Thompson: Who Are "They" Asks PBS's John Merrow?
At the end of his two-part PBS report on Common Core last week, John Merrow asks the $64,000 question: who are "they?"
Merrow starts by showing the type of classroom interactions that most teachers aspire to, as a Common Core teacher interacts with students in multimedia, multidisciplinary ways to encourage critical thinking, problem solving, good listening skills, speaking skills, and collaboration. So, there must be "reformers" who watch the segment and ask the question about educators who oppose Common Core - why are "they" resisting us?
But, Merrow and Barbara Kapinus, of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium agree that they have not been able to devise tests that assess everything that was intended. Unless "they" - policy makers - stop mistrusting teachers, the tests are likely to be misused. Since "they" intend to use Common Core for accountability, teachers are likely to be too scared to teach its standards properly. They will revert to teach-to-the-test basic skills instruction.
The interview with Kapinus raises an intriguing question question as to whether there is no single "they" who support the idea that we need a test worth teaching to. Did "they" - Education Secretary Arne Duncan and the governors - not understand what they - the testing experts - know about the problems inherent in adding stakes to tests.
Did the experts not know what "they" - the accountability hawks - do not know about standards, teaching, and assessments? If "they" - the big boys who impose one "reform" on teachers after another - understood schools, teaching and learning, would they have have understood the inherent contradiction between higher standards and a test worth teaching with?-JT (@drjohnthompson) Image via.