Archive for the ‘Yong Zhao’ Tag

Update: Growing Pushback Against Common Core Tests Nationally   2 comments

Twenty-two of the United States are represented in this list of national news articles about frustrated teachers, parents, professors and psychologists pushing back against Common Core tests.

Is Common Core Testing “A Cash-Grabbing Hoax?”
http://www.reviewjournal.com/opinion/common-core-must-prove-it-s-not-cash-grabbing-hoax

More Central Florida Families Consider Opting Out of State Exams
http://www.myfoxorlando.com/story/27387181/opting-out-becoming-more-popular-option-for-central-florida-families

Utah’s Dr. Gary Thompson: SAGE Common Core tests break basic codes of test ethics  http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2014/11/18/dr-gary-thompson-sagecommon-core-tests-break-basic-codes-of-test-ethics/

Oklahoma First Grade Teachers Explain Why They Won‘t Administer Standardized Test
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/18/your-kids-deserve-better-than-this-first-grade-teachers-tell-parents/

Don’t Copy China’s Test-Prep Culture
http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/opinion/zhao-common-core-testing/index.html?hpt=hp_t3


Arizona District Seeks Exemption From New State Test
http://www.abc15.com/news/region-northern-az/lake-havasu/havasu-schools-seek-to-exempt-some-from-new-test

New Mexico Teachers Say Testing Overkill is Undermining Education
http://www.koat.com/news/teachers-standardized-testing-is-taking-away-from-education/29710982
Common Core Tests Prompt New Mexico Backlash
http://www.taosnews.com/news/article_dc24c53c-6c4b-11e4-ae30-a38a2d5729ca.html

New York Regents Try to Make Field Tests “Mandatory” to Combat Exam Boycotts
http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2014/11/8556878/faced-opposition-regents-move-bolster-field-testing

Local North Carolina School Boards Seek End of State-Mandated, Test-Based School Grades
http://www.statesville.com/news/school-board-voices-disagreement-with-state-policies/article_658f6090-6a8d-11e4-a9e3-47ed378d838e.html

 

Education Groups Seek Delay of California Test-Based School Ratings
http://edsource.org/2014/school-groups-ask-to-delay-api-scores-another-year/70029#.VGuAZnvvcZy

Thousands of Colorado High School Students Refuse to Take State Tests
http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/14/us-usa-colorado-education-idUSKCN0IY2HO20141114
Is Colorado Student Opt-Out a Harbinger of Broader Protests?
http://takingnote.learningmatters.tv/?p=7361
Coloradans Launch Petition to Overturn Test-Based Teacher Evaluation
https://www.change.org/p/the-colorado-legislature-repeal-senate-bill-191-linking-standardized-test-scores-to-teacher-pay-and-performance

High-Stakes Testing Pressure Drives Experienced Teachers Out of Florida Classrooms
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20141108/ARTICLE/141109731

Florida Teachers Consider Civil Disobedience to Say “No” to Testing
http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2014/11/17/florida-teachers-consider-civil-disobedience-to-say-no-to-testing/

The Problems With Using Tests to Rate Georgia Art, Gym and Music Teachers
http://www.myajc.com/news/news/local-education/the-problem-with-using-tests-to-rate-music-art-and/nh3bP/

Why One Illinois Parent Opted Her Children Out of State Exams
http://realchicagomama.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/standardized-testing-redux/

Film Premiere Sparks Indiana Opt-Out Movement
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/16/testing-foes-call-for-change-after-films-premiere/#.VGn5EnvvcZw
Indiana Panel Asks Whether Testing Has Gone Too Far
http://in.chalkbeat.org/2014/11/17/teachers-students-community-members-debate-merits-of-testing/#.VGtGQnvvcZw

Iowa Parents Should Stand Up to Claims They Have No Opt-Out Rights
http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/abetteriowa/2014/11/13/amy-moore-school-testing-opt-out/18969065/

How Frequently Should Kansas School Children Be Tested?
http://www.thekansan.com/article/20141111/NEWS/141119984/-1/Sports

Debate Ranges About How Much Time Maryland Students Should Spend Testing
http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/education/bs-md-testing-investigation-20141115-story.html#page=1

Minnesota Legislators Plan Bills to Cut Back Testing
http://forestlaketimes.com/2014/11/12/education-issues-on-the-docket-for-2015-house-republicans/
No Quick Fix for Minnesota Achievement Gap
http://www.sctimes.com/story/opinion/2014/11/14/turn-quick-answer-achievement-gap/19048273/

