Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teachers

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Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teachers

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 02, 2014 7:48 pm UTC

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ans ... -or-wrong/

Obama is now trying to also hold teacher training institutions accountable based on the scores of students on our current standardized tests. All the while ignoring all the problems that relate to holding just the teachers accountable for these scores.

American education policy has gone through over a decade of of regression due to No Child Left Behind, Race for the Top and more recently Common Core.

Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things.

We need to start caring about education, not only enough to sufficiently learn about the issue to have an informed opinion but also to start demanding better from our politicians.

Here is a decent article on the problems with current assessment:
http://www.ascd.org/publications/educat ... ality.aspx

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:20 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things.


Common core is kind of the first of those things.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:32 pm UTC

We still have school boards who vote about whether or not to include Evolution in the classroom.

We have way, way bigger problems to tackle first.
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Fri Dec 12, 2014 9:42 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
Zcorp wrote:Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things.


Common core is kind of the first of those things.

No, it's not at all.

Common core is a standardized assessment of learning for a very specific set of skills. That specific set of skills has consistently been argued against as being the primary focus of K-12 education, and with good reason. A few idiots at the top saying 'we only care about making better workers' is not an agreement on the goals of an educational system.

Neither is a system that ignores the reality of variance in cognitive development and age of students. Annual standardized assessments are foolish when we know that individuals are not standard. Especially during early development periods like K-6, and when an a child being 12, 9 or 6 months older than their peer relates significantly to their ability to perform on these assessments.

Common core is no where close to an agreed upon goal of our educational system, nor is a goal of 'college readiness' to be goal that should be respected.

Not only is common core incredibly stupid from a perspective of trying to get valuable information on student performance or from giving direction for teachers, even the idea wasn't bad, there are much bigger problems that should be address before attempting standardized assessment like common core, as SecondTalon points out.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby jseah » Sat Dec 13, 2014 12:39 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Common core is a standardized assessment of learning for a very specific set of skills. That specific set of skills has consistently been argued against as being the primary focus of K-12 education, and with good reason. A few idiots at the top saying 'we only care about making better workers' is not an agreement on the goals of an educational system.

Whoa, wait a minute, what else is an education system for? One can talk about arts and civics, but one needs to eat first.

I've always thought that education is an economic investment and one that gets more important every generation that goes by.

Zcorp wrote:Neither is a system that ignores the reality of variance in cognitive development and age of students. Annual standardized assessments are foolish when we know that individuals are not standard. Especially during early development periods like K-6, and when an a child being 12, 9 or 6 months older than their peer relates significantly to their ability to perform on these assessments.

This part makes sense, the group by year portion, not the standardized assessment part.

I'd rather group children by content than age. If a child can handle geometry, what does it matter if she's only ten? Or that she can't read higher than a normal 4th year?
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:00 am UTC

jseah wrote:Whoa, wait a minute, what else is an education system for? One can talk about arts and civics, but one needs to eat first.

I've always thought that education is an economic investment and one that gets more important every generation that goes by.

Where did anyone say it is not a economic investment, or that it isn't about being able to eat.

However, if we want to believe we live in a democracy we have to care about high order thinking skills, philosophy, civics and history. When we stop caring about these things we stop caring about the idea of having a informed and active citizenry. While we don't have that now, ignoring these skills is not the path toward achieving it.

Education isn't just to make better citizens, nor is it to just make better workers. It needs to do both.

This part makes sense, the group by year portion, not the standardized assessment part.

I'd rather group children by content than age. If a child can handle geometry, what does it matter if she's only ten? Or that she can't read higher than a normal 4th year?

A short response to this is, you're right it doesn't matter.
A long response that takes into account the current system and the impact it has on social and psychological development and the impact social and psychological development has on academic development it matters a lot.

Part of the problem is that academic achievement is one of the few types of achievement that is still socially punished in society. Athletic, financial, social and political achievement are all reward quite significantly throughout the entire schooling system and well into adulthood.

You're right in the abstract. We should be encouraging growth of our strengths and providing tools to assist in overcoming our weaknesses or less strong areas, the system today does not do that.
Last edited by Zcorp on Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:14 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby CorruptUser » Sat Dec 13, 2014 1:08 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:We still have school boards who vote about whether or not to include Evolution in the classroom.

We have way, way bigger problems to tackle first.


That case happened not too far from the last place I lived! A third the school board resigned in protest, then the trial practically bankrupted the town. I don't know what happened to the rest of the school board, but I don't think they were invited to too many social events afterwards.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby jseah » Sat Dec 13, 2014 3:10 am UTC

ZCorp:
Having civics class doesn't make student unemployable. Not being able to read does.

