EDM 310 Class Blog

Friday, June 21, 2013

My thoughts on Common Core and ACCRS

I challenge and welcome all current and future teachers to converse with me about this! These are just some of my thoughts, concerns, and predictions for the Common Core State Standards Initiative and Alabama College and Career Ready Standards.
1). I am getting more than fed up with state and federal control in the realm of Education. In a society where, now, nothing is private and everything is public, it just feels like "Big Brother" grasping for more control. Yes, the standards are somewhat basic and allow a lot of room for discrepancy, but I feel the lack of faith in teachers and administrators as well as the need for control are insulting. When will the government officially just absolve itself in an area where it has proven itself ignorant with failed initiatives like "Race to the Top" and "No Child Left Behind"? You would be hard-pressed to find a sober acquaintance who would tell you that these initiatives were successful. Even those who have no vested interest in education don't believe that these two programs were successful. If you would like further enlightenment, please visit Race To Nowhere to read more about the movement and to watch the trailer about a film that chronicles the failure of the Race to the Top program and also the problems behind America's achievement culture.
2). As I mentioned, and as many teaching practitioners and those preparing for the field are aware, the standards are not very in-depth. They are basic, allow for some discrepancy, and can be met in ways that the teacher may see fit. My concern is simple. With human nature being what it is, some teachers will accept what work their students can accomplish to meet what is required of them. What's the harm in that? The harm is that we will never excel as a nation of learners, scholars, thinkers, and doers if we don't push. I am by no means calling anyone out at the moment, but why say, "Child A has completed the college and career ready standards already and it's only October, guess he's just going to be bored for the rest of the year because Children B-S haven't met those standards yet." Who's to say that those children who naturally excel or exceed some or all of the standards can't shoot for the standards belonging to the next grade? Whoa! Slow down. This might cause some confusion with this intricate little system we have going and if you move something around the whole thing could just collapse like a game of Jenga!
Don't think I'm a rebel when I ask, "Why can't my 8th grade class try to accomplish 9th grade standards?" What's the harm in trying? Even if half the class gets there and half the class doesn't, don't you think they will have learned something just from giving it a shot? My concern is that if we just accept what we think they can accomplish within the standards marked out for them, what's the use in being an honors student? "Sorry, Josie, you're reading on a sixth grade level and the rest of your class is still on third so you're gonna have to stop reading so good." Maybe reading so WELL is her comfort from being terrible at Math. Which brings me to my next point...
3). To me, the standards attempt to confine, categorize and label students who are uniquely different, have different needs and will not fit into a check box or be confined to a level of learning. As a teacher, I would refuse to see them that way because every one of them is going to learn at a different level at a different time. Which brings me to...
4) Teaching to the test becomes inevitable. "Miss Houlihan, you have received several awards for having such an incredibly awesome and stimulating blog for your students to learn and collaborate as opposed to sitting and staring at you all day and pretending they understand what you're talking about, but their test scores don't indicate that all 34 of them met the College and Career Ready Standards. I'm going to have to meet with you about this. Serious action needs to occur." First year teacher Miss Houlihan gets discouraged, gets married, and never teaches again, even though she was creative and her kids loved her for it.
CLEARLY, this is a fictional, worst-case scenario, but how are we not encouraging teachers to make sure their kids do well on tests that don't accurately measure the subtle nuances of each one of their "abilities".
5) There is no logical reason why information regarding students' religious preferences, family history, political affiliations, possible behavioral problems, etc. The great thing about humanity is the great potential for growth. Why should a history of parental abuse or neglect, behavioral problems at a young age, what party a student felt an affinity for in middle school then changed his or her mind in college....why should these things potentially be held against a student? For one can see no other alternative, no positive outcome for this stacking of the cards against students. Is their permission asked for this collecting of information? Their parents' permission? Is this not a breach of privacy? As a teacher, should it make a difference in my instruction whether a child lives with foster parents, two dads, or a "traditional family"? This seems more like the government snooping around in the lives of its unknowing citizens than an initiative that will directly benefit educational instruction or the quality of a student's educational experience.

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