Utah High School Student Captures Screen Shots of the Anti-Book Common Core Test   169 comments

A Utah High School student took the Common Core (SAGE) test this week.  Seeing objectionable issues in that test, she thought her mother should know.  The student took screen shots using her cell phone and sent them to her mother.  Her mother passed them along to us.

The question given in this test asks whether book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games.  Read it.  Most of the passages that students must refer to, claim that literature is inferior, that it forces passivity or discriminates, while video games teach students how to be leaders.

Long live grunts and smoke signals.

The articles student must refer to in taking this test make the following devilish assertions: “books understimulate the senses” and “books are downright discriminatory” and books are “choreographed by another person [while video games are not]“.

These are mean pushes toward valuing video gaming instead of books –and they precisely match the pushy philosophy of Common Core creator-turned College Board President David Coleman.  They also match the philosophy of Microsoft Owner/ Common Core funder Bill Gates. So it is no surprise. It’s still sickening.

In this “writing test” there is no mention (at least in these screen shots that we have) of any of the countless positive values of reading books: no value seen in the joy of receiving a story; no value in exposure to expressive vocabulary and imagination; no value to learning traditional spelling, composition or grammar competencies which hinge on book reading. There’s no mention of the value of learning humanity’s patterns by reading complex character studies in literature. There’s no mention of poetry, of the beauty of words, of the importance of cherishing our shared cultural history. There’s no mention of the truth that voracious readers become voracious learners and expressive writers.

Nope. It’s just down with books.  If this philosophy isn’t an example of the erosion of students’ exposure to traditional knowledge, and of the dumbing down and impoverishment of school children, I don’t know what is.

What would the future would look like if students actually swallowed and lived by such a philosophy? Speaking, writing, spelling, and reading would utterly devolve.  So this high school student’s choice to capture the test’s philosophies and expose them was an important act of civil disobedience.

Thoreau’s classic book, Civil Disobedience, says that individuals should prioritize conscience when conscience collides with law.  Benjamin Franklin put it this way: Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.  Parents, teachers and students are dealing with the tyranny of the Common Core’s wrong-headed philosophies and with the tyranny of a now-national education system that’s oppressing individual conscience.

Think it through.  Utah’s  law affirms the authority of a parent to have the final say over what a student will learn.  But education policies have become tangled to the point that today, only a 15-member parent panel has been allowed to look at the test questions, and these 15 are sworn to confidentiality.  Even after the test, no one gets to see what was tested.  Ever. Remember, too, that no parent or teacher –or even a legislator– was ever consulted prior to adoption of the standards upon which the test is based. The state school board alone mandated Utah’s adoption of the standards.  The test and its standards are experimental, but no parent was asked whether any of this was okay.

Confidentiality surrounding high stakes tests makes sense in that it prevents future test-takers from knowing what the questions are so that they can not have an advantage over students who took the test without knowing these questions ahead of time.  But there’s a problem when, at NO time, even months after the test, a parent may ever see what was shown to the child or asked of the child on that test.

This is an especially big problem in 2014, when much of what passes for education is blatant political or social indoctrination.

Case in point: the following screen shots.


sage screenshot 7 sage screenshot 6 sage screenshot 4 sage screenshot 3 sage screenshot 2 sage screenshot 1

sage screenshot 8

Update:  Utahns Against Common Core has published  screen shots of school worksheets submitted by a third grade teacher.  These worksheets feature the same promotion of video games seen in the SAGE test, but with a parents-don’t-know-what’s-up tone.

With Bill Gates, the Common Core promoter and funder  and Microsoft owner,  pushing for video gaming in schools, one must wonder whether these worksheets and test items’ focus on video gaming being so important in schools, is a coincidence or is profit-driven.

video games screen shot 3rd grade

video games screen shot also


169 responses to “Utah High School Student Captures Screen Shots of the Anti-Book Common Core Test

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  1. Irony runs strong in this test… look at the Scoring Guide. If students shunned reading in favor of video games, they would be completely incapable of scoring well on this test.

    • I agree, there is such a thing as satire, it was a hypothetical idea.

      • Agreed! I was given many assignments at college with a similar purpose. Its point is to develop independent reasoning skills.

      • So, in a testing situation, how/when should the teacher tell the 14 year olds (not college students) that this is satire (if it is)?

        Or is it your opinion that part of the test the proper recognition of satire?

        Or do all students already recognize satire?

        Or, because they all do, the constroversial choice of subject matter does not distract from the testing of the objective (presumably to construct arguments supported by facts)?

        • If the kid had read the first and the sixth paragraph, it should have been obvious that the author was NOT being anti-book. It should have been obvious that the author was saying this is what he imagines people would say IF books had been invented AFTER video games. They would say the same things about the books that they say about video games.

          If I was this kid’s parent, I would be a million times more worried about my child’s lack of comprehension than common core “indoctrination” (in this case).

        • Please notice the children aren’t being asked to support any argument with “facts”. They are asked to “take a position”, but may refer only to the content of the passage for support. So, they must substitute an “ironic” opinion piece for the reality they may know outside the testing prompt.

          This approach facilitates machine algorithm grading of the exams. It’s the opposite of critical thinking.

    • I’m not sure where you are looking, but according to the scoring guide I see pictured, the student will be scored on: logical progression of ideas from beginning to end; effective intro and conclusion; appropriate sentence structure; appropriate vocabulary. This seems very logical and appropriate to me. This is NOT an anti-book test as it is portrayed. it asks the students to choose a passage and either refute or defend it in their arguments. Now, I think the passages provided are completely inappropriate, but this is not the horrible, anti-book lesson it is portrayed to be. I, by the way, am AGAINST Common Core, but there are enough genuine flaws over the curriculum that we don’t need to create a bunch of hype by presenting lessons as something they are not. It hurts our credibility as concerned parents, and when articles like this are debunked, takes credibility and focus off the real problems with Common Core

      • Some premises should be rejected. This one, for example!
        Students can’t reject a premise during a test. And students are led to believe that all premises are created equally.

        Is it critical thinking –a positive thing– to slash at or to question all things? Even literacy itself? Teach your children to say: “I REJECT THE PREMISE.”

        I feel that this doesn’t take away focus, but is underscoring the real problems with Common Core: power and control. We currently lack the power to influence who writes the test questions, who frames the debate that our children then must write about, and whether we as parents ever get to even see– never mind influencing– the quality of the test.

        • Thank you, Christel, for putting this so clearly. The most gnawing objection to the whole imposition of the Core is that it’s been “rolled out” under color of law, leaving children, parents and teachers no way to “reject the premise” of accountability to Pearson’s marketing plan.

          The issue is indeed power and control.

      • Agreed.

  2. Reblogged this on News You May Have Missed and commented:
    Utah High School Student Captures Screen Shots of the Anti-Book #CommonCore Test

  3. Rhonda, that is such a good point.

  4. What are the other 3 passages students are supposed to read? The exercise has students reading 4 passages and then crafting an argument. This is a screenshot of only one of those. It would stand to reason that one of the other passages defends books in an equally skewed manner, and the other 2 likely fall somewhere less extreme on the issue. I’ve taken plenty of tests with a similar essay set-up to know what the rest of the question looks like. The exercise is for the student to read passages on a topic, both pro and con, take a position, and write about it. They are to include a claim, address counterclaims, use evidence from multiple sources, and to not over rely on one source.” To claim that the test’s “message given to students is that book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games” is absurd. Do you really think this test is putting forward this message? A test that relies on literacy and is testing a student’s literacy skills is really pushing the notion that “literacy is inferior to playing video games”? Why would the test just be a video game then?

    • In looking at the pictures, it seems to me that these screenshots are taken from 2 of the passages. “Everything Bad in my Good for You” and “Why Playing Video Games Is Better Than Ready Books.” The passages are referenced at the bottom in 2 different photos. One would hope the other 2 passages are equally as supportive of books. It is true, we should not jump to conclusions. Although, I can remember high school. I’m not sure that I knew a large portion of fellow students who could come up with rationale arguments such as these on their own. They knew – video games were fun and books were boring. I didn’t know many that would need persuading, or that needed effective arguments to articulate to their parents the next time they were told to turn off the game system. I don’t think it was a wise choice to present to students for further pondering.

    • Jason how dare you think through this rationally 😉

    • I actually count three references – “Everything Bad is Good for You,” “Why Playing Video Games Is Better Than Reading Books” and “Out with the Old and in with the New” (the center top picture). Presumably the 4th could be in favor of books but 3 out of 4 seem to favor the video game argument.

      • Actually the “Out With the Old and In with the New” is the title of the student’s essay (see the edit bar there?)

  5. I think that the point of these questions are not to convince students that video games are better than reading. I think they were designed to encourage critical thinking. They bring up ideas that can help students decide what they do believe and then argue their points of view using the rubric given. Of course it’s obvious that reading is important, since that’s what the students are being tested on. I think these questions were written to show students that bad things can be made to look good if the author is skilled at persuasive writing. They are not meant to indoctrinate, but to show the students that you can’t always believe what you read.

    • Right! And I’m wondering why these nice ladies at the top don’t seem to grasp that. What we see here is a whole bunch of people not reading for understanding and just jumping to conclusions without critically thinking for themselves, the very thing, I think, we are trying to teach our kids to avoid.

      • Very good point. Granted, I’m a college grad and a writer, but when I read this, I didn’t see anything necessarily malicious about it (e.g. the first word, “Imagine.”)

        Although I think the implementation of Common Core has gone horribly awry, I don’t think this example is the best indication of those issues. There are much bigger problems, although this could possibly a serious issue if the kids being tested aren’t used to the kind of critical and hypothetical thinking in this essay question.

  6. While I completely dislike the screen shots that were shared, I agree with Christel and Jason. If this is only 1 of 4 to be read before responding, then before jumping to conclusions and writing this blog post you should find out what the other 3 are. And yes, often times we are presented with differing viewpoints in order to help us discern what our opinion is. I am not in favor of common core, but I have often times mentioned how those against common core are extreme in their viewpoints and don’t necessarily share the whole story when making claims about how horrid the SAGE tests are….this is one example.

  7. Reblogged this on It Has To Change and commented:
    Every Parent everywhere should see this.

  8. This looks to me like a reading passage meant to be read an responded to. It was meant to be objectionable by design so students would then create an essay as a counterpoint to the argument. Coleman is big on persuasive writing (because he says it is the most often used in the “real world”) and addressing things from a different point of view. Don’t get me wrong Coleman is an idiot but I’m not sure this is an example of anything but his arrogance. My upset is why children are being tested on comprehension on a computer when reading on a computer screen reduces comprehension by up to 70%!!

  9. Yes. Where are the screen shots of the supporting texts? A complete analysis should show all the text to be read to create your own conclusions. There has to be a pro and con for the students to come up with their own conclusions.

  10. I’m still trying to grasp the first screenshot, omgoodness…we are doomed. This is not about critical thinking, this is about dumbing down our kids.