Sure, an informed citizenry is important, but productive citizens is a prerequisite. Emphasis needs to be on competency first. It's not like it's incompatible with civics and history.

Plus higher order thinking skills makes one a better worker.

----------------

If you think academic skills are socially punished then you have a major problem. Fixing that first seems like a more immediate priority.

But in the abstract, a school system without the concept of stable yearly class groups appears to be a possible route. A thought experiment:
Each child starts school at the primer classes. Whenever feasible, conduct class specific graduation exams that allow the child to move upwards to more advanced content without worrying how long the child spent in that class. At defined milestones (maybe even yearly), standardized assessments allow tracking of overall competency.

Classes are groupings of children in each topic, regardless of age, and are not the same between subjects. The children in a geometry class are not the same group of children in the advanced English language class.
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 13, 2014 7:16 am UTC

jseah wrote:ZCorp:
Having civics class doesn't make student unemployable. Not being able to read does.

Your point here is completely going over my head.

Sure, an informed citizenry is important, but productive citizens is a prerequisite. Emphasis needs to be on competency first. It's not like it's incompatible with civics and history.

It is not a prerequisite nor is 'competency' an area of study.

Who said anything about it being incompatible?

Plus higher order thinking skills makes one a better worker.

Rarely true.


If you think academic skills are socially punished then you have a major problem. Fixing that first seems like a more immediate priority.

Yes...the American school system is a major problem...

But in the abstract, a school system without the concept of stable yearly class groups appears to be a possible route. A thought experiment:
Each child starts school at the primer classes. Whenever feasible, conduct class specific graduation exams that allow the child to move upwards to more advanced content without worrying how long the child spent in that class. At defined milestones (maybe even yearly), standardized assessments allow tracking of overall competency.

We don't even need defined milestones, assuming we can create a culture that values academic achievement. We can just let the child test up whenever they want. We could and should be encouraging achievement by making it open ended. By setting goals for various skills, academic, social and physical and letting them progress at a rate they want.

This is something that has been theorized for quite some time. Sugata Mitra has even attempted the beginnings of such a system. However instead of innovation in our education system based on actual behavior of students to attempt to optimize the learning process we get some rich asshole who understand little about the systems problems buying his way into a solution he thinks is good. We've lost rounds of fighting to this very flawed thinking of how to fix education. One of the tools recent to education that is in pretty much direct conflict with that rich guy's philosophy is now bending to it cause it has to. Not that Khan Academy is a novel idea, the idea of a quality online/widely accessible learning system that focuses on skills instead of courses has been around for at least 50 years. Sal had the hustle and luck enough to get funding where hundreds of others failed.

What you suggest would be great, but instead we get all the crap the DoE has given us for the last couple decades. In a time where technology allows more progress to be made in education than ever, by orders of magnitude, our policy as regressed.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Mambrino » Sat Dec 13, 2014 10:46 am UTC

jseah wrote:If you think academic skills are socially punished then you have a major problem. Fixing that first seems like a more immediate priority.

But in the abstract, a school system without the concept of stable yearly class groups appears to be a possible route. A thought experiment:
Each child starts school at the primer classes. Whenever feasible, conduct class specific graduation exams that allow the child to move upwards to more advanced content without worrying how long the child spent in that class. At defined milestones (maybe even yearly), standardized assessments allow tracking of overall competency.

Classes are groupings of children in each topic, regardless of age, and are not the same between subjects. The children in a geometry class are not the same group of children in the advanced English language class.


I can see that working for the older children and teenagers, but on the other hand, I know many who speak in favor of a stable "home group". I don't know if there's valid science about it.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby jseah » Sat Dec 13, 2014 11:55 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:Your point here is completely going over my head.

It is not a prerequisite nor is 'competency' an area of study.

Who said anything about it being incompatible?

The point is that civics, critical thinking and so on are good and useful skills, but they are useful AFTER the ability to earn a living. Hence one should teach them, but without sacrificing emphasis on educational achievement that leads to high workforce productivity.

Zcorp wrote:
Plus higher order thinking skills makes one a better worker.

Rarely true.

Any particular reason you think that? I've personally noticed alot of inefficiencies where I work due to colleagues (and myself) failing to sufficiently think through our actions.
EDIT: I can also think of a few errors / downright expensive procedures that almost certainly resulted because people just copy and pasted stuff without thinking too hard about whether it fit the requirements

I have nothing to say to the second half of your post beyond that perhaps some kind of experimental school could be set up for this sort of trial and error?

