"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Common Core: More Glimpses into the Consequences of National Common Core Standards and Assessments?

Is education about accountability or learning?
 Reading about the high stakes testing in China for university admission, can we make an educated guess on what might be in store for American schools if Common Core standards are fully implemented?  We previously wrote how Chinese teachers marked zeros on college admission essays that criticized the government or strayed from the desired answers.  

 Is this an example of high stakes testing realities coming to university admission procedures in the United States?  What is America's current official party line or current educational theory students/teachers must use?

At this year’s highly competitive college entrance examinations in China, students critical of authorities have been harshly dealt with. They were given a score of zero for straying from the official Party line—that 'all is well in China.' 
Generally, students in China are not encouraged to think for themselves.
[Zhu Xinxin, Freelance Writer]: 
“China’s education system is but a tool to maintain the authoritarian rule of the state. It’s definitely not a system that nurtures independent thinking. Therefore it tries to evade real issues in society.” 
The zero-score essays were scathing and made fun of many current social issues in Chin—from its education system to social inequities such as corruption, forced demolitions and food safety. 
One zero-score essay sharply criticizes the brainwashing nature of the education system, restrictions on freedom of speech and Internet censorship. Essays also pointed out many social injustices, highlighting incidents such as those involving school buses, the Red Cross and the raping of young girls by officials who later branded the girls as prostitutes.
How is American public education structured today?  Local school boards and state boards of education have been rendered impotent for the creation of  standards and assessments for their students.   Education has been handed to private companies (using taxpayer money) setting national assessments to be answered in a national manner.  A "unified" set of national standards/assessments creates a "one size fits all" educational system.  Depending on student answers, the teacher will  graded effective or ineffective.  It's then just a matter of time before any creative thinking will brand the student as being an effective or ineffective citizen for a university position or certain type of employment.

Think ahead a few years: access student data sets (information gleaned from the Longitudinal Data System) to be compiled on students from birth. If your child's answers aren't within the parameters of the assessments crafted by private companies, your child won't present him/herself well on the data shared by the Departments of Education, Labor and Health and Human Services.  This data will be used to assess college success and for employers to identify compliant workers.  You can thank Arne Duncan and the Department of Education for tweaking the FERPA rules via regulatory procedure for this sharing of personal and invasive data.
In this current atmosphere of collaborative learning and group think, your human capital's capacity for individual thinking and creativity is not only discouraged, it's given a failing grade.  Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and Albert Einstein are/were fortunate not to be in the educational system today as a kindergartner.  Even if extremely smart students are in private schools or home schooled, the Common Core standards are being tied to SAT testing as well as online courses and private school vouchers.  If I were a fan of whole brain teaching, I would give this national education reform a definite "down twinkles".

A Chinese journalist reports on the testing realities for students in China:

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