  11. To expect our children to have to read through this propaganda is ludicrous! You say there has to be another side given, but we don’t see that. So what would your feelings be if there isn’t another side given? I’d hope it would be different. This side seems pretty elaborate & I know many kids who would “rather” play video games than to read because they’re mindless/don’t require a lot of effort. That might, therefore; sway them to answer in favor of video games just because thy find it more fun! But what exactly is it teaching our children? This passage even says that reading allows you to create worlds! This is what I want from my children!! There are endless possibilities in books & we read the type of books that make us feel like we can go places in our imagination not capable of being created in the real world. Out brains are most active when we are reading. Can one say the same for video games? Oh, and speaking from someone who was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 24 (that’s right, I suffered through it until I was an adult), I LOVE to read & find video games boring, repetitive and unimaginable! Reading is where we find our knowledge, & make our dreams realities.

    • You would make a great supporting essay. Too bad you can’t see the other three supporting passages that the students read to created their own conclusions.

    • It is NOT ‘propaganda’. Did you even read all of the paragraphs in the pictures? In order? Paragraphs 1 and 6 clue you into the fact that the author is NOT actually saying that books are inferior. The author is NOT anti-book. There is no ‘indoctrination’ or ‘propaganda’ here. He is saying what he imagines people would say about books if they were invented AFTER video games. Basically, he is saying “what if books were invented AFTER video games?…I imagine people would say the same basic things they say about video games now…”

      I am extremely anti-common core, however, THIS is being read completely incorrectly, simply because *someone* says it’s objectionable. Read the paragraphs yourself and see what is *actually* being said.

      • I read through this a little too quickly & understand better now the thoughts of some parents remarks. Also, knowing it’s for 11th & 12th grade students helps. It would be good to always get the FULL story before posting or commenting. It’s sad/& good that everything is getting walked through with a fine tooth comb because of the craziness of Common Core. Maybe when we defeat it (CC), we will be better equipped as parents & teachers to create a classroom that will educate our children without any undue indoctrination.

        • Yep, the REAL propaganda here is this blog post.

          • I find it comical that people are reading (or skimming) this blog post, not understanding it, and then claiming that the test, and by extension Common Core is in favor of video games over books. Come on people! Think, analyze, critique, do all the things we are trying to teach our kids to do.

  12. Yes. Where are the screen shots of the supporting texts? There is four bodies of text a pro and con for the students to come up with their own conclusions. The supporting texts “for books” appear to be missing. Did she not take pictures of the supporting texts because she agreed with them? The rubric makes it obvious that one side can’t be represented only. Yes, I have issues with Common Core, but this test question essay isn’t one of them. It this was to be a true analysis of the information, then people need the whole of it not just ¼.

  13. Why shouldn’t kids read this? It’s the world we live in, video games exist and are played by probably every child at some level or another. Are they supposed to ignore this? If after a student reads the 4 passages and wants to defend video games over literacy, why not let them make that argument? Maybe they’ll see that they can’t make a strong argument for it. It requires that they include a claim, address counterclaims, use evidence from multiple sources, and not to over-rely on one source. Doesn’t this promote independent thought? It’s a video game culture kids grow up in today. My 3 year old has kids bringing video games to day care! That’s ridiculous, but it’s the world we live in. This seems to address a topical situation that my kids are going to face as they grow up. Schools clearly aren’t teaching that video games are better, they aren’t letting kids play video games all day. This one passage isn’t going to convince any kids that video games are or aren’t better. They have their preconceived notions already. And for those that do think video games are better, let them defend that position academically.

    “I LOVE to read & find video games boring, repetitive and unimaginable!” Good for you, you would clearly defend books in this exercise then. But to think that everyone would find video games boring isn’t fair. Video games can be a positive thing at times, it’s silly to claim there is no redeeming value in them.

  14. The questions are clearly designed to encourage critical thinking, not disparage reading or books. Asking kids to think through data, opinions and form arguments is a cornerstone of education. Don’t form opinions based on a very limited sample size…. one question.

  15. You cannot truly understand one point of view without being able to summarize the opposing viewpoint. Test writers often use articles and topics that will be engaging and of high interest to the test takers. This topic would get the attention of any teen and would stir up strong feelings that could be included in the response.

    I agree with other posters that we can’t form our opinion based on 1 out of 4 articles.

  16. Clarifying: I just asked the person who gave me these screen shots whether the student saw any counterpoint article offered in this writing assignment and the student said no. So there was no pro-book article or argument given to students to balance the anti-book argument.

    • The student did not read the other passages then. It’s an argumentative prompt. Both sides had to be presented since acknowledging the other side (known as planting a neighsayer) and proving why that point is not valid is what is required for writing an argument paper. If the selections were not represtative of both sides the question would never have made it through the test item selection committee since it would not have met the requirements.

      • Why is the state choosing to evaluate students writing abilities on writing an argumentative essay based on pre-selected materials from which they are suppose to base their evidence? This seems to lend itself to using research slanted toward drawing a certain conclusion.

        Syd, since this question will obviously no longer be able to be used, then why don’t you provide the full question and prompts including the “pro-book” articles that the student apparently did not read for the public to view?

        While this may be an appropriate assignment from a classroom teacher, this seems inappropriate for a state-wide assessment where parents and teachers are not privy to ever see what the students are reading unless their child commits an act of civil disobedience. This does not allow any further dialogue or discussion in the homes or classrooms. The student who took these screen shots obviously had some red flags that were raised within her and fortunately acted on them which is prompting the dialogue now to happen.

        How can we be assured that this prompt actually was reviewed by the “test item selection committee”? What evidence does the public have that that statement you are making is true? Share the data!

  17. UUUUUHHHHM, think you may have “lost the plot” on this question. I’m no Common Core champion, but this test question is clearly not trying to “indoctrinate” students by positing that books are inferior to video games.

  18. Christel–thats not true. In the 5th screen shot you can see the pro-book argument. The one with “Everything bad is good for you” source. The text above is pro-book.

  19. What were the other three passages about then? And if the entire assignment is about opposing viewpoints, I find it difficult to believe that no opposing viewpoints were given in the other three passages.

  20. You can read that *exact* passage in that book on Amazon.com (‘Everything Bad is Good for You’, page 19 in the Look Inside option). I believe these people are trying to incite rage (not that common core doesn’t deserve people’s rage, but not in *this* case) ~ if you even just read the paragraphs in oder on these pictures, you can clearly see that it is NOT actually saying these things about books.

  21. Okay, so I’m trying to think of how to phrase this. Everything I’ve seen against common core has excerpted tiny pieces of much larger works and offered zero context. This test prompt is a clear example of this. This TEST is advocating nothing. This PIECE of this test is part of a series of varied viewpoints that you guys are willfully excluding in pursuit of your agenda. (Don’t bristle. You say Common Core has one, so if you’re in opposition to it, you have one too). There are two screenshots there that even show there is way more going on in context than you guys would like people to believe. First, look at the second image. It says there are FOUR arguments/viewpoints represented and the student is to choose their position and defend it, being sure to address the opposing viewpoint (which is what every anti-Common Core argument I’ve read so far fails to do successfully, like this one). Addressing the opposing viewpoint means understanding the other side so you can successfully counter it. Hence, these kids are given four distinct points of view to examine. We are being shown all of one very anti-book stance, and only a small snippet of another pro-book piece by a different author. Look at the fifth image. It is a wonderful argument in favor of reading. Beautifully done, actually, and I wish I could see the whole piece advocating for reading. But that’s not the M.O. for a lot of those who don’t want Common Core. I used to be pretty neutral on it, but the baseless fear I’ve seen spread by those who oppose it–not concerned parents, but organized groups like yours who put out “information articles” on it–do exactly what this piece does. They fail to present the whole story, which changes EVERYTHING and in so doing, you undermine your credibility and your integrity as a source. This piece alone would make me never, ever believe a single other thing I read on this website. (Also, to imply that Bill Gates is anti-education is totally absurd, even if he is a raging liberal. He and his wife are NOT trying to enrich Microsoft with their campaigns to eradicate poverty, illness, and improve education all over the world. That might be the most disconnected part of this post). Anyway, the poorly supported arguments against common core have only led me to believe as I research further, and based on my five years as a public school teacher, that common core makes common sense.

    Melanie Jacobson
  22. The entire passage is not available on Amazon.com, but a large portion of it is there. I find it odd though, that they chose the anti-book part of the author’s message. There are actually two sources cited above. One (“Why Playing Videogames Is Better Than Reading Books”) is very much for video games over reading and the other (“Everything Bad is Good For You”) seems to present both sides of the argument. What are the other two passages? I feel like we’re only getting part of the picture here.

    This whole post and the comments are the perfect illustration of why the secrecy surrounding these tests is so dangerous. Everyone is left to speculate on what is in these tests. Parents should be able to see their children’s tests.

  23. This discussion shows clearly what the intent of an assignment like this is supposed to do. First, insight an emotional response, not an intellectual argument. Second, the area of the SAGE tests that is less obvious and which is why these tests are so insidious is that within the debate above neither side recognizes the behavioral/psychological component of what the test is really designed to do. The student is meant to argue the points of the very subtle introduction of books being inferior to video games by virtue of the titles and the backward way the information is presented. An experienced, mature adult even struggles to see the logic of the assignment and reason out the lesson. This is why these tests are so bad. They are actually testing the psychology of the child’s position not the academic nature of it. What inexperienced child is going to see the nuance in this assignment? Virtually none because children are very literal-even teens. If you re-read this assignment and look at it from a literal perspective then the subliminal or even obvious message is that books are bad and video games are good. The majority of the text is devoted to this argument with only a small portion devoted to the opposite stance.
    The other area of concern comes from the instructions themselves, “don’t over rely on only one source”. This supposes that all the passages should be taken as a collective view even if they are all poor choices. It also forces the student to not consider the one passage in favor of books but that they must find something redeeming from the anti-book selections. The idea that we can only choose from a selection of poor choices is how this becomes indoctrination. What if there is no correct choice among those offered, do we choose anyway or don’t select any of them. For those who are LDS we know that the foundations of our church rest on the premise that no choice was good. This example is played out in other areas of history and that is why we have discovery and invention. This instruction programs children to assume that they can only select from the offering and not seek outside of that. I realize it is a test and that is the way some tests are but again, this is a subtle introduction of an idea that is choreographed by someone with a psychological background. That is what AIR does.

    • “The majority of the text is devoted to this argument with only a small portion devoted to the opposite stance.”

      Oh really? You’ve seen the full text? Can you please share with us, because the rest of the readers are only seeing 1 of the 4 passages, and possibly part of a 2nd. Which means we’re missing well over half of the assignment, and thus can’t make the same conclusions that you are making.

      “It also forces the student to not consider the one passage in favor of books but that they must find something redeeming from the anti-book selections.”

