The timing of a letter from the Gates Foundation is suspect with Oklahoma and South Carolina’s plan to rewrite their standards, and other states like Missouri and North Carolina waiting in the wings, as well as, the interview with Bill Gates that Washington Post published. Vicki Phillips, the Director of Education, College Ready at the Gates Foundation, wrote in “A Letter to our Partners” that Common Core assessments should be administered and scored but rendered pointless.
They are seemingly doing a 180 as they have pushed a speedy implementation in the past.
The applicable part of the letter:
Common-core aligned assessments play a crucial role in delivering on the standards’ promise. They measure students’ abilities in critical thinking and problem solving. They will give teachers, parents and students the information they need to improve learning. They’re an indispensable part of the Common Core, and they’re undergoing a careful practice run right now.
It’s valuable for students to actually take the Common Core-aligned tests without consequences during this period, so that teachers can get familiar with the tests, have a chance to offer their feedback, and get a feel for the students’ successes and challenges. It is an important part of the process of arriving at fair and reliable tests.
Including the assessment results in teacher evaluations even though they won’t count for two years also has benefits: First, the teachers can begin to use the assessments to inform their practice, and second, teachers can see how their performance looks using these measures and make sure it lines up with other measures of teaching practice. This is crucial in building teacher trust in the assessments.
In our view, allowing two years in which assessments will be administered and scored but not yet taken into account strikes the best balance between a commitment to teacher evaluations that measure student learning and a commitment to ensure that teachers will not be harmed as they complete the transition to the Common Core.
Obviously they want to avoid the nightmare scenario they saw in New York in other states which will only fuel the fire of repealing the Common Core. It will also allow the Common Core to become even further entrenched in our classrooms which is what they really want.