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Response to TheBlackAdder (Original post)

Sat Jan 31, 2015, 11:13 PM

1. I believe that

there are currently two standardized tests developed for the CCSS: PARCC, and the "Smarter Balanced" test. All of the 46 or so states that have adopted the CCSS will be giving one of those two tests.

My state, and therefore my district and school, will be giving the Smarter Balanced test, so I don't know anything about PARCC. We haven't seen the Smarter Balanced test, but there is a practice test available online that we've been exploring. There might be a practice test online for PARCC that you could take a look at.

As far as "teaching to the test" goes...that's been the norm since the introduction of high stakes testing, first at the state level in some states, and then at the federal level with NCLB. States that wanted a waiver from NCLB had to 1. Adopt CCSS or another set of FEDERALLY approved standards...good luck with finding "another set." 2. Use high stakes tests based on those standards for both accountability systems and educator evaluation systems.

In other words, NCLB hasn't really gone away; it's been fed some steroids and re-branded.

The very existence of high-stakes tests ensures that there will be teaching to the test. When you threaten people, they are going to circle the wagons.

As the high-stakes testing mandates have grown more powerful, so has the focus on "data driven" instruction. Teaching to the test.

None of this is new. It's just, as I mentioned above, been re-branded.

As far as the CCSS, or any other set of standards, or any test goes? It's not the standards, nor the test that are at the root of the problem. It's the misuse and abuse of those standards and tests. It's the high-stakes. And that misuse and abuse is embedded in the mandates that the public education system must abide by. Mandates created by politicians and corporate power mongers. Non-educators.

Your concern, the concerns of all advocacy groups, should be about the political manipulation of the system through high-stakes tests rather than about one set of standards or one test.

As far as the difficulty of the test goes? I can't speak to PARCC, but I can say that the practice version of the Smarter Balanced test is certainly no walk in the park. Since there are no correct answers given, I've been in meetings with teachers taking and discussing that practice test...highly educated professionals who can't agree on correct answers to many items. That's often because of the prompts to choose the best example/s or sentences providing evidence for something, when all of the choices provide that evidence. The argument then becomes about which is "best," and how many "best" examples there are, since the prompts leave the number of possibilities open-ended.

For the record, teachers have been speaking out against high-stakes testing and the damage it does to public education since it first reared its ugly head back in the 90s at the state level. We spoke up loudly enough when GWB took office and it went federal that his Sec of Ed called us "terrorists." And all along, the general public bought the story about how those high stakes tests were needed because we were mostly incompetent, and the nation needed to bust teachers' unions and fire all those bad teachers.

If parents and the rest of the general public had listened, had "had our backs," from the beginning, we wouldn't be in the current situation. I hope someone is listening now.

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