      Once again, you’re making your assumptions on a lack of information. Who’s to say that the pro-book passages aren’t as lengthy, if not lengthier, than the anti-book passages? Secondly, there are parts in the video game passage that are redeeming while not being entirely damning of books. Some video games do encourage being involved in the story, an active participant. Go ahead, argue that’s bad in some games (I agree) but not all. Can you tell me that every book is worth anyone’s time? There’s plenty of fluff in the book world, just as there is in the video game world.

      Which is the point of this exercise! You’re making an argument for books. Good! Someone else is making an argument for games! What are you suggesting, that doing so is bad, or can’t be done because video games have no redeeming value in your opinion? Isn’t that a little closed-minded?

      The book that the photographed illustration comes from is a national best seller. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that students will be reading that book at some point, especially if you encourage your child to read. There’s nothing nuanced about this. It’s a real text out there addressing a real topic that is relevant to kids.

      Reading something insidious in this is a bit extreme. The assignment is pretty simple. Read 4 passages (of which we can see only 1 whole passage) defending a particular position, then make your own argument using these sources. I hate to concern you further but they’ll be doing this on a regular basis in college. And if they’re part of the debate team, even in high school, they’ll be seeing and arguing for or against more questionable and difficult topics than this. Even better if it’s emotional, shouldn’t we be teaching them to see beyond the emotion and make sound arguments based on the presented facts?

      I love video games, I grew up playing them and still do to this day. My kids love video games (as do all kids) and I will enjoy playing with them. But I’ll also be encouraging them to read and reading with them some of my favorite books so we can get wrapped up in the worlds and imagination together. But I’m not going to shy away from this kind of question for my kids. I’m going to make sure they have a healthy attitude about both mediums as entertainment and as educational tools.

  24. Whether the passages were propaganda or just to provoke counterpoint discussion: that the student taking the test sensed a “red flag” and felt moved to alert her parents makes a strong statement in itself, don’t you think? In a nutshell: Children are smarter and more clever than the credit to which Common Core gives them. They know, instinctively, that something isn’t right as well.

    • A more believable scenario is the one where the child intentionally took pictures of only those pages to purposefully provoke his mother for always getting onto him for playing too many video games. Common sense people! Maybe not so common anymore…

  25. Last year, my daughter’s fifth grade American history book “redefined” our history, claiming it brought history to life through metaphors. In this book, the British were compared to “concerned parents” and American colonists were “rebellious teenagers.” One day, the kids were divided into three groups: the Americans, the British, and the French. The British and the Americans were evenly pitted against each other in a tug-of-war, then the French were supposed to run in and help the Americans. With two-thirds of the class on one side, the Americans won. The teacher, reading from a script, asked the class, “Do you think that was a fair fight?” Later on, the kids read two biographies: one of Benedict Arnold as a statesman, and the other of John Adams when he defended the British soldiers who killed five colonists in the Boston massacre. The booklet quoted Adams as saying he realized that the British soldiers were just doing their job to subdue an angry mob. Then in the slavery unit, the children were taught that the slaves (while chained to the floor in the slave boats) had three CHOICES: (1) try to rebel and get shot; (2) refuse to eat and die of starvation, and (3) obey their master and survive. What is the overall message of this re-telling of our history–to submit to powerful forces or you might not survive? That the powerful have the right to control everyone else? Is this our American history, which is based on free thinking and action? Is this also part of the Common Core agenda–the rich and powerful know better than the rest of us? We’re homeschooling from now on.

    • Number 1

    • The difference…Christianity offers a Savior, those behind this, merely offers more rules by which people must try to save themselves..

    • Individual assignments are not part if the core either is the way it is taught. The core is a set of standards, ie. “Demonstrate an understanding of parallel plots in a text.” You can look it up if you want. The whole thing is on the USOE website.

      • That’s exactly right. I suspect the authors have attacked CC because it is associated with Obama, but that is in fact false. Throughout their page here, they make accusations that the federal government is forcing schools to adopt it and making comments about it being against the Constitution. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be interested or care about the truth. The fact is that CC was developed by states, not the fed. Now, Obama’s Race to the Top grant program, requires states to adopt a standard – but it doesn’t identify which standard. Several states, most notably Texas, have implemented their own standards and gotten the Race to the Top funds. And the Race to the Top funds are an additional grant – not their normal budget, so the states that implement it are doing it by their choice to get the extra dollars.
        I think it’s kind of funny that conservatives used to be pro education standards and reform, and now that they think it is pushed by a liberal, they don’t want anything to do with them. Too bad we can’t have a little ideological honesty here.

  26. This is a critical thinking exercise (something we were not taught to do–instead we were told to merely memorize information and accept everything taught in school as fact)–it’s not teaching kids that books are bad–it’s teaching people to understand both sides of an argument and see what parts are valid and what parts are no–for yourself. It’s just taking the “video games are bad” argument and turning it around so people can see how foolish it would sound to say “books are bad” so people can see that we need BOTH books and video games (albeit in moderation) in today’s society. College teaches critical thinking (understanding and respecting both sides of an argument even if you don’t agree and allow you to make personal value decisions) so why shouldn’t high school? It’s up to parents to teach values and help kids mold personal values not schools.

  27. Pingback: A Utah Common-Core Test Denigrates Literature!! Elevates video gaming!! | RESTORE LIBERTY

  28. I am not a “common core” fan, but section 6 specifically asserts the author does not agree with the previously presented hypothetical arguments made pertaining to video games superiority to books. They actually hold it up (that argument) as an example of “amplified selectivity”, where selective truths can be offered and asserted regarding a subject, but those “truths” (when presented in isolation) give a decidedly warped perspective of the issue as a whole. Ironically – the article itself is a bit of an example as well, as it does not show the actual “question” (or essay being asked for). If the question was to extrapolate on the concept, particularly as it relates to today’s fragmented media (fox news vs MSNBC), it could be a very interesting and appropriate subject to teach in relation to the use of critical thinking and logic. Of course if it was “Explain why Mario beats Macbeth”….well then …..that would suck

  29. To somehow think that common core represents an ideological attempt to influence students is simply ludicrous. Common core doesn’t have anything to do with the content that is created in testing or used in instruction, but is instead the set of standards that measures proficiency. Never mind the fact that these screenshots are simple showing one side of an argument that obviously is intended to provide an opportunity for students to think critically. Are we trying to teach our children to be able to succeed in college or not?

    You can debate the merits of having a nationwide system of standards all you want, but it is simply wrong to equate common core with specific instructional content in any subject. Do you own research on what common core really is. Every time you disagree with how a teacher instructs, ask the teacher why they chose to use the method they did and don’t blame it on something you don’t understand. I disagree with most of the liberal agenda, but frankly common core as it really exists makes sense. Have you ever tried to teach a student moving from some backwater that hasn’t had to meet any standards?

  30. I wonder: how alarmed does a high school student need to feel before she risks taking a photo during a test to send to parents? The student herself felt this test was pushing an anti-book idealogy over a pro-book idealogy. Her perception is everything.

    • Then she obviously missed the point of the passage. Maybe her comprehension was off or something for this particular passage.

    • I wonder if her parents had not instilled a terrible fear in the child maybe she would have read the other three passages and understood the question in its entirety. Instead her parents instilled the need to cheat on the test and take pictures and not read the whole thing. Her whole attitude from the beginning- walking into the test was fear. The consequences for the child maybe sad since they can tell by many factors where the picture was taken. That poor child will suffer the consequences of her parents over reaction and her inability to really comprehend the passages. Not all schools are taking the test at the same time. People know who took the pictures. It will get out and she is only an eleventh grader. Her parents put her graduation, integrity and the need for civil disobedience over her future. That to me is what is sad. The alarm was caused by her parents, not her teachers, nor the test. And a bunch of people who do not spread full truths but rather half truths to support their “better good”. I am for higher standards, protecting our children and data. But this fear mongering may have just caused a child problems. You put the agenda over the child. Good job.

  31. These screen shots really don’t indict the CC as anti-book. Anyone who takes the time to read each screen can easily see that. Saying this is proof that the CC is evil based on these out-of-context screen shots makes some of the people blogging and re-blogging them seem hysterical and reactionary. We need to have much better evidence that the CC is a poor choice for our kids.

  32. I attended public school in the late 1960s and really 1970s, in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unknown to my parents and to me, Progressive indoctrination was starting at that time, as well as “values-free” education. Values-free meaning that they could no longer teach that lying and stealing were bad, because those were “someone else’s” values. It was also a time when “ecology” was being introduced to us and we were bombarded with the concept that humans were horrible and destroying the earth. We were also taught that America was a horrible country because we held slaves, massacred the Indians, and were pure racists and woman subjugaters. (is that a word? Sorry if it’s not.)

    I’ve been thinking a lot about the term “critical thinking” lately, because sometime in the last 40 years, it became a big concept in education. It’s not “thinking outside of the box” or “thinking about things in a flexible and inquisitive way”… it’s thinking in a critical way. Being critical about everything. Everything except Progressive concepts and issues.

    If the Founding Fathers are said to have been good, there is always a “but, they owned slaves.”
    America is the land of opportunity, “but, we stole our land from the Indians.”

    Their mantra… “Don’t just believe what people tell you, think critically about it. Find the truth.” Sadly, the truth always turns out to be something horrible about America, men, white folks, corporations, gun owners, etc.

    They never start with, “The Founders owned slaves, but, believed in Liberty, and worked towards ending slavery.”

    Interestingly, Progressive rhetoric is never looked at critically.

    Anything that gives the student “the whole story” is omitted. I was led to believe that before 1776, this land was a wilderness. I had no idea that these people were lawyers and doctors, etc. I quit school at the beginning of 11th grade, due to the violence, drugs, misery and prison-like atmosphere of Marion Abramson Senior High School housing over 2400 students, so maybe they would have taught me all of the good things in 11th and12th, but somehow… I doubt it. And seeing our local society, and how progressive so many are… I can see they didn’t learn anything good about our country either.

    So, to me, there is NO reason to have a child read stories which make them decide whether books are better than video games because making them consider anything bad about books is ridiculous. They are high school kids. There are plenty of other topics which are educational and not so leading. How about “are novels more interesting than informational texts?” That would be a good topic, since Common Core is replacing much of classic literature with information texts, such as EPA manuals. Allow a child to ascertain the value in reading each kind.

    Maybe the person or persons who put together that text had good intentions, but they themselves have probably been thoroughly indoctrinated in the progressive schools they attended, that they realize not what they do. That was me. But little by little, I am waking up.

    Connie Zimmermann
  33. Sorry, should have been “early 1970s”.

    Connie Zimmermann
  34. Keep in mind that this is a 16 or 17 year old. Clearly there might have been two more articles that were pro book. That is not the point here. She snapped photos of those things that were offensive to her. She probably wasn’t thinking like a detective, getting all the pieces. She was showing her mother what was so disturbing. Most likely she had no idea that it would be posted for open discussion like this. Because of that I feel sorry for her. She is growing up in a world where she doesnt trust those who are teaching her. She has vocalized that distrust and now many adults are telling her “what she was feeling was no big deal.” “This is normal.” This is how we test children now. ” This is exactly why local control is so important. What is this mother to do? She can’t look at the test. She can’t complain too the school. They can’t do anything about it.

