Full or preliminary scores have been released for Connecticut, Idaho, Missouri, Oregon, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia. They all participated in the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, one of two groups of states awarded $330 million by the U.S. Department of Education in 2010 to develop exams to test students on the Common Core state standards in math and English language arts.

Gee, you would think that for $330M they could afford  to validate not only the tests but the standards, too.

The bad news is delivered much farther down in this article:

vast numbers of students do not qualify as proficient in math or reading.

In Idaho, nearly 50 percent or more of students tested were proficient or above in English language arts. The results were lower for math: less than 40 percent were proficient in five grade levels. In Washington, about half of students across the state earned proficient scores. In Vermont, English proficiency scores hovered below 60 percent and dipped to as low as 37 percent in math

In Oregon, slightly more than 95 percent of students took the exam, just making the federal requirement for participation. For black and special education students, as well as some districts, the requirement was not met

But wait… the failures are attributed to… us!!!

Even when all the results are available, it will not be possible to compare student performance across a majority of states, one of Common Core’s fundamental goals.

effort to increase transparency and allow parents and school leaders to assess performance nationwide has largely unraveled, chiefly because states are dropping out of the two testing groups and creating their own exams.

“The whole idea of Common Core was to bring students and schools under a common definition of what success is,” said Tom Loveless, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “And Common Core is not going to have that. One of its fundamental arguments has been knocked out from under it.”

But wait… There’s more…

The Common Core-aligned tests fulfill the federal requirement, yet are significantly different from the exam that students are accustomed to taking.

Rather than paper-and-pencil multiple choice tests, the new exams are designed to be taken by tablet or computer. Instead of being given a selection of answers to choose, students must show how they got their answer. Answer correctly and get a more difficult question. Answer incorrectly, get an easier one.

How in hell does this make any sense? This is what you do when you TEACH, not when you TEST !!!

Adaptive teaching and adaptive testing makes sense only if you are trying to assess where a student is deficient and needs to be brought up to age- and grade-appropriate level. I believe this is called “formative assessment”. After that, you TEACH. And after that, you TEST to assess the student’s progress. That’s called “normative assessment” in the language of this new-fangled pseudo-educational psycho-babble. And that means you DON’T mess around with more or less difficult questions IN THE TEST.

And as to showing HOW you got an answer (not the RIGHT answer, just AN answer…), again that is what you demand when you TEACH. But when you require that on a TEST, then you are injecting into the test the very sizable problem of bias by the test grader, because of course there are many ways to get to an answer (supposedly THAT is the point of Common Core math, in particular), and who’s to say which is right or wrong (and supposedly THAT is the point of Common Core, in general). But in fact we know that there are no right or wrong methods, only approved and disapproved ones, especially under Common Core.


Thank the states that are making such a royal mess of this whole crappy federal experiment. Let’s just hope that they manage to mess it up so bad that the new trend will be the unthinkable choice: historically proven common sense.

You CAN’T teach for the future, because you can’t possibly predict what specific jobs and therefore skills will be required 5-10-20 years from now. For the self-evident proof of that, consider the changes over the past 10-30-50 years, those of you old enough to have seen them. Even when you say that look, UNIX was invented in the 1960s and even today practically everything we do in high tech still is or is directly based on UNIX, you are still faced with the fact that programming languages change faster than the weather. If you want to keep your job, you have to change with the times. And what THAT means is that SCHOOLS MUST TEACH THE BASICS — “reading, writing, arithmetic” — and make sure you leave school with a flexible mind; a mind NOT programmed for a specific job or career but with the adaptability to change jobs and careers as you need to, because you WILL need to. THAT is the only thing that is certain, and it’s possible only if you get a solid foundation in the basics.