I warned blog readers that I was taking some time off to visit Sicily and greet my first grandchild. Make that “a long time”, rendered even longer by some technological issues reconnecting with Deseret News. Call it summer break, okay?
I’ve spent the past few weeks working on a new AP Art History course, which I’m co-teaching with a classroom partner. We hope to combine the flexibility, accessibility and entertainment potential of online learning with the discipline and student tracking that a classroom teacher can provide. This “blended learning” approach worked well for me as an online essay instructor for AP history classes. It will be interesting to see how teaching goes when I’m creating much more online content.
Right now I’m reminded how fun I find working with a teaching partner, and how frustrating I find mastering the latest version of any new technology (in this case Moodle.) Sigh. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a paleo-teacher who wrote my master’s thesis on a typewriter and took the AP Calculus exam with a slide rule. I’m an incredibly unlikely candidate for cutting edge e-teaching . . . except that here I am. Stay tuned.
Meanwhile, I’m scrolling through a few hundred education articles that have accumulated in my emails and computer files. Many of these articles address the common core, which I know remains a hot topic in Utah and around the country.
Here’s an article that caught my eye, probably because it confirms my own greatest fear about the common core. An article in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that
Although Georgia has embraced the controversial set of education standards called Common Core, students here might never take the national test tied to those standards. That’s because the test — being created by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, a consortium of state education leaders — is so expensive that Georgia would have to spend more on the new test alone than it currently spends on its entire assessment budget of $25 million.
The price tag didn’t surprise me. While some of the AJC’s readers commented that testing firms would reap huge profits – and they may be right – it seems just as likely to me that more comprehensive and in-depth tests, especially tests that include essays, will simply cost more to administer and grade. The price tag for a single Advanced Placement exam rose to $89 this year, and while I’m sure that the College Board makes money on the tests I also know how long it takes to prepare and grade an exam that includes multiple essays.
So here’s my prediction. Many states will keep the common core but back away from the assessments. . . especially when constiuents starting seeing their kids’ scores decline. (You think students perform poorly on simple multiple choice tests: Try reading some student essays.) In other words, I predict, or at least fear, that states will jettison the most useful feature of the common core, which is comparability across states, without necessarily abandoning the stultifying standardization that has inflamed so many common core critics.
Meanwhile, the movement to boycott tests altogether will gain new support, this time from the budget-conscious.
My apologies to those of you who submitted comments or sent emails while I was taking a break. I look forward to hearing from you . . . again.