Bruno: Common Core Assessments Won't Work As Advertised
I think John is exactly right that Common Core implementation gives us yet another reason to be suspicious of implementing VAM in teacher evaluation in the near future. The CCSS transition is going to involve ironing out a lot of wrinkles, and that's probably going to make VAM unreliable and a distraction.
John's also right that we should be worried about teachers having to reconcile the "critical thinking" requirements of the new standards with the "skin-deep" knowledge requirements of "bubble-in tests" on the other. I'd frame the problem a little differently, though: the problem isn't bubble-in tests so much as the way we think about critical thinking.
CCSS has been pitched to educators and policy makers as promoting students' critical thinking. Ostensibly the new assessments are going to test for such higher-order skills as well, and my colleagues who support the new standards say that's one of the features they're most excited about. New assessments that can measure students' critical thinking abilities would be the kind of tests many teachers would be - and are - excited about "teaching to".
So I think many teachers are in for a rude awakening when the new tests come out and it turns out that they still primarily measure kids' old-fashioned factual content knowledge. That's the inevitable result, because people usually can't be "good critical thinkers", they can usually only be good critical thinkers about subjects they know a lot about. (If you doubt this, ask any of your struggling students to think critically about something they're really knowledgeable about and prepare to be impressed.)
High-stakes testing during the CCSS transition therefore isn't just a bad idea because, as John points out, teachers are going to need time to adjust their practices. It's also that many of the practices teachers are being told they need to adopt are unlikely to actually improve their students' scores on the new assessments because, contrary to the Common Core sales pitch, content knowledge will still win the day. It would be pretty unfair to demand that teachers successfully teach a new set of "21st century skills" - or else be fired - when the education community hasn't even really worked out what those skills consist of. - PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)