  35. A few have already mentioned this, but it must be said again These pictures are clearly out of context. This test is designed to teach students how to craft an argument and debate. This blog post is tribe. Pure propaganda and tripe.

  36. As a high school student in Utah, I just completed the writing portion of SAGE testing. We were assigned to form a claim and support it based on the passages we read. The passages in question were likely only two of maybe three or four included in that portion. This is in no way trying to teach students or make them think video games are more beneficial than books. It isn’t that big of an issue as it’s being made out to be. Now if this was being actively taught by paid teachers, that would be a problem. But it’s not.

  37. A few things are left out here, 1. This is only 1 of about 20 possibilities for the test. Not all students get the same passage. 2. There are between 4-5 texts that are given for each essay. The essays are selected based on the essays stance thus exposing kids to both the point and counterpoint. When writing an argumentative paper students need to ackowledge both sides of the argument. This is imperative for critical thinking. 3. The student taking the photos and the mother posting them is a huge violation of test security. When the state board of ed. finds outthe sstudentwill recieve an automatic 0 and her teacher may get fired over it. Test secutity is a huge deal with standardized test like the ACT, SAT the former CRT, the MCAT, the GRE and now SAGE.

    • Sorry, I meant”when the state board of ed. finds out she will get a 0.” I also would like to add that her doing so and those shots being shared when half the state has not taken the test yet, the student is guilty of cheating as well.

      • This is the most ridiculous response on this whole article! A student feels a test they are taking contains slanted material and shares it with their mother who also feels it is inappropriate and shares it with the public. Then an employee of the state office makes a public threat to the student, teacher, and mother that there will be significant consequences for their actions. Boy, if this statement doesn’t WAKE UP AMERICANS, then we are in a bad state of affairs.

        What benefit could reading this text possibly have to any future students or teachers who now have access to it? How is exposing the information possibly jeopardizing the validity of the test? It’s not like there is a right or wrong answer, is there?

        • I realize this was written several months ago, but a friend only just posted it on her facebook and as a Language Arts teacher who dealt with this issue this past school year, I get fired up and have to say something. Of course there is a benefit to seeing what will be asked on the test before taking it even if there isn’t a “right” or “wrong” answer! Those students who the student showed the pictures to and who saw the pictures online now have ample time to prepare their thoughts and arguments, while those who already took the test did not. That skews results and isn’t fair. I have no problem if she thinks it’s questionable (demonstrating that she didn’t understand the whole essay and prompt and idea behind the passasges selected) and if she wanted to tell her mom about it, that’s fine, too. But the mom could have at least waited until the end of the school year to post the pictures. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. But this is why we are trying so hard to teach students to sift through information and think critically about it – so they don’t make the same rash and purely emotion-driven decisions that their parents are making! And OF COURSE there are significant consequences to posting test questions online! A mother who gets a very very small amount of information regarding a test is not qualified to decide if it’s appropriate or not. And if she had serious concerns, she went to the exact wrong place to address them.

  38. Sorry, but you’ve completely missed the point of these screen shots. It’s not saying books are bad, it’s suggesting these might be the arguments IF video games were invented before books. It’s asking you to think critically about what the culture you live in, not just accept the status quo. And I am an avid, avid reader and believer in books. But I don’t find this offensive at all. Nothing wrong with this test, just your interpretation and dramatization of a non-issue!

  39. There’s an extra “would” here.

    “What would the future would look like if students actually swallowed and lived by such a philosophy?”

  40. My hope is that some of you would read Steven Johnson’s book _Everything Bad Is Good for You_ to get the full context. My second hope is that students would do the same. I have no issue with the inclusion of his arguments in an exam, but a complete context is necessary to fully understand that these “anti-book” passages (often said tongue-in-cheek and somewhat satirically–he’s writing a book; you’re reading about them in one!) serve as necessary premises for him to underscore differences between print media and new media.

  41. The test was not teaching that books are bad. It was offering different types of text on a subject which students were to read and then develop an essay based on the text. The text was likely not meant to persuade the test taker to actually believe books are bad or unnecessary. It could have been on any topic followed by an essay question. Don’t confuse the need for a young adult to be able to closely read texts–develop an argument or analyze the information and write about it –with a hypnotic redirection of extremism. You might just find yourself in the same place you are claiming is unjust and extreme.

  42. I feel like a lot of parents are trying to get their children to pick up a book and put down the games. I know parents who restrict video game time. To me, the writing assignment has a little, “what do your parents know?” in it. I get that sense a lot with Common Core.

    Also, this is a question for a high school student. It wasn’t compare and contrast two pieces of fine poetry and write a persuasive essay about why you prefer. Is this the test that is really supposed to prepare a student for “college and career”? I hope not! What drivel!

    Last week my niece came home from her English class talking about an “informational text” they read about what kind of women men prefer. Apparently, according to the article they prefer smaller women they can dominate. Junk. When I questioned our curriculum director about informational texts, I was promised The Gettysburg Address (don’t they study that in history?) and Washington’s Farewell Address, not what kind of women men prefer. So, my niece spent an hour of precious class time not studying Shakespeare or Milton or Emerson, but something that made my very tall niece feel less than attractive while criticizing men in an unfair and biased way. This is not rigor, this is garbage just like this test question.

  43. “There is more than one way to burn a book. And the world is full of people running around with lit matches.” – Ray Bradbury

    What an insidiously clever way to spark a thought- just pose it as an essay question on a standardized test. Literature isn’t necessary. In fact, books are bad. Books are anti-social. Video games are stimulating. They let you be in control. Or so you think.

    But of course this is not their intention at all. Never mind. Go back to playing your video games.

    • One might check their local library and inquire about their ” weeding ” policy. Does yours have empty stacks and half full shelves? Inquire and you will learn the dirty little secret and then follow the money. This test phenomenon fits exactly with what is occurring under Americas nose regarding books and libraries. Also the bookstore monopoly is censoring the same way by not providing many books instead of destroying them like the libraries are, mostly off site under the guise of ” charity “.
      All the formula anti post comments are
      Interesting, as they follow a pattern of objection that is obvious. But they are absolutely right on one thing, all parents need full disclosure of all tests to see what they mean in context. This would satisfy those who support this questioning as valuable for whatever reason and parents who suspect psychological shenanigans.

  44. And this is how they test “critical thinking skills”: “Your argument must be based on ideas, concepts, and information that can be determined through analysis of the four passages.” Students must base their argument on four passages alone. No room for their own ideas. No place for the inclusion of information outside of those four passages. No opportunity to question the ideas and information given in the passages.

    One of the selections is a blog post. Yes, a blog post. “Why playing videogames better than reading books.” (That wasn’t a typo; that is the title of the post as written on the actual blog site.) http://www.digitalplay.info/blog/2009/11/06/why-playing-games-is-better-than-reading-books/
    I wonder if they don’t refer to Wikipedia articles as well in some of the other test questions.

    The other selection is from Steven Johnson’s book, “Everything Bad is Good for You” which, according to a review by The Guardian, asserts that TV, film, and video games are making us smarter, yet fails miserably to back up those assertions with actual science. http://www.theguardian.com/books/2005/jul/02/highereducation.news

    So apparently, when Common Core proponents speak of “critical thinking skills” they don’t actually mean teaching children to think for themselves or to critically analyze arguments presented in selections of informational text or even to carefully select reliable and credible sources on which to gather information to form arguments. Instead, they mean teaching children to write argumentative essays by cutting and pasting information and ideas from blog posts and pseudo-science.

    Our poor children.

  45. Fascinating that this blog is trying to indict Common Core as being evil, yet, you yourselves use incomplete information, poor logic, and a basic lack of textual understanding in an attempt to create mass hysteria in the Utah public. If you do have a case against Common Core, which I’m not saying there isn’t, do us and yourselves a favor by posting credible, responsible, and accurate information. By posting this article you polarize the uninformed and do them disservice by correctly assuming that they will not, or cannot, think for themselves.

    I’ve seen a number of articles, mostly mathematical, about why Common Core is a terrible idea, The trouble here again is that mostly these articles fail to understand the underlying principles that are being taught and assert that, for example, Common Core math expects kids to always make tick marks in boxes to do division or to use number lines and number logic to solve subtraction problems for the rest of their lives.

    You won’t help the argument against Common Core by posting nonsense like this.

  46. It’s really unfortunate so much energy is being used to misinform and manipulate. The authors are so bent on attacking Common Core that they either don’t bother to research it, or they don’t care and want to post falsehood. For example, in the very first line, not how they attribute Common Core to the SAGE test – by using the parenthesis ” Common Core (SAGE)” – in normal communication, this is used to denote a correlation – as in they are the same, so that when you use SAGE throughout the rest of the document, it becomes shorthand for Common Core. Yet this is patently false. SAGE is specifically a Utah developed assessment. It is designed to measure CC attainment, but it is not CC. Don’t take my word for it, look it up – http://www.schools.utah.gov/assessment/Adaptive-Assessment-System.aspx.
    The Common Core has no specific assessment instrument, but leaves it up to the implementation. What you have in the test shown, is local Utah test developed by contract from someone for Utah. If you have a complaint with the test, that’s where you should take it.
    Relating to the particular test question at hand, it’s not too hard to see this is merely a reference to a passage in a book to measure comprehension. It could be any book. I suspect the authors selected that example, not to denigrate reading, but to try to have a more relevant selection to those taking the test.
    It seems the authors are so full of rage that they seem unable to even articulate a reasonable argument. I’m waiting to hear the accusation that global climate change is caused by Common Core.

  47. Maybe the student should have read, and presented everything. Admittedly, I haven’t read all of the comments so maybe this has already been pointed out, but paragraph 6 in the first screen shot (right after many of the claims that are brought up) starts with “It should probably go without saying that I don”t agree with this statement. […] The argument relies on a type of amplified selectivity; it foregrounds certain properties of books, and then projects worse-case scenarios.”

    Shame on the student, mother, and those who are running this website for taking things out of context to try and make an argument. Unfortunately, many people don’t take the time to actually study issues and facts before forming an opinion, and then themselves seem ridiculously uninformed to those who have.

  48. First let’s address the fact that this child had a cell phone out during a state mandated assessment. I teach in GA and something like this would put my job in jeopardy. Second, I agree with an earlier poster who stated that it’s important to get the FULL story before judging. When your position is presented without adequate support, then you weaken the purpose of your cause. JMO!

    Neodesha Hendley
  49. Those that are up in arms about this… did you even read this the screenshots!? This article is propaganda.

  50. Can confirm: did a paper on the artilcle this is taken from

    This is taken WAAAAAY out of context.

