Friday, September 23, 2011

Standardization is Creepy

Our school district is serving up their tricks and treats early this year. Here's an excerpt from the Allentown School District Annual Report (with my comments in red):

The need for a common standardization of core programs of studies and assessment tools across all 50 states is painfully obvious.

Standardized curriculum means standardized children.That's what's so painfully obvious.

At the local level across the state and the country, parents, educators and politicians spend time arguing over what is the right program when there are professionals at much higher levels with more data results to create and provide the consistent core standards for excellence for children.

In other words, local teachers who actually interact with children are low level chopped meat, not qualified to make important decisions about curricula. We should trust Bill Gates, he's not an educator, but he knows what's best for all children. He's got the data, cause he's got the money to control the research and the policy, even though he has a record of failure in ed reform.

When these national standards are imposed
We must obey the corporate overlords.

this presents an opportunity for schools and communities to truly align teaching, tutoring and supports to common curriculum goals.

Thank God, finally an opportunity for us all to truly align! Teachers have been falsely aligning for far too long, and that has got to STOP! The shame! How about aligning teaching to the needs of the students?

Because of this lack of uniformity

One size fits all keeps kids in line so they don't question authority at the test prep factory.

students with the same actual achievement levels could be considered “proficient” in one state, but may not be in another,”says the report (see

Test score data should determine everything, even though it is highly unreliable.

In fact, we all know that proficient in science in one school district is different than proficient in another.

Maybe that's because the students and communities are different, depending on poverty level. Teachers know this. But how do you know what we all know? Are you God?

That is why as many valid quality indicators as we can deploy are useful to us in making value-added classrooms work for our students.

Don't trust the teacher, trust our "value-added" extra valid quality system which has only a 30% margin of error!

(Me) Here's where we are headed, and it's very scary. Common Core national standards are big business. Bill Gate$ has partnered with Pear$on(textbook company) to write the new national curriculum which will be "imposed" upon our children.

In my school district there is too much focus on standards and college readiness, instead of the fact that 80% of Allentown students are now considered lower income or living in poverty. Not all children are college material. How about just focusing on what public education stands for: promoting citizens in a democracy while providing equal opportunities for all children. When we give the children the right tools and knowledge, in a safe learning environment, with a rich curriculum, they can make their own decisions about college. Racing to the Top, Winning the Future, will not fix poverty, which is the cause of low achievement. High expectations, speaking in platitudes, will not fix poverty. I don't want my local community school to be standardized. Celebrating our differences is what brings us together. Standardization will anesthetize our children to the very qualities we should value as a community of diverse human beings... little things like empathy and acceptance of other cultures and valuing the unique history of our community...things that are not so neatly measured and aligned. If standardization is the cornerstone of our public education policy, then we are doomed as a society. Why are we being told to compete in an education race, when we should be collaborating together to meet the immediate needs of our impoverished students. Where the heck are we headed so fast, and why do we need to be number one all the time?

You can read the entire scary report here: The arrogance of the author is just astounding.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if it was Zahorchak who wrote the annual report? Looks like his style...condescending and all knowing. After reading the annual propaganda I am convinced that both the school board and administration are completely disconnected from the realities of the classroom. The research presented is cherry-picked and spun to make their bad ideas look good. I like the way you've exposed their motives. The suits don't want to give the teachers any credit and are only interested in what makes them look good. They could care less about the kids. They are corporate ghouls!

Mrs. Dottie said...

Hi, thanks for commenting. The way the report is worded really stood out to me as extremely arrogant and self serving. And you are right, the suits don't present the mountain of research that disproves value added and their other half baked corporate ideas. And they even use the term "winner's circle" when referring to Central Elementary making AYP for the first time. So does that mean those students were previously losers?
Labeling students as winners and losers based on test scores is wrong. There has been rampant cheating. Using unreliable test scores to drive education policy is wrong. Competition instead of collaboration is wrong. Ask the top education experts, like Diane Ravitch . I would hope future school board members will do a little research before buying into the business model for education. It won't work. It won't fix poverty. Focusing on college readiness and "high standards" makes the district more appealing to wealthy people. It doesn't serve the majority of low income students who need more choices, not narrowed curriculum. In the annual report, the drastic cuts and curriculum changes to art, music, phys ed and library are not even mentioned. In fact, there has been no mention of it to parents. They don't want to address it. Is the school library even open? We don't know. Our kids need access to books in order to meet the reading requirement. The fact that Dr. Z is gone, but his policies are continuing, really makes no sense. In the mean time, our kids get gipped of a well rounded education. That's a cheating scandal too.

Mrs. Dottie said...

An anonymous teacher comments at The Morning Call: _HEART_TEACHERS17 hours ago
"As a teacher in Allentown...I have known for years these tests were useless. My students will spend approxiamtely five weeks testing this year between 4Sight, PSSA, Study Island and CDT testing. This does not include in-class quizzes and exams.

The content for the 4Sights is ridiculous. Articles used in reading are on topics in which our students have no background knowledge. And the test does not measure competence in reading, it is more like trying to solve a puzzle. It is designed to trick students. What a way to set them up for success!!!"

The testing needs to stop. Just ask the person in front of the classroom how the kids are doing. Money wasted on testing could be used to hire teachers. This is a harmful, failed experiment on our children.