Parents Push Back Against New Jersey’s Latest Standardized Exam
http://www.app.com/story/news/education/education-trends/2014/11/13/parents-try-opt-parcc-test/18982547/
Local New Jersey Education Ass’n Adopts Strong Position on High-Stakes Testing
http://teacherbiz.wordpress.com/2014/11/10/the-delran-education-associations-position-on-high-stakes-standardized-testing/
Teachers Add Critical Voice to New Jersey Commission Investigating Testing
http://www.njspotlight.com/stories/14/11/11/teachers-add-critical-voice-to-newly-named-testing-commission/

Ohio Legislative Committee Approves Limits on Testing Time
http://www.cleveland.com/metro/index.ssf/2014/11/limit_on_state_testing_of_stud.html

Oregon Educators Offer Advice on Aiding Families Who Want to Opt Out of Testing
http://www.wweek.com/portland/blog-32442-permalink.html

Pennsylvania School Ratings Not Accurate Measure of Educational Effectiveness
http://standardspeaker.com/news/professor-scores-not-true-measure-of-school-districts-1.1786040
Local Super Blasts Pennsylvania’s Biased School Grades for Ignoring Poverty
http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/11/central_dauphin_superintendent_1.html

Resignation of Tennessee Ed. Commissioner Creates Opening for Testing Overhaul
http://wgnsradio.com/rep-womick-applauds-education-commissioner-leaving-and-hopes-common-core-exits-too–cms-23466

Virginia Test-Review Commission Prepares Recommendations
http://www.dailyprogress.com/newsvirginian/news/local/sol-committee-member-offers-update-on-work/article_0bef57a6-6a11-11e4-91e3-43c9050fee0f.html

Washington State Super Seeks State Grad Test Repeal
http://www.theolympian.com/2014/11/15/3425844_state-schools-chief-no-more-tests.html?sp=/99/101/112/&rh=1

Q & A With FairTest on Assessment Reform
www.asbj.com/HomePageCategory/Online-Features/FiveQuestions

FairTest on Education Town Hall Radio
http://educationtownhall.org/2014/11/16/fairtest-joins-bus/

“Smarter Balanced” Tests Not Ready for Prime Time
http://edsource.org/2014/smarter-balanced-tests-are-still-a-work-in-progress/69828#.VGoPr3vvcZx

Can We Stop Relying on Standardized Tests to Drive Education Reform
http://educationopportunitynetwork.org/can-we-stop-using-tests-to-drive-education-reform/



Thanks to Bob Schaeffer at FairTest for sharing his testing pushback article links.

Dr. Christopher Tienken Explains PISA and Real Education Beyond PISA   6 comments


This article, reposted with permission from Christienken.com, was written to challenge education bureaucrats who are using the latest PISA results to justify their crooked reforms. Diane Ravitch, Yong Zhao, and Rick Hess have excellent posts as well on the topic of PISA.
Dr. Tienken’s questions for ed reformers at the end of his article take the cake!

tienken

What PISA Says About PISA

by Dr. Christopher Tienken

Pundits, education bureaucrats, and policy makers rejoice! It’s PISA time once again. Cue the dark music, fear mongering, worn out slogans and dogma about the United States education system failing the country economically. Sprinkle in “global competitiveness” throughout your press release, gush over how well those non-creative, authoritarian Asian countries performed, push your market oriented, anti-local control reforms, and presto, you are ready for prime-time education-reformer status. It seems as if America is suffering from a severe case of PISA envy. But what do the vendors of PISA say about PISA?

Unfortunately, the release of the latest PISA scores tells us nothing about the quality of a country’s education system, nor do the results predict economic doom or success. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD, 2013, p.265), the private group that sells the PISA, the results should not be used to make sweeping indictments of education systems or important policy decisions. In fact, the vendors caution that the results of the PISA tests are a combination of schooling, life experiences, poverty, and access to early childhood programs, just to name a few factors:

“If a country’s scale scores in reading, scientific or mathematical literacy are significantly higher than those in another country, it cannot automatically be inferred that the schools or particular parts of the education system in the first country are more effective than those in the second. However, one can legitimately conclude that the cumulative impact of learning experiences in the first country, starting in early childhood and up to the age of 15, and embracing experiences both in school, home and beyond, have resulted in higher outcomes in the literacy domains that PISA measures.”

Not only are PISA results influenced by experiences “in the home and beyond”, but there is a sizeable relationship between the level of child poverty in a country and PISA results. Poverty explains up to 46% of the PISA scores in OECD countries (OECD, 2013, pp. 35-36). That does not bode well for the U.S. with one of the highest childhood poverty rates of the major industrialized countries.