    It’s from a different article where the author argues that books are good, but IN DIFFERENT WAYS than books.

    this passage is using overstatement to explain how games are compared to books, he imagines a society where games came before books and that’s what people are used to.

    This is supposed IRONIC and purposfully satirical, like “A Modest Proposal”, Steven Johnson is NOT suggesting that games are better than books.

    Source: [Everything Bad is Good For You](www.google.pl/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CCsQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.xavier.edu%2Fenglish%2Fdocuments%2FJohnson_EverythingBad.pdf&ei=AfE2U-SXM8TIsgb084CoCQ&usg=AFQjCNFexFHnmgF0vN_UHIY5J7a6LiMl8w&bvm=bv.63808443,d.Yms) (scroll down to pg 10)

  51. As a person who was subjected to Progressive indoctrination, I now have a keen eye for it, when it rears it’s ugly head. I find it very interesting that so many of the commentors on this page are completely missing the point that “Everything Bad is Good For You,” IS indoctrination. It doesn’t matter if the stated goal is to stimulate the child to think critically, the actual goal is to cause the child to disrespect their parents, their conservative and patriotic teachers, or anyone who may hold the opinion that certain things are “bad.”

    Certain things ARE bad. I was indoctrinated to think that my parents were “stupid” and that I was more knowledgeable, cool, worldly, then they could ever be. That my advanced way of thinking was far superior than anything they could bring to the table. Yes, all of that at… 15 years old. What an amazing accomplishment for my high school to lead me to that conclusion.

    Certain things ARE VERY BAD, and when schools teach children to disregard warnings, they are endangering them.

    As someone who speaks with experience… these passages ARE progressive indoctrination, and they are doing a tremendous disservice to the students who are reading them.

    I don’t feel confident that the “photos” were actually taken during a test, for the same reasons that others have questioned their authenticity, but I am 100% certain of the indoctrinating outcome of the passages. The actual author may not even be aware of his/her participation, as he/she was likely taught this technique in the Progressive school he/she attended.

    My Progressive education led me to the following conclusions:

    All kids use drugs (except the losers)
    All marriages end in divorce (unless the wife just bears a horrible marriage, because obviously, their husband is a controlling brutal person)
    Taking anything seriously, such as religion or politics or your studies or extracurricular activities meant that you were a LOSER.

    My parents had no idea that school had changed so much since the 50s, when they attended.

    I don’t fault people for not recognizing the indoctrination, but I do fault people for ignoring what others are saying about it. I recommend using some of that critical thinking our tax dollars paid so much for.

    Connie Zimmermann
  52. Christel, Renee, and Alisa,

    I admire your efforts to promote local control and transparency in our public schools. I support that effort 100%. We need many more people fighting for these principles than there currently are, and that will take greater unity in our communities and nation. There are definitely aspects of Common Core that fly in the face of these principles, but that doesn’t mean that every piece of CC needs to be attacked without question. I think that happens too often.

    Posting an article like this doesn’t help our cause in any way. If you are concerned about the article, ask questions. It is obvious from the discussion above that there are plausible reasons why this article was included other than that CC is “anti-book.” You have read the language arts standards and must know that CC is not anti-book.

    Promoting local control and visibility for parents is very important to me. How you approach CC at times hurts our cause because it drives a wedge between you and those who might be able to help. What are the fundamental problems with CC? Let’s focus on those while openly admitting what it does do well. For a public school model, it promotes and holds teacher accountable to teach quality standards. As a teacher, I can see that. I focus on the classics and value-based literature and CC doesn’t prevent me from doing that. I don’t believe every standard is perfect, but I do see the value in many of them. But, one of the real problems, is that by promoting common standards, CC encourages states, districts and administrators to focus on standards in such a way that some teachers are tempted to turn their curriculum into a checklist. With the right approach, CC standards can be a great asset to our schools. But, with the wrong approach, which is all too common, CC discourages districts and administrators from playing a supportive roll to teachers and schools. With the wrong approach, CC does not support local control and visibility to families. However, with the right approach, it may.

    Another core issue I have with CC is the testing. I believe that testing is a useful tool for schools, parents and the state to measure student achievement, and it prepares students for other standardized tests that are important for college and graduate school entrance such as the ACT, GMAT, GRE, LSAT, etc. But, I support parents who choose to “opt out” of having their children tested. That freedom is very important, especially for parents of students who struggle with testing to a degree that it hurts their love of learning. This is our primary goal in education: to teach students how to think and to love learning. CC can support that goal, but only with the greater unity that is only possible when both sides approach this argument logically and in a way that doesn’t estrange them from one another.

  53. “The message given in this test is that book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games.” If the author of this post really believes this, then she’s making a good case for why critical thinking skills need to be taught and evaluated. The test is not sending a message at all. The test provides some controversial arguments and encourages students to provide a response based on evidence and clear thinking. Children taking the test are being invited to send the message, and in this case the message is likely to be, “No, books provide more benefit than video games, and here is my evidence.” If our children are so dumb that they will uncritically absorb anything that they read, then, okay, they will swallow the message that video games are more educational than books. They also won’t do well in common core tests because they haven’t learned to weigh evidence, arrive at a conclusion, and back up that conclusion.

    The test makes devilish assertions? No. An article that the students are asked to respond to makes outrageous assertions. The test encourages students to react thoughtfully when they encounter arguments that aren’t based in reality, or that skew evidence.

    This blog post is so silly that I almost have to wonder if it’s real. It could be an effort to discredit the opponents of Common Core. Are any parents really this incapable of thinking past the surface of things? Were their own public educations really so bad that they can’t understand the idea of getting students to think analytically?

  54. Every book opens a portal into a new world, exposing readers to fantastic worlds of science, philosophy, outer space, fantasy and many more. It is something that brings families together as their young ones are learning to read and inspires people to reach out into the physical world in search for the things they have read about. From an academic standpoint, reading organizes ones thought processes and helps to create active thinkers. When you can read the words off of a page and predict the outcome later in the story, or understand what is being explained you have committed your mind to the development of critical thinking. Often readers find themselves challenging what they read, discussing with their peers, and recreating the stories in their mind.

    To call it “choreographed” and “linear” is grotesquely incorrect. I would instead attach these to video games. Video games while not bad when played in moderation can also help to develop skills, even some of the ones mentioned in this article. Players build decision making skills and often do find themselves becoming leadership-oriented. The games, however, are created so that people follow along very specific paths to winning or the end of a storyline. Often times, achievements must be made in certain succession before the game can be considered complete and because of these specific paths it can cause game dependency. Video games played out of moderation will often lead to failing social behaviors, repetitive thinking, and the inability to progressively think.

    Neither of the two mediums is bad in and of itself, but reading should be something actively promoted in our everyday life while saving video games for the time you want to spend with your friends on weekends or the occasional day after school.

    The real issue I find with the Anti-Book article is not that it makes claims that video games are better for learning but rather that this was introduced to students on a test. A test is not the environment I would envision to be the best enable for students to speak either in defense or against this article. I perhaps would see this as topic of discussion in the classroom to high schoolers as a way for them to develop their ability to academically debate among peers or provide research and evidence in support of their opinions. The idea the article promotes is something I find personally ridiculous, the fact that it was assigned on a test disturbs me because there is no opportunity for vocal discussion (and I do not know the questions being addressed to the article), but as for it being in schools, that doesn’t bother me unless educators are trying to press their opinions in favor of the article on students.

    Students have a right to pick up sides and at a high school level they should be preparing themselves to make decisions and commit themselves for or against topics.

    • “I would instead attach these to video games.” That is actually the point of the passage…if you actually read it, you will see what I mean.

      • You are right, thank you! It also has the questions addressed to the article which answers one of my own questions. I still consider a topic like this best for vocal discussion but the clarification of the article, as one designing a scenario to be debated, is a classic representation of the essays that students have been required to formalize in classrooms for many years. The rubric promotes clear thought and appropriate sentence structure in the essay as well, but leaves a little to be considered as sentence structure pertains to organization of words more so than grammatical inclusivity. Correct grammar and punctuation are two of the topics that I wish would have been more emphasized in my own schooling as well as in the common core lesson plans.

  55. There are so many parallels with history and recent movies that show the one-sidedness that this test is showing. I recently watched the Book Thief and watched as society (Hitler) controlled the conversations and life in general. Many people can plainly see how dangerous it is to control the minds of the young, by not allowing children to pick out for themselves the right and the wrong (false) we are not teaching them but indoctrinating them. Those who think there is nothing wrong with the text ought to be the first ones to have to sit through all this ridiculous testing. The teenager who took these pics obviously saw the red flags that many adults are not seeing. What I can plainly see even from limited text is that the argument is being controlled by the author. There was no two sides to this because the same person gave all the information to be evaluated and did so to make sure that “their” argument was strong.

    There will be some children who will be able to turn the argument against the writer, but how many that do see this will, if they think they will get a bad grade? When children are brought up being taught propaganda, what will they believe?

  56. If someone os going to go to all the trouble to violate school rules and procedures and put their ability to remain in school on the line by taking a phone or ipod into a testing center- why not take screen shots of the entire text? Because that would prove the test has no agenda and there are 2 sides given and the student then writes his/her response accordingly! Having been one of the 15, I know it to be true as done anyone with any common sense!

  57. How can anyone trust this blog and the information in it? This post is so misleading, it destroys any respect I have for the creators. I get that you don’t like Common Core, but if you want to win an argument, you don’t resort to lies and distortions of the facts. I don’t think you even understand what Common Core really is. I’m not saying you would support Common Core if you did, but it would mean that people like you wouldn’t resort to ludicrous assertions and scare tactics to try to win people over.

  58. I review hundreds of ELA books & tests every year. I am seeing these kinds of two-sided “opinion” reading/writing assignments all the time now. Here’s how to recognize it:
    – “Two sides” of a controversial/political/social/environmental/values-oriented subject are presented.
    – The material is billed as “balanced” because “two sides” of an issue are presented.
    – The student reads both sides, then writes an essay promoting one side.

    I do not claim to know the heart of the authors of this particular test question, but these kinds of “opinion” writing assignments are subject to bias by nature, because the author/publisher controls the entire argument. In the examples I have seen, the author typically gives a reasonable-sounding Opinion A, and an unreasonable (straw man) Opinion B. The child naturally gravitates toward the more reasonable-sounding argument, and thinks she logically came to her own conclusion.

    If test question writers wanted to test a child’s writing ability, while avoiding straw men and indoctrination (intended or otherwise), they could simply avoid controversial subjects for their material. Why don’t they?

    • In schools teaching classical education, kids are taught how to spot a straw man argument, as well as other logical fallacies. There are some good books that teach this.