Mambrino wrote:I can see that working for the older children and teenagers, but on the other hand, I know many who speak in favor of a stable "home group". I don't know if there's valid science about it.

Why wouldn't it work for younger children too? It's not like the teachers cannot test them and graduate them from the class if they feel the child is ready.

Why would they need a home group? (what does 'home group' even mean?)
What benefit does having one of those give that a lengthened recess time cannot? (or just a morning gathering for nominally administrative purposes?)
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Sat Dec 13, 2014 9:03 pm UTC

jseah wrote:The point is that civics, critical thinking and so on are good and useful skills, but they are useful AFTER the ability to earn a living. Hence one should teach them, but without sacrificing emphasis on educational achievement that leads to high workforce productivity.

I strongly disagree. They are just as important.

And yet again...this is the 3rd time...no one is saying anything about sacrificing anything.

Zcorp wrote:
Plus higher order thinking skills makes one a better worker.

Rarely true.

Any particular reason you think that? I've personally noticed alot of inefficiencies where I work due to colleagues (and myself) failing to sufficiently think through our actions.
EDIT: I can also think of a few errors / downright expensive procedures that almost certainly resulted because people just copy and pasted stuff without thinking too hard about whether it fit the requirements.

What is it that you do?
The vast majority of people today are not good at high order thinking, most don't even know basic logic. Nor do most jobs benefit from being particularly rational, creative or insightful.

I have nothing to say to the second half of your post beyond that perhaps some kind of experimental school could be set up for this sort of trial and error?

Framing it like that won't get you very far, few people are willing to let you experiment on their children.
But yes, perhaps if the people in the DoE weren't terrible we could see some progress in implementing new schools. That we don't, and are instead seeing policy that hurts our educational system, is the point of this thread...

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby jseah » Sun Dec 14, 2014 6:09 am UTC

Zcorp wrote:I strongly disagree. They are just as important.

And yet again...this is the 3rd time...no one is saying anything about sacrificing anything.

You sure sound like you would sacrifice productivity if it gave better citizens. If not, I guess I read wrongly and we don't really have a disagreement.

Still, we at least do disagree on the relative importance of civics vs engineering.

Zcorp wrote:What is it that you do?
The vast majority of people today are not good at high order thinking, most don't even know basic logic. Nor do most jobs benefit from being particularly rational, creative or insightful.

My job is a quality control chemist. We follow Standard Operating Procedures to the letter, with no room for deviation or creative interpretation.
Truly a job where rationality, creativity and insightfulness isn't required yes? No, not quite.

True, You CAN get away without thinking simply by following all the procedures. But sometimes you need to troubleshoot by going outside the normal procedure, sometimes you can get away with bending the rules a little for higher efficiency, and lastly... the procedures are only as good as the person who wrote them.

If you are writing the SOPs, higher order thinking skills definitely help you and your colleagues further down the line. Procedures copy-pasted from OMCL guidelines or pharmacopeias work... most of the time, except when there's no guidelines or your situation is special. And then you end up with insanity if the person writing it didn't think about it.
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Sun Dec 14, 2014 7:19 am UTC

jseah wrote:
Zcorp wrote:I strongly disagree. They are just as important.

And yet again...this is the 3rd time...no one is saying anything about sacrificing anything.

You sure sound like you would sacrifice productivity if it gave better citizens. If not, I guess I read wrongly and we don't really have a disagreement.

Still, we at least do disagree on the relative importance of civics vs engineering.

Sure, and we can have that debate. I'd start by asking you what kind of world you want to live in, cause if you don't value civics it probably a different one than I want to live in.

Zcorp wrote:What is it that you do?
The vast majority of people today are not good at high order thinking, most don't even know basic logic. Nor do most jobs benefit from being particularly rational, creative or insightful.

My job is a quality control chemist. We follow Standard Operating Procedures to the letter, with no room for deviation or creative interpretation.
Truly a job where rationality, creativity and insightfulness isn't required yes? No, not quite.

So you have a job that requires a high level of education and it is only not quite. I think you are making my point for me.
Most jobs don't require it at all. Drivers, service, labor.

We don't even care to bother teaching high order thinking skills today, at all, and yet we are where we are, a booming economy and a terrible government. An economy that would be bigger with a decent government, and so much worker supply that people can't get higher wages.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby jseah » Sun Dec 14, 2014 1:18 pm UTC

Spoiler:
Zcorp wrote:Sure, and we can have that debate. I'd start by asking you what kind of world you want to live in, cause if you don't value civics it probably a different one than I want to live in.

