Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Common Core -> New Tests -> Curriculum Aligned to Tests

E.D. Hirsch:

If textbook publishers hear the message “more nonfiction” instead of “coherent curriculum” then the effort will have come to little. Slapping random nonfiction (duly tested for complexity) into existing textbooks will be no more effective than the reading of random fiction has been.

Hirsch doesn't seem to understand the plan being implemented. There's no pretense of going from standards to curriculum to assessments of understanding of the curriculum. There are the standards, there will be assessments of the standards -- of the enumerated standards, not Common Core or anyone else's commentary on the standards, not of knowledge of the recommended texts. There will be curriculum, textbooks, etc. aligned to the assessments. There will be increasing emphasis on online assessment which is detached from the rest of the curriculum, e.g., sign up for this module of you need reading social studies 4. There will be increasing use of regular diagnostic tests at higher grade levels for specific reading standards, e.g., this group needs to work on comparing structured poems to free verse, while this one works on analyzing how a dramatic production of a work departs from the original text. There will be standards-based assessment, where the standards are not "understandings," "skills," or "knowledge," but tasks.

That's the plan, and it ain't a secret.


Joan NE said...

HI Tom - your blog is intriguing me. Are you in R.I.? I am in Seattle. My school district has been hijacked by the Broad Foundation. There is nothing positive to say about the accomplishments and priorities of the current leadership.

A link to your blog popped up when I was following up on an article about Deborah Girts and high stakes testing.

It seems to me that HST is the lynchpin of regressive corporatist education reform. Do you have an opinion on this, one way or the other?

Tom Hoffman said...

Hi Joan,

Yes, I am in Providence.

I've been mulling over your question.

One thing to definitely keep in mind is that this is not a movement of psychometricians. IT is not a group of people who care deeply about or understand the technical aspects of assessment. Their experts are mostly economists, who are perfectly willing to "assume a can opener, I mean, a valid measure of the educational process."

They're willing to use and abuse test scores to suit whatever their immediate aims are.

Regarding the ELA Common Core standards it is pretty clear to me that since the methods they prefer break down at the high school level, they're going to change the definition of the discipline to make it fit their preferred processes.