April 30, 2020
Many people spotted this article and passed it along, and I’d like to thank you for doing so. When co-author Gary Lawrence and I wrote our book Rotten to the (Common) Core, one of the things that Mr. Lawrence kept stressing to me was the deleterious effects of standardized testing, which would only get worse – much worse – under Common Core (and let it be recalled, for the record, that Billious Hates was one of its sponsors). The reason it would get much worse, he emphasized, was its reliance on adaptive computerized standard tests. The result would be “teaching to the test, on steroids”, reduction of teachers to proxies for the testing company, and a dramatic erosion of academic standards in the name of a standardized curriculum.
He didn’t need to convince me, because in my own short stint of college teaching, I could readily see the “results” of America’s obsession with all things technological, including standardized tests “graded” and “scored” by computers. Students overwhelmingly were unable to think, unable to write, and most of all, wanted to know “the answer”, when what I wanted to know was why they were thinking what they were thinking. In a nutshell, there simply is no substitute for the human interaction element of pedagogy, and there is no substitute for the ability to write out answers and argue a case. I recall even in my geometry and algebra classes in school, when teachers were still permitted to teach their subject disciplines, that they were always interested in “seeing our work,” the steps we used in a geometric proof or the working out of a quadratic equation. The process of reasoning getting to the answer was as important as the correct answer itself.
Regurgitating an answer for a computerized test is not education, it’s indoctrination.
With that in mind, consider now the results of Common Core:
What intrigues me with this article is that the results are even worse than I or Mr. Lawrence were imagining when we wrote our book:
Reading and math scores in the US have suffered ‘historic’ declines since most states implemented the Common Core curriculum standard six years ago, according to a new study from the Pioneer Institute.
While Common Core was promoted as improving the international competitiveness of U.S. students in math, our international standing has remained low while the skills of average and lower performing American students have dropped in both math and reading. –Pioneer Institute
The study notes that in the years leading up to common core, fourth and eight-grade reading and math scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) were rising gradually (2003-2013). After Common Core was implemented, scores for both grades have fallen – with eighth grade falling nearly as fast as it had been rising.
One of the components of the Rotten to the Common Core “system” was computerized books. There too, the USSA has paid a heavy price, adopting a technology just as studies were being done about the reading retention between an actual physical book, and an ebook read on a computer screen or ipad. For most people, those studies concluded that the physical book somehow correlated with retention of knowledge. (Personally, I can vouch for that; I do little research reading computer screens, and when I do, I seem to get much less out of it.)
What caught my eye here, however, was this:
“Several of us allied with Pioneer Institute have been pointing out, ever since it was introduced, the deeply flawed educational assumptions that permeate the Common Core and the many ways in which it is at odds with curriculum standards in top-achieving countries,” said the institute in a statement.
According to the report lower scores as a result of Common Core were predicted a decade ago.
“Nearly a decade after states adopted Common Core, the empirical evidence makes it clear that these national standards have yielded underwhelming results for students,” said Pioneer Executive Director Jim Stergios. “The proponents of this expensive, legally questionable policy initiative have much to answer for”
“It’s time for federal law to change to allow states as well as local school districts to try a broader range of approaches to reform,” Rebarber added. “With a more bottom-up approach, more school systems will have the opportunity to choose curricula consistent with our international competitors and many decades of research on effective classroom teaching”
It’s precisely those “progressive” assumptions that were the focus of our book, and that some teachers have been warning about for years, for ultimately those assumptions stem from the “stimulus-response” psychology of German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt in the 19th century, and his influence spread far and wide, with Russian psychologist Pavlov (of bell and salivating dog fame), and American “educators” John Dewey, Thorndike and many others falling under his spell. And that means at the rotten core of Common Core there’s a philosophy that humans are nothing but cattle and consumers, a ball of chemical reactions disguised as emotions and thoughts. A mechanism, with a heartbeat. That philosophy is behind all computerized standardized tests, and I do mean, all, without exception. The stimulus is the question; the response is selecting the “correct” answer. Learn by rote, don’t think. Stimulus: “Who killed John Kennedy?” Response: Answer C: “Lee Harvey Oswald.” No room to question, no acknowledgement that that case has massive problems. Just memorize, repeat. Next question. Memorize. Repeat. Next question… An endless cycle of boredom, of having to “pass” tests designed to ensure you agree with “the narrative.” No wonder our students are not only failing, but bored. In the end, the Amairikuhn edgykayshun system is nothing but a form of mind control technology. A soft form of it, to be sure, but a form of it nonetheless. And if you think I may be exaggerating in that assumption, check out our book, where we expose the curious relationship between the Clowns In America’s MK Ultra program of mind control and standardized tests.
And those types of assumptions, like it or not, form the basic assumptions of most of the entrenched “progressive” “elite” that fill the federal “education” bureaucracy. Those assumptions empower them because they keep the “products” – there’s that assumption again – of the “education” “system” indoctrinated and subservient. Expecting that they, or the federal bureaucracy will relinquish that power is whistling in the wind.
But here’s a thought: civil disobedience maybe should begin in the school “systems”…
See you on the flip side…