Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Education Reformer Field Test: New from BARCC

Across the nation this past week students took a field test of the new PARCC standardized tests designed to provide a “checkup for our schools and allow educators to identify kids who are falling behind and need extra help.” In the spirit of testing kids to see if your test is a proper test for kids, I would like to offer the Education Reformer Field Test. This test is designed to determine if you are falling behind or need extra help in your knowledge of the privatizing, public treasury raiding, child-abusing corporate education reform movement. The test was developed by the Bloggers Against a Rotten Common Core (BARCC).

No. 2 pencils ready. Here we go.

1. Which education reformer, a chief architect of the Common Core, said “You will find that nobody gives a shit about what you think or feel?”
            a. Vladimir Putin     
            b. David Coleman
            c. Dick Cheney
            d. Benito Mussolini
2. Education reformer Michelle Rhee became the darling of the reform movement by doing which of the following?
            a. putting tape over small children’s mouths
            b. firing  a school principal for live television cameras
            c. ignoring a system wide cheating scandal among principals she did not fire
            d. all of the above
3. What does TFA stand for?
            a. Tests for All
            b. Teach for Arne
            c. Time for Amateurs
            d. Teach for America
4. While America finishes in the middle of the pack on international tests, we lead the developed world in which of the following?
            a. childhood poverty
            b. people seeking to come to this country to attend school
            c. billionaires telling us what we should do about education
            d. all of the above
5. The Common Core State Standards designed to guide teaching and learning across the country were developed by which of the following knowledgeable groups?
            a. teachers
            b. education leaders
            c. education researchers
            d. a lawyer, a management consultant, and a math professor
6. Secretary Of Education Arne Duncan, in his role as chief cheerleader for education in the country, has said which of the following?
a. The vast majority who drop out of high school drop-out not because it’s too hard but because it’s too easy.
b. I think the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans was Hurricane Katrina.
c. “Suburban moms” are upset because testing tied to Common Core is showing that their children “are not as smart as they thought they were.”
d. all of the above
7. When it comes to academic achievement charter school students typically
a. perform about the same as public school students. 
b. perform better than public school students.
c. perform worse than public school students.
d. perform during school hours at protests against the mayor of New York City’s charter school policies.
8. The education reform term “no excuses” applies to all of the following except
            a. children
            b. teachers
            c. principals
            d. state governors
9. Value Added Measures or VAMs are best used for which purpose?
            a. judging teacher effectiveness
            b. judging student growth
            c. judging school-wide progress
            d. lining the bottom of a bird cage
10. Which of the following texts has the highest Lexile level?
            a. Mr. Popper’s Penguins
            b. The Grapes of Wrath
            c. Hunger Games
            d. To Kill a Mockingbird

1. (b) Coleman has designed the Common Core to focus on evidence, evidence, evidence, No touchy, feely stuff for America’s kids. He is not quite as interested in evidence that validates the Common Core, which he never bothered to collect.
2. (d) Each of these activities can be documented by a simple google or youtube search. Michelle is clearly “in it for the kids.” At least the one’s that don’t get in her way.
3. (d) All other answers are plausible, since TFA employs amateurs and Arne Duncan is one of its biggest booster.
4. (d) You could look it up.
5. (d) The lawyer is Susan Pimentel; the consultant David Coleman, the math professor is Jason Zimba.
7. (a) see Berliner and Glass, 50 Myths and Lies That Threaten America’s Public Schools. As to choice d, this is the correct answer if the charter is run by Eva Moscowitz in New York.
8. (d) State governors seem to have all kinds of excuses for why they cannot fully fund urban schools or do anything about poverty. In the meantime children, parents, principals, and teachers are told there can be no excuses for lack of achievement.
9. (d) VAMs are junk science at its worst. See http://vamboozled.com/
9. (a) Quirks in the Lexile statistical measure make Steinbeck and Lee apparently appropriate for 4th grade, while Mr. Popper’s Penguins is not. A head-scratcher that shows how important teacher judgment is in choosing literature for students.

How do you measure up?  Using a sophisticated statistical formula that puts the VAM to shame, I have come up with the following rankings.

8-10 correct – You qualify as an education reform expert and should probably start a blog like this one.
6-7 correct – You are placed on probation with the possibility of losing education reform certification unless your scores improve.
Fewer than 6 correct – A remedial program is prescribed. First read Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error, then read 50 Myths and Lies cited above and then go to Peter Greene’s blog on education reform basics called Reclaiming Public Education.

Happy April Fool’s Day