On Tuesday, I attended a CCSS training in an old ratty training center that is supposed to be central for everyone, but I'm not buying it. On the way there, I got into a minor accident that had me all shaky the rest of the day (very minor, everything is just fine!) I met a sweet blog reader (Hi Ellie!) while I was there, so that was cool. But I have to say I was getting a tiny bit frustrated with some of what was being said at the training.
One of the sessions started with a blurb about America's decline in regard to global education rankings. I'm wondering how this measure is taken. It's not as though every country is giving the same assessment. Heck, not every state is giving the same assessment. Is it taken into account that as a nation we accept every single child into our schools with open arms, regardless of mental or physical disabilities, race, religion or value placed on education, which is not the case in some of the countries we're being compared to. But more importantly, I can't help but think that the tests that are given to today's students are markedly more difficult and complex than those given to students years ago. The bar is consistently being raised and the standards are getting ever higher. Case in point: one of the trainers shared a current sample test question for third graders. Here it is:
Did you guess the right answer? It's I. The third grader is supposed to be able to understand that they should use the variable 'b' to stand for the total number of beach balls, then divide it by the number of friends at the party if each one got 2 balls.
I grew up in the 80's, the era when we were supposedly more "globally competitive". I will tell you that my third grade math test did NOT look like that. Maybe my 6th grade test, but definitely not third grade. My third grade test would have just asked me to find the answer to the question, not formulate an equation with a variable that could be used to solve it. So when it's stated that the American students' test scores have slipped so much, I keep thinking about things like this. What are we comparing? If we gave today's fifth graders the same test I took as a fifth grader, would it look like we've made amazing progress as I suspect, or would it still show a steep decline? Is it me? What do you think?
I don't want to seem like I'm against CCSS, because I'm not. I'm fully embracing it and I'm excited about it. I also don't want to seem like I'm against raising the bar for our students. I think it's necessary and possible. I'm just worried about the way the results of today's test scores are compared to those of years ago when the tests are nowhere near the same level. I'm not suggesting we use the test from years ago, but comparing the results is kind of like apples and oranges.
So, enough of my soap-box for today. I will leave you with the one thing that did crack me up at the training. During one portion, a trainer had the full attention of about 35 teachers in the room when she said that the one thing she'd really like to see a lot more of in elementary school classrooms is porn! The poor woman turned about 12 different shades of red. She meant to say poems! When someone asked her, she admitted that she was reading 50 Shades of Grey... I guess that story sticks with ya!!