Can't we all just adapt?

Our extended hiatus from updating this blog should not be misconstrued as a resignation to the inevitability of Common Core, but may be attributed rather to the unwelcome escapades of Helicobacter pylori, for which amoxicillin and clarithromycin, both made available in the 1970’s, are part of the currently recommended recourse.  Although H. pylori are not (yet) one of the antibiotic resistant pathogens, Garry Trudeau, as drawn in a Doonesbury strip, aptly captured the contradiction of creationists’ belief that bacteria, too, exist in exactly the same form as when they were created, six millennia or so ago, by suggesting that believers not be allowed to utilize any antibiotic except for penicillin in its originally discovered form, which was indeed a potent slayer of infection 60+ years ago.
Photo source: http://microbewiki.kenyon.edu/index.php/Helicobacter


PARCC re ducks

Many textbooks and other materials are lightly edited and rebranded by their creators as Common Core aligned, but being there is no central ministry of education, as in Singapore, which reviews materials and issues an official government seal of approval, anyone can make such claims with impunity.  Some education departments are making their own determinations, such as NYC, which chose “Houghton Mifflin Harcourt's ‘Go Math’ program for elementary students, and Pearson's ‘Connected Math Program 3’ for the middle grades”, or Louisiana, which last year rejected “every math and reading textbook submitted by publishers”.

The precise wording of the 93-page Common Core State Standards for Mathematics notwithstanding, a lack of consistency in interim assessments, independently developed and posed to students in states such as Kentucky, New York, Illinois and North Carolina, raises the issue of whether these test questions accurately reflect the Standards and manifest Common Core’s intent, but no matter: states, too, are barreling ahead with no independent oversight.

Carol Burris, a principal at a high school on New York’s Long Island, whose essays are often published in the Washington Post blog The Answer Sheet, recently critiqued a math test for first graders and critiqued several sample math questions.  Lest we ourselves become completely overwhelmed by myriad Common Core offerings that run the gamut, we declined to pass specific comment on those independently written questions, and instead continue to focus on states’ sample and/or actual assessments and, to date, sample-only questions designed by the two  “official” consortia, SBAC and PARCC.

This preamble brings us to PARCC’s latest batch of sample items, twelve in total, released in early November, for Grades 3-6 (nothing new for Grades 7 or 8) and high school.  Fasten your seat belt…


Computer-based assessments

Our ongoing review of Common Core sample tasks from the SBAC and PARCC consortia and the State of Illinois, as well as questions that New York this year actually posed to students in the interim period before consortia assessments take over, has exposed issues with standards alignment, poor wording, incorrect mathematics, and odd interfaces, but no issue stands out more than this: none of the SBAC or PARCC extended tasks as of yet take advantage of technology’s capabilities in such a way to justify the transition to computer-based assessments.

Jason Becker, on his blog, characterized it this way:
[The SBAC tasks] represent the worst of computerized assessment. Rather than demonstrating more authentic and complex tasks, they present convoluted scenarios and even more convoluted input methods. Rather than present multimedia in a way that is authentic to the tasks, we see heavy language describing how to input what amounts to multiple choice or fill-in the blank answers. What I see here is not worth the investment in time and equipment that states are being asked to make, and it is hardly a ‘next generation’ set of items that will allow us to attain more accurate measures of achievement.