The StudentsFirst blog features an article about Michael Loeb lauding the advantages of a good Standardized Test. I am not going to spend much time talking about that particular blog post; it is an interesting read that gives a fairly balanced, if personal, account from one teacher’s perspective. However, I do want to focus a little more on one of the main subjects of the article, Common Core State Standards (CCSS).
CCSS at least makes for a good sell; the site is attractive enough, got some flashy things going on, talks in generalized, “who wouldn’t want this” kind of air. The “Key Points” sound great, like this quote from the Mathematics page:
The standards stress not only procedural skill but also conceptual understanding, to make sure students are learning and absorbing the critical information they need to succeed at higher levels – rather than the current practices by which many students learn enough to get by on the next test, but forget it shortly thereafter, only to review again the following year.
So where does the rubber meet the road? How exactly are they going to do this through “standards”?
What raised the red flag for me was from the FAQ (you do read those, right? *grin*):
Q. Why is the Common Core State Standards Initiative important?
A. We want to make sure that every child across the country is given the tools they need to succeed. High standards that are consistent across states provide teachers, parents, and students with a set of clear expectations that everyone can work toward together. This will ensure that we maintain America’s competitive edge, so that all of our students are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to compete with not only their peers here at home, but with students from around the world.
The first part of that Answer is dead on, I love it! Give people high, clearly-defined expectations and get ready to be amazed. But then the author(s) completely threw away any good sentiment with that last sentence. Instead of going through every word of that statement and ripping it apart, let me summarize by saying that I am utterly saddened that our leaders want us (and our children) to focus on beating everyone else, being the top dog, the Big Kahuna. Why?!? Not only am I not convinced that the price is worth it, I am rather convinced that the price is not worth it. Why would we want to turn our society into mathematic wizards?
At the risk of beating a dead horse, I personally would want to see us focus on life skills that allow people (not merely individuals, but individuals who function in a way that benefits the whole) to flourish in society as a part of society. So now we have Johnny TwoShoes who can bring home 6-digit bacon but doesn’t have a clue why the poor get poorer, nor could he care less. All he cares about is getting what he “deserves” and taking care of his own.
Is that really what you want?