Fox Illinois reported earlier this month that only 37 percent of 3rd-8th graders in Illinois passed the PARCC’s reading and writing assessment.
Nearly two-thirds of Illinois students in 3rd through 8th grade are not up to standard for reading and writing, according to the state administered PARCC test and some parents said it would be best to go back to the basics.
“Every student is different and my opinion is if you really want to show a difference in any kind of testing at all, turn the classroom back over to the teachers, let the teachers teach, get the testing out,” Mike Foster, parent of an Illinois student said.
But not all agree that the testing should be what the standard is based upon for students to be considered.
“Minimize the standardized testing. It’s ok to have certain guidelines and make sure they’re adhering to certain minimal guidelines. But overall just let the teachers teach,” Foster said. Administrators said they are working hard to make sure their students don’t run into similar problems so every student can be ready for their future.
Predictably, the Illinois State Board of Education blamed the result on the test’s difficulty.
Read the whole article here.
Common Core is taking these students in the wrong direction. This story from Illinois brought to mind two articles that we’ve highlighted at Truth in American Education, both are from 2016, but nothing significant has happened since with the ELA standards to diminish their relevancy.
The first article was written by Jay Matthews who warned about the direction of writing instruction under Common Core in The Washington Post.
The Education Trust, a nonprofit that advocates for students from low-income households, has been peeking recently at what is happening inside classrooms, an intrusion rarely done because it is expensive and tends to expose unattractive realities.
The organization collected 1,876 school assignments from six middle schools in two large urban districts in two states. The idea was to see how well English, humanities, social studies and science were being taught in the new era of the Common Core State Standards. The results are distressing and show that the instruction students are getting — particularly in writing — is deeply inadequate.
“Only four percent of all assignments reviewed pushed student thinking to higher levels,” one report said. “About 85 percent of assignments asked students to either recall information or apply basic skills and concepts as opposed to prompting for inferences or structural analysis, or doing author critiques. Many assignments show an attempt at rigor, but these are largely surface level.”
“Relevance and choice — powerful levers to engage early adolescents — are mostly missing in action,” it said. “Only two percent of assignments meet both indicators of engagement.”
Here are even more depressing numbers: 18 percent of the assignments required no writing at all. Sixty percent demanded just some note-taking, short responses or a sentence or two. Fourteen percent required students to write a single paragraph — whoopee. Only 9 percent went beyond that.
The second article was written by D’Lee Pollock-Moore, an English teacher and department chair at Warren County High School in Warrenton, Georgia, writing for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Get Schooled Blog she critiqued the Common Core ELA Standards. She said the reading standards neglect to teach the basics.
The Common Core fails to teach students the basics from kindergarten through 12th grade. Foundational reading skills end in fifth grade, yet middle and high school teachers still teach foundational skills like fluency and syllabication. This lack of foundational standards in the upper grades creates an achievement gap that can never be closed.
She also addressed how Common Core addresses writing:
Not only are we missing the basics in the lower grades, but we’re also missing the foundations in middle and high school. Students need to be taught how to write an email, how to create a blog or website, and even how to write a professional letter and resume (and not every child takes a business class to learn these skills). Does Common Core acknowledge these necessary and fundamental skills? No. You will not find any technical writing standards in the 6-12 Common Core Curriculum. This is why we still have to teach 12th graders how to write a thank you note or how to sign their name for a legal document (don’t even get me started on the cursive writing debate — there is no cursive writing standard in Common Core). Students used to learn key job skills in English class, but now only college-readiness standards are important. What about the future welder who needs to learn how to read a welding manual? Are his needs not as important as the future lawyer?
Is it any wonder Illinois students (and students across the nation) are struggling?