If you ask me, I'd wish society runs on simple to understand rules. Of course, necessary complexity means this is never going to happen.
As simple rules aren't possible, a set of core principles that the more complex rules stem from would be sufficiently close.

1. I subscribe to the principle of non-intervention. As far as possible, interactions between people should be strictly voluntary.
2. I also dislike manipulating people (this includes some forms persuasion too) by which I mean anything that is aimed at influencing their goals/values/outlook. Except...
3. Truth has value. One of the few ways of persuading people I don't mind is to prove them wrong.
4. (recent) Withhold social judgement. Social weapons are hard to control and a double edged sword. I'd rather people leave other social circles alone.
4b. In what feels like a war between competing social ideologies, I am strictly neutral.

Within that framework, people are / should be allowed to explore as they wish.

Zcorp wrote:So you have a job that requires a high level of education and it is only not quite. I think you are making my point for me.
Most jobs don't require it at all. Drivers, service, labor.

We don't even care to bother teaching high order thinking skills today, at all, and yet we are where we are, a booming economy and a terrible government. An economy that would be bigger with a decent government, and so much worker supply that people can't get higher wages.

You might wish to quote my examples of what happens when people don't think. More can be found through site accidents, poor coordination between people working on a task, and in one case, not thinking what would happen if you put all the waste into the same container. (solvents + oxidiser = ???)

Even in the case of service and labour, I still stand by my position that nearly all jobs can be done more efficiently by application of critical thinking skills.
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Mambrino » Sun Dec 14, 2014 4:54 pm UTC

jseah wrote:
Mambrino wrote:I can see that working for the older children and teenagers, but on the other hand, I know many who speak in favor of a stable "home group". I don't know if there's valid science about it.

Why wouldn't it work for younger children too? It's not like the teachers cannot test them and graduate them from the class if they feel the child is ready.

Why would they need a home group? (what does 'home group' even mean?)
What benefit does having one of those give that a lengthened recess time cannot? (or just a morning gathering for nominally administrative purposes?)


By 'home group' (I don't know what term they use in English) I mean that every student belongs just one relatively stable (and hopefully small, <20) 'home' class group that has one teacher. By 'stable' I mean it's mostly the same group for every class. I guess the idea is that there would be this one adult (the teacher responsible for the class who teaches the most of subjects) they can learn to trust (there are some specialist teachers for e.g. foreign languages) and studying in the same group of people for the most of the time makes socializing easier. As I said, I'm not expert in child psychology or pedagogy so I don't know whether the theory is valid, and in my experience it certainly isn't perfect, but that's the prevalent way how the first 6 years of school is "done" here.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Prefanity » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:44 am UTC

jseah wrote:You sure sound like you would sacrifice productivity if it gave better citizens.


Valuing wealth creation for a few elite over all other potential metrics is, like, totally awesome.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 15, 2014 4:58 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
Zcorp wrote:Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things.


Common core is kind of the first of those things.

No, it's not at all.

Common core is a standardized assessment of learning for a very specific set of skills. That specific set of skills has consistently been argued against as being the primary focus of K-12 education, and with good reason. A few idiots at the top saying 'we only care about making better workers' is not an agreement on the goals of an educational system.

Neither is a system that ignores the reality of variance in cognitive development and age of students. Annual standardized assessments are foolish when we know that individuals are not standard. Especially during early development periods like K-6, and when an a child being 12, 9 or 6 months older than their peer relates significantly to their ability to perform on these assessments.

Common core is no where close to an agreed upon goal of our educational system, nor is a goal of 'college readiness' to be goal that should be respected.

Not only is common core incredibly stupid from a perspective of trying to get valuable information on student performance or from giving direction for teachers, even the idea wasn't bad, there are much bigger problems that should be address before attempting standardized assessment like common core, as SecondTalon points out.


Common Core includes as a fairly central part of it a grade by grade set of standards of things a child should know. The things listed are fairly...reasonable IMO. Complete, maybe not, but a good set of basic competencies. After all, college or not, you should probably have decent English skills, math skills, etc.

Standardized assessments are...not actually education, merely a monitoring of said education, of course. But...you need to collect data somehow. And if it isn't standardized, your data will quickly become garbage. Yeah, we maybe focus on this part a little too much now, but standardized testing is probably not going away.

I'm not fixated on Common Core as the end-all solution or anything, but there is nothing particularly wrong with the approach. At least, for starters.

Zcorp wrote:
Zcorp wrote:What is it that you do?
The vast majority of people today are not good at high order thinking, most don't even know basic logic. Nor do most jobs benefit from being particularly rational, creative or insightful.