  59. Everyone here is missing the real point. Why does Common Core have to be so secretive? If they would tell what is included, then there wouldn’t have to be so much speculation. I’m calling a BS on their point that they have to be secretive to eliminate cheating. How do you cheat on an essay test? On this essay portion of the test all they would have to say is, “There will be 20 essay topics from which one will be chosen at random, and you will have to make a complete, well thought out, and precise essay on the topic chosen. The topics will include the following: 1. Are books or Video games more educational? Why? 2. Before WWII Winston Churchill and Neville Chamberlain had different world political viewpoints. Choose one of them and explain their views and why they believed them.. 3. When you compare vegetarian and omnivorous diets, chose one and explain how it is more beneficial. etc. etc.” If you give the complete list and students study all 20 subjects to learn and give their arguments, how does that hurt anything or anyone to have the students learn more on 20 new subjects? And how does it hurt anyone or anything to have parents also know what is being taught and tested?

    • Kids have been taking standardized tests for years and years – were parents able to see the tests or find out what iwas on the tests before common core?

      • Yes, because I saw their text books, their homework, went to Parent/Teacher conferences, and visited their classrooms. Their tests were contained in the information covered in these sources.

        • Can you not see text books or homework now? This is an actual question. I honestly have no idea – my kids have never been to school.

          • Back when I went to school, we were given a syllabus for each class. Now my Grandkids are told that they can’t take take textbooks home, and instead are just given worksheets which may or may not have anything to do with what is on the test. The mathematics is extremely confusing to the kids, and although I can end up figuring out how they want them to “solve” the problems, Math has always been about doing things the simplest way possible. It is no longer the case. If Einstein, Newton, and Euclid could do what they could do, how they did it, why do these “educated” people think they need to change everything?

  60. I haven’t read all the comments so I apologize if someone has already mentioned this. My son actually had this question yesterday, so I can tell you what the missing 2 articles were about. One was about the positive effects of reading on the brain and the differences of brain function between passive reading and intent reading (studying). The other discussed the dramatic drop in SAT scores in recent years and the correlation with the emergence and rise of video gaming.

  61. Reblogged this on Transparent Christina.

  62. Everyone here should download and read this book

  63. Number one, why is this girl using her cell phone on her test? That’s called cheating in my book.

    Number two, this prompt has clearly presented four articles for the students to compare and contrast different viewpoints. The common core is not promoting these viewpoints, it is asking students to use their reasoning skills to analyze information presented in different ways. The common core is the same thing as the old core, it is simply asking students to do more and achieve higher levels of thinking.

  64. Not sure if anyone else noticed, but most likely the primary reason this text was chosen was because it belongs to Penguin Books, which used to be owned by Pearson, and now is only 47% owned by Pearson… (Random House has the majority ownership today). Most likely a copyright fee would have to be paid to any non-Pearson company, if their text had been used. More likely this allows Pearson to price the tests as if the copyright payments were paid to themselves, thereby increasing their profit. Which makes me question exactly what percentage of the cost of each test is designated for copyright payments.?

  65. The authors of this blog post would have, without a doubt, failed this question on the exam. As a professor, it amazes me how many people do NOT read the instructions and rubrics; they assume that with a fraction of the information and their own idea of the topic on hand they know best.

    In order for these bloggers to redeem themselves (and the imaginary grade I am giving them, D), they need to read everything written in those screen shots (including the rubric). Then they need to complete their research and resubmit.

    When we let our asinine umbrage toward an issue blind us to the topic on hand (Can you write a pursuasive essay?) then we only show our own lack of ability to comprehend, compare, and connect the world of which we form part.

    I am neither for nor against common core. I am for the presuit of knowledge and learning. As parents we want the best for our children. I would rather see a high school student make a valiant attempted at this essay than see adults, who should know better, make themselves look foolish by apparently not knowing the task on hand and misrepresenting a straightforward academic exercise and in general engaging in a muckraking style of blogging that is better left out of the educational sphere.

    • U of U, you’re giving professors a bad name here. I think if you were a professor of anything but yourself, you could spell persuasive and pursuit.

      In any case, the assignment doesn’t ask or even allow the children “to comprehend, compare, and connect the world of which we form part.” They must “take a position” based only on the ideas presented in the stimulus item, and support “their” position with evidence from the stimulus item. I promise you there is a whole green book full of “literacy strategies” aimed at training them to stay within the parameters of the stimulus item in all their writing, and we have been ordered to integrate such writing into every discipline, even chemistry.

      As Christel has so concisely put it, though, I reject the premise that such instruction builds critical thinking skills.

  66. I can see clearly now, after reading through the comments, why our society believes that everything is relative. “There is no right or wrong” is the mantra of the day. “Do whatever you want as long as you are happy”. These kind of essay questions are indeed propaganda!! By presenting the very idea that video games are better than books we are subjecting our children to a dangerous belief. Today it is video games, tomorrow it will be belief in God. If we continue on this road of teaching our children that there is no moral absolute then we will loose our freedom. Because it is in God that we have our freedom. We cannot argue our way out of judgment. We all must stand before God and be judged of our works and our beliefs. There is absolute truth! We need to return to those morals and values that shaped this great nation. This very wise mother and daughter know that. Thank you for being so brave and sharing with the world. You were not cheating by telling your mother of concerns. I want to hug you for being courageous enough to stand up for what is right!!!

    • Our kids are going to be subjected to dangerous beliefs their entire lives. Are we to shield them from everything? A body that is never exposed to germs will be overwhelmed when it finally is.

      You think kids don’t experience life challenges at their age? What about when their parents divorce? When a sibling or friend of theirs dies? What about when peer pressure tells them it’s okay to take a drink, or to go beyond flirting with their crush? You think a question about video games vs. books is a big deal with everything else that can come their way?

      This is one of the easy ones. If their parents have been reading to them since day one, like all parents should be, students answering this will find it a piece of cake to side with books. If their parents weren’t reading to them, then they likely already favor video games. This isn’t a “dangerous” concept introduced to them, it’s what they may already believe. So perhaps from this perspective, having them read about the pros of books in the other missing passages might be a positive thing for them!

      And as for not being subjected to dangerous beliefs, are we to literally have heaven forbid our kids from being tested on their faith? What is wrong with that? Doesn’t our faith rely on being tested, on persevering through hard times? Even the rock on which Jesus’ ministry was built was “of little faith” when he stepped out of the boat. It’s a stormy world, the boat is a rockin’, it’s too easy to sink below the waves. Learn to defend your beliefs. Who is going to be stronger, the “believer” who believes because that’s what you do, the one who has never been tested? Or the one who was forced to put their beliefs to question, who studied, who sought out God, who allowed faith to show them the way through the tough times? A bone that breaks heals stronger than before.

      Look, I love video games. I grew up on them. I do find value in some of them. I also love books, which is why I’ve got 4 next to my bed that I’m currently reading through, and I listen to audio books to and from work every day. But there’s nothing “dangerous” about asking kids to discuss this topic. They’re going to be tested on much worse.

  67. If all this CC stuff is true, they should be teaching students to never watch a program on TV and never watch a movie, because the outcome is totally in the control of someone else.

  68. Hrm…The screenshots hurt my eyes to read (as does your entire blog actually. Why did you think white on blue was a good idea?) but I did read most of them and from what I picked up, the particular article reminds me of The Onion articles we read in my toughest English class in high school. This was an AP class and we practiced writing persuasive essays just about every week, maybe every other week. Some of the articles we read were serious, some were satire, like with The Onion. Except for telling us that The Onion was a provider of satire, our teacher usually didn’t tell us when an article was satire or not – unless someone couldn’t quite tell and asked.
    I feel like this question needed to be asked here. Is this satire? And the grading scheme, what is posted, appears to give points for writing a strong, persuasive essay. Also it mentioned that there are four passages – so this is one of four. So even if this article was NOT satire – it was ONE OF FOUR ARTICLES. It looks like this was just an extreme point of view for video games. I’ll bet at least two of the other articles slam-danced video games in favor of books. This essay-writing question looks just like what I did in high school – consume articles, and say what your own opinion is.
    Finally, video games are not going to degrade our culture to grunts and smoke signals. They DO, in fact, often tell a story just like a book. Some of them are actually pretty linear like a book, some are more like Choose Your Own Adventure books. But there are a lot of video games that tell stories and inspire creativity, too. Are they going to aid in literacy like reading books would? Well, nowadays with voice acting, no. And even back when all the dialog was text, it still wouldn’t compare to books. But you pick something other than a hack-and-slash game, and they can inspire just as much creativity. I wouldn’t say one is better than the other – they’re both fairly different, but they’re both story-delivering media.

    Look, I hate common core, I hate the whole idea of it, and that was the final straw…brick…five-ton weight…that pushed me to decide to homeschool my kids. But you can’t spook at blades of grass and you need to find real reasons to argue against common core and make real arguments.

  69. What was the assignment given for this? Was it to construct an argument defending video games over books or an argument defending books over video games? This would be a valid construct in today’s world where most teens play video games. My son is an avid reader/writer and plays video games with friends on his laptop. He would choose to construct a good argument for reading books over video games any day, however, if given this assignment. The info. given here is incomplete without the context of the assignment.

  70. Some mention the girl cheating and putting her teacher in jepardy, also saying she could get a zero on her test. Can we not see how enslaved we have become? Why do we allow govt. officials to have this control over our kids? What is a zero anyway? Who cares! Personally, I think they pick these contoversial subjects on purpose and they do have an agenda, but even if you don’t believe that, why do we allow our kids to be threatened with punishments of bad grades for thinking their own thoughts? Whether this girl has it right or wrong, she is just questioning something. What is wrong with that? What’s wrong with our public school system is that we teach (demand) that kids obey to the point they can’t think for themselves. I feel sorry for the child that feels so bound by the test that they feel their future depends on it.

  71. There are 4 other passages the student had to read then craft their essay. I am not all in favor of the common core testing but choosing one passage and taking it out of context is just plain bad news.

  72. Yes, this blog post is a good example of the propaganda that the authors deride. If selective citation and arguing from incomplete facts is representative of how the sweet ladies at the top would teach critical thinking, then by all means give me David Coleman instead.

  73. Pingback: Reader Responses to Utah High School Student’s Screen Shots | COMMON CORE

  74. Are you a complete idiot? Have you ever heard of test security? Or copyright? I hope they sue your ass off for reposting this. I hope you realize that you’ve just cost the State of Utah thousands of dollars because you feel uncomfortable with allowing students to indulge in critical thinking.

  75. Reblogged this on bolshevikpunx and commented:
    “The message given in this test is that book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games. The test claims that literature forces passivity but video games teach students how to be leaders. Long live grunts and smoke signals.”

  76. A lot of you said that this essay had to have takes about books being good at one point. You’re correct, to a certain point. In this essay it said that books were good and did have some values and we were raised with it even though it had some down sides. So if that was all it said against 3paragraphs saying books were bad.. How was I suppose to write an essay supporting books and use the information in the passage if it only put books down. And this passage isn’t even the worst of the questions. A girl next to me had one on Vietnam and how it was bad and how America is a bully. Please tell me why this is okay to be a question?

