Archive for the ‘Common Core Standards’ Tag

How to Pass a Pearson Test   Leave a comment

 

  I thought this post was so funny (and vital) that I had to ask the author for permission to repost it.   It was previously published at Huffington Post.

 

How to Pass a Pearson Test or Peeling the Pearson Pineapple

by Alan Singer

 

On Tuesday, June 3, 2014, high school students in New York State take the first new series of math and English exams that are supposed to be aligned with the national Common Core standards. Anticipating that students will have difficulty with the new tests, the State Education Department plans to score exams so that approximately the same percentage of students pass who passed similar tests in the past. I hope it is not too late to offer students, teachers, and State Education some help.

 

I confess. I have a super-power. It is taking tests. I can pass any test on any subject without knowing anything as long as it is written in English. Other languages are my kryptonite. I figured out geometry on the tenth grade standardized final. I passed the AP bio test without doing any work. As with most super powers, taking tests is both a blessing and a curse. I do not get the highest scores and I do not learn very much, but I do pass.

 

I have been applying my super-power to analyzing the latest wave of Pearson-created Common Core aligned high stakes assessments for students and student teachers and I realize they are designed just for me. They are skills based tests that do not require any knowledge. In fact, knowledge interferes with your ability to pass a Pearson test.

 

The United States is its biggest market and Pearson makes a lot of money selling Common Core aligned tests, curriculum, and test review books and programs. It stands to make even more as it develops, markets, assesses new Common Core PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) content area exams. Sixteen states, plus the District of Columbia, are scheduled to participate in PARCC testing.

 

As a public service these are my FREE test taking tips that will save parents and school districts a lot of money and students and teachers a lot of anguish.

 

1. Know the jargon they use in the instructions. For example, “selected-response items” means multiple-choice questions. I do not know why they do not just call them multiple-choice.

2. Do all the steps and read all the passages before looking at the choices. The answer, no matter how inaccurate or ridiculous, is in the reading passage. You are not looking for the best answer. You are looking or their answer.

3. In math, be confident in your answer. If your answer is not among the choices, figure out which of their answers has the same value as yours.

 

Most of us who followed the Pearson Pineapple controversy thought the reading passage on the 2013 8th grade reading test about the pineapple that challenged a rabbit (hare) to a race and questions about which animal was wisest were absurd. The problem, at least in my case, was that at the time I really did not understand what Pearson and the Common Core were trying to do. Now I think I have it figured out. The passage and questions were absurd on purpose.

 

Pearson and Common Core are not testing what you know, what you think, or what you can explain. They are testing what you can find in the passage and whether you follow directions. They select reading passages using a mathematical formula or algorithm based on what they call “text complexity” which measures the length of sentences and the use of obscure vocabulary. There is no meaningful content on a Pearson Common Core test, it is all about peeling the pineapple.

 

Ironically, I found the same approach on Pearson’s Academic Literacy Skills Test (ALST) for teachers. The sample question has an extended reading passage about Gertrude Stein from a book by Joshua Cooper Ramo, The Age of the Unthinkable.

The first question is: “In Paragraph 1, the repetition of the phrase “well-rounded, prosperous” emphasizes . . . ” I always think of “well-rounded” and “prosperous” as positive attributes and when I looked at the choices I leaned toward choice A, “the sophistication of Stein’s family.”

 

But Pearson says the correct answer is choice B, “the predictability of life Stein rejected.” Although well-rounded does not mean predictable, if you look at paragraph 1, “well-rounded” is equated with “stability,” boring sameness, qualities that Stein rejected.

In other words, if you know what well-rounded means, you get the answer wrong. Just as with the Pearson pineapple, the test is not about knowing the right answer, it is about finding their answer in the text. I can hardly wait for the new Pearson PARCC tests based on reading skills that I expect will be missing all content.

 

Actually I should not have been so surprised to discover that Pearson, PARCC, and Common Core ignore knowledge. In a promotional video for the national Common Core standards, David Coleman, who the New York Times described as an “architect of the common core curriculum standards,” discussed how James Madison explained the regulation of political factions in Federalist Paper #51. The only problem was that Federalist Paper #10 is about the regulation of political factions. Federalist Paper #51 is about checks and balances and the structure of the national government. But he was only off by forty-one essays.

I am a little concerned that it took me so long to figure out the problem with these Pearson tests. I just worry my super-power may be slipping.​

 

 

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549
(P) 516-463-5853 (F) 516-463-6196

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Thanks to Alan Singer for this post.  For those wanting to read more from Alan Singer, look for his book, Education Flashpoints.  The book draws on his widely read Huffington Post columns —rated one of the top educational blogs in the United States.    http://www.amazon.com/Education-Flashpoints-Fighting-Americas-Schools/dp/0415743850

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It’s All About the Language: Applying Greenfield’s New Speak to Common Core   3 comments

orwell language

If you scour the official Common Core websites, ed.gov website, and the official speeches of Secretary Duncan and President Obama and the Pearson CEA on education, as many of us have done, you may at first knit your eyebrows in confusion.

It all sounds sweet.

How would education reforms that use such pleasant words ever be taking away my constitutional rights? Did the reformers really aim in completely opposite directions from their peachy words in arrangements and mandates and deprivations written elsewhere, in contracts and speeches and grant documents and regulatory changes on the same subject, written by the same groups of people?

Yes, they did.