Schooling does not end when a child turns 15 or 16, the ages of the students tested by PISA. Students continue their education for another 2-3 years and are thus exposed to more content. The vendors of PISA acknowledge that the scores from a 15 year-old child could not possibly predict or account for all that child knows or will grow to learn in the future. According to the PISA technical manual (OECD, 2009 p. 261) curriculum alignment and the selectiveness in countries’ testing populations also contribute to differences in the scores:

“This is not only because different students were assessed but also because the content of the PISA assessment was not expressly designed to match what students had learned in the preceding school year but more broadly to assess the cumulative outcome of learning in school up to age 15. For example, if the curriculum of the grades in which 15-year-olds are enrolled mainly includes material other than that assessed by PISA (which, in turn, may have been included in earlier school years) then the observed performance difference will underestimate student progress.”

Furthermore, the vendors reiterate their cautions that PISA is not aligned to any curriculum (2009, p.48):

PISA measures knowledge and skills for life and so it does not have a strong curricular focus. This limits the extent to which the study is able to explore relationships between differences in achievement and differences in the implemented curricula.”

But what “skills for life” does PISA measure? A look at the released items suggest that some of the content measured is just rehashed versions of subject matter that has been around for the last 120 years: Hardly 21st century skills. PISA does not measure resilience, persistence, collaboration, cooperation, cultural awareness, strategizing, empathy, compassion, or divergent thinking.

So, if the vendors of PISA repeatedly warn that PISA is not aligned to school curricula, the scores are influenced strongly by poverty and wealth, the skills are left over from the 19th and 20th centuries, and out-of-school factors contribute to the overall education output in a country, then what does PISA really tell us about the quality of a school system or global competitiveness? Not much.

U.S. students have never scored at the top of the ranks on PISA or any other international test given since 1964. Countries like Estonia, Slovenia, Slovak Republic, Poland, and Latvia outscore the U.S. on every PISA. Does that matter? What is their per-capita GDP? How many Nobel Prizes have they won? How many utility patents do they produce each year? Where have high PISA scores gotten them? Are they going to “out-compete” the U.S.? I don’t think so.

Beyond the utterly anti-intellectual statements being made about the latest round of PISA scores, there are some basic questions that policy makers, education bureaucrats, and the latest crop of self-proclaimed savior-reformers should answer before thrusting assertions and untested policies upon 50 million public school children.

What is your definition of global competitiveness?

How can one test predict global competiveness or economic growth?

Was the PISA test designed to predict economic growth (OECD, 2009; 2013)?

What empirical evidence do you have that high PISA scores result in higher levels of innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship (Zhao, 2012)?

Are you aware, that when you disaggregate the data by percentages of poverty in a school, the U.S. scores at the top of all the PISA tests (Riddle, 2009)?

Do you know what disaggregate means?

If countries like Estonia, Hungary, Slovenia, Vietnam, Latvia, and Poland routinely outscore us on PISA, why isn’t their per capita gross domestic product or other personal economic indicators equal to those in the U.S. (World Bank, 2013)?

What empirical evidence do you have that PISA scores cause economic growth in the G20 countries (Tienken, 2008)?

What jobs are U.S. children competing for in this economy?

What evidence do you have to demonstrate U.S. students are competing for the jobs you cite and with whom are they competing (evidence for that as well…)?

Do you think that lower wages is a reason multinational corporations choose to sell out the American public and set up shops in places like Pakistan,
Indonesia, Cambodia, India, China, Bangladesh, and Haiti?

Are you aware of the strong relationship between our growing trade with China and the loss of our manufacturing jobs (Pierce & Schott, 2012; Traywick, 2013)?

Why are companies like Boeing and GE allowed to give their technology, utility patents, and know-how to the Chinese in return for being able to sell their products in China (Prestowitz, 2012)?

Can higher PISA scores change the policy of allowing U.S. multinationals to give away our technological advantages?

Are you aware that only 10% of Chinese engineering graduates and 25% of Indian engineers are prepared to work in multinational corporations or corporations
outside of China or India (Gereffi, et al., 2006; Kiwana, 2012)?

If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?

Are you aware that 81% of U.S. engineers are qualified to work in multinational corporations – the highest percentage in the world (Kiwana, 2012)?

Are you aware that adults in the U.S. rank at the top of the world in creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship and that those adults were educated during a time of NO state or national standards (Tienken, 2013)?

If you are not aware of that fact, don’t you think you should be?

Are you aware that the U.S. produces the largest numbers of utility patents (innovation patents) per year and has produced over 100,000 a year for at least the last 45 years? No other country comes close (USPTO, 2012).

