Monday, October 19, 2015

Oh, Boston Globe (regarding PARCC)

Because the Board of Ed meets tonight and tomorrow and PARCC is on the agenda, the Globe editorial board apparently felt that it couldn't put off deciding any longer, and came out in support of PARCC. The Pioneer Institute could not, of course, let that go unchallenged, and Joanna Weiss doesn't understand this very specific math problem.
Oh, Boston Globe (sigh)...
The survey the Globe is citing (72% of teachers support) is this Teach Plus survey of teachers who attended a Teach Plus PARCC conference. Yes, it was a self-selected group, and they offer no evidence that, as they say, "The views of Massachusetts teachers who attended the “Testing the Test” events are similar to the views of the teachers across the sites." It was a survey that included 351 teachers. So all that we can conclude is that 252 teachers think it's better. That's about 1/3 of 1% of Massachusetts teachers. Note that their only support for "great teaching" is also from a Teach Plus fellow (which Board member Margaret McKenna pointed out at a previous meeting is a group that comes to this with a certain agenda).
The column by Jim Stergios, writing for the Pioneer Institute, is replete with myths and errors: PARCC will take more time (no, particularly now that they rolled both parts into one); kids will delay entering algebra at all (no) and kids will end math with Algebra II (no); oh, and this:
That demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of standards-based reform. PARCC tests the elements of Common Core shared by all states, not the supplemental math or higher-level reading individual states may add. Given that over time what isn’t tested isn’t taught, PARCC represents a race to the middle for Massachusetts.
Well, throw out calculus and AP physics, then, folks!
 The column by Joanna Weiss is a more measured version of the hysterical forwards replete on social media around Common Core math homework, which more-or-less boil down to "I didn't learn it this way; why should anyone?"
Because we can do better. Because kids who actually understand how math works rather than just memorizing formulas actually are better at mathmatics, long term, no matter what they do in the rest of their lives.

Please understand: I post all of the above not because I am a PARCC apologist. I made my own position clear--neither--back in July when I testified before the Board of Ed. There are other options out there. If we are going to have this conversation about testing, though, let's please at least attempt to do without making things up, misleading the public, repeating things that are wrong, and otherwise trying to cloud the issue.
What if we debate this on its relative merits?

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