 22 minutes (d) 3 days. And because the item “performs” well, it’ll actually get tossed into the test. And YOUR kid will be judged on his or her knowledge of the American Revolution based on such drivel. Worse, YOU’RE duped into thinking your kid knows something worthwhile about our democracy. And actually, you won’t know, because such complex constructs won’t even be tested – the focus will be on “math” and “science” with English and social studies being given short shrift because the policymakers have also been duped by the scores on bad tests to believe that we’ll not be able to compete in the world economy – never mind that there’s not one shred of evidence relating those scores to success in the global economy.

Local control – not to mention state control – is by no means even close to ideal – witness the insanity begat by Beverly Hall and her board, not to mention a raft of others, and witness the egregious incompetence (and in one case total absence of ethics) of the last two state superintendents – one elected simply by mistaken name recognition. But it beats h— out of Arne and Bill running your schools.

MAYBE if we were allowed to use the schools to create good citizens instead of assembly line automatons who we only know can pass a state minimum competency test at the 10th or 15th percentile, we’d create a populace that would be able to elect competent local boards (and state superintendents).

GeeMac

May 9th, 2011
3:38 pm

Attentive Parent – I wasn’t aware that any assessments for the CCSS had been developed at this time? Where can I find information for these national assessments?

We already have some excellent norm-referenced tests available, the ITBS being the first that comes to mind. Why on earth we keep creating more and more standardized tests, whose results are increasingly unreliable and invalid, is beyond me. Oh yes, we must keep feeding the Hydra created by NCLB!

funny

May 9th, 2011
3:46 pm

okay it a nutshell whats going to happen; just think of the Income tax code the IRS follows; what like 26000 pages right?? thats what the federal government will do to public education with CCC.

remember these are the same ppl that couldnt even get cash for clunkers right. where a 4 to 5k check went to help you pay for a new fuel saving vechile and it come out costing 25000 per car after all the admin and government red tape.

atlmom

May 9th, 2011
3:53 pm

another view: one reason the whole beverley hall stuff happened is because of NCLB and the whole test taking stuff. so, um, if we could have a superintendent that was concerned about actually educating the students, then maybe we could do better. However, all that’s important is the test, so they hired someone they thought could help them with that.

atlmom

May 9th, 2011
3:56 pm

funny: *and* used car prices are on the rise, too…just like everyone said they’d be….

jm

May 9th, 2011
4:19 pm

Every good teacher knows you develop the assessment first – how will you measure your students? Then you develop your instructional materials. Developing the assessment – asking the question “What do we want our children to know when they are finished” just makes sense. Begin with the end in mind. That way, you don’t get lost.

GA Educator

May 9th, 2011
4:22 pm

Pluto, AMEN!

I was just having this discussion earlier today. Students are all DIFFERENT! The idea that we can have national standards, national tests and one wonderfully successful outcome is asinine. The thing that I abhor about standardized tests is that not all students test well! Some have test anxiety… some are sleepy from going to bed at 2:00 am… some are visual learners while others are hands-on… the list goes on and on and ON about how different each student truly is.

By beating these kids to death with tests, we are teaching them that their unique ways of learning and growing are only valuable and useful if they can put that knowledge to work on paper in a designated amount of time by means of a multiple choice test. While I agree that SOME, and I do mean a small SOME, amount of testing is necessary, the idea that ‘high’ standardized test scores equate to a well-rounded education is a JOKE!

Sorry, Maureen… I have to disagree with you!

Arch Dawg

May 9th, 2011
4:24 pm

Ah the old ‘Standards and Regulations’ trick again.

What you will inevitably find out is that there will be nothing ’standard’ or ‘regular’ about it. Every year there will be updates, revisions, rewrites, redos, and reformulations. Which of course will require an army of very well paid beauraucrats to study, produce, and make updated material available for every school system. Don’t worry for an exhorbitant fee your school district can purchase (read will be required to purchase under threat of losing it’s accreditation) the material to keep up with the latest and greatest ‘Core Curriculum’.

Welcome to Big Government 101. This is a very teachable moment for those who wonder how we spend so much money on education per child but get very poor results.

GA Educator

May 9th, 2011
4:28 pm

YES, YES and YES! Arch Dawg hit the nail on the head. I wish parents were clued in on where our tax dollars REALLY go… perhaps teachers would stop getting all of the blame for ONCE!

