I am posting this piece by Rebecca Mead in the New Yorker with the caveat that California is not New York, and the disastrous experience New York has had with the Common Core will hopefully not be replicated in Berkeley, or anywhere in our state. Moreover, there has not been much of an “opt-out” movement in Berkeley among those who don’t like the idea of their children spending precious instructional hours practicing for tests that are of limited value to students, parents, or teachers. But I am posting the piece because I like how Mead describes the motivations of parents who challenge the status quo with respect to high-stakes testing:
[They] are not motivated by a deluded pride in their children’s unrecognized accomplishments, or by a fear that their property values will diminish if their schools’ scores’ drop. They are, in many cases, driven by a conviction that a child’s performance on a standardized test is an inadequate, unreliable measure of that child’s knowledge, intelligence, aptitude, diligence, and character—and a still more unreliable measure of his teachers’ effort, skill, perseverance, competence, and kindness.
I also appreciate her point that “parents who are least equipped to speak out are the mothers and fathers of the children who are most vulnerable—the most likely to have their educations diminished by months of repetitive test prep, most likely to find themselves reduced to the statistical data at the wrong end of the bell curve.” After all, it is entirely consistent to challenge the status quo on testing and still hold the belief that racial predictability in student achievement is inexcusable.
To this point, thankfully, New York’s experience has not been ours. If we (parents and teachers) are vigilant, we can work to ensure that we avoid the mistakes that have been made in New York.