Letter: Core teaching

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  • Coach P Provo, UT
    July 10, 2014 11:17 p.m.

    Here's what testing might look at your average Utah high school.

    For years, the testing has shut down computer lab access for the last six weeks to school (because of testing). This year over 400 students in our school initially missed their testing. Since 98% of the students have to be tested by law, the race is on to get the testing done before school is out. I would anticipate that 5% of our student body misses school in any one day. Then many come to school just to miss school. So all in all, an estimated one-fourth of our student body missed one of the tests on the initial test dates.

    So what happens next? Well, they have to be tracked down and if they happen to be in your class they often then have to miss your class, say Social Studies, to take their English or Math or Science Sage Test. Often times, as birder mentioned, the time needed to take these tests is quite substantial, and may take up more than one class period. Of course, trying to teach with students coming and going constantly is difficult.

  • RedShirtMIT Cambridge, MA
    July 10, 2014 2:52 p.m.

    To "birder" here is the question that will irritate many. By the end of the year, do those tests tell you anything about each student that you didn't already notice in their school work? In other words, what value were the standardized tests in teaching the students?

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2014 2:03 p.m.

    We were required to give a practice test before each of the three state-mandated SAGE tests. Each practice test took 60-90 minutes on the computer. Same for each SAGE test. Also, my students had to spend 15-20 min daily doing keyboarding practice so that they could keyboard well enough to do the essay portions of the test. Most kids do not keyboard very quickly, and that limits their ability to do well. Also, districts have the option of doing preliminary SAGE testing in the fall. That doubles the testing time. We also had to administer the Direct Writing Assessment, which was another 90 minutes of testing plus many hours of prep. I didn't keep track of how many.

    That didn't include the district-mandated testing: Testing reading levels monthly, 3 more computerized reading assessments, and 3 more non-computerized reading assessments. We also had to do math pretests and post tests plus math benchmarks 3 times per year. And we were supposed to do additional math testing weekly. Then we had spelling and vocabulary assessments weekly, plus testing in science and social studies. I've probably forgotten some, but you get the idea.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 10, 2014 1:25 p.m.

    Maybe we should make sure our kids know the government will be using the results of these tests to judge the worth of our kids (to society)?

    I'm just being fictitious, but this kind of pressure IS put on elementary students in Japan.

    Parents compete to get their kids in the toughest pre-schools, so their kid will be well disciplined to perform better than other students in their elementary school. Because how you perform on standardized tests determines which high school you will be placed in. If you get super high scores, you get placed in a high school that prepares students for college, and a lottery-type chance of getting into the few elite Universities (if you qualify for one of these elite Universities... your future is virtually guaranteed).

    Score lower and you get placed in the "technical" or "Agricultural" high school. Where you are trained to be a drone on an assembly line, or work in the rice fields.

    No wonder they have such high parent AND student suicide rates after these test scores are announced.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    July 10, 2014 10:45 a.m.

    To "birder" will you please tell us how many hours and days of teaching you lose to each of the standardized tests that our kids are required to take?

  • birder Salt Lake City, UT
    July 10, 2014 10:10 a.m.

    As a teacher with 32 years of experience, the current school climate of constant testing is damaging to kids. And Common Core is exacerbating the problem. Because of state and district requirements which are driven by the threat of withdrawal of federal funding for those who do not comply, teachers now have time to ONLY teach to the tests. I look at what I could do years ago (not fluff but certainly more enriching to kids) and what I have to do now, and there is no comparison. Yes, we need to evaluate student achievement, but not 80,000 times a year. Adults in their daily jobs would rise up in rebellion if they had to do what we expect the kids to do.

  • Midvaliean MIDVALE, UT
    July 10, 2014 9:13 a.m.

    I learned to read at home, which is why I love to read.

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    July 10, 2014 7:46 a.m.

    To "one old man" and "FreedomFighter41" I got that information from the CC web site and the Utah Core web site. They are not hiding what they are doing. It is thanks to the ignorance of the masses that don't bother to actually dig and think about what they are saying that has allowed CC to progress as far as it has.

    Tell us, what is a "managed economy", and do you want your children and grandchildren to be raised in one?

    As for Asia, they also have 20 to 40 days more of instruction at school and are prone to have massive amounts of homework during breaks. If you want to compare things, please find an equivalent culture to compare the US to.

    Why should anybody beyond the principal and the parents in the schools be dictating the curriculum in the schools?

  • The Real Maverick Orem, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:48 p.m.

    Howard Beal nailed it.

    As someone who has actually fought in the trenches (and not just listened to am radio) I know the importance of class size. Many utahns just assume that increased spending in education will go for salaries. Not true. We need to get the class size down. Real learning cannot happen when class sizes are 40+. We don't need any more voucher nonsense, $300 million dollar handouts for iPads, and endless evaluations and testing. It's simple: lower class size and give the educators (the soldiers in the trenches) the material they need to win this war.

    Becky Lockhart, Howard Stephenson, Gayle Rusicka, and governor Herbert, get out of the way!

  • RBB Sandy, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:09 p.m.

    I am less concerned about creative teaching than I am effective teachings. We have 5 kids. Two attended a school that taught whole language (though they claimed to teach phonics). My kids struggled for several years to learn to read. The other three went to Challenger - all were reading well BEFORE first grade. It was using the Challanger materials that helped the other two catch up.

