A principal and science teacher in a southern Minnesota middle school tried to convince students who opted out of taking the NWEA MAP test last week that their parents misunderstood the assessments and were conveying false information to them about the nature of the assessments.
Some students recorded their principal talking to students who opted out of the assessments waiting in their school’s cafeteria while the assessments were administered.
The name of the school, principal and teacher are being withheld by request of the parents.
Here is audio from the first day,
I am just including the last almost five minutes of the audio file. Update: At the request of a couple different people I’m sharing the longer audio file with a redaction of a student’s name and teacher’s name. I did trim one-and-a-half minutes at the beginning which included smaller group discussion and was inaudible.
She gives an apology for data collection, and during her remarks she actually discusses an individual student’s results with the students gathered which, even though he performed well, is a violation of privacy (not included in the audio file I’m sharing). She then discusses “misconceptions” surrounding the test after asking students if they knew the difference between the NWEA and MCA assessments.
The principal said, “I talked to some of your parents and some of your parents did not have all of the knowledge correct either. Some of your parents didn’t even say the right tests. They called it by a different name. I am not telling you this in order to persuade you. I’m totally cool with what you decide to do, but I also… my job is to give you the information and the knowledge to make an educated decision.”
She then asked why kids were opting out. One said because they had mono. Another said because their parent told them not to. Another said because “there is Common Core in it.” Other kids expressed their agreement with that child.
The principal responded, “Do you know that is not true? There is not Common Core in it. People are confused about this. Common Core is this thing that is nation wide that no school in the state of Minnesota practices. No school… They hear it on the national news, but it is not being taught. You are not being taught Common Core. Nor is Common Core in the NWEAs. Common Core is about here are the objectives that students need to know and it has nothing to do with Common Core. There is no bias in the NWEAs, and people are really confused about that. And I’ve talked with some of your parents and some of them are going to come back and visit with me about that a little bit.”
“But just so you know that is not true,” she added. “NWEA is just what is 3×5 and it has nothing to do with the Common Core and Common Core has nothing to do with the state of Minnesota. We have Minnesota standards. We have nothing to do with Common Core whatsoever. So those are some misconceptions. So you can clarify those and talk with some of your parents about that. But that’s a big misconception.”
She and another teacher in the classroom affirmed that the school is “Minnesota Standards-based” and that “the NWEA is not Common Core.”
A science teacher who was also in the room chimed in. “I have to tell you that when you don’t take the NWEA in Science it crushes my soul because I don’t give you guys tests very often and even less this year than last. I’m trying to do mostly projects,” she said. “Sometimes I can miss if you are really excelling. All I can see is ‘oh yeah they got this.’ I don’t really see that you could have had this two years ago. So it is really good for me to know if you need to be challenged more or are not getting it and it might explain why. It’s really helpful to me.”
The same science teacher the next day of tests chided the kids for “lies and deceit” that was going around. She was also recorded by some students.
“I have heard some bad stuff like parents talking really ad about our teachers here and misunderstanding what these tests are for. Lies and deceit is going around and that is what I am seeing right here is some miscommunication and misunderstanding… It makes me sad. It really does because I work really hard and I do everything I can for you. One of the things that helps me do that is this test. It is hurtful,” the teacher lamented.
It concerns me that these students are being “educated” by the school’s principal about an assessment. Opting out is something they are doing as a result of the student’s parents. Parents who are the ones responsible for the education of their children and who should have the final say. What is the purpose of the principal talking to the students other than to pit students against their parents?
There should be universal agreement, whether you agree with the parents or not, that this conversation is clearly inappropriate. The science teacher’s comments are over the top and frankly manipulative.
That said, I want to address the comment about Minnesota, the NWEA test and Common Core.
The principal’s comment that no school in Minnesota teaches the Common Core is patently false. The Common Core English Language Arts standards were adopted by Minnesota in 2010. They decided not to adopt the Common Core math standards however. From the Minnesota State Department of Education’s website:
In 2010, Minnesota adopted the Common Core English language arts standards in their entirety and added some supplementary content. Public schools in Minnesota are required to implement the 2010Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in English Language Arts no later than the 2012-2013 school year.
Minnesota has not adopted the Common Core mathematics standards. The academic standards are revised according to a timetable specified in state statute (Minn. Stat. § 120B.023, Subd. 2). The 2007Minnesota K-12 Academic Standards in Mathematics were revised prior to the development of the Common Core mathematics standards, and legislative action would be needed in order for the state to adopt the Common Core mathematics standards before the next scheduled revision, in 2015.
While the state has not formally adopted the Common Core math standards, activists in Minnesota have told Truth in American Education that “Common Core-aligned” math textbooks are present in many Minnesota schools.
So let’s be clear here, Common Core is present in Minnesota schools, at the very least the Common Core ELA standards, have been implemented for two school years.
As far as the assessment goes. NWEA MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) assesses math, English language arts and science. They do provide a Common Core version. If you compare the NWEA’s MAP Minnesota goal structure chart with their MAP Common Core-aligned assessment goal structure chart you will find the math is different, but that the English literature arts goals for each assessment is identical.
So with these facts would this principal still maintain there is “no Common Core” in the assessment? For math, that would be an accurate statement, but since the NWEA MAP assessment includes English Language Arts that is an absolute lie.
Finally, this year, students in grades 2-8 took NWEA’s new version of the Reading assessment, which is aligned to the Common Core State Standards. School staff will use what they have learned from the new assessment for future planning. Both the NWEA and MCA reading tests are now aligned to the Common Core.
Oops. Either the principal and teacher in the audio clips above are supremely incompetent and clueless about what is going on with assessments they administer in their school or they are outright lying to parents and students.