My job is a quality control chemist. We follow Standard Operating Procedures to the letter, with no room for deviation or creative interpretation.
Truly a job where rationality, creativity and insightfulness isn't required yes? No, not quite.

So you have a job that requires a high level of education and it is only not quite. I think you are making my point for me.
Most jobs don't require it at all. Drivers, service, labor.

We don't even care to bother teaching high order thinking skills today, at all, and yet we are where we are, a booming economy and a terrible government. An economy that would be bigger with a decent government, and so much worker supply that people can't get higher wages.


The traveling salesman problem is a notable problem for a reason. Drivers certainly do need creativity and thinking skills at times. Service? Cmon, the service sector needs these skills in spades.

Mambrino wrote:
jseah wrote:
Mambrino wrote:I can see that working for the older children and teenagers, but on the other hand, I know many who speak in favor of a stable "home group". I don't know if there's valid science about it.

Why wouldn't it work for younger children too? It's not like the teachers cannot test them and graduate them from the class if they feel the child is ready.

Why would they need a home group? (what does 'home group' even mean?)
What benefit does having one of those give that a lengthened recess time cannot? (or just a morning gathering for nominally administrative purposes?)


By 'home group' (I don't know what term they use in English) I mean that every student belongs just one relatively stable (and hopefully small, <20) 'home' class group that has one teacher. By 'stable' I mean it's mostly the same group for every class. I guess the idea is that there would be this one adult (the teacher responsible for the class who teaches the most of subjects) they can learn to trust (there are some specialist teachers for e.g. foreign languages) and studying in the same group of people for the most of the time makes socializing easier. As I said, I'm not expert in child psychology or pedagogy so I don't know whether the theory is valid, and in my experience it certainly isn't perfect, but that's the prevalent way how the first 6 years of school is "done" here.


A more consistent social group does have a certain validity to it. But, on the flip side, the kid gets exposed to less variety. Our teaching methods are not necessarily ideal, but this whole topic is kind of seperate from the topics of standards and testing. Surely those will be necessary regardless of model of instruction.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby mousewiz » Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:36 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:The traveling salesman problem is a notable problem for a reason. Drivers certainly do need creativity and thinking skills at times. Service? Cmon, the service sector needs these skills in spades.


I'm not sure that the decisions faced by drivers are the reason it's a notable problem. I think it's a notable problem because it's easier to grasp and more obviously useful at a glance than 3SAT. For larger companies, I'd be surprised if software wasn't doing most of the route planning. For pizza places, I think focusing of product and service are probably more useful than focusing on route planning (though I'd agree with you that critical thinking skills can be applied to product/service).

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Mon Dec 15, 2014 7:48 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:Common Core includes as a fairly central part of it a grade by grade set of standards of things a child should know. The things listed are fairly...reasonable IMO.

I care little for your obviously uninformed opinion, if you want to provide an argument on why you formed your opinion please do so. Otherwise your uninformed opinion adds nothing to conversation. As I have already stated one of the most significant problems with Common Core, maybe you could express why you don't think it is a problem.

Complete, maybe not, but a good set of basic competencies. After all, college or not, you should probably have decent English skills, math skills, etc.

Every thread you enter you throw up ridiculous straw-men. Who here is saying anything about not teaching decent english or math skills? Why would you even say this? Are you just trolling or you do really not understand how this is missing the point entirely and decreases the chance of having reasonable discourse?

"Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things. "

Standardized assessments are...not actually education, merely a monitoring of said education, of course. But...you need to collect data somehow. And if it isn't standardized, your data will quickly become garbage. Yeah, we maybe focus on this part a little too much now, but standardized testing is probably not going away.

It should go away until we can make a half decent standardized test...and you should want it to. This causing a great deal of harm to our educational system which was already pathetic.

Data is great, it helps us get better at collecting data and some if it will be useful and good. We can take that useful and good data to make better decisions about how to teach. The tests we have now produce very little good data, we know this, and to then tell our teachers that your jobs are on the line for making your student do well on these tests, despite how they don't accurately assess the skills of a student, is foolish. This causes teachers to 'teach to the test' as that is not only what we are incentivizing we are actually punishing not doing that.

Please show the slightest amount of respect by informing yourself just a little before entering a conversation with an opinion.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:30 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:Common Core includes as a fairly central part of it a grade by grade set of standards of things a child should know. The things listed are fairly...reasonable IMO.

I care little for your obviously uninformed opinion, if you want to provide an argument on why you formed your opinion please do so. Otherwise your uninformed opinion adds nothing to conversation. As I have already stated one of the most significant problems with Common Core, maybe you could express why you don't think it is a problem.