Did you answer “No” to three or more of these questions? If so, don’t you think it is time that you save the taxpayers money and resources and resign?

Sources

Gereffi, G., Wadhwa, V. & Rissing, B. (2006). Framing the Engineering Outsourcing Debate: Comparing the Quantity and Quality of Engineering Graduates in the United States, India and China. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1015831 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1015831

Kiwana, L., Kumar, A., & Randerson, N. (2012).The Skills Threat from China and India – Fact or Fiction. Engineering U.K. Retrieved from http://www.engineeringuk.com/_resources/documents/Engineering_Graduates_in_China_and_India_-_EngineeringUK_-_March_2012.pdf

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2010). PISA 2009 results: What students know and can do: Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Vol. I). Retrieved from http://www.oecd.org/pisa/ pisaproducts/pisa2009/pisa2009resultswhatstudents knowandcandostudentperformanceinreadingmath ematicsandsciencevolumei.htm

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. (2013). PISA 2012 results. What students know and can do: Student performance in reading, mathematics and science (Vol. I). http://www.oecd.org/pisa/keyfindings/pisa-2012-results-volume-I.pdf

Pierce, J.R. (2012). The Surprisingly Swift Decline of U.S. Manufacturing Employment. Yale School of Management and National Bureau of Economic Research. Retrieved from http://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/schott-09-oct-2013.pdf

Prestowitz, C. (2012, Feb. 22). GE’s Competitiveness Charade. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from: http://prestowitz.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/02/22/ges_competitiveness_charade 5

Riddle, M. (2010, December 15). PISA: It’s Poverty not Stupid [web post]. The Principal Difference. Retrieved from http://nasspblogs.org/principaldifference/2010/12/pisa_its_poverty_not_stupid_1.html

Tienken, C.H. (2008). Rankings of International Achievement Test Performance and Economic Strength: Correlation or Conjecture? International Journal of Education Policy and Leadership, 3(3), 1-12.

Tienken, C.H. (2013). International Comparisons of Innovation and Creativity. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 49, 153-155.

Traywick, C.A. (2013, Nov. 5). Here’s Proof that Trading with Beijing is Screwing America’s Workers. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from: http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/ posts/2013/11/05/heres_proof_that_trading_with_china_is_screwing_american_workers

U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. (2012): Patents by Country, State, and Year: Utility Patents. Alexandria, VA: Author. Retrieved from http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/cst_utl.htm

World Bank. (2013). GDP Per Capita. Retrieved from: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GDP.PCAP.CD
– See more at: http://christienken.com/2013/12/05/what-pisa-says-about-pisa/#sthash.iLc3v8ZP.dpuf

—————-

Thank you, Dr. Tienken.

Dads Too, Mr. Duncan   4 comments

Countless –countless– men and fathers are publically and boldly standing up against Common Core. It’s not only “white, suburban moms” who oppose Common Core, and it’s not only the right or the left, either– despite what the U.S. Secretary of Education has so absurdly claimednot by a long shot.

A very partial list of a lot of dads who are fighting Common Core is listed below. They are professors, pastors, governors, truck drivers, psychologists, mathematicians, ministers and more. Read what they say.

First, please read this article written by a guest author, an Ohio father who is fighting Common Core.

————–

DADS TOO, MR. DUNCAN.

Guest post by an Ohio father against Common Core.

As a stay-at-home father of 2 elementary school children here in Ohio (where Common Core is being implemented), I take an active role in my kids’ education. I’ve tried to educate myself about Common Core – the history, the funding, how it’s been adopted – all of it. I have read many arguments, both pro and con. So when I read your recent comments labeling Common Core critics as: “white, suburban moms” who “All of a sudden, their child isn’t as bright as they thought and their school isn’t quite as good as they thought,” my reactions were varied.

First – How predictable: an elitist Progressive injecting race and gender into the debate (how does it go again? Identify it, label it, marginalize it? -something like that). I wasn’t insulted that you chose to identify all Common Core critics as white, suburban women. I don’t take offense at such things. But remember, these (the critics, whatever their gender or skin color) are the people who are seeing the actual Common Core materials and the effects they are having in the schools. Your response is to insult them.

I would think you might counter criticism of Common Core with tangible results showing how great it is. Lacking that, I guess you went with what you had. Trust me, there are serious problems and denigrating the critics only paints you as a tone-deaf authoritarian.

