Matthew Sanders: Utah Common Core testing fraught with flaws

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  • Denverite Centennial, CO
    April 29, 2013 9:29 a.m.

    The next serious study showing that Matthew's platitudes of "reducing class size" and "improving technology" actually help--will be the first. They both seem, at first glance, to be logical and helpful--but nothing I've ever seen shows that they really are.

    The way to really make it interesting is--actually withhold graduation from kids who bomb their tests. Right now, the only people on the hook for lousy performance are some school personnel. Tell parents their kid's in school for another year because he's an idiot--and you'll see improvement right away (and probably cheating, too--but far less than what you see now because educator bonuses wouldn't be affected).

    The big problem with schools is the secret alliance between most parents and most teachers to blame each other for kids being idiots.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 28, 2013 8:17 p.m.

    Check again on your private school test scores thing. The best public schools perform as well as the private schools if not better. You can't convince me that Juan Diego is any better than Skyline, but a lot more expensive certainly. Private schools can discriminate based on money. They don't have to educate everyone but only those that can afford to pay.

    As far as the common core goes, well unless students and parents take more accountability for learning, it won't matter what the curriculum is. Also, the common core didn't invent testing and standards, that has long existed. I don't know if the common core is some magic bullet, I doubt it. It will fail because of other reasons, like the fact unless students own up to their own learning and parents owning up to their students learning, and quit blaming the teachers and schools and the unions or whatever, it won't matter much. The common core, and its detractors and proponents, are merely arguing over where to put the deck chairs on the Titanic.

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    April 28, 2013 3:32 p.m.

    Why is it that we need so much emphasis on new curriculum? Is it that all of our students have mastered everything we learned in school and are sitting by waiting for some new knowledge? Based on my interactions with many high school and college students, I don't think so. My children have attended both public and private schools. The private schools seem to be much less concerned with jumping on every fad. They also seem to have higher test scores.

    Yes we need to update some of the curriculum, especially in biology and computers due to advances in technology. However, we are failing miserably in subjects that do not change all that often as well. The US is near the bottom of the industrialized nations in math and the ability of students to use their own language. How about we stop shuffling the deck chairs on the titanic and pay attention to the gaping hole in the side.

  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    April 26, 2013 8:53 p.m.

    Bountiful, UT

    You have a point. With public education these days, our choices seem to be, blindly accepted a expensive program that is forced on us by the federal government or, lose big federal incentives and money. And then we would have come up with the testing and curriculum on our own. Some people would call it "fascism" employed by our ideologically driven central government. What would you call this use of coercion and lack of freedom to have a say in decisions that deeply affect our lives.

  • 10CC Bountiful, UT
    April 26, 2013 10:49 a.m.

    What I don't understand about the Common Core opponents is that pulling out of of Common Core will require more local curricula and testing development, ie, more people working in the various school district offices, or the State office of Education... basically more people who aren't teaching.

    Isn't that one of the major objections to our current system in Utah, too much money spent on non-teachers?

    Or is the underlying goal to shift money spent on public schools to private business, that Common Core represents a threat if public education starts better preparing students through more robust curricula and testing?

  • Owen Heber City, UT
    April 26, 2013 8:26 a.m.

    I'm not sure I understand Matt's logic. The headline and editiorial refer to tests yet to be conducted on standards yet to be implemented. Then he finishes with this: "While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don't seem to make the grade. How about a rewrite?"

    How can he assess standards that are neither fully implemented or tested? What would a re-write be based on?

    On evidence: if on the effectiveness of testing, AIR provides its bonafides to anyone who asks; if on the core standards, ask a teacher how they are adapting to them, the vast majority like them - a few don't.
    On student data: the USOE may not provide references, but a short online search reveals both federal and state protections.
    On better uses for $39 million: darn right, this money could have been put to better use had not core opponents forced our state to go it alone on testing.

    There are options for parents who don't want to join Utah and 44 other states in trying to keep up with the world (34th internationally?) -- home school please. More jobs for my kids if you do.

  • Hamath Omaha, NE
    April 26, 2013 6:06 a.m.

    Generally, I'm supportive of the idea of standards (that are adjusted as the need arises), but rushing into it with bad testing is a bad idea. Still Adaptive testing seems to be a good idea from what I've seen. The technique, used by the GRE for years now, has a lot of upsides, not the least of which is the fact that it cuts testing time down dramatically. Great article.

  • WestGranger West Valley City, Utah
    April 26, 2013 12:34 a.m.

    Fine article that pose many important questions that are being ignored by the local and national media. This is a another major project that will profoundly affect our lives for years and that was quickly pushed through with little of NO PUBLIC SCRUTINY. Mr. Sanders points out that the $39 million could be better spent to reduce class size and invest in technology increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah's rising student population.
    States were given just TWO MONTHS TO REVIEW it and were given REWARDS for accepting it. Even Basic SUPPORTIVE RESEARCH was missing. Are we all just to stand by like sheep an bow down submissively to the supposedly superior intellects who are the administrators of our relatively poor performing public educational system? If we are to believe that this change is for the better than where is the transparency, open public discussion? Why push it through so quickly?. Where is the vast majority of media in protecting the parent's right to know? Thank you Mr. Sanders!