Uh...you can read these standards for yourself. corestandards.org, dude.

If I'm uninformed, please demonstrate how I am incorrect about this.

Complete, maybe not, but a good set of basic competencies. After all, college or not, you should probably have decent English skills, math skills, etc.

Every thread you enter you throw up ridiculous straw-men. Who here is saying anything about not teaching decent english or math skills? Why would you even say this? Are you just trolling or you do really not understand how this is missing the point entirely and decreases the chance of having reasonable discourse?

"Before we can decide to hold teachers responsible for student achievement we need to do two things. First agree on what the goals of our educational system are, and second actually develop tools to accurately assess student progress toward those goals. Our system currently has neither of those things. "


We are kind of doing the first. And the second. Not perfectly, I'll grant, but unified goals and measuring student progress is exactly what common core and standardized testing are for. If you have changes you would like to propose, I'm all ears, but when you start off by claiming that we don't have things we clearly do, well...I'm going to disagree.

Standardized assessments are...not actually education, merely a monitoring of said education, of course. But...you need to collect data somehow. And if it isn't standardized, your data will quickly become garbage. Yeah, we maybe focus on this part a little too much now, but standardized testing is probably not going away.

It should go away until we can make a half decent standardized test...and you should want it to. This causing a great deal of harm to our educational system which was already pathetic.

Data is great, it helps us get better at collecting data and some if it will be useful and good. We can take that useful and good data to make better decisions about how to teach. The tests we have now produce very little good data, we know this, and to then tell our teachers that your jobs are on the line for making your student do well on these tests, despite how they don't accurately assess the skills of a student, is foolish. This causes teachers to 'teach to the test' as that is not only what we are incentivizing we are actually punishing not doing that.

Please show the slightest amount of respect by informing yourself just a little before entering a conversation with an opinion.


Why should it go away? How will getting rid of testing wholesale provide a means to getting a better testing system?

Yes, teaching the test is an issue, but it's a remarkably common issue with tests. It's not necessarily unique to this test. Any standardized system, in which the administrators ARE the teachers, if you don't trust the administrators, well...crap. The quality of the test itself is not particularly important here.

Of course, jumping straight to insulting instead of pointing to data more precise than "useful and good" and "pathetic" will no doubt make your case persuasively. *rolls eyes*

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Dec 16, 2014 7:49 pm UTC

For the record, I'd like to quote the introduction to the Common Core Standards for Mathematics:

These Standards define what students should understand and be able to do in
their study of mathematics. Asking a student to understand something means
asking a teacher to assess whether the student has understood it. But what does
mathematical understanding look like? One hallmark of mathematical understanding
is the ability to justify, in a way appropriate to the student’s mathematical maturity,
why a particular mathematical statement is true or where a mathematical rule
comes from. There is a world of difference between a student who can summon a
mnemonic device to expand a product such as (a + b)(x + y) and a student who
can explain where the mnemonic comes from. The student who can explain the rule
understands the mathematics, and may have a better chance to succeed at a less
familiar task such as expanding (a + b + c)(x + y). Mathematical understanding and
procedural skill are equally important, and both are assessable using mathematical
tasks of sufficient richness.


Now, is the implementation perfect? Probably not. (What is?) The motivations behind it are good ones though.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:18 pm UTC

Can you explain to me how you think your post is relevant? It addresses neither the problem I brought up in the OP nor the specific problem I mentioned relating to annual testing and non-standard students. It doesn't even address the change in focus in the classroom to teaching the test rather than a greater variety of things.

The abstract motivation of 'lets make education better' does not excuse implementing a system that makes education worse.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:06 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:Can you explain to me how you think your post is relevant? It addresses neither the problem I brought up in the OP nor the specific problem I mentioned relating to annual testing and non-standard students. It doesn't even address the change in focus in the classroom to teaching the test rather than a greater variety of things.

The abstract motivation of 'lets make education better' does not excuse implementing a system that makes education worse.


Please explain how it is making education worse. You are simply decrying posts in opposition to yours without actually addressing them. In your very first post, you include "and now Common Core" as part of your "decade of regression".

So yes, a post on Common Core is obviously relevant. And it is reasonable for us to ask for your justification for your claims.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby JudeMorrigan » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:35 pm UTC

Erm, I was pointing out that Common Core is, in fact, concerned with "agree[ing] on what the goals of our educational system are". It's kind of the whole point. At least for math and english.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:07 pm UTC

JudeMorrigan wrote:Erm, I was pointing out that Common Core is, in fact, concerned with "agree[ing] on what the goals of our educational system are". It's kind of the whole point. At least for math and english.