Second – Your comments help to dispel the “state-led” falsehood that was being thrown around some months back. Is it me, or has “state-led” become less frequently used by those who support Common Core? Like many of the oft-repeated buzz phrases and unsubstantiated claims used by Common Core supporters, when scrutinized they seem to dissolve. As the debate intensifies, and the federal government’s educrats become more vocal for the Common Core cause, it becomes exposed for what it is – a top-down, centrally-planned federalization of school curricula. Many Common Core opponents realize that it will lead to a near-total loss of local control over their schools.

Last, it may turn out that your comments have the opposite effect that you intended. It could be that you’ve drawn more interest to the Common Core from involved parents who aren’t going to be placated by claims of “college-preparedness” and “international competitiveness” that have exactly zero data to back them up. That remains to be seen. But more and more people are paying attention as this is being implemented.

Unlike others, I don’t want you fired over your recent comments. I want Common Core repealed in my state. Your removal would all-too-easily make this a “problem solved, let’s move on, shall we” scenario. And by all means, Mr Duncan, don’t suppress any contempt when making comments about Common Core critics. I actually appreciate the honesty.

—————–

Many thanks to this Ohio Dad and to all the fantastic fathers who are fighting for their children, for legitimate education, and for freedom.

—————–
tim-scott_thumb

Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina

emmett m

Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project

Dr Thompson

Dr. Gary Thompson, clinical child psychologist

yong z

Dr. Yong Zhao of the University of Oregon

rella

Superintendent Joseph Rella, NY

evers

Dr. Bill Evers, Stanford University

stergios

Jim Stergios, Pioneer Institute

esolen

Dr. Anthony Esolen, Providence College

milgram

Dr. James Milgram, mathematician on official Common Core validation committee

jamiegass

Jamie Gass, Pioneer Institute

robertsmall

Robert Small of Maryland

robertscott

Robert Scott, former Texas Education Commissioner

tienken

Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University

dan forest nc

Lt. Governor of North Carolina, Dan Forest

in scott schneider

Rep. Scott Schneider, Indiana

paul horton

Paul Horton, Chicago high school history teacher

DADS AGAINST COMMON CORE (Including the men pictured above):

Robert Small, father in Maryland; Superintendent Joseph Rella of Comsewogue District, New York; Dr. Bill Evers, of Stanford University’s Hoover Institute; Dr. Christopher Tienken, professor at Seton Hall University; Emmett McGroaty of the American Principles Project; Rep. Brian Greene of Utah; Dr. Gary Thompson, Utah clinical child psychologist; Robert Scott, former Commissioner of Education, Texas; Senator Mike Fair of South Carolina; Rep. John Hikel of New Hampshire; Nick Tampio and Fr. Joseph Koterski, professors at Fordham University; Oak Norton, author at Utah’s Republic; Senator Mike Fair, Alabama Governor Bentley; Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University, Emeritus; Ze’ev Wurman, mathematician and former Dept. of Education advisor; Dr. Terrence Moore and Dr. Daniel Coupland, of Hillsdale College; TX Governor Rick Perry; Paul Horton, high school history teacher – Chicago, Illinois; Maine Governor Paul LePage; Dr. Yong Zhao, professor at University of Oregon; Dr. Alan Manning, professor at Brigham Young University; Dr. Gerard Bradley and Dr. Duncan Stroik, both of the University of Notre Dame; NC Teacher Kris Nielsen; NY Father Glen Dalgleish; UT teacher David Cox; Dr. Robert George of Princeton University; Jamie Gass, of Pioneer Institute; Dr. Anthony Esolen, Professor of English at Providence College; Dr. Kevin Doak and Dr. Thomas Farr, professors at Georgetown University; Dr. Ronald Rychlak of the University of Mississippi; Professor Kenneth Grasso of Texas State University; Dr. James Hitchcock, professor at Saint Louis University; Francis Beckwith, professor at Baylor University; Dr. John A. Gueguen Emeritus Professor at Illinois State University; North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest; Pastor Paul Blair, Fairview Baptist Church, Edmond, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Perry Greene, South Yukon Church of Christ, Oklahoma; Reverend Tim Gillespie, Seminole Free Will Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Steve Kern, Olivet Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Tom Vineyard, Windsor Hills Baptist Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Gerald R. Peterson, Sr. Pastor, First Lutheran Church, Oklahoma; Reverend Dan Fisher, Trinity Baptist Church – Yukon, Oklahoma; Reverend Christopher Redding, Stillwater, Oklahoma; Reverend Dr. Kevin Clarkson, First Baptist Church – Moore, Oklahoma; Reverend Bruce A. DeLay, Church in the Heartland – Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Reverends Chilles Hutchinson, David Evans, Dr. Bruce A. Proctor, Dr. Jim D. Standridge, Donnie Edmondson, Paul Tompkins, Craig Wright, Jesse Leon Rodgers, Ken Smith, Dr. Charles Harding, Rod Rieger, Ron Lindsey, Glen Howard, Dr. Jim Vineyard, Brad Lowrie, Jerry Pitts, Jerry Drewery, Mark McAdow, Jack Bettis, Stephen D. Lopp, Mark D. DeMoss, Jason Murray, Dr. Eddie Lee White, Mike Smith, Alan Conner, Dwight Burchett, Bill Kent, Keith Gordon, Wendell Neal– all Oklahoma Reverends; Glenn Beck, t.v. producer; Dr. Richard Sherlock, professor at Utah State University; Dr. Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire; Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina; Indiana Representative Scott Schneider.

