Monday, March 10, 2014

Smarter Balanced Assessments: If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding

Starting to get notes in the email about preparing for the upcoming Smarter Balanced Assessment field trials this spring. These are trial runs of the nationwide standardized Common Core tests that are supposed to be rolled out next school year, and as far as I can tell, will replace the STAR tests this year, at least at our elementary school.

First of all, and least important, Smarter Balanced Assessment is a terrible name. It reminds me of this:

or maybe I'm thinking of this:

or was it this:

In any case, dumb name. Talk about standardized-test-driven curriculum squashing creativity. Clearly standardized-test-related careers do the same thing.

Okay, now on to my main point, which is also kind of a side note to the larger issues of standardized tests, Common Core, and their effect on schools, students, and society.

My son reports that his teacher is telling his class that they are required to take the test, and that they will not be allowed to advance to the next grade level if they do not do well on it.


1. Bulllloney. It's illegal to hold a child back strictly on the basis of his or her score a statewide/nationwide standardized test.
2. The purpose of the test, whether we believe in the test or not, is to measure the school, not the individual student. 
2. Anyone can legally opt out with a letter.
3. The test isn't even a real test yet. It's a test of a test. Results can't count for real, anyway.

We're going out of town during the testing window anyway, so it doesn't matter for us. Still. How very vexing.