I'm speaking to the goals of the system itself, not the goals of a math course.

And this is not agreement, it is no where close, there is significant dissent among teachers, administrators, educational researchers and educational psychologists (like myself). Having a mandated standard for math assessment is no where close to the same as agreement upon a goal.

There are very valid concerns over the even the specifics like the math standards you bring up, here is one example:
Spoiler:
the Atlantic article wrote:This brings us now to the final three pages of the 100-page document, called "Standards for Mathematical Practice." While this discussion is short, the points it includes are often the focus of webinars and seminars on the new Common Core methods:

Make sense of problem solving and persevere in solving them
Reason abstractly and quantitatively
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others
Model with mathematics
Use appropriate tools strategically
Attend to precision
Look for and make use of structure
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning
These guidelines seem reasonable enough. But on closer inspection, these things are essentially habits of mind that ought to develop naturally as a student learns to do actual math. For example, there's nothing wrong with the first point: "Make sense of problem solving and persevering in solving them." But these standards are being interpreted to mean that students "make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution."

This is a rather high expectation for students in K- 6. True habits of mind develop with time and maturity. An algebra student, for instance, can take a theoretical scenario such as "John is 2 times as old as Jill will be in 3 years" and express it in mathematical symbols. In lower grades, this kind of connection between numbers and ideas is very hard to make. The Common Core standards seem to presume that even very young students can, and should, learn to make sophisticated leaps in reasoning, like little children dressing in their parents' clothes.

As the Common Core makes its way into real-life classrooms, I hope teachers are able to adjust its guidelines as they fit. I hope, for instance, that teachers will still be allowed to introduce the standard method for addition and subtraction in second grade rather than waiting until fourth. I also hope that teachers who favor direct instruction over an inquiry-based approach will be given this freedom.

Unfortunately, the emails and newspaper articles I've been seeing may herald a new era where more and more students are given a flimsy make-believe version of mathematics, without the ability to solve actual math problems. After all, where the Common Core goes, textbook publishers are probably not too far behind.


If you want to make a new thread I'd be happy to go through the specific problems with Common Core, but this thread is more for people who know the problems with it, the problems with paying teachers based on current assessment tools and the structure of their use and to inform those of further problems with putting the cart in front of the horse n education. Assessment is great, holding teachers responsible for student growth is great. We just first need to have decent goals and assessment tools, otherwise we are rewarding the teachers who mold kids to fit into a broken system and firing those who aren't willing to.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zamfir » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:47 am UTC

@Zcorp:on this board, topic starters do not get control over the direction of the thread. That's a choice, there are other boards where a topic starter does become a discussion leader. Here, you can expect that the discussion stays close to the original topic, but if people want to discuss that topic in a different way than you would prefer, then so be it.

People are discussing Common Core, standardised testing, the goals of an education system. That is close enough to the OT. They do not agree with you, but you will have to live with that.

They are not trolling, and you cannot demand that they change to your preferred direction of discussion.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Zcorp » Wed Dec 17, 2014 9:35 am UTC

Spoiler:
Zamfir wrote:@Zcorp:on this board, topic starters do not get control over the direction of the thread. That's a choice, there are other boards where a topic starter does become a discussion leader. Here, you can expect that the discussion stays close to the original topic, but if people want to discuss that topic in a different way than you would prefer, then so be it.

People are discussing Common Core, standardised testing, the goals of an education system. That is close enough to the OT. They do not agree with you, but you will have to live with that.

They are not trolling, and you cannot demand that they change to your preferred direction of discussion.

Tyndmyr is trolling. Every single one of his posts here offers no substance, is littered straw-men and is just trying to incite.

You're right that I don't get to control the discussion as the OP. However, neither do I have to engage in the discussion about the flaws or not of Common core when the discussion I value in this thread is not that. Thus me asking them to take it to another thread is perfectly valid. While my statement 'this thread is more...' certainly sounds authoritative that was unintentional, it was simply meant to say that I'm not going to have this discussion here, and as no other talk about common core is going on... Furthermore, no "people are discussing common core", some people are stating that common core has value (or that it is some how an agreement rather than a mandate from a select group of people, many of which have no background in education) as if that is some how relevant to my point that our standardized tests and their implementation are not sufficient form of student assessment to judge teachers and teaching institutions on them. There is no other discussion about common core, just that straw-man.

