Deal with it, Dept.

The LA Times is running a story (as many California papers are) that addresses the results of the test scores for 2016-17 in California. These are the tests called the CASSPP which is just the SBAC test renamed.  Scores didn’t increase quite as much as everyone hoped, so now many parties representing various educational interests are coming up with reasons of what is possibly going wrong.

This particular stance from a former “technical advisor” for the people who make SBAC is intriguing:

Cizek was a technical advisor for the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium, which developed the California tests.  In the past, he said, when states adopted new standardized exams, students’ scores increased as they and their teachers became accustomed to the format and questions. But he described the California tests as a “different animal.”   

“They’re requiring changes in classrooms to get gains,” he said. “You’re not going to budge this needle much if fundamentally the way kids are being taught doesn’t change.”

Oh, so kids aren’t being taught the right way, or too much traditional teaching going on?This wouldn’t have to do with “the shifts” that Common Core supposedly requires, would it?  Or that students must be taught math with understanding and not rote? And that students must learn to think and “problem solve”?  It wouldn’t be that would it? (For more on the “shifts”, see this piece.)

Last year I taught in a traditional manner; in my algebra class I even used the Dolciani textbook “Modern Algebra” from 1962.  The students had to take the 8th grade test; there was no separate 8th grade algebra exam.  One of my students got a perfect score.  All were in the highest category. Similarly in my 7th grade class. To all who say my arguments prove nothing and what’s more they lack nuance, you’re right.

Same goes for most of the spin about Common Core.

Deal with it.


4 thoughts on “Deal with it, Dept.

  1. Also, a proper math education has to offer opportunities to individuals, not just look at a statistical mean. A low CCSS proficiency slope mean is NOT STEM compatible, but they still can’t meet their goals. What’s left to blame if traditional math teaching in most all K-6 schools has not been seen in decades?


    • Yes! Schools never ask their best students what type of help they got at home and with tutors – those who got on the fast math track in 7th grade. For high school, it’s easy to see that the best math students are the ones going through a traditional AP Calculus track set of courses. Integrated math lost. Some then call these students “zombies”, but never show any better student examples of what they offer. Still, colleges expect to see SAT I and II scores, AP Calculus track class grades, AMC test scores, and AP test scores. It’s fuzzy ed school pedagogy versus reality. CCSS has no meaning for students headed for college, but that’s their modern meme – college for all. It’s a set-up for failure if you look to CCSS for college preparation feedback. Most all parents and high school teachers know that.

      If they claimed that their PBL methods work better for the “rest” of the students, then I might consider it, except for the fact that they treat ALL students as the “rest” starting in Kindergarten. How many STEM-capable students are permanently ruined by these techniques and lower expectations? However, I don’t even agree that these techniques work best for the “rest.” If they need to pass the Accuplacer test for vocational school or need to pass two semesters of calculus in college for a marine biology degree, how prepared are they? The math education world is not bimodal – Differential Equations versus no remediation for College Algebra. When I taught college math and CS, I saw many students who had to change their majors (like nursing) because they couldn’t pass a college statistics course. Nobody is showing high school (and younger) students exactly what level of math and science they need for their dream major, or even vocational school. That is what the real world expects, not the silly analysis that CCSS is based on – college for all with no remediation.


  2. We started homeschooling one kid about a year after common core started in California. From homeschooling her, I learned that you don’t have to teach common core to get perfect scores on the caassp test. You don’t have to teach common core in math OR English.

    I did have my kid do part of a review workbook that had sample common core tests. The workbook had rubrics for grading, so she knew how she was going to be graded on the test. This was particularly helpful for her to learn how she was supposed to answer the written math questions. Outside of that, I didn’t have to pay that much attention to common core, and I was able to spend my time following the homeschooling curricula of my choice.


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