Tag Archives: Common Core Standards

Do Androids Dream of Computer-Graded Essay Tests?

In a recent opinion piece in The New York Times, “When the Circus Descends,” David Brooks derided opponents of Common Core Standards, implying that they were clownish ideologues on the far left and far right making “hysterical claims and fevered accusations.” But as I visit classrooms across the city talking to teachers about the Common Core, I don’t hear any hysterical claims or fevered accusations. I do hear one deep concern:

That the test will be a disaster.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t talked to anybody—anybody!—who objects to the actual Common Cores Standards. The Standards are incredibly general; basically, they value the processes of analytical reasoning, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Teachers I’ve talked to are excited about pushing their students to read  thoughtfully and support their claims with evidence.  In other words, the Standards are like the education version of Peace, Love and Understanding. Who could possibly object?

The problem is that we are about to test the standards—and people do not like the tests. Continue reading Do Androids Dream of Computer-Graded Essay Tests?

Why Raising The Standards Won’t Make Kids Read

I recently sat in on a class in which none of the students had done the reading. It was an 11th grade English class; they were reading a fat canonical American novel, maybe 350 pages long. And none of them had read it—at least not the chapter they were supposed to have read the night before.

The teacher, a smart, dedicated older man, stood in front of the class trying to lead a class discussion. Crickets.

As the teacher stood lobbing question after question, the kids sat at their desks making eye contact with no one, shifting uneasily in their seats and waiting for the time to pass so they could leave.

Reader, I’ve been there. Maybe not in a situation where all of my students didn’t do the reading, but often when a very substantial number did not, a situation that would inevitably put me into a panic of misery, shame and frustration. What should I have done? What was I doing wrong? If the kids didn’t read the book, how could they write an essay that meant anything? Continue reading Why Raising The Standards Won’t Make Kids Read