GeeMac

May 9th, 2011
4:32 pm

JM is absolutely correct. It’s called “Backwards Design” in education lingo & I use it when planning my own units. I determine, according to the GA Performance Standards, not only what stidents should know, but also how they will demonstrate their knowledge & skills, by the end of a unit. This typically involves the student producing some form of artifact or presentation. Standardized tests do not require students to produce anything other than correct answers.

Teacher Reader

May 9th, 2011
4:32 pm

The problem that I have with a standards based education, is that the children are only taught the standards. If a person is not in a standard, no matter how important he/she may be, they are not taught. There were pages of the history books that I was not to teach, because they weren’t in the standard and weren’t tested. It didn’t matter that these pages helped the children understand the standard and told the entire story.

I have a problem that those benefiting from the National Standards wrote the them. Those working for the big companies who will profit off the schools buying new text books and such. This makes no sense. Leaders in the areas of Social Studies/History, the sciences, math, and reading/language arts should have written the standards, not text book makers and those who create package programs that schools buy.

Testing is here to stay. Too many companies make money off of it. These companies will lobby to keep the tests in place.

Education has lost the focus on educating our children. Instead education is all about spreading the wealth and keeping people employed and/or creating new jobs. If the politicians making decisions about education really cared about the children, they would realize that a one size fits all model is not going to help us compete in a global society. We need children who are creative and who can think outside the box to solve problems. Right now, I think we’re lucky to get a child who can do a minimal amount of thinking coming out of an average public school, because little thinking is required.

Car Salesman

May 9th, 2011
4:40 pm

I’m loving it.

oldtimer

May 9th, 2011
5:03 pm

In a way we have always had national standards. Textbooks are generally written for California and Texas, the two biggest buyers. ITBS and other such tests have similar structure. I just think states and counties need more flexablity based on the needs of students. I am tired of so many DOE dictates that take so much of a teachers time. Maybe we dont even need the DOE…

I can

May 9th, 2011
5:07 pm

haggle about the curriculum and standards, but PLEASE, politicians who run our school systems, STOP CUTTING OUR PAY! This year the students lost 10 days (we lost 10 days pay). And now once again, next school year has been shortened to 170 for students and 180 for us! Is education not valued at all in GA?

Really amazed

May 9th, 2011
5:28 pm

Isn’t common core just for elementary school???

MC

May 9th, 2011
5:29 pm

What do students in Georgia need to know that the rest of the country doesn’t besides local history/ecology? Or is this local control debate about what Georgians want to leave out of their citizens’ education?

The only problem I see with national educational goals is that they will not be ambitious enough or they will further limit options for students who struggle. We cannot avoid high standards for the sake of those who do not test well or cannot learn except with their hands.

National educational goals do not dictate how the material is taught. It’s silly to think that every teacher should design his or her own curriculum, nor should every city, county or state. Of course every teacher has a style and uses discretion in implementing the curriculum. We might do well to have common educational experiences. It would give us something other than TV and apps in common.

Maureen Downey

May 9th, 2011
5:31 pm

@Really, From. http://www.corestandards.org/frequently-asked-questions

What grade levels will be included in the common core state standards?

The English-language arts and math standards are for grades K-12.

another comment

May 9th, 2011
5:37 pm

Well my natural smart but lazy 5th grader, proudly came home today and told me that she had the letter proving that she had passed the 5th grade. She passed the CRCT, which I had no doubt she would since she had above 90% on the nationally normed IOWA tests.

Here is what the form letter sent by Cobb County to Fifth grade Parent and Guardian’s states:

Dear Parent or Guardian of Fifth Grade Student (name):

In April, the State mandated Criterion-Referenced Competency Test (CRCT) was given to all students in grades 3 through 8. Georgia law requires students to meet a Level II in total reading and total math on the fifth grade portion of the CRCT as one criteria for promotion to sixth grade. Please note the following:

check mark Your child took the CRCT in April and met the minimum Level II requirement II in total reading and in total math; therefore, your child will not require retesting.

______ Your child took the CRCT and did not meet the mimimum level II requirement (800) in reading _____ and/ or math ______. Therefore, your child should continue to receive our school’s fifth grade CRCT remediation. On the dates listed below, the CRCT Reading and/or Math test(s) will be offered again. Your child’s end of year grade report will read “Retained pending results of CRCT retest.” The school will send you another letter with retest results when available. The letter will explain final placement and direction for an appeal if your child is retained.

Retest dates are:
Fridady, May 20- Reading
Monday, May 23-Math
Tuesday, May 24- Makeup day.

