The education reform movement is big business. There are those around the country who are touted for their accomplishments in raising educational performance by things they have done. Among the reformers, Jeb Bush had some success with a school grading system which caused schools to put greater effort into raising standardized test scores. Seeing some success, Utah legislators passed a school grading scheme for use in Utah.
Another reform is that of computer adaptive testing (CAT) which was adopted in Utah a couple years ago in order to help show where students are deficient or advanced in their understanding of concepts. Initially I supported this because I thought this would finally show schools using real math would trounce schools using fuzzy math. After this was adopted, I learned that Common Core was going to require CATs. That was a huge red flag as I realized CATs were going to be hijacked and used as a compliance mechanism for Common Core.
So in spite of the fact that these ideas may have had some merit to begin with, the bottom line is, the Common Core assessments will now control teacher evaluations, school grading, and thus curriculum. Any idea behind these that might have been thought useful under one set of circumstances has been hijacked.
Where some positive outcome was seen in implementing computer adaptive testing, as well as a school grading system, both became requirements under Common Core and will now be enforced via the AIR/SAGE assessment system that our children are subject to under Common Core. This means that one test, largely under control by 2 federally funded consortia (PARCC and SBAC), with a review panel by the federal government, now controls how schools are graded, how teachers are assessed (and even transferred between schools to ensure fair distribution of ‘quality’ teachers), how students are assessed as “college and career ready”, and directly leads to the curriculum choices in the classroom so teachers and schools will optimize for success on the test. To anyone without their head in the sand, this is a clear federal takeover of education.
Here are two must read posts. The first is by Alpine School District member Wendy Hart where she calls for us to join a rally on Tuesday morning at the USBA (bring signs like “No School Grading tied to Common Core”. The second is a post she references by Autumn Cook about the new accountability system.