The older I get, the more things stay the same

Summer hiatus is a challenge for me ; I am compulsively obsessed with education. However, this summer I have made an effort and, until today, have left my pile of things to consider in a far corner of our spare bedroom.

This week, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education approved implementation of the National Standards. Standard based education – and the testing that goes with it – is nothing new. We’ve been working with standards for years. The new standards – like it or lump it – will be tied to testing and most likely funding. Isn’t that the SOSDD?

There seems to have been a lot of debate about the merits of adopting the National Standards in Massachusetts. I don’t know for sure because 1) teachers are seldom invited to be part of the debates, and 2) most of this happened in the Spring when teachers are too busy with actual teaching to engage in investigations of new standards.  That would leave the politicos and “think tanks” to debate the merits. And despite the predictions of watering down the education (and testing!) of students, the Board adopted the National Standards.

So, we in Massachusetts, have something new to consider. As a grade level Math Lead, I downloaded the National Mathematics Standards for my grade level (thereby breaking my summer hiatus) and to be honest, they seem to be exactly what we focused on with just the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks . This is hardly a surprise. The Massachusetts Mathematics Frameworks have historically been based on National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Standards and, if what one reads in news outlets is correct, the National Standards are heavily influenced by the Massachusetts Frameworks.

Some who oppose(d) the adoption of the National Standards have predicted that this will mark the end of MCAS testing. Puh-leeze. If a single high-stakes do-or-die test is done away with in this state, I’ll fall off my chair. MCAS or something resembling it (and possibly dictated by the Feds) is here to stay. For those who think that a single test tells whether or not a child has a good education, whether or not a teacher is qualified, whether or not real estate can fetch top dollar because students score well (oops, let that little piece of sarcasm slip), relax! We can and will continue to spend inordinate amounts of time testing the students.

So what is all the uproar about? Maybe I’m missing something, but what I’ve seen doesn’t appear to be education Armageddon.

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