Rella 7

truck

Yin Zhen Zhi Ke: Drinking Poison to Quench Thirst   Leave a comment

 

Earlier this year, in an interview with World Observer, Yong Zhao likened the current educational mania sweeping America (Common Core and its national testing program) to the Chinese proverb: Yin Zhen Zhi Ke.

It means “Drinking poison to quench thirst.”

The Chinese saying warns not to take measures that may appear to solve an urgent problem in the short term but in effect the solution is more damaging than the problem.

Zhao calls the most pressing problem in American Education today an obsession with standardized tests, which distorts and confuses education. High-stakes testing, he says, does more harm than good: “Using standardized tests to measure student performance in a few subjects distorts the whole picture of education, confuses test scores with real education that prepares competent and responsible citizens, and reduces education to test preparation.”

Zhao’s answer to how Americans can serve children, when we are fraught with money being poured down the testing companies’ coffers, is simple:   Abandon the idea of test-based accountability via high-stakes testing.

“We should completely abandon the idea of test-based accountability, that is, get high stakes standardized testing out of education, do not use it to evaluate schools or teachers. Second, we need to return autonomy to local schools and teachers. Let educators do their job… “

Zhao has written extensively about Common Core. “The simple message is that they will not improve education,” he says, and calls Common Core “an expensive and futile exercise” that will “cause more damages in terms of narrowing the curriculum and leading to more teaching to the test.”

To read more, here is the full text of the interview :

http://worldobserveronline.com/2012/05/23/yong-zhao-in-conversation-education-should-liberate-not-indoctrinate/

Yong Zhao: On Educational Freedom   2 comments

Yong Zhao

It’s always fun to watch smart people debate an important topic, but it’s especially satisfying when the person whose side you are on wins the day.  That is Yong Zhao, who seems to me not only smart but also wise.

Many are following the Marc Tucker/ Yong Zhao interchange about Common Core with great interest.  http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

Marc Tucker

Marc Tucker is an old pal and co-conspirator with Hillary Clinton, and their written “Let’s Take Over American Education” exchange has long been archived in the Congressional Record, partially because of its conspiratorial nature.  I’ve posted about it before: http://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/anti-liberty-plot-for-american-education-full-text-of-the-letter-from-marc-tucker-to-hillary-clinton-2/

So, Tucker is no friend to educational freedom;  Zhao is.

Here is almost the whole of the latest brilliant response to Tucker by Yong Zhao.  Full text here: http://zhaolearning.com/2013/01/17/more-questions-about-the-common-core-response-to-marc-tucker/

More Questions about the Common Core: Response to Marc Tucker

17 January 2013

…It is impossible, unnecessary, and harmful for a small group of individuals to predetermine and impose upon all students the same set of knowledge and skills and expect all students progress at the same pace (if the students don’t, it is the teachers’ and schools’ fault).

I am not against standards per se for good standards can serve as a useful guide. What I am against is Common and Core, that is, the same standards for all students and a few subjects (currently math and English language arts) as the core of all children’s education diet. I might even love the Common Core if they were not common or core.

Tucker disagrees. He argues it is both possible and necessary to predetermine and impose upon all students the same knowledge and skills and America is immune to the damages of such efforts that have been experienced in China and other similar East Asian countries.

Now response to Tucker’s arguments point by point.

Tucker: It is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.

Zhao: First, it is not true that “it is now more important than ever to figure out what all young people need to know and be able to do.” Over a hundred and fifty years ago, the British philosopher Herbert Spencer thought it was so important to decide what children should learn that he wrote the essay What Knowledge is of Most Worth and came up with the answer “science” and his criteria was the utilitarian value of knowledge. He did not think Latin, Greek, and the classics were of much value for a person to live in a society being transformed by industrialization and history , to Spencer was “mere tissue of names and dates and dead unmeaning events…it has not the remotest bearings on any our actions.”

