Common Core: a great idea we're not yet prepared for

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The question I’ve been asked most often since the scores were released is whether parents should be alarmed by their precipitous drop. Definitely not — as long as the results aren’t the criteria used for student placement or rating teachers. Comparing scores past and present is like comparing apples and oranges. There is simply no basis for comparison. As I said in one of my reports on WCBS 880, suppose the outfield walls were moved back 100 feet in every baseball stadium. Far fewer homers would be hit, but everyone would clearly understand why. So it should be with this drop in scores.

Suppose Johnny gets a 77 on a Regents exam. What does that mean? In a year when the test is particularly difficult, that 77 might be at the top of the class, but in another year, on an easier exam, that score could be mediocre at best. Year-to-year comparisons are foolish. So it is with this year’s assessment results.

State officials say we should use them as a baseline. I’ll buy that. Parents have said, “I told you so — look what all this testing is doing to our kids.” I’ll buy that, too. But for me, the biggest wakeup call is what educators have to say. They were already demoralized by the new emphasis on performance appraisals and ratings, and this was another low blow. Too many teachers feel that the profession has been stripped of creativity. Check out the enrollment in education programs: They’re emptying out. The best and brightest are being dissuaded from teaching, so you’ll understand why I’m extremely worried about who will be in front of the next generation’s classrooms. Yes, there’s a teacher “glut” now, but I’m fearful of a shortage down the road.

Years ago, I observed a district that, at the end of the school year, adopted an innovative way to manipulate the schedule and use time. Almost all of the elements for success were there, but missing from the equation was planning. No transition time was provided. School reopened in September . . . precisely where it had left off in June. Teachers, parents, students — nobody knew what to expect. Need I report the outcome? That’s precisely what’s happened here.
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