Government and CCSSO/NGA sites come across as harmless, toothless, and positive, making it nearly impossible to interest the masses in fighting education reforms even though they are hurting our children and our country’s future. It’s even harder to change the direction of state school board members, governors and business people who also see nothing wrong with implementation of Common Core.

Why don’t they see the shackles?

It’s all about the language.

Daniel Greenfield at the Sultan Knish Blog has shed light on the deception. He illuminates the differences between the “new speak” envisioned by “1984” author George Orwell, and the actual “new speak” deceiving people in 2013.

Below are highlights from Greenfield’s explanation.

Read his full article here.

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“Orwell’s mistake in 1984 was assuming that a totalitarian socialist state would maintain the rigid linguistic conventions of bureaucratic totalitarianism…. Liberal Newspeak is the hybrid product of advertising, academia and bureaucracy. It takes ideas from creative leftists, rinses them in conformity, uses techniques from the ad world to make them as safe as possible and then shoves them down everyone’s throat.

[In Orwell’s “1984”] Newspeak’s objective was to enforce linguistic schizophrenia… making opposition into a form of madness. Liberal Newspeak’s is less ambitious. It settles for muddling your brain.

Like modern advertising, its goal is to make you feel comfortable without actually telling you anything.

Liberal Newspeak is the chirpy announcer in a drug commercial soothingly telling you about all the fatal side effects while on screen couples have romantic picnics and go whitewater rafting.

That is the job of most of the news media… to be that announcer telling you that… your taxes will go up, your job will go to China and you will die, without getting you upset about the terrible news.

The dictionary of Liberal Newspeak is full of empty and meaningless words. Community, Care, Access, Sharing, Concern, Affordability, Options, Communication, Listening, Engage, Innovating and a thousand others like it are wedged into sentences. Entire pages can be written almost entirely in these words without a single note of meaning intruding on the proceedings.

… The techniques of advertising have been used to pluck up words that people once felt comfortable with and wrap them around the agendas…

Liberal Newspeak is concerned with making people safe while telling them absolutely nothing. It’s a new language that conveys reassurance rather than meaning. Its totem words are almost pre-verbal in that they mean nothing except “You are safe” and “We are taking care of you.”

That is what gibberish like, “We are improving access options for all community interest groups” or “We are striving to innovate while listening to everyone’s concerns” means. Daily life has become filled with meaningless pats on the head like that, which dedicated liberal newspeakers spew up like newborns. This empty babble says nothing. It’s the hum of the beehive. The signal that keeps all the drones headed in the same direction.

… It owes less of its perversity to Marxism than it does to Madison Avenue. The language that was used to convince millions to buy junk that was bad for them or that they didn’t need is used to convince them to buy liberalism.

While the implications of Liberal Newspeak are ominous, its tones aren’t. It deliberately embraces the feminine side of language. It strives to be comforting, nurturing and soothing. It never tells you anything directly. Instead it makes you read everything between the lines. It rarely answers questions. Instead its answers indirectly explain to you why you shouldn’t even be asking the questions.

… Its terminology is so vague that specific questions require a convoluted assemblage of words … There is no room for thoughts, only feelings. You can feel guilty in Liberal Newspeak. You can be outraged, self-righteous or concerned. But you can’t weigh one idea against another because it isn’t a language of ideas. It’s a vocabulary of emotional cues that could just as easily be taught to a smart animal.

… what they are really doing is maintaining conformity in the same way that the Soviet and Red Chinese engineers constantly discussing Lenin and Mao as inspirations for their work…Liberal Newspeak is full of terms about listening, engaging and sharing, but it’s a closed loop.

It’s language as a command and control mechanism for establishing conformity… It’s an unbroken loop of reassuring gibberish punctuated by bursts of anger at outsiders who are not part of the hive and don’t understand how important community access and engaged listening really are.

… It has emotions, but no ideas. Its purpose is to take an individualistic culture… and reduce it to a conformity that promises safety in exchange for never thinking again.”

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COMMON CORE (AKA VOLDEMORT)

If you want to see one example of Greenfield’s idea applied to Common Core, simply look at the word Common Core.

It is the phrase that is most often unspoken. Like Voldemort.

In Utah, they call Common Core the “Utah Core”. In other states it has other names.

On the federal website, it is magically defined without even using the term at all!

“College and Career Ready Standards” are defined there as standards common to a significant number of states.

So any time –ANY TIME– you hear the phrase “college and career ready” you are being talked at, about Common Core.

But you don’t know that, or most people don’t.

You think it could be anybody’s legitimate definition of what makes a student prepared for a great career or a great college. Right? Nope. It means a mediocre standard that may or may not mean a student even studied as high as what used to be a normal course of high school math. (Just ask the NCEE or Jason Zimba.)

It’s all about the language.

The only way to fight manipulation of words and of truth is with its opposite: clear, direct, truthful language.

Thank you, Daniel Greenfield.

South Dakota House Bill 1204: No Common Core Without Public O.K.   Leave a comment

State of South Dakota
EIGHTY-EIGHTH SESSION
LEGISLATIVE ASSEMBLY, 2013

HOUSE BILL NO. 1204

Beginning on July 1, 2013, the Board of Education is hereby expressly prohibited from
adopting any standards proposed through the Common Core State Standards… without the approval of the Legislature first obtained.

You Are Invited: Public Information Meeting About Common Core – Provo, Utah   Leave a comment

  • If you live in Utah, please come to this informational meeting about Common Core at the Provo Library next week.