In 1892, the National Education Association (NEA) thought it was so important that it appointed the Committee of Ten, chaired by Harvard president Charles Elliot, to figure out what schools should teach.

In early 1900s, The NEA had another commission to rethink the curriculum and came up with The Cardinal Principals of Secondary Education

Activities intended to determine what all students should know and be able to do never actually stopped. In recent years, the 1994 Goals 2000 Act under President Clinton provided funds to develop standards that “identify what all students should know and be able to do to live and work in the 21st century.” Under NCLB, states were mandated to develop both content and academic achievement standards in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science.

There has never been a lack of attempts to figure out what all young people should know and be able to do, consequently there is no shortage of standards around. The fact that there have been so many attempts suggests the difficulty of the task. People simply cannot seem to agree what all children should know and learn in general. People cannot even agree what to teach in math, the supposedly the most straightforward, and have fought many math wars over the last century. It is actually a good thing, in my mind, that people cannot come to agreement and the American federal government was not given the authority to impose its own version upon all children. But despite the lack of a consistently implemented nationalized curriculum and standards, America did just fine as a nation.

The Common Core initiative seems to suggest that either there are no standards in America or the existing standards are not good enough. But what evidence is there to show the Common Core is better than previous ones, including those from all 50 states? Granted that things change and what students learn should reflect the changes, but how frequently should that happen? The state standards developed under NCLB are merely a decade old. If we have to make massive changes every five or 10 years, does not it mean it is nearly impossible to come up with content that is valid long enough for the nation’s over 100,000 schools to implement before it becomes outdated? If so, would it be much more likely that individual schools and teachers have a better chance to make the adjustment faster than large bureaucracies?

An anecdote: For hundreds of years it was possible for the adults in my little village in China to figure out what all children should know and be able to do: handling the water buffalo was one for the boys and sewing for the girls. My village was small and isolated, with around 200 people. But that predication became invalid when China opened up to the outside world in the 1980s. The common standards in my village proved to be wrong later in at least two cases. First it did not work for me. I was pretty bad at what my village’s Common Core prescribed (handling the water buffalo) so I had to do something else (coming to America to debate with Marc Tucker, for example). Second, it did not work for the rest of the children in the village either, because working as a migrant worker in the city is different from handling a water buffalo.

Tucker: Truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it. They typically know a lot about unrelated things and their creativity comes from putting those unrelated things together in unusual ways. Learning almost anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, because, without that scaffolding, we are not able to put new information and skills to work.

Zhao: Very true, truly creative people know a lot and they have worked hard at learning it, but do they know a lot about what they are passionate about, or what the government wants them to know? Do they work hard at learning something that is personally meaningful, or do they work hard at learning something prescribed by others?

Also true that learning anything really well depends on mastering the conceptual structure of the underlying disciplines, but what disciplines: math, science, the arts, music, languages, or politics? I am embarrassed to admit as a Chinese, I had horrible math scores in school, which is why I chose to study English, but somehow I am good at computer programming and developed large-scale software. I am also good at understanding statistics and empirical evidence.

Tucker: Zhao says that we will not be competitive simply by producing a nation of good test takers. That is, of course, true. Leading Asian educators are very much afraid that they have succeeded in producing good test takers who are not going to be very good at inventing the future. But that does not absolve us of the responsibility for figuring out what all students will need to know to be competitive in a highly competitive global labor market, nor does it absolve us of the responsibility to figure out how to assess the skills we think are most important.

Zhao: Is it responsibility or arrogance? Almost all totalitarian governments and dictators claim that they have the responsibility to engineer a society so their people can live happily and that their people are not capable of knowing what is good for them and top-level design is necessary. For example, they claim that their people cannot defend themselves against bad information, thus the leaders have to impose censorship. The leaders should decide what their people should view, listen to, and read. This self-assigned responsibility comes from the assumption that the authority knows best. By the way, we adults (parents and teachers) often committee the same error of arrogance: we automatically assume we know better than our children.

Tucker: It is true that the future will be full of jobs that do not exist now and challenges we cannot even imagine yet, never mind anticipate accurately. But, whatever those challenges turn out to be, I can guarantee you that they will not be met by people without strong quantitative skills, people who cannot construct a sound argument, people who know little of history or geography or economics, people who cannot write well.

Zhao: Almost true but strong quantitative skills are not the same as the skills to mark the right choice on a multiple choice exam, constructing a sound argument is different from repeating the “correct way” of arguing, and writing well certainly does not mean scoring high against a writing rubric. More importantly, as far as I can tell, the Common Core does not include what Tucker wants: history, geography, or economics. Where do the children learn these and other “unrelated things” when they are pushed aside by the Common Core?

