The Keys to College and Career Readiness

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By Anna Litten
My 9 year old doesn’t know how to type.  I don’t often worry about the typing skills of kids, but since he’s taking the PARCC test on a computer this week, his words per minute really count. 

This year, my son is one of 4,370 third graders in Boston taking the PARCC assessment. According to the Massachusetts Department of Education, PARCC *require(s) students to speak and write in a variety of formats and support their ideas with evidence from authoritative sources.* PARCC calls on students to bring high-level thinking skills to their work.  I love the push to ask kids to think and engage with information but I also wonder about that typing.  Will poor typing get in the way of real assessment?  Continue reading →

Most Likely 2 Succeed

Venture capitalist-turned-documentary-producer Ted Dintersmith is a fierce critic of test and measure, and no excuses charter schools. And he offers a compelling vision of what schools could look like….

Ted-Dintersmith-964x670-482x335EduShyster: Your new film, Most Likely to Succeed, makes a convincing case that the obsession with standardized testing is leading us over a cliff—and not into a sea of innovation. Why? And keep in mind that there is only one correct answer and that I’m timing you.

Ted Dintersmith: Well, it all depends on how you see the goal of education. If the goal is to teach kids year after year to shut down their creative thinking and stop asking questions, we’re doing a great job. Is school about learning vocabulary and math through repetition and drilling under time pressure? Or is it about doing complicated challenging things that you care about and learning to persevere and be creative and resourceful? Continue reading →

What It Looks Like When Test Prep Eats Ur School

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It looks like this, as a matter of fact. This is an actual report card from a fifth grade student in Massachusetts whom we will call Ginny, in place of the inevitable Johnny. A note on the notations: the slash marks indicate *not introduced at this time,* meaning that Ginny seems to have gone entirely history/social studies/and map free during the all important spring testing season. The *D* stands for developing, as Ginny likely spent much of her time developing short essays in response to the out-of-context passages she spent most of the rest of her time reading. That is when she wasn’t honing her math skills. Continue reading →

The High-Stakes Pipeline

A Boston student explains the connection between high-stakes testing, harsh discipline policies and the school-to-prison pipeline…

By De’Anthony Robinson

De’Anthony Robinson addresses fellow students at the Statehouse. Robinson and his classmates won this year’s Generation Citizen Changemaker award for their research into harsh discipline policies and how they push kids into the school-to-prison pipeline.

I am De’Anthony Robinson and I am a student at Brighton High. I am just weeks away from graduating from high school.  I am incredibly proud of that.  But as I travel back and forth across the city for school every day, I see many of my friends who are not going to make it.  Out of all of my childhood friends, only two will graduate.  Like many young people of color in this city and country, they are struggling to finish school.  They feel alienated from their education because of issues like high stakes tests, unfair discipline policies and schools that just don’t help them feel successful.  My friends are not on a good path in life and there are so many that others like them.  In fact only 59 percent of young black men graduate from high school and only 65 percent of young Latino men graduate. One out of every three black men and one out of every six Latino men will serve time in prison. Continue reading →

P is for PARCC, Pearson and Pushback (and Peeps)

Before the first day of PARCC testing, the results are in. Push back against indefensible state policies and the state will crack.

peepsThe special time you’ve been waiting for has at last arrived, boys and girls. It’s PARCC testing week! Think Easter but with a few key differences. Like instead of hunting for eggs, you’re after *college and career readiness.* Also, those Peeps in your basket aren’t for realz but are being *piloted* to help determine what should go in your basket next year. Which is to say that it’s never a good idea to put all of the kids’ eggs in one basket, even if the state’s chief educational standards bunny happens to serve as the chair of an egg distributor.  Continue reading →