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Learning Constant, Time Variable

August 26, 2013

A few day ago I commented on Charles Blow’s column on the Common Core. In the column he remarked that in implementing the Common Core, “we” (presumably he means policy makers) prioritized testing over teacher. The comment I made used that turn of phrase to summarize my thinking on the Common Core as it relates to the Factory School model:

Schools have always prioritized testing over teaching. We operate schools like factories where children are expected to proceed through academic instruction at the same rate despite their varied backgrounds, despite the reality that each child’s intellectual growth— like their physical growth— happens at different rates, and despite the fact that formal schooling occurs only six hours a day after a child reaches the age of five. For decades, we have punished students who fail tests they are unprepared for. When No Child Left Behind was adopted and large groups of unprepared students failed tests, schools were punished.  Soon, if “reformers” have their way, teachers will be punished when unprepared students fail tests. The Common Core provides a definition of WHAT we expect students to learn. In order for the Common Core or ANY agreed upon curriculum to be implemented, we need to administer tests to students when they are prepared to take them… not when we need to administer them for administrative convenience. If we really want to reform schools, we should make learning constant and time variable.

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