Tucker: Zhao grew up in a country in which the aim was not learning but success on the test. There was wide agreement that the tests were deeply flawed, emphasizing what Mao called “stuffing the duck”— shoving facts and procedures into students—in lieu of analysis, synthesis and creativity. But few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.

Zhao: Very good observation but I cannot help but pointing out that Tucker just published a book entitled Surpassing Shanghai: An Agenda for American Education Built on the World’s Leading Systems. If it is such a bad system, why does Tucker consider it one of the world’s leading systems and want to build American education on it? If it is so bad, what is it in Shanghai, a city of China, he wants America to surpass?
And by the way, it is not true that “few wanted to change the system, because the tests were one of the few incorruptible parts of a deeply corrupt system.” Many, perhaps, most people in China, want the system changed. The Ministry of Education and provincial governments have been making changes over the past few decades (for details read my books Catching Up or Leading the Way and World Class Learners)

Tucker: So Zhao is very much aware of the consequences of a rigid system set to outdated standards. But that is not the problem in the United States. We don’t suffer from ancient standards wildly out of tune with the times, enforced by tests that are no better. We suffer from lack of agreement on any standards that could define what all students must know and be able to do before they go their separate ways. We suffer in a great many schools from implicit standards that translate into abysmally low expectations for far too many students.

Zhao: I am very appreciative of Tucker’s understanding of my background but I am not convinced that the U.S. is immune to the same problems China has suffered from testing. Is it not the goal of the Common Core to instill a rigid system? Isn’t the Common Core to be enforced by tests? If not, why do we have the Common Assessment? Why are we connecting teacher evaluation to test scores? Moreover, haven’t we seen plenty of cases of cheating on standardized testing in our schools under NCLB? Isn’t there enough evidence of states manipulating data and cut scores? For more evidence, read Collateral Damage: How High-stakes Testing Corrupts America’s Schools by Sharon Nichols and David Berliner.

Another by the way: When I described the teacher evaluation efforts mandated by the Race to the Top to a group of science teachers from Beijing to study American science education this week, they were appalled and commented: Isn’t that a violation of human dignity?

Tucker: Without broad agreement on a well designed and internationally benchmarked system of standards, we have no hope of producing a nation of students who have the kind of skills, knowledge and creative capacities the nation so desperately needs. There is no substitute for spelling out what we think students everywhere should know and be able to do. Spelling it out is no guarantee that it will happen, but failing to spell it out is a guarantee that we will not get a nation of young people capable of meeting the challenges ahead.

Zhao: This I will have to respectfully disagree with. The U.S. has had a decentralized education system forever (until Bush and Obama) and it has become one of the most prosperous, innovative, and democratic nations on earth. The lack of a common prescription of content imposed on all children by the government has not been a vice, but a virtue. As Harvard economists Claudia Goldin and Lawrence Katz wrote in their book The Race between Education and Technology: “We must shed our collective amnesia. America was once the world’s education leader. The rest of the world imported its institutions and its egalitarian ideals spread widely. That alone is a great achievement and one calls for an encore.”

Tucker: Zhao apparently believes that standards mean standardization and standardization would inevitably lead to an inability to produce creative solutions to the problems the workforce will face in the years ahead. That could certainly happen. But it need not happen.

Zhao: Yes, it does not need to, but it does happen, has happened, and is unavoidable. When standards are enforced with high stakes testing, when teachers and principals are evaluated based on students’ test scores, when students’ fate are decided by test scores, the teaching and learning must become standardized and constrained. One does not have to go to China to see this. Just take a look at what happened under NCLB. It did not ask schools to narrow the curriculum, to reduce time for music and the arts, for social studies and science, or for lunch and recess, but it all happened. For the impact of NCLB on instructional time and curriculum, check out these reports (1 and 2)from the Center on Education Policy.

Tucker: It is simply not true that our inability to predict the jobs people will have to do in the future and the demand of creative, entrepreneurial young people relieves us of the obligation to figure out what skills and knowledge all young people need to have before they go their separate ways, or the obligation to translate that list of skills and knowledge into standards and assessments that can drive instruction in our schools.

Zhao: It is simply not true that the Common Core will prepare our children for the future. To conclude, I quote a comment left on my Facebook page by one of my personal heros, former president of America Educational Research Association (AERA) and widely respected educational researcher Gene Glass: “Common Core Standards are idiots’ solution to a misunderstood problem. The problem is an archaic, useless curriculum that will prepare no child for life in 2040 and beyond.”

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