So now for the next two weeks every kid like my child that passed sits in school bored. I already got a call from the nurse today that my daughter had a stomach ache and wanted to come home today. No doubt she will be bored and do it again and again. This testing is a waste of time. Why don’t they let the kids who have passed and as my child put it are ready for the 6th grade, just let them out for the summer. We can prepare for 6th grade at home. My child doesn’t need to be stuck in a class room with those whose parents don’t care about education. I paid hundreds of dollars for a summer reading class at Emory when her IOWA tests were just average. She didn’t like it, but it got the point across, of what was expected in my house.

thomas

May 9th, 2011
5:42 pm

I wonder if “conspiracy theorizing” has replaced baseball as our national pastime…

BillM

May 9th, 2011
6:05 pm

Local Control is code for continuning to fund public eduction with our tax dollars. You can’t push parents out of decison making unless you are ok if they take their tax money and their energy with them as they leave. You do know what a school without parental involvement looks like, right?

The one size fits all public school model has expired. There are some trying to keep the life support hooked up but the body is dead. Keep it up and the consequences to education will only get worse.

Bruce Kendall

May 9th, 2011
6:12 pm

At least two of us are concerned that CCS will be too easy, and designed to show good test results, Dummying Down education. I would prefer that CCS be harder than woodpecker lips, and let the chips land where they fall. Curriculum should challenge all students, not just the lowest common dominator.

@ Thomas, it has at Man Cave Central!

Bruce Kendall

May 9th, 2011
6:14 pm

I’ll be back, Henry County School Board meeting in less than an hour.

LeeH1

May 9th, 2011
6:34 pm

What! Have accountability in education? When the actual results of education can be measured between state and state, and Georgia actually compared to another state that pays more for education! Unheard of! That is like asking for accountability from politicians who cut funding and stuff, when we all know that it is the teacher’s fault!

Besides, we all know there is a Georgian form of English education that is not comparable to other states without the dipthong. There is a Georgian form of math that is different from all other states, whre 2+2=Tax cut. There is a Georgian form of science where quantuum racial laws outweigh other states’ quantuum mechanics. When Georgia is held to national standards, then we would have to equality in education statewide, instead of for special neighborhoods.

This is unheard of! Georgia needs to be independent. So we won’t be compared to compent states! With competent politicians! No to national standards. We want to remain with our own below the average stats, as that keeps pay costs low and profits high. For those who read.

Old Hippie

May 9th, 2011
7:10 pm

National education standards would actually benefit businesses that operate in multiple states. For example, I have a friend who worked for IBM; every three years they would transfer him from one state to another (the first time they moved him from Fla to NC). This wasn’t a problem when he was single, but after he got married and had kids, he had to think about his children’s education. When they wanted to move him from NC to Ga, his wife pitched a fit because she didn’t want their kids going to schools that were inferior to the NC schools. When IBM would not relent in the transfer, he quit and took a lower paying job.

If there was a national standard & a national curriculum, transfers like this would not be a problem for major corporations and their employees, military personnel and government employees who frequent move across state lines.

Taken to its logical conclusion, the opposing argument would have standards set by local schoolboards, or even individual schools. What chaos THAT would create!

Ole Guy

May 9th, 2011
7:24 pm

Standardization is the only way to approach education; the big problem, however, is the constant deviation from standards as exemplified by the issuing of false grades, better known as grade inflation. What really steams my beans is the fact that, for too many years, the powers that be have been more than aware of this situation and have taken absolutely no proactive measures to offset this pending educational disaster. When the kid (far far too many of em), with the ostensible B-or above hs grades…required for HOPE…winds up having to take remedials…and HOPE springs for that…something is remiss. These are the warning signs that have been totaly ignored; during the so-called good years, there was no time/no pressing need to address such minor irregularities.

Once again, we seem to insist on tackling these issues on a piecemeal basis. All these issues have, at their core, common causes; these common causes have, at their core, one essential ingreient…DISCIPLINE. The discipline, among the adult population, to do what’s right; not what’s politically expedient.