    • I have a feeling she only included that one pro book screen shot as she didn’t read it- and understood “books force you….to concoct whole new worlds” as being bad.

  77. If you are against common core, please do not try and use things like this to prove your point. You only make your arguments look weak- this is clearly a chance for students write an piece after reading a few texts of differing opinions. It in no way is trying to indoctrinate, but to simply present another viewpoint to provide the students with material to use in writing a persuasive piece.

  78. Pingback: Guest Post by the Mother of Screen Shot-Capturing Student | COMMON CORE

  79. With all respect, this post and then the “guest post” from the mom who took the screenshots is not being respectful of your reader’s time (in my view). It is so clear that the question is asking the student to imagine an “alternate universe” that is clearly objectionable. Let’s get back to the truly hard work of fighting Common Core. Not trying to sensationalize every parent’s experience to get social media attention and blog comments.

  80. I hate Common Core as much as the next thoughtful parent, but this article is total garbage. This is a fail for the kid who took the picture and was clueless as to why they were being presented with this article. It is a fail for her mother who apparently didn’t have the common sense to again, understand that this passage was trying to illicit a thoughtful written response to a arguable topic. It is also a huge fail for the three women who own this blog, for again not seeing the purpose of the text as something less nefarious. So basically all this has shown me is that the investigation skills of all those involved are lacking. A sad day in the fight against CC.

    • I do not see how “thoughtful” is being elicited, when the arguments are made and then given in the prompt. Nefarious topic, or benign, asking students to extract the argument that was already presented, then re-write this argument into an essay, is not asking them to be “thoughtful.” It merely asks them to restate, in their own words, what material was offered so that it then becomes more convincing and adds another “validation” for the conclusions through their “own voice.” This has the effect of diminishing critical thinking, though perhaps still can assess writing ability. We should ask ourselves of what value is the skill of writing – sentence structure, grammar, punctuation, paragraph formation, and essay format – useful when we do remove the student’s thought process – ideas, opinions, personal experiences, personal research – from the writing process?

  81. Kudos to this student for recognizing information she might want to discuss with her parents and for exercising her right to do so. Would that all young people had this kind of familial relationship! The fact that the test question addresses a controversial, potentially politically charged issue, is reason to suspect the intent of the testing. Are there not better ways to evaluate a student’s progress without having to resort to abstract, subjective exercises? Surely, teaching truth is the purpose of education and testing should reflect those absolutes.

    • Had you actually read all the images you would see she included a pic of the opposing arguement. Had you used critical thinking and actually Googled this “charged political important topic” you would understand this was a beautifully written debate question posing two opposing sides of a controversial issue..one that would engage many students. “books force you to concoct whole words..unlike prepackaged images” that is part of the “pro book” argument. As a college educator I wish students answered a lot more questions like this. While I am pro book- I have presented on the use of video games as healing agents in mental health (phobias, ptsd etc) and that seminar series usually gets 6-7 students for most professors. The week I presented we ahd to move rooms- over 50 students showed up because the topic mattered to them. Debating the value of video games as simply an amusement versus something else, comparing them to books as a measure of any value…this was an ingenius question that engaged students totally ruined by a girl who broke several rules and copyright laws for nothing more than…what to get attention? This question hardly appears to require civil disobedience.

      Now if it was an essay on how to cook and eat poor children- ok maybe (though you may recognize that as a satirical essay written regarding the plight of the irish from english class). Of if the kids were required to write about how video games are better- or how sony rules- yes..but this was actually a good question with two sides she tried to omit half of.

  82. Do you realize you are breaking the law by posting those photos? http://www.le.utah.gov/code/TITLE63G/htm/63G02_030500.htm The “end justifies the means” is still alive!

    • Dave, saying that I am breaking the law is like saying that I should be arrested for jaywalking when I ran out into the street to push a toddler out of the way of an oncoming truck. Technically, this is civil disobedience, to enable the sharing of a secret state test. But morally and ethically, it is the right thing to do. The Common Core tests, standards and data collection monsters are hurting our children, are based on the breaking of many laws, including G.E.P.A. and the U.S. Constitution; and were forced on citizens without their consent. So if this needs to be a legal battle, it will be one that we’ll win. Thanks for your comment.

  83. Even if you do not have concerns about the topics, the method of having children extract from conclusions that are already given rather than having them form their own conclusions and then present those ideas in an essay proves that this is less challenging than before. By deriving arguments you are using more critical thinking than to merely extract the points that have been provided in the prompt. I’m grateful the examples were shared to show that these tests are not having our kids think but rather regurgitate. Oh, but we can’t have that “rote memorization” in math? *ironic*

  84. As a SAGE test proctor, I feel it necessary to clear up some of the misinformation being spread around the internet, and this blog. Like others have posted before me, when you exhibit the need to grasp at straws, knowing full well you are presenting a half truth (aka lie), it discredits you as a valid source for information.

    FACT: The screen shots of the test shown above do not include the other articles in the essay question. Students were to read opposing viewpoints and base their essay on their opinion, whether the agree, disagree, are indifferent, and back up their statements with information from the text. There are in fact, several articles strongly in favor of books and against video games missing from the screenshots. Either the girl, or her parents, have intentionally left them out. We don’t know who, but that is the truth, like it or not.

    Another half truth that is being embellished with every share; that teachers are being instructed to take down all artwork, colorful posters, decorations, motivational sayings, etc. in the classroom, creating a sterile environment for the test, as though this is yet another way for Common Core to squash our rights and ability to be creative in the classroom. I ask you to please be logical and think about what really may have taken place. Look around the walls of any classroom and you will find countless aids to writing. How to write a paragraph, use of story elements, punctuation reminders, spelling charts, graphic organizers, multiplication charts, math formulas, etc. etc. These things would all aid a student while taking a test. It makes sense that things such as these would be removed from a testing area. Artwork, motivational posters, COLOR, and anything of that nature has never even been addressed, much less removed in the name of the SAGE exam, and these claims are nothing short of propaganda to push an agenda.

    Some of you have complained that we are collecting their notes, WITH their names on them, and not allowing any of it to leave the room. And you are so puzzled. Why are we collecting information about your children, what could the ‘machine’ possibly need this for? Again, I ask you to pay heed to reason. Think back many years to your own tests, before the Obama administration, before Bush, to an era of your choice, when even you took a test where you were not allowed to take pictures and pass around for everyone to see, you were not shown the answers on the wall as you wrote, the tests were not sent home to your parents to approve, you were not allowed to take your notes outside of the test area, and you were given opposing viewpoints on various topics that you were asked to construct an essay on, and just maybe, you were asked to put your names on your paper so that if you were to come back to finish the test, your teacher would know which notes belonged to which students.

    I am not in favor of Common Core in its entirety, and I don’t agree with the high stakes attached to the test results. But, the freak show that is ensuing, the mentality that I am seeing develop, is like a cross between Chicken Little and a lynch mob. I have to wonder, has anyone stopped to consider that there may be a puppet master on both sides?

    • Thank you for sharing. I think your presence here and comments serve to moderate and temper other comments. Debate is good and additional facts and insights are ALWAYS welcome here.

      You are correct that we are missing some portions of the test; the USOE has called me and suggested that they are considering offering us the whole test question. I told them that would be most welcome. Waiting to hear back.

      However, if they send it, that won’t change the fact that the test sets up what I see as a manipulative, false dialectic in this question– the test implies that the innate value of books is negotiable at best, or less valuable than video games at worst. I reject that premise. The value of books is priceless and children should not be “taught” that it is negotiable. Practicing “critical thinking” does not mean that it is okay to manipulate minds into slashing at precious things.

      The only part of your comment that I don’t find reasonable is the “puppetmaster” comment. The promoters of Common Core truly have a puppetmaster in the countless millions of dollars that Bill Gates has provided to the creators, marketers, and curriculum developing companies of Common Core, and he deserves the title of Common Core puppetmaster, but we moms and dads and teachers have no financer or boss. We are fighting for our rights and for our children’s rights. Nobody’s telling us what to write, who to call, where to blog, or what to say. Because of the power of his grants, such freedom to speak is foreign to the promoters, including: the national PTA, Jeb Bush, the National Governors’ Association,the Council of Chief State School Officers, Pearson, dozens of universities and all of the well-known think tanks that promote Common Core –each FOR MONEY. They cannot call their own shots because their “opinions” are already bought and paid for.

    • Well, As a parent and child protector, I would like to say….. if we spent as much time defending the individuality of the child, (which is uncommon) as we do defending the individuality of this test we might start to understand the loss of perspective.

      Yours and others’ negative comments on this blog are posted by choice. They are optional you know. And the point is being made.

      These are kids we are protecting and the Hunger Games view you just described would be too obvious –wouldn’t it.

      The problem is that we as a people are not recognizing when rights are taken away.

      Would we know when it starts?
      Would you, proctor of SAGE, know exactly when you are crossing a line of freedom?

      We don’t get paid to fight for freedom ….

      Do we know where the law has been broken that got us to this point where we have to swallow Common Core?

      We are in a situation where we as parents “conveniently” don’t get to see the test questions on an untested, starting-to-fail curriculum. People have seen ridicuous methodologies and processes come from the SAGE test and they are taking note and asking why to our leaders.

      They want to know what else my child is exposed to, and the focus is shifting to “can my kids survive the exposure to them?” –rather than “Can I get a good meaningful education from them?”

      Asking us to not be worried is parent-less. We trusted our leaders.

      This is the moment!

      Stand back if you want to defend tests. Some of us want to defend the freedom of our kids.

      It smells bad,
      looks bad
      and is proving itself to be not productive curriculum.

      I believe your tests will easily supply answers as to the fate of this conversation.

      This post is just a drop in the bucket on the questions from the polluted lake Common Core came from.

      And I as a parent want to talk to the responsible party.

    • CN, let me reassure you that this post has in no way discredited the “Education Without Representation” page as a reference for information and insight. Christel has articulated a careful and nuanced argument against deep flaws in the whole premise of the CCSS. You choose to misrepresent it with generalized references like “Some of you have…”.

      I was a proctor, too. The walls were covered, and beautiful literary posters and exemplars of student work were taken down in ELA classrooms. Nobody is making this up.

      As for puppetmasters, I’m in Massachusetts. I vote Democratic or Green, except for William Weld that one time. I call myself “progressive”, and I’m a proud member of the NEA. I’m a dedicated science teacher, and a mother of sons of my own. Your imaginary puppetmaster must have some long strings, because I have nothing but respect for these bloggers.

    • Thank you, a few critical thinkers did realize that- she accidentally included one example- it uses the words “book force you to” and I dont think she understood it its pro reading and says “books force you to concoct whole worlds..unlike prepackaged images”. So if people actually read the images they would understand there was an unrepresented OTHER side. I am a college educator- this is a great question and I wish there were more like it. It engages students interests and makes them actually evaluate something they take for granted.

