School board member in Florida flubs standardized test

December 6, 2011 at 9:17 pm 71 comments

I know there is a ton going on in CPS these days with the school closings and re0penings and longer day and people protesting all of these.  I am in the middle of getting ready for our house photo shoot (again, awesome Bungalow in the Waters district if anyone is interested…) so I don’t have time to organize all the info for a few days, but in the meantime I had some mixed reactions to this article about a school board member who took the disctrict’s 10th grade standardized test and didn’t do so well and is now calling the test crap.  Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t.  If you click on the link about his comments and identify, it’s kind of interesting (and a wee bit defensive.)

As I try to teach my son geometry and he asks why he’ll need it later in life (ie what is a trapezoid?) I can’t give him a good answer.  But does that mean that kids shouldn’t learn it?  Or be tested on it?  I recall the GMATs (test for business school) also having a lot of sorta useless math on it as well.  Should we be teaching more “practical math? Don’t high school kids still have to learn the basics?  What do you think?


From the Washington Post:

When an adult took standardized tests forced on kids


Update, 4:40 p.m. Tuesday:

Revealed: The school board member who took standardized test


Original post:

This was written by Marion Brady, veteran teacher, administrator, curriculum designer and author.


By Marion Brady

A longtime friend on the school board of one of the largest school systems in America did something that few public servants are willing to do. He took versions of his state’s high-stakes standardized math and reading tests for 10th graders, and said he’d make his scores public.

By any reasonable measure, my friend is a success. His now-grown kids are well-educated. He has a big house in a good part of town. Paid-for condo in the Caribbean. Influential friends. Lots of frequent flyer miles. Enough time of his own to give serious attention to his school board responsibilities. The margins of his electoral wins and his good relationships with administrators and teachers testify to his openness to dialogue and willingness to listen.

He called me the morning he took the test to say he was sure he hadn’t done well, but had to wait for the results. A couple of days ago, realizing that local school board members don’t seem to be playing much of a role in the current “reform” brouhaha, I asked him what he now thought about the tests he’d taken.

“I won’t beat around the bush,” he wrote in an email. “The math section had 60 questions. I knew the answers to none of them, but managed to guess ten out of the 60 correctly. On the reading test, I got 62% . In our system, that’s a “D”, and would get me a mandatory assignment to a double block of reading instruction.

He continued, “It seems to me something is seriously wrong. I have a bachelor of science degree, two masters degrees, and 15 credit hours toward a doctorate.

“I help oversee an organization with 22,000 employees and a $3 billion operations and capital budget, and am able to make sense of complex data related to those responsibilities.

“I have a wide circle of friends in various professions. Since taking the test, I’ve detailed its contents as best I can to many of them, particularly the math section, which does more than its share of shoving students in our system out of school and on to the street. Not a single one of them said that the math I described was necessary in their profession.

“It might be argued that I’ve been out of school too long, that if I’d actually been in the 10th grade prior to taking the test, the material would have been fresh. But doesn’t that miss the point? A test that can determine a student’s future life chances should surely relate in some practical way to the requirements of life. I can’t see how that could possibly be true of the test I took.”

Here’s the clincher in what he wrote:

“If I’d been required to take those two tests when I was a 10th grader, my life would almost certainly have been very different. I’d have been told I wasn’t ‘college material,’ would probably have believed it, and looked for work appropriate for the level of ability that the test said I had.

“It makes no sense to me that a test with the potential for shaping a student’s entire future has so little apparent relevance to adult, real-world functioning. Who decided the kind of questions and their level of difficulty? Using what criteria? To whom did they have to defend their decisions? As subject-matter specialists, how qualified were they to make general judgments about the needs of this state’s children in a future they can’t possibly predict? Who set the pass-fail “cut score”? How?”

“I can’t escape the conclusion that decisions about the [state test] in particular and standardized tests in general are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.”

There you have it. A concise summary of what’s wrong with present corporately driven education change: Decisions are being made by individuals who lack perspective and aren’t really accountable.

Those decisions are shaped not by knowledge or understanding of educating, but by ideology, politics, hubris, greed, ignorance, the conventional wisdom, and various combinations thereof. And then they’re sold to the public by the rich and powerful.

All that without so much as a pilot program to see if their simplistic, worn-out ideas work, and without a single procedure in place that imposes on them what they demand of teachers: accountability.

But maybe there’s hope. As I write, a New York Times story by Michael Winerip makes my day. The stupidity of the current test-based thrust of reform has triggered the first revolt of school principals.

Winerip writes: “As of last night, 658 principals around the state (New York) had signed a letter — 488 of them from Long Island, where the insurrection began — protesting the use of students’ test scores to evaluate teachers’ and principals’ performance.”

One of those school principals, Winerip says, is Bernard Kaplan. Kaplan runs one of the highest-achieving schools in the state, but is required to attend 10 training sessions.

