According to an article in the Washington Post, it appears that one of the big promises made about Common Core and the new standardized testing is not living up to its name.
Arne Duncan and many of the other big supporters of standardized testing have railed against the inability of tests like the ACT and SAT to deal with big issues and real academic subjects in important ways. Surely, one of the few good points about the new standardized testing is that it does require defense of answers, which when you are dealing with deep academic issues is something that is very important. That said, the Washington Post got a hold of the test guidelines developed by Pearson’s partner in crime, the Smart Balanced Assessment Consortium (the lesser known group to Pearson that was made obscene amounts of money to write Common Core standardized tests). What are some subject specifically forbidden to include in the tests (and let’s see if you can guess a pattern):
- social dancing
- the more unseemly aspects of slavery
- humans as a source of climate change
- sport hunting
- gun control
- any current partisan political issues
There are some other things on this list, and a few things make sense (rape, incest, suicide … I hate to sound tacky, but if you have kids dealing with this, questions on those topics are sure to affect the precious data that needs to be collected for reasons). That said, am I the only one that is thinking that several FRWASPEs from the South and more rural parts of our country were heavily consulted on this list? Without offense to our good friends in the Pacific Northwest, I’m not sure there are any issues in ballroom dancing that are really significant in a high school academic setting. However, if your goal is to produce tests that address real hard hitting real issues being debated in society today, this to me brings the legitimacy of these tests (based on their presumed purpose) into question. I mean, if you are a kid utterly convinced that human influenced cliamte change is a myth, then this is a great time to force them to write an essay with sourcing (which is what these tests require). If hte kids get lower scores because there isn’t much legitimate sourcing out there, then shouldn’t the test communicate to the kid “I’m sorry, you can’t defend your viewpoint with good sourcing”? Isn’t that what these more advanced tests are supposed to do? Isn’t this more or less exactly what Arne Duncan was referring to when he ignorantly was fascinated that Common Core was being attacked by a bunch of “white suburban moms who — all of a sudden (fear) — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were, and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought they were.” These tests seem to be intentionally not doing what they are supposed to be doing.
This is just more evidence that modern education, from “researchers” to politicians is being co-opted to make sure that no one is forced to change. Education is supposed to be all about change. What we are doing today is not really education … I just don’t know what it is.