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November 16, 2015

All Aboard the Doomed Train

Cindy A. Rose

While Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent, Dr. Theresa Alban is busy rolling out the Partnership of Assessments for Readiness in College and Career (PARCC) propaganda train and drumming up public support to deny parents their right to exempt their children, PARCC is in a death knell.


After being bribed in 2009 with hundreds of millions of dollars in Race to The Top funding, 24 states signed on to be part of the PARCC Consortium. Maryland received over $250 million to abandon Maryland’s locally written standards and replace them with Common Core, corporate outsider written, standards and PARCC assessments.


Now that it’s completely implemented – last year was our first year testing it, we’ve learned what the real experts said it was, a colossal failure.


Dr. Alban and her band of professional propagandists are on a mission directed by the Maryland State Department of Education to convince the public these are “exciting” times. “We expected these results.”


I agree, we expected these results, but not because of the false claims of “the test is more rigorous” – as in complex. They are “confusing” and “poorly written,” that’s why. Exceptionally bad if you are economically disadvantaged, non-English speaking, special education and/or a minority.


Some lessons are scripted. Teachers are given a packet of information for a chosen lesson, complete with what he/she is supposed to say to the class; what to expect the class to say in response, and how to lead them to the correct conclusion.


Sound like critical thinking to you? Me neither. It’s all quite diabolical in that “Little Shop of Horrors” kind of way.


So. this is a snippet of the “exciting” and magical test that is supposed to tell Mother and Father how little Sally and Johnny are doing compared to Mark and Lucy two states over. Except it can’t possibly do that. Not only can this test NOT compare our children to children in other states, it can’t compare your child to the child who sat next to him/her in the testing area.


PARCC assessment questions change depending on the answer.  On question #1, if I answer A, I get question 3 next. If you answer B, you get question 6 next. Both A and B are correct answers. How’s that? Many of the PARCC questions are subjective.


How does a scorer grade a subjective test? Good question. They begin with placing an ad on Craig’s List. Valerie Strauss, of the Washington Post, wrote about it here in 2013. Other stories can be found here and here. All I know is this: if you have to hunt for test scores on Craig’s List, your test is more problematic than beneficial.


Also concerning the comparing of our chubby-cheeked cherubs, there’s no longer 24 states to pretend you are comparing them with. It wasn’t a selling point for a lot of parents, but others love to brag about how their children are smarter than their neighbor’s children.


I believe during last year’s round of assessments, 11 states and Washington DC participated. For this upcoming round 2015-16 there are six states and Washington, DC. I hope you’re asking where did everybody go.


They left. They saw the dangerous, ineffective and expensive light at the end of the tunnel and jumped from the train. At least they are giving appearances they’ve jumped.


PARCC is now busy trying to save itself from its inevitable plunge off a cliff. It isn’t even trying to pretend it’s still a “standardized” test. Now it’s offering safety ropes via “a la carte” selections for states to choose from to make the entire process easier.


Superintendent Alban, being the good little soldier that she is, is busy herding our school system of inspirational teachers, innovative teens, innocent youngsters, and prideful parents onto the Funeral Train. What a real leader would do is sound the alarm, pull the emergency stop chain and usher everyone off before more damage can be done.


While PARCC is throwing out safety ropes to the remaining states, the Maryland State Department of Education keeps directing county superintendents: “Full speed ahead, in hopes to try and convince parents and communities that all is well in the doomed village of Assessmentville.

Twitter: CSRose1963


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