“It’s education by humiliation,” Kaplan said. “I’ve never seen teachers and principals so degraded.”

Carol Burris, named the 2010 Educator of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York State, has to attend those 10 training sessions.

Katie Zahedi, another principal, said the session she attended was “two days of total nonsense. I have a Ph.D., I’m in a school every day, and some consultant is supposed to be teaching me to do evaluations.”

A fourth principal, Mario Fernandez, called the evaluation process a product of “ludicrous, shallow thinking. They’re expecting a tornado to go through a junkyard and have a brand new Mercedes pop up.”

My school board member-friend concluded his email with this: “I can’t escape the conclusion that those of us who are expected to follow through on decisions that have been made for us are doing something ethically questionable.”

He’s wrong. What they’re being made to do isn’t ethically questionable. It’s ethically unacceptable. Ethically reprehensible. Ethically indefensible.

How many of the approximately 100,000 school principals in the U.S. would join the revolt if their ethical principles trumped their fears of retribution? Why haven’t they been asked?

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71 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Duke80  |  December 6, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    So our kids have to take these tests even though the board members can fail and call them “stupid” basically?? Actually, I bet the board member would have passed the test in 10th grade and gone on to college but who remembers half of the information they learned in college or elsewhere?? Our testing is designed to be “cram it in and then forget it.” Funny how this isn’t realized by school professionals until they actually examine the tests they force upon our kids.
    P.S. I think geometry is one of the areas that is actually used in real life–maybe not the proofs though, ugh!

  • 2. TwinMom  |  December 6, 2011 at 11:14 pm

    You know, I couldn’t tell you half the stuff I learned in law school — and that was a mere 12-15 years ago, not as far away as 10th grade. But I’ve never thought of the specific facts that I learned in any of my schooling as the “important” thing. I believe that kids (and law students) are learning a specific way of thinking and looking at the world that is indeed valuable later in life no matter what profession you choose. Even when studying math (yes, even trig, which I have never, ever, ever “used” in my life, though I often use geometry and algebra).

    And how on earth would anyone ever KNOW that they like something like geometry or physics or french literature unless and until he’s actually experienced it? If the goal is to teach our kids only those facts that they will actually use in their daily life, well then, yes, some classes and tests are useless. In fact, much of education is (why are we teaching our kindergarteners about holidays in other cultures if they’ll never “use” that information?). Also (a) how would we know (be able to predict) what that child is going to “use” in life and (b) I don’t think that’s the goal of educating a child anyway.

  • 3. sparklesax  |  December 7, 2011 at 9:31 am

    Finally! I hope this gets lots of play far and wide and that many more elected officials talk a walk in the kids’ shoes in this way. So many, many skills needed to be successful (b/c isn’t that the point of this story “look how successful this man is who couldn’t do better on the test”?), so many skills needed to be successful in life are not testable, and many of those who are good at those things don’t test well.

  • 4. Anonymous  |  December 7, 2011 at 10:37 am

    It’s an interesting anecdote to think that a well-educated man of middle class socio-economic position did so poorly on the test. But not unexpected.

    It points to how individuals build our adult base of knowledge, discarding what we don’t find relevant to our lives. Normal.

    It may also speak to today’s over-emphasis on testing in education as out of touch with the way individuals attain knowledge.

    I think he should do extensive test prep and take the test again, to get the feel for the pressure the kids are under these days.

  • 5. Beth  |  December 7, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Having recently taken several standardized tests for a master’s degree in school counseling (including the Basic Skills Test which had me studying algebra and geometry), I have sympathy for all the endless testing and I also have mixed feelings about its usefulness.

    On the topic of geometry, however, you may use it later in Architecture or, a friend who was in the Ordnance division in the Army, used it quite regularly, plotting targets and trajectories.

    Did everyone see the news about Payton HS not assigning homework over the holiday break? I thought that was exciting.

  • 6. RL Julia  |  December 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm

    Perhaps the problem has more to do with schools not letting kids specialize in a meaningful prior to high school graduation. I don’t use geometry much except to figure out the quickest way to get somewhere (although the proofs are all logic which I do use in writing). However as an engineer my husband uses math all day long and stuff much more complicated than found on the 10th grade test.

  • 7. Anonymous  |  December 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm

    Read something interesting lately.

    Author said that standardized tests are most useful as a filter for colleges and employers b/c a good score indicates that the test-taker is a quick learner and likely will do well at work or school.

  • 8. HSObsessed  |  December 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I agree with @2 Twinmom that you have to expose kids to a certain base level of many different subjects in order to let the kids know what they’re more interested in or not. Also, one semester or year of any subject isn’t going to kill anyone, and the studying and learning itself is of some value in teaching concentration skills, the challenge of learning something you may not love, etc.

    I do feel that schools nowadays are much better at being realistic about which skills are more likely to be necessary no matter what career path is chosen. Specfiically, I feel like when I was in grade school, we used to just have one grade for math and one grade for “reading”, but now my daughter gets one grade for math, and 3 or 4 for literacy-related skills, including reading comprehension, writing standards, research standards, and maybe one more.

