Standardized Tests Every Day: the Competency Based Education Scam

rocketship-charter-schools

IN THE NOT TOO DISTANT FUTURE:

Welcome to class, children.

Please put your hands down, and sit at your assigned seat in the computer lab.

Yes, your cubicle partitions should be firmly in place. You will be penalized if your eyes wander into your neighbors testing… I mean learning area.

Now log on to your Pearson Competency Based Education (CBE) platform.

Johnny, are you reading a book? Put that away!

Are we all logged on? Good.

Now complete your latest learning module. Some of you are on module three, others on module ten. Yes, Dara, I know you’re still on module one. You’ll all be happy to know each module is fully aligned with Common Core State Standards. In fact, each module is named after a specific standard. Once you’ve mastered say Module One “Citing Textual Evidence to Determine Analysis” you will move on to the next module, say “Determining Theme or Central Idea for Analysis.”

Johnny, didn’t I tell you to put away that book? There is no reading in school. You’re to read the passages provided by the good people at Pearson. No, you won’t get a whole story. Most of the passages are non-fiction. But I think there is a fun passage about a pineapple coming up in your module today. Isn’t that nice?

Laquan, you haven’t put on your headphones and started your module yet? You’ve been on module three for the past week. How can you learn at your own rate if you never progress beyond module three?

What’s that? Your mother wrote me a note? Let me see that.

Huh. So she wants to know how come you never get beyond module three. You should be able to answer that question for her, yourself, Laquan. (At least you could get that one right.)

Laquan, tell your mother that you haven’t passed the proficiency standard yet. You’ve taken all the remediation available on the computer program, haven’t you? Yes, that fun game where you answered multiple choice questions and when you got one correct the spaceship blasts an asteroid. And then you took the daily assessment but you just haven’t received a passing score yet. But don’t worry. I’m sure if you continue to do the same thing again today… eventually… you’ll get it right. It’s how the state and federal government determine whether you’ve learned anything on a daily basis.

In ancient times, teachers like me used to make up our own assignments. We’d give you books to read… Johnny, have you started yet? …whole books, novels, literature. And then we’d hold class discussions, class projects, act out scenes, draw posters, relate the books to your lives, write essays. But now all that silliness is gone.

Thanks to the good people at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Gates Foundation, and the Foundation for Excellence in Education, The state and federal government have mandated a much more efficient way of determining student learning. Back in the day, they forced schools to give one big standardized test in Reading and Math every year. Teachers would have to scramble with test prep material to make sure all learners could pass the test, because if students didn’t get passing marks, the teacher was out on her butt.

We’ve done away with such silliness now. Thankfully the government got rid of yearly high stakes standardized testing. What we do now is called Competency Based Education. That’s what this program is called. It’s kind of like high stakes standardized testing every day. So much more efficient, so much more data to use to prove you know this set of basic skills written by the testing companies with hardly any input from non-experts like classroom teachers.

That’s how the district became composed of 100% charter schools. No more inefficient school boards made up of community members. Today our schools are run by corporate CEOs who are experts at finding ways to cut corners and increase profits for their shareholders. And, ugh, make you learn good.

Hm. I seem to be talking too much. No one’s paying me to impart any information. I’m just supposed to make sure you’re all hooked up to the program and making satisfactory daily progress. Otherwise, I’ll be out of a job again.

You laugh, but it’s hard to get minimum wage work like this. Since the U.S. Supreme Court made labor unions all but illegal and public schools instituted CBE programs, teachers like me could no longer demand such exorbitant salaries. Now I make an honest living. Speaking of which, I may have to get out of here a few minutes early today to make it to my shift at WalMart. I’m greeter today!

And if you work hard, someday you can be, too!


NOTE: This article also was published on the Badass Teachers Association Blog and quoted extensively on Diane Ravitch’s blog.

 

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35 thoughts on “Standardized Tests Every Day: the Competency Based Education Scam

  1. Thanks!!! Great way to start my school day … gave me courage to know that I am not supporting the corporate agenda but am teaching (& learning) with real and lively and smart children!!!

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  2. This is phase 1 of CBE. For phase 2 will have most students plugging in at “community learning hubs.” I kid you not. They are quickly moving to a cyber model where stand alone school buildings with classes of students are no longer needed and kids just “drop-in” at decentralized spots-dead strip mall store fronts maybe?

    “George suggested that there are new models of blended online schooling around the corner (2011). Although the instructional delivery systems may vary, there will be parent demand for their children to have a safe place to learn. Horn reinforced this point, referring to his research that students solely using virtual schooling from home will cap at no more than 10 percent of the student population. Blended learning will likely serve the remaining 90 percent over time.

    Whether it is a school or a community center like the Tampa Virtual Learning Center in partnership with the YMCA, the buildings and staff skilled at high engagement will be needed to meet many of the elements of education, including child care, socialization, youth development, and hands- on experience like arts and music. Horn described his vision: “You will have this community center school model in the future. It’s flexible. Students can come in as they need to, with their families, learn material online as need be, and are supported by mentors and learning coaches.”

    Scary stuff in here: http://www.inacol.org/resource/its-not-a-matter-of-time-highlights-from-the-2011-competency-based-summit/

    “Learning Hubs”
    http://thehublab.com
    http://successvirtuallearningcenters.com/schools/three-rivers-community-schools-virtual-learning-center/
    http://www.greenbush.org/virtual-learning-centers.html
    http://www.bangorvikings.org/index.php/info/cec

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  3. […] We can update our broken system of student assessment. This may come as a surprise to our policymakers, but there are many ways to assess student learning that have nothing to do with standardized tests. For example, we can institute performance or portfolio-based assessments. Instead of evaluating students based on a snapshot of their performance on a given day or week, we can base it on a grading period or even an entire school year. Assessments can include projects, individual and group presentations, reports and papers and portfolios of work collected over time. You don’t have to be an education expert to realize these would be better measurements of academic achievement than multiple choice tests – BUT IT HELPS! And we can do this without resorting to stealth assessments like competency based education. […]

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