  85. Charles, I hope that you understand that mine are not negative comments, I am trying to provide an insider perspective that other parents have been unable to see. Obviously I can’t divulge the test questions either, because I cannot breech the validity of the test, I am a proctor. But, what brought me here are my own concerns, my own searching for answers about the SAGE and Common Core. I, like you, want the best for my own children in all of these unknowns. The only thing that I am trying to offer is, as a parent, a teacher, a parent who has homeschooled, and now a proctor, the confirmation that there is in fact a discrepancy in information that is being passed around the internet and that which I have been fortunate enough to actually see with my own eyes. I am not trying to sway one way or the other, I have just seen many of the tests.

    I don’t expect you to blindly trust my observations, but at least give my observations a fraction of the consideration that so many have given blindly to the screenshots of half a test question.

    The only other thing that I would ask you to consider, with regard to the test about the value of books, that I can confirm as a teacher, is that when dealing with teenagers, for the past 30 years, let alone more recently, there has been a battle over getting kids to choose books over their electronics. That makes this a really great topic for kids to write about, because they are passionate about it. Finding topics that teenagers are passionate about is not as easy as one would think. My own son debates me every night over reading vs. tv, or music, or xbox, or whatever else he would rather be doing. I’m just saying that this is really more of a teen vs. whats really best for them type of thing, which really every parent deals with at some point. It truly is two or three opposite sides presented in these essay topics. I wish I could provide you a little more peace, at least for that part, anyway. I know we are all frustrated.

  86. The only addition I would make would be legal action against people who published these screenshots as well. Our tax dollars for education are too few already to have to be replacing questions because of illegal activity to spread fear and fiction. http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/news/57775148-78/common-core-test-books.html.csp

  87. I’ve only loosely been following this Common Core debate as I no longer have kids in school, so I do not have as much of a horse in this race, although I do still care about the education of our youth in general. That said…

    You state “The question given in this test asks whether book literacy is inferior to the playing of video games.” The question asks the student to take a position on which medium is most beneficial and defend that position. That’s not at all the same question.

    You also state “The articles student must refer to in taking this test make the following devilish assertions: “books understimulate the senses” and “books are downright discriminatory” and books are “choreographed by another person [while video games are not]“.”, which is only a reference from one of the four passages that can be used as reference material. When I was in school and took essay tests like this, I was frequently given two vastly contrasting articles which I was supposed to take a position on.

    Your assertions are at best, classic conspiracy theory, and at worst, outright lies to support another political agenda. You provided the proof of your deception in the very screenshots you attached, as I indicated in my first point. As I mentioned in my opening, I’m only loosely involved here, but how am I supposed to believe all your other conspiracy theories if you can’t even be honest about the text that’s staring you in the face?

    • I agree- if you look one image says “reading books forces you to concoct entire worlds in your head as opposed to prepackaged images” she included an image of the opposing argument- books are better- she just thought it was against books b/c it says “books force you” but it clearly supports the value of reading. This was a debate- so you are correct there were two sides she only showed us one.

  88. This is classic reading comprehension. I have seen these types of questions on tests since I ws in school in the early 90’s. Perhaps you folks would have failed this test were it given to you… and THAT is the problem. If you have never read a passage from someones publication and then been asked simple multiple choice questions as to the meaning of what this person wrote, then your education was woefully inadequate. You have the option at the end of this example to write an argument that rebutts the original authors assertion. How us this bad? Please do send me more examples of the ‘dangers’ of common core. I want to see what it is that you folks are so scared of.

  89. is EVERYONE BLIND! Read the pic on the lower left and then actually do some critical thinking and google this article. The images portrayed here are ONE HALF of a critical thinking exercise-a controversy debate- 1 for books, 1 side for games.
    As a college educator I wish students would read more of these in stead of the no child left behinds legacy of multiple choice questions. The children have to read an article for video games as better than books AND one with books better than games, the image on the lower left builds the case for books requiring you to build whole worlds in your mind, but she only posted 1 picture of it. If you actually research the question this is an awesome example of pedagogy! I have given presentations on video games as healing agents (used in mental health) and attendance for that weekly seminar series increased 8 fold that week- we had to get a new room(I am a book fanatic and would argue pro book anyday). So what you guys are doing is shooting down a question that seeks to build critical thinking skills, organize an argument, and would actually interest and engage students- YOU HAVE NO CLUE WHAT YOU ARE DOING. this is nothing but a witch hunt. I have no idea if common core will have the desired effects, but first realize that it is a set of expectations- not curricula. I hope this young lady gets in trouble for 1. having a phone during testing, 2. releasing copyrighted images of intellectual property 3. gets in trouble for compromising one of the best questions I have seen on a test in years and costing the taxpayers several thousand dollars to have it replaced 4. someone explains to her that in order to form a good debate you need to have something to have a controversy over- TWO separate sides.

  90. I wish screen shots were clearer, but I am very grateful to this brave child who snapped photos of this high school essay test! Yay for brave kids!

  91. Just voicing my opinion. I remember taking high school exams vividly despite having taken them back in 1996-2000. I was always under the impression that these sort of “essays” in tests were meant more to mimic a student-written essay and we, as students, were responsible to use our critical thinking skills to form the opinion about what another peer had written. Questions reflected what was written, not so much what our opinions were. Many times, as John C. notes, a second essay would be presented with the reverse stance.

    I don’t see the problem with this essay, it’s pretty much up to date with topics that would be relevant for today’s high school students. Only kids that should be thought of (as in ‘won’t someone think of the children!?!’) would be the ones so impressionable that they can’t make decisions on their own and cannot think critically for themselves. I suppose that’s what people say Common Core is doing. However, I didn’t learn how to think critically at school – I learned that at home.

  92. What I see in this exercise is propaganda, which is just like the propaganda which was fed us during the 1960s and 1970s in the Orleans Parish (New Orleans) Public School system. At that time, they dished it out to us as “hip” modern thinking. If you didn’t buy it, you weren’t “cool.” What it was, was dangerous and it is part of what has degraded our society so badly.

    They taught us to disrespect our parents. That anyone who took anything seriously, was “stupid” or “dumb” or “square” and definitely someone we did not want to emulate. If the person wasn’t stupid, then he/she only wanted to oppress us with their rigid and controlling expectations.

    Now think on that for a moment.

    If our parents were passionate about politics – stupid
    If our parents were devoutly religious – stupid
    If our parents worked hard – stupid
    If our classmates studied hard to get good grades – stupid
    If someone we knew was a scout leader, or led a youth group – stupid
    If any of our friends enjoyed a particular interest, such as bird watching, or coin collecting – stupid
    Going on family vacations – stupid
    Having principles – stupid

    On the flip side:

    If we used drugs – we were cool
    If we cursed – we were cool
    If we smoked cigarettes – we were cool
    If we hated America – cool
    If we made rude or sarcastic remarks about our parents – cool

    So when I read about this exercise, it brings me right back to those confusing concepts.

    This was not a hypothetical person who was making the arguments that Video Games are better then books. This is a real person, an author (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Everything_Bad_Is_Good_for_You). A person that a child would assign credibility to, particularly when his opinion goes right along with the child’s enjoyment of playing video games.

    So when some say, “they are just showing opposing positions and the child must think critically and give their argument,” I say, why in the world are they even giving a high school student this kind of reading material in the first place. The child is in school to learn how to read, write, perform mathematical calculations, not make value judgments on controversial concepts. You may say, “but that is an important part of being prepared for life,” and I say, “no, it is unnecessary.” If they are to be given exercises in which they learn how to make value judgments, then the material should pertain to how to preserve their liberty. The Constitution. Examples of infringements of rights. Is “stealing” right or wrong. Etc.

    To those defending this exercise, please take a step back and re-examine the material. School is not to teach children what to think. Or to create a consumer market for products (such as Video Games or the shift to Online Public Schools). It is to open a child’s mind to learn what they need to know to be successful individuals. Not “group think-ers.”

    There are lots and lots of problems in our public schools. There is also a lot of good being done by dedicated and loving teacher. But that good… is evaporating every day as this kind of propaganda that this exercise represents is accepted.

    I am very passionate about this topic, because my experience in public schools was horrible, on many, many levels. Thank goodness for the few dedicated, caring teachers who helped us get through it.

    I had no idea that what was happening in those schools was Progressivism. Now, I know.

    Connie Zimmermann
  93. A different topic could have been used. Using books and comparing them in a negative sense to video gaming being a positive ideal, was done in poor taste. This could make one think that the CC supporters and those funding this curriculum are planting the seed subconsciously in our children that reading-bad, gaming-good. Personally, I feel there is an ulterior motive to everything CC and I don’t trust creators and funders for CC. Be your child’s biggest advocate. Educate yourself on the “new standards” being implemented in schools. Parents and teachers need to be teaching our kids, not politicians and big corporations.

    • Agreed Becky. It was done in poor taste. Not only in poor taste but with nefarious intention.

      This kind of stuff has been stealthily injected into our education system since the 1960s, if not earlier. Social engineering. Also for nefarious intentions.

      Connie Zimmermann
  94. This is bs from the right wingnuts. I like critical reasoning. They dont

  95. Thank God I don’t have school aged children anymore. I see the common core as a step in dumbing down the children. What about the many examples that I have seen of math problems. Even highly educated parents cannot believe the approach. Teaching an individual “how to reason” is teaching them to reason in the wrong way.

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  97. You have bigger problems than what common core is doing to your kids, if you aren’t intelligent enough to recognize the reasoning skills that this reading is designed to challenge and develop. You and your 14 y/o probably do recognize this, and realize there is no propaganda here. There is no vast left wing conspiracy in this, but they are always an enemy, and you are always looking for evidence of that, even if you have to create straw men or imagine things. I am against common core. I am against government overreach, and federal involvement and regulation in our schools. There’s lots of problems, but this isn’t one of them. You weaken the foundation, and tear down the efforts of those trying to improve things, when all you want to do is fight. This is nonsense. Your efforts are to strengthen an ideological war, not to establish improvement, progress, or remove destructive common core principles. You aren’t helping. You are hurting.

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  99. My son got addicted to gaming and declared he doesn’t need to get a high school diploma – he’s going to be a gamer. He should’ve graduated this past June. Still working to get him to finish high school. Sad when he’s a very bright kid and was getting good grades. No games for his younger siblings now.

  100. The screen shot of the passage titled comprehension is from a Scott Foresman common core teaching book. I copied for our 5th grade class all year last year and that is not satire . That is crazy my children are gamers but they are only allowed so much time on games.

  101. Maybe one of you smarter-than-the-layman educrats can explain why testing for reason and logic can’t be based on truth rather than lies? Wouldn’t that help the student remain in a realistic world? Or would that be destroying these indoctrinated minds that there is such as thing as absolute truth?

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  104. So what about the fact that the test narrative itself is forcing a linear narrative on the students? This test is hypocritically saying, You can’t learn anything of value from text! — but it itself is written in text!!

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