Category Archives: Awesome

Burning the SAGE test

Awesome news from legislators on SAGE tests. In this article from Ben Wood at the SL Tribune, “Utah lawmakers sour on SAGE test,” Ben shows the about face lawmakers like Senator Howard Stephenson have had on these tests. Several years ago Sen. Stephenson was pushing for computer adaptive tests. Now he’s quoted as saying:

“There will be legislation this year to create a task force to look at doing away with the SAGE test entirely,” Stephenson said during a Public Education Appropriation Subcommittee hearing. “I think we need to be looking at the whole issue of whether we should be having end-of-level tests.”

My favorite quote in the article is Rep. LaVar Christensen’s: “If you’re going in the wrong direction, you don’t step on the gas pedal.”

Great Teacher Comment

A great comment by this retired educator. This comment was posted beneath this article:

by Dr. John M. Swann

“As a retired educator (District Mathematics Coordinator, High School Principal, Assistant Principal, High School Math Instructor and College Professor with a Ph.D. in Educational Research and Measurement, an Ed.S. in Educational Administration and both M.A. and B.S. in Mathematics Education) I have struggled to get a handle on the Common Core controversy. I totally support federal educational standards which seems to be the problem the political right has with Common Core. With this said, I no longer support Common Core–not because of federal standards imposed on states (which I consider to be a good thing) but because the practices I have found associated with Common Core are educationally unsound. It appears that Common Core has been hijacked by the “Higher Order Thinking Skills” philosophy which stresses process over knowledge. When we constantly try to force students to think at levels of which they are incapable, we deprive them of the knowledge needed to develop those very higher level thinking skills. I first encountered this philosophy as a component of Dr. Maddeline Hunter’s “Program for Effective Teaching” (PET) right here in South Carolina. I was actually one of the first “Trainers” for this program. The program encouraged teachers to attempt stretching thought levels of students but did not neglect building a base of factual knowledge and then applying that data. Unfortunately, “higher order thinking skills” soon became the end all–be all of the program. Dr. Loren Anderson (USC) and others rewrote Bloom’s Taxonomy as a matrix instead of a heirarchy in an effort to address the abuses. But how does stressing higher order thinking skills deprive students? Piagetian Formal Operations is required for so called higher order thinking skills–yet of the thousands of studies done throughout the industrialized world, a population has never been found with more than 33% formal operators. Pushing higher order thinking skills neglects over two-thirds of our students. It is wishful thinking to try to push all of our students there. A companion to “higher order thinking skills” instruction is the “Discovery Method”–another nice idea we do not have time to implement. Suppose you want students to be able to make a rope. You could give each student a piece of rope and have them take it apart. The very brightest students (less than one-third) will will analyze the structure of the rope and might possibly be able to construct some rudimentary form of a rope. However, if you give each students threads of fiber and teach them (process) how to braid the threads into a rope, almost all of the students will be able to produce a functional rope. Education needs to transmit knowledge and process and then encourage application of that learning at the highest functional level of each student. I no longer see this happening as a part of “Common Core”.”

One more great teacher comment came in tonight from a Utah teacher:

“The main impact I am seeing with common core as a special educator of 31 years in Utah, is that we are trained to classify students with disabilities who are about 2 years behind in the curriculum.  The irony being that we are not allowed to teach these students on their proper level of instruction according to the classification data or IEP.  We are now told to teach on grade level for Sage testing.  Daily, I see students who are distressed– trying to do work far beyond their current skills levels.  We no longer fill in the gaps to bringing them up to speed over time, but force feed students material which increases levels of anxiety, poor behaviors and resistance to schooling in general.  I see good kids pushed beyond their limits.  Sadly, disabled students loose confidence, tiring of the endless testing and test prep.  No research that I have ever seen shows that this is proper researched approach toward remediation.  There is no off level testing now and the UAA is only allowed for the very severely disabled.  No lower middle ground.  I’m afraid we are teaching disabled  children to hate school, loose confidence and give up.  Initially special education was enacted as a way to get kids to like school; but we have now come full circle, becoming very top down in authority and organization.”