Sunday, March 9, 2014

The common core: An untried curriculum plus nonstop testing

Sent to the Salt Lake Tribune, March 9, 2014

M. Donald Thomas is right: "Common Core supporters (are) providing misinformation" (March 7). In addition to the points he makes, there are other serious problems.

First, the common core standards are untested.  There were no pilot studies.
Second, the common core requires a huge increase in testing; research has indicated that increasing testing does not mean greater achievement.
Also, the new tests will cost a fortune because they must be delivered online. This requires internet access, and up-to-date computers that will be obsolete nearly as soon as they are in use.

The real problem in American education is poverty, not low standards: Our child poverty rate is 23%, second highest in the world among economically advanced countries.

Poverty means, among other things, food deprivation, lack of health care, and little or no access to books. The best teaching will not help when students are hungry, ill, and have little to read. When researchers control for the effects of poverty, American international test scores rank near the top of the world. 

Instead of protecting students from the effects of poverty, we are wasting billions on what Susan Ohanian has accurately described as “a radical untried curriculum overhaul and … nonstop national testing.”   

Stephen Krashen

M. Donald Thomas letter:

Huge increase in testing: Krashen, S. 2012. How much testing?­‐ krashen-­‐how-­‐much-­‐testing/

Increasing testing does not mean greater achievement: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). OECD. Tienken, C., 2011. Common core standards: An example of data-less decision-making. Journal of Scholarship and Practice. American Association of School Administrators [AASA], 7(4): 3-18.

Cost of tests: Krashen, S. and Ohanian, S. 2011. High Tech Testing on the Way: a 21st Century Boondoggle?

Level of poverty: UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre (2012), ‘Measuring Child Poverty: New league tables of child poverty in the world’s rich countries’, Innocenti Report Card 10, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, Florence.

Poverty means: Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential:  Out-of-School Factors and School Success.  Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit.;   Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership  55(4): 18-22.

Control for poverty: Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13; Bracey, G. 2009. The Bracey Report on the Condition of Public Education. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. Berliner, D. 2011. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism, Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. Tienken, C. 2010. Common core state standards: I wonder? Kappa Delta Phi Record 47 (1): 14-17. Carnoy, M and Rothstein, R. 2013, What Do International Tests Really Show Us about U.S. Student Performance. Washington DC: Economic Policy Institute. 2012.

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