"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, July 29, 2013

Common Core Standards Creation: "I'm Just No Good at Kindergarten": Part II

Maybe this is progress you don't want for your kindergartner. Is this what Common Core represents? 

Do you remember Claire Wapole's article about her daughter testing in kindergarten with computers and her daughter's tearful statement about her performance?  From  I'm just no good at kindergarten, just no good at all:

Clickclickclickclickclickclickclick.  It took a half dozen or so clicks before the window closed and the little test taker with the big bow in her hair was back to her assessment. This was played out again, and again and again, throughout the duration of the test. In a perfect world, where all the computers worked, testing conditions would be less frustrating. But it's the real world, and a five year old could click on the wrong thing, and accidentally leave the test. Even when they do click on the button they want, the computers don't always respond to their commands. I know it's a computer or mouse glitch, but I can't help but wonder how many of these kids think it's their fault. I heard "I can't do this" frequently. "Yes you can". I said. "You are doing great. It's the computer, not you." The preferences or options screens were accidentally opened quite often. Other computer issues complicated the situation too. Some kids had to leave one computer and find another one, or switch out mouses. Computers fail, it’s a fact, but a lot of these little people felt the fault was theirs.
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.”

This is heartbreaking, isn't it?  Early childhood experts stated three years ago that Common Core standards were developmentally inappropriate for this age group.  This inappropriateness includes the mandate to use computerized assessments.  You can read the article above for more examples of teary children and frustration by kindergartners.

Here is a story from a former kindergarten teacher, Christine Gerzon (who quit because of Common Core), whose observations support what Claire Wampole observed in her daughter's kindergarten class.  From boston.com and Pressure-cooker kindergarten:

Pressure? This is kindergarten, the happy land of building blocks and singalongs. But increasingly in schools across Massachusetts and the United States, little children are being asked to perform academic tasks, including test taking, that early childhood researchers agree are developmentally inappropriate, even potentially damaging. If children don’t meet certain requirements, they are deemed “not proficient.” Frequently, children are screened for “kindergarten readiness” even before school begins, and some are labeled inadequate before they walk through the door.

This is a troubling trend to an experienced educator like Gerzon, who knows how much a child can soak up in the right environment. After years of study and practice, she’ll tell you that 5-year-olds don’t learn by listening to a rote lesson, their bottoms on their chairs. They learn through experience. They learn through play. Yet there is a growing disconnect between what the research says is best for children -- a classroom free of pressure -- and what’s actually going on in schools.

Take the example of a girl who was barely 5 when she entered Gerzon’s classroom. She didn’t know her ABCs, but one day in class she made up a song and taught it to the other children. But because of new requirements, “I had to send a letter to her parents saying that [she] is not proficient,” says Gerzon. “You tell me that [she] is not proficient in language skills!” The Concord resident, who usually exudes a gentle presence, bristles. “It’s destructive, even abusive. That’s a pretty strong word, but what do you call it when you take a group of children and you force them to do something that they are not developmentally ready to do? What do you call that? It’s abusive.”
Psychologist and early childhood expert David Elkind, author of The Hurried Child and The Power of Play, echoes Gerzon. When children are required to do academics too early, he says, they get the message that they are failures. “We are sending too many children to school to learn that they are dumb,” says Elkind, a professor emeritus at Tufts University. “They are not dumb. They are just not there developmentally.”

Read more here.   Other educators are quoted and they fear for kindergartners, especially those not ready to read/write, antsy boys who can't stay in their seats or students whose first language is not English.  Do the standards predict disaster for these 5 year olds?  Five years old seems awfully young to think of yourself as a failure but that is the message these educators are predicting these children will take with them from their kindergarten experience.  Forget the idea kindergarten will make children "college ready".  Kindergarten will make children emotional wrecks.

Send these stories to your school board members, superintendents, state legislators and ask them why they still support Common Core standards.  We are setting up our youngest children up for failure and strict adherence to the standards which do not allow creativity.  I guess those standards ARE rigorous as rigor is associated with death, strictness and uncomfortableness.  From merriam-webster.com:

Definition of RIGOR

a (1) : harsh inflexibility in opinion, temper, or judgment : severity (2) : the quality of being unyielding or inflexible : strictness (3) : severity of life : austerity
b : an act or instance of strictness, severity, or cruelty
: a tremor caused by a chill
: a condition that makes life difficult, challenging, or uncomfortable; especially : extremity of cold
: strict precision : exactness rigor
a obsolete : rigidity, stiffness
b : rigidness or torpor of organs or tissue that prevents response to stimuli
c : rigor mortis

Are the Common Core masters creating death of the spirit?  Parents, do you want to send your 5 year old to public kindergarten under the "rigorous" Common Core standards? 


  1. It is not difficult to understand a child of this age reacting to the rigors of these new standards. I had no formal classes or testing until I was in first grade. I was not read to by my parents, had no TV and even very little radio exposure and reading, writing and spelling came quickly and easily to me by age six. Why? Because I was developmentally ready. Experiential learning through play and make-believe and helping my mom with eight siblings was great preparation for school.

  2. This entire plan for our children extends far beyond standards, tests, and a database. If it were only that, why would those who know nothing about human development force their beliefs about children and learning, as if on a modern-day Island of Dr. Moreau fashion - conducting a large scale experiment distorting child development into something that it is not. There is no justification...none at all....let's call it what it is...child abuse.


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