Common Core. Cruel and Unusual Punishment?
We’ve read stories about the developmentally inappropriateness of Common Core particularly for young children. Here are few stories from what really happens with the “rigor” touted by Common Core proponents.
From Kindergarten gets tough as kids are forced to bubble in multiple choice tests in nydailynews.com:
They don’t even know how to hold a pencil yet, but kindergartners are getting a taste of the tough side of education with Common Core standardized math tests.
Goodbye Play-Doh, hello No. 2 pencils.
Because of a tough new curriculum and teacher evaluations, 4- and 5-year-olds are learning how to fill in bubbles on standardized math tests to show how much they know about numbers, shapes and order.
Teachers said kindergartners are bewildered. “Sharing is not caring anymore; developmentally, it’s not the right thing to do,” said one Queens teacher, whose pupils kept trying to help one another on the math test she gave for the first time this fall.
Administering the exams is a complete headache, teachers said. “They don’t know how to hold pencils,” said a Bronx kindergarten teacher whose class recently took the Pearson exam. “They don’t know letters, and you have answers that say A, B, C or D and you’re asking them to bubble in . . . They break down; they cry.”
Unless you have been around kindergarteners lately, it is easy to forget just how tiny they are. They are little itty-bitty people. They still have little teeny tiny teeth in their mouths. Many still have slight speeches issues, an ever-facing aural link to their toddler selves. After a bloodless injury like a bumped knee or pinch finger, they still wail pitifully for a band aid, still believing with all their heart that band aids make boo boos feel better. Kindergartners are indeed students, but awfully pint-sized students.
So on the day of this MAP test, all these little peanuts sit down in chairs, each in front of a computer. They have all been here the day before, day one was used to test their “reading” skills. I am there on day two, which is assessing math skills. No one’s feet touched the floor. Their hands are smaller than the mouses they hold. They are instructed to put on their headsets. The headsets are meant for adult sized people, not teeny people. I notice that for most kids, the headsets were way too big. If these kindergarteners had been built by Dr. Frankenstein the headsets would have hung down to the two bolts coming out of their necks. Few kids complained or sought help though. Maybe they had done so the day before? Most either let them rest below their ears or used one hand to hold an earpiece on one ear while their other hand held the mouse. Optimal listening conditions it was not. My daughter did say to me “See mom, they don’t fit. And when the person on the computer starts talking, I can’t hear what they are saying.” Well, then, that could sort of skew a result couldn’t it? “Deal with it as best as you can” I said. “Hold it on one ear and listen on that side.” Her eyes filled with tears. “I tried to do that yesterday,” she said. “I can’t really hear.” She turned back to her computer. Even five year old’s are self conscious of crying in front of their peers.
In the midst of all of this, I walked past my daughter. She looked up at me, her face red from crying, I could see that tears had been collecting at her collar “I just can’t do this,” she sobbed. The ill fitting headsets, the hard to hear instructions, the uncooperative mouse, the screen going to command modes, not being able to get clarification when she asked for it… her little psyche had reached it’s breaking point. It took just two days of standardized testing for her to doubt herself, quickly trading a love of learning for the shame of incompetence. Later on when I picked her up after her long seven-hour day, she whispered into my shoulder “I’m just not smart mom. Not like everyone else. I’m just no good at kindergarten, just no good at all.”
We can determine from anecdotal stories and professional testimony that Common Core and high stakes testing is not appropriate for young children. David Coleman and Company can declare (without research or data) that this educational reform will make little people ready for career and college. He apparently doesn’t know much about child development, both mentally and physically. Now Common Core testing demands scripted bathroom breaks. I wonder if a physician would believe the policy below is developmentally appropriate for young children.
From Chicago School Rations Bathroom Visits to Help Prepare for Common Core Tests by Anthony Cody:
How far will schools go to prepare for Common Core tests? From a teacher in Chicago, I received the following memo, delivered to faculty this week.
Welcome back and Happy New Year! In order to maximize student learning and reduce the loss of instructional time, we are implementing two new restroom policies.
1. Designated Restroom Times – Take your class to use the restroom only during your allotted time so that multiple groups of students are not competing to use the facilities. Also, the expectation is that the restroom break should last only five minutes. Before leaving for the restroom, clearly communicate the behavioral expectations and the time limit. Use your watch or stopwatch to time the students and praise them when they meet the behavior and time expectations.
Sign up for your restroom time slot in the main office by Tuesday, January 7.
2. Restroom Passes – In addition to scheduled restroom breaks, students will be given restroom passes to use if they need to use the restroom outside of the scheduled time. Students will be given two restroom passes to use between now and the end of the quarter. They can choose to hold on to them and trade them in for a reward at the end of the quarter. Following these guidelines:
Have students fill in their names as soon as they receive them. Passes are invalid if names are crossed out for another name.
For the upper grades, students can use one teacher’s pass in another classroom, but they still only get the same number of passes per quarter.
Use a class roster to have student initial next to their name to indicate that they received the passes.
Have students fill in the “time out” and “time in” and then turn the pass in to the teacher when finished. This will help them practice the CCS of telling time with both digital and analog clocks.
Promote the benefit of not using the passes by reminding students that rewards will be given for left over passes at the end of the quarter.
Let me know if you have any questions or concerns.
What more evidence do you need to present to your school district, local state educational agency, State Board of Education, Governor, and state legislators that this has little to do with education, regardless of children being able to track their “time out” and their “time in” to learn how to tell time?
When the testing becomes paramount and the needs of children are secondary, parents must step in to protect their children.