Thursday, September 19, 2013

What's the Point?

So, the State of Maryand has decided to go ahead and administer the MSA's this year. But this year is a little bit different. The state has changed over to teaching the new Common Core Curriculum. Exams for the new curriculum are not available yet. So using the old tests means we will not be assessing students on the material they have learned.

The recent (and misguided) trend to use standardized test scores to as a way to evaluate teachers is embedded in the the Common Core. So, what does it mean if the test administered doesn't match up with what the teachers are required to teach?

Don't worry, says the State of Maryand. We'll give the tests, but they just won't count. They won't count on teacher evaluation, they won't count on school evaluation. (And they never count on student evaluation--report cards or promotion from year to year.)

Well, I think we are going to need to send the State of Maryland, and any local Board of Education that complies, back to Teacher's College. And this is why:

Anyone involved in teaching knows that every lesson must have what is called an Educational Objective. Teachers must begin every lesson with one. In some schools, teachers must write the educational objective on the chalkboard, and administrators will reprimand them if they haven't.

"What are Learning Objectives?

Learning Objectives are statements that describe what a learner will be able to do as a result of learning. They are sometimes called learning outcomes. Learning Objectives are also statements that describe what a learner will be able to do as a result of teaching. Some definitions stress that a learning objective is a sort of contract that teachers make with learners that describes what they will be able to do after learning that they could not do before, the 'added value' of teaching."

Each objective begins, as it should, with the student. "The student will..." For the proper construction of an educational objective, look here. Let's look at the following: Who, Behavior, Content, Conditions, Standard of Performance.

So, what is our educational objective for administering the MSA'S this year?

"The student (W) will complete(B) a series of standardized tests (Ct) that do not correspond to current curriculum (Cs) that have no bearing on evaluation of student, teacher, or school competency (SoP).

Guess what? This is not a valid educational objective. A student in teacher training would be sent back to the drawing board with this one. Where is the "added value of teaching"? What is the point?

The State of Maryland is asking schools, administrators, teachers, students, and parents, to take part in a process which clearly betrays the essential promise of education. It is as though the state were requiring Maryland doctors to betray the Hippocratic Oath.

Imagine how much learning our children could be experiencing during the time which is slated to be wasted this year on the MSA's. How much "added value" will be subtracted from their lives this year? Are we willing, as parents, to participate in this process?

Silence is consent. Speak out.

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