I’ve argued the details time and time again; teachers, you’ve heard it. Stop being afraid of these b_ _t_ _ds; take control of your profession. YOU are the only professional group which knows how to educate these kids…not the parents (no matter how well-meaning they may or may not be); not these administrators, and most-certainly not those idiots who pretend to know what they’re talking about from the sanctity of that gold dome. GET WITH IT, TEACHERS; form spheroids; form a union, not the tea-and-crumpets organization you have been wasting your time and money on.

justin

May 9th, 2011
7:47 pm

No one who criticizes the CCSS (math) to “lower” the standards ever offer specific examples. I think they believe if they it often enough it becomes so. What’s not in the CCSS that were a common topic 40 years ago? Perhaps using slide rulers to evaluate trigonometric functions. Calculating square roots by hand might be another one. Anything else?

Ray

May 9th, 2011
7:58 pm

Being that conservatives are in the process of dismantling school all together, I can see how a national effort to help schools might tighten their panties.

And when did ‘conservative’ come to mean
anti-American?’ Were they like this before they crapped all over our soldiers and their families?

And how about the Kenyan lib being the man who got bin laden?

Takes a man to do a man’s job.

Obama 2012

teacher&mom

May 9th, 2011
8:29 pm

@attentive parent…I looked through the INTASC teaching standards and they are very similar to the Class Keys.

I love teaching. I hate what it is becoming...

May 9th, 2011
8:33 pm

another comment: “So now for the next two weeks every kid like my child that passed sits in school bored.”

I don’t know about other teachers, but the students in my class are anything but bored! Aside from the crunch to get the paperwork done, I love this time of the year! Finally, I am free to TEACH without feeling pressured to “stay on target!” Not only do I still have curriculum to cover (because I refuse to simply rush through it to say I got it done before CRCT), but I now also have the freedom to do a few engaging units which are not covered in GPS, (thus not considered worth class time) but which my students seem to love.

We have been reading a novel study and tying it into the Iditarod, using mapping skills, and following the various sled dog teams. We are touching on some aspect of US history which are not GPS, but which I consider fundamental to understanding of our place in the world. We have had some great class discussions over the last few days prompting my student to ask some insightful questions, questions I can actually take the time to answer, without feeling compelled to hurry along to something more *important*.

Oh, the joy of these “Wayside moments’ when we can go off on a tangent, and I can take the children’s curiosity and indulge it with online videos and science clips and experiments without the conscription of the GPS.

I love learning, and for this short period of about a month, I get to indulge my love of learning and teaching and have FUN doing it without the pressure of “does it meet the GPS” and “is it tested on CRCT!”

33 year educator

May 9th, 2011
8:37 pm

Just wanted to point out to “Another Comment” that the students who have to retest on the CRCT will probably be pulled out of class and work with a teacher (probably an EIP or Special Ed teacher) in a small group setting. The students who passed will continue to work in their classroom on new material or review areas that the teacher felt were quickly covered before the CRCT.

Jordan Kohanim

May 9th, 2011
8:40 pm

Ole Guy,
I agree with you wholeheartedly, but the system is set against teachers as far as grade-inflation goes.

I will never forget my 4th year teaching when a Mom told me I ruined her son’s life because I wouldn’t “give him a B,” instead of the F he earned. She came to me finals week and screamed at me for an hour. It was one of the hardest things I have faced as a teacher.

Sticking to your principles is getting harder and harder now that money (Hope scholarship) is attached to grades. I got lucky. I had/have an amazing support system that encourages ethics in grading. I know others who do not have such support; I cannot imagine how they stand up for that which they believe when a principal willingly throws them to the wolves.

I;m not saying grade inflation isn’t a problem. I’m just saying it isn’t the only problem.

Inman Park Boy

May 9th, 2011
8:41 pm

ANYTHING with Albert Shanker’s name on it needs to be summarily dumped.

Patricia

May 9th, 2011
10:27 pm

I am a teacher. I teach. That is what I do. I think it is important particularly in elementary school there should be a common thread running across our nation as to when for example multiplication facts should be mastered or the concepts of multiplication should be taught. Some states want mastery at third…some at fifth. I want to know when students are expected to show an understanding of the writing process so there is a sense of as a nation we have the same expectations regardless of where you may live. And so on, and so on…

Now what I absolutely despise is someone telling me HOW to teach the material or providing me with required textbooks particularly in the area of reading. There is nothing I hate more than lack of opportunities for students to become proficient readers due to the focus on reading textbooks that are focused on test prep.

I think if folks are really concerned about this one-size-fits all approach should shift their outrage from the standards issue to the administration who will attempt to force teachers to teach everything at the same time in the same way regardless of the needs of their students. Until we as teachers figure out the way to stand up for our right to do what we do against those who see all teachers as equal presenters of curriculums we deserve all the angst we are currently experiencing.