I was at the State DOE meeting yesterday and spoke about “proficiency”, which we are hearing a lot about lately (I think it has replaced the word “rigorous”, at least for the time being!). When we were in school, we got “raw” scores–the actual number of correct answers. Today’s high-stakes tests have a “cut score”, above which students, teachers, and schools are deemed “proficient” and below which they are not “proficient”. This score changes depending on the goal. Who sets this score–the state, the outside companies, the U.S. DOE, or the test makers? For example, with No Child Left Behind which required 100% proficiency in reading and math by 2013-2014, the only way to achieve that was to lower the cut score. With Common Core, the cut score was set high so that more children would fail, thereby “proving” for all us unbelievers that Common Core is rigorous. The parents, I would guess, are unaware that “proficiency” changes, how the cut score is determined, and that their children are not getting raw scores or the equivalent. Schools are closed because of test scores.
Another matter that bothers me is the numbers of outside companies being paid by us to help the DOE. From what I have heard, one of them, Rodel, may have a political agenda. Corporations should not be involved in education; it is expensive and removes local control of education with another layer of bureaucracy. Besides, I believe that the people who know education best are the educators. If our educational system is so complex that our DOE cannot handle it, we need to rethink it and the people involved.
The last major concern I have is the preoccupation with data collection, accountability, and assessments. You have probably heard a lot about the assessments, so I won’t go into that here. From what I understand, this all started with No Child Left Behind and continued with Race to the Top and Common Core. The common denominator here is federal money, because we then have to do what they want us to do…collect data, show accountability, and assess. Look at all the time and money we are spending on this–time that could be better spent teaching. Our Constitution never meant for the federal government to be involved in education. I believe that if we stopped taking this money and paid it, instead, to the state, we taxpayers would actually save money because there would be no middle man taking a chunk out of it before returning some of it to us.
Again, thank you for being willing to hear our concerns. Have a good weekend.