    While teachers may get masters degrees by coming up with new programs, I simply want the teachers of my children to use what works. I have seen the new math and half the time I cannot understand what they are even asking. I teach my children how to solve the problem but then they get marked wrong because they did not follow the illogical steps they are being taught in school.

    How it is that with all of the technology and new programs we have, literacy today is below the level of literacy at the time of the American Revolution? Please less creativity and more teachers who know and can teach their subjects. Likewise - we need more parents who actually pay attention to their children's education.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    July 9, 2014 8:13 p.m.

    As I've said before, the common core won't revolutionize education in any positive form, especially here in Utah, unless class sizes are reduced. I would suggest that curriculum has always existed, I mean most teachers taught something to their students before the core. The endless standardized testing needs to stop. Besides killing a huge amount of class time and endless resources to chase down absent students and taking them out of the classes they attend to do these tests, this emphasis on testing is killing creative teaching and creative learning from the students. Teachers use evaluations already, many are actually authentic evaluations of learning that go beyond bubble tests.

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    July 9, 2014 5:51 p.m.

    Redshirt has his information wrong? Gee, now that's a surprise!

    The drive to change our education system to an Asian system of endless standardized testing and focuses on math and science began under Reagan and has been promoted by repubs ever since. Here's an idea, let educators have control of eduction! Why should the Koch bros or Gayle Ruzika have control? Why should they have any say? Gayle has no say when it comes to telling doctors how to do their jobs. So why should she have any say in telling teachers?

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 9, 2014 4:49 p.m.

    RedShirt -- I don't know where you got the information you quoted, but it is simply totally wrong. At least it is in Utah, but you are from California. I guess anything is possible there.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 9, 2014 4:33 p.m.

    Its NOT a partisan thing. The problem for me is the "Big Government" aspect. The lessening of local control and increase of National control over education.

    The Constitution (yes that again)... says nothing about public education. Not a word. The Constitution defines and limits the power of government. This is an EXPANSION of government.

    Education IS essential, but that public education shouldn't be micromanaged through Washington. Comprehending why education appears nowhere in the Constitution is a key to understanding why the American experiment in self-government is at once so brilliant and so fragile.

    The founding fathers crafted a constitution to establish a strong central government empowered to do certain jobs the states could not manage effectively on their own. Providing a common defense, ensure a contract signed in one state is binding in another, etc.

    But they also understood there were jobs the federal government could NOT do better than the states, and hence should not do. Education was foremost among them.

    We elect school boards because we believe local oversight is better than deference to far-flung bureaucracies. And parents know what their children need better than officials in distant capitols.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    July 9, 2014 4:03 p.m.

    Good teachers know how to make reading exciting. Common Core -- like the current Utah Core -- simply measures how good a job they and their students are doing.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    July 9, 2014 2:45 p.m.

    To those who think Common Core is a program of either the democrats or the republicans, you are wrong. It is a produce of work by educators, supported by coalitions of state governments. It is not a partisan product.

  • 2 bits Cottonwood Heights, UT
    July 9, 2014 2:19 p.m.

    I asked about Common Core at my recent Caucus meeting (I know... those evil opportunities to gather with neighbors to discuss the issues of the day, including politics)....

    But I digress... Anyway, the teachers in the room expressed that they had no problem with the curriculum. It was not different than we currently teach, just a lot more tests. Their main issue was with the data mining, and having individual students identified in those databases forever, with no means of opting out.

    They are my neighbors. I know them. I trust their expertise and their opinion on education. So I have decided Common Core is not a big problem... but the data mining is.... So I'm going to keep bringing it up. Because all the people who are up in arms about the NSA spying... should be WAY more concerned about this. Microsoft, colleges, banks, credit companies, corporations, and all their data partners they sell the data too, mining this data and making hiring decisions, or customizing their marketing to you and your child. Just seems creepy and 1984 big-brother-ish...

  • RedShirtCalTech Pasedena, CA
    July 9, 2014 12:20 p.m.

    To "FreedomFighter41" republicans didn't come up with Common Core. That was a purely Democrat idea.

    Before anybody reconsiders their view of CC, lets look at what it does to teaching. Not even considering curriculum, it requires 1 week of test prep in the fall, and again in the spring, and a week of testing after the test prep. That means that each school year your kids will lose 20 days of teaching. They only get 180 days of classroom time, so 20 days is 11% of their school year gone to just this one test. The test does not take all day, but the disruption it causes turns those days into non-teaching days.

    Next, consider the purpose of CC. According to the CC web site, the tests are to be used to guide your children through a managed economy. That is a nice way of saying that the government will determine your child's career path.

    Here is a point all will agree on. The cost of testing. Why are we going to spend more money on testing? Many say we don't spend enough on teacher salaries, so why waste money on testing?

  • FreedomFighter41 Provo, UT
    July 9, 2014 9:52 a.m.

    Starting with Reagan's, "A Nation at Risk" program, the republicans have waged a war on public education. They have forced reforms down our throats to privatize education for their campaign contributors and to focus on math and science.

    This has increased the headache for teachers and students alike. More red tape, more standardized testing, and less creative teaching. It has been done purposely and with precision.

    Don't like the direction that education is going? Stop voting republican.