If you aren't willing to punish people for trolling that's your deal, although it's sad. I know this isn't SB but we should expect a level of post quality above terrible right? If you really believe Tyndmyr has contributed anything of substance to this discussion, I don't know what to say. I'm baffled that you could look at his posts and come to any other conclusion than he is a troll.

Further discussion about moderation will be done through PM. -- Zamfir

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Wed Dec 17, 2014 5:33 pm UTC

Zcorp wrote:If you want to make a new thread I'd be happy to go through the specific problems with Common Core, but this thread is more for people who know the problems with it, the problems with paying teachers based on current assessment tools and the structure of their use and to inform those of further problems with putting the cart in front of the horse n education. Assessment is great, holding teachers responsible for student growth is great. We just first need to have decent goals and assessment tools, otherwise we are rewarding the teachers who mold kids to fit into a broken system and firing those who aren't willing to.


I do not necessarily agree with you as to what the problems are.

I think we could have the best tests in the world, and there would still be an incentive for teachers to teach the test, or to cheat to appear better. An image of being effective is part of just about any job.

If I had to list actual problems, they would be as follows:
1. Zero tolerance policies that focus on trivial infractions, but allow persistent bullying, etc to occur.
2. Long summer vacations result in many students losing significant progress.
3. Schools are funded locally in part(as well as through a variety of other various means), which means constant battles over funding, and widely ranging funding, etc among schools that should obstensibly be similar.
4. Schools are also expected to serve as day care institutions, child nutrition centers, etc. None of these things are bad, but you keep dumping requirements on an entity, and you're going to have increasing costs, more administration required to run them, etc. Nature of scope creep.
5. Terrible, terrible decisions for textbooks, etc, featuring nonsense like creationism.

That list is probably not complete, and is not prioritized in any real order, but I dare say they are all significant factors affecting the state of public schooling in the US.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Lucrece » Fri Dec 19, 2014 1:55 am UTC

So long as gaming your GPA gains and learning the standardized test formulas is more important for getting into masters/doctoral/MD programs (Bachelor's is kind of worthless now) than actually making an effort of learning about what you will be doing professionally, there's not much teachers will be able to do to curb destructive behaviors from students. Students go to university for lucrative reasons, and any curriculum should take that into account.

Also it would really help if you stopped sending kids with no professional interest in hard maths and technical sciences to flunkout classes like calculus. Making biochemistry students take a course in zoology and plant anatomy is a total waste of time. Forcing med students to take calculus instead of teaching them more relevant maths like statistics and offering classes in epidemiology helps. There's so much shitty bureaucracy, it feels like several of these upper tier programs are just mere guilds trying to keep membership exclusive at all costs so they can keep their salaries high and positions unthreatened by competition.

I would say the same of liberal arts students, making them take trigonometry is silly, in 6 months out of college all those pages of identities they were forced to memorize will be gone. Similarly making a mechanical engineer take a music appreciation elective or forcing them to take general chemistry is extraneous -- they will not use it. The whole idea of a bachelor's program to begin with in how it's designed is so inefficient. Colleges should be professional training institutions, with real mentorship programs and it should be their focus to prepare students efficiently and help them to connect to the industry of their interest.

It's just silly how much of government money goes to just meeting the goal of high school graduation. High school graduation is nothing. The goalposts have moved and so the efforts need to be redesigned for current demands.
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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby CorruptUser » Fri Dec 19, 2014 3:02 am UTC

I was always convinced that Gen Eds had the purpose of generating more money. 400 students taught by 1 grad student? Pure profit margin!

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Dec 19, 2014 6:20 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I was always convinced that Gen Eds had the purpose of generating more money. 400 students taught by 1 grad student? Pure profit margin!


Well, of course. Colleges are generally doing pretty well financially, even as college students are having increased difficulty coping with rising costs. Secondary education has some severe cost issues currently, even with (often subsidized) low interest rates. The idea that these distortions are affecting primary education seems reasonable...after all, your grades in primary education have more effect on secondary education opportunities than they will on almost anything else.

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Re: Obama doubles down on standardized assessment of teacher

Postby Prefanity » Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:01 pm UTC

CorruptUser wrote:I was always convinced that Gen Eds had the purpose of generating more money. 400 students taught by 1 grad student? Pure profit margin!


At my alma mater, using a tenured or tenure-track professor to lecture 400 students lowers the number of classes taught by part-time faculty (adjuncts, grads, etc.), which is a metric of school quality over at U.S. News & World Report. Never mind that these professors never ever see student work. I imagine profit is the motivation in this case as well. Though, this wouldn't necessarily bother me if that money was going to faculty.


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