  • 9. Navigator  |  December 7, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Has anyone watched the movie “Race To Nowhere”? I have to admit I hadn’t heard of it until recently. It seems related to our many discussions. I may try to see if I can find a copy.

  • 10. CPSDepressed  |  December 7, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    I’m guessing that the school board member would have had a higher score after a few hours with a test prep book. Standardized tests are not perfect measures, but they give you some baseline information about whether a student learned what was taught to them and whether they were willing to take the test seriously – a sign of maturity, maybe, as those of us who have had preschoolers bomb the gifted exam are well aware.

    I don’t remember half the stuff I learned in high school and college. Does that mean it was not worth knowing, or that it didn’t have some benefits to me somewhere?

    Kids definitely have too many standardized tests nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely worthless and that we should go down to zero.

  • 11. Eric  |  December 7, 2011 at 3:30 pm


  • 12. Eric  |  December 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm


    The problem is that these tests tend to be high stakes. Kids should be tested to some extent and allowed to fail without steep repercussions like being held back.

    If you look at video games for example, kids will spend hours testing ways to get to the next level because the stakes are low, they are allowed to fail. Inevitably they learn problem solving through trail and error, not accountability. How come the video game industry is doing a better job of promoting critical thinking than our policy makers?


    We teach kids about other cultures because there is more to life than academics. A teachers job includes civic, social, emotional, and cultural development. I get what you’re saying, but let’s not forget that some lessons can’t be quantified.

  • 13. Mother and Teacher  |  December 7, 2011 at 4:27 pm

    At some point, we have to remind students (and maybe ourselves)that they need to learn some things for the simple sake of just learning. Studying Geometry is more than just remembering facts about angles or circles. It forces students to think about how things are related, how one value could affect another and how to be a problem solver, and not just solve a problem. Why bother reading Beowulf? Why not just listen to some modern audio version? Again, we need to teach children to be critical thinkers, not just robots that can fill in a bubble for a standardized test. Geez. I guess we can just give a test and say “Hey kid #1 you scored a 234 on your test therefore you will now be studying only Basic Math, Typing and Grooming. Kid #2, you scored a 546, you can be on the Math/Science track but will never need to read another piece of literature again. Have a good life.”

    I think we need to teach all of this material to kids and we need to assess what they are learning, but to use standardized tests as the end all just doesn’t make much sense. : )

  • 14. TwinMom  |  December 7, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @12 Eric: you may have gotten what I’m saying, but you apparently didn’t get the sarcasm. 🙂 I agree with you wholeheartedly…..

  • 15. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  December 7, 2011 at 5:12 pm

    I’m sure that parents in India or Cjina aren’t asking why their kids need to learn geometry. God forbid that we may actually produce some engineers, instead of MBA’s.

  • 16. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  December 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm

    China, I meant. Bad typing day.

  • 17. Eric  |  December 7, 2011 at 7:19 pm

    @ TwinMom

    I love sarcasm and yes I did miss it, I apologize.

    Education is a highly divided sphere, so when folks say stuff like that, I have a hard time discerning if they’re serious or not. For instance, have you ever read anything in the Trib or Sun-Times comment sections concerning education articles? So of that stuff just blows my mind!

  • 18. cpsmama  |  December 7, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    Why do we blindly accept that standardized tests are as good as the test designers say they are and that poor scores means there’s something lacking in the test-taker. May be there’s something wrong with the test. There are definitely cultural and socioeconomic biases which account for low scores among certain groups.

  • 19. BuenaParkMom  |  December 8, 2011 at 1:19 am

    Funny you should post this. I just read it the other day and was thinking of forwarding it to you! I think the root of the problem is you need to have same way to objectively measure a student’s progress. Unfortunately, it is not so easy to objectively measure a human being’s progress. For example, when I have a patient who has had their knee replaced I use my glorified protractor to measure how far their knee bends. I want them around 120 degrees of bending before I’m minimally satisfied. But if the patient’s number is great and that’s the only thing I look at before I discharge them back to their everyday life there may be trouble. Because maybe the patient can’t walk because I didn’t ever teach them, or they’re hard of hearing so never quite understand my instructions, or I never worked on getting their muscular strength back, or they were in pain so didn’t do their homework (yes I give homework), or they were hard of hearing and didn’t quite understand the homework and weren’t able to read my written instructions because they don’t see very well and I wrote too small. Measuring human being’s progress is hard. I had to take an extremely dry and boring course on it to graduate college. (The boring part is sort of sad because it actually should be a fascinating subject.)

    Do I think testing is worthwhile? Absolutely. Do I think too much of it is going on these days in public schools? Absolutely. It’s unfortunate that testing is so high stakes today in public schools but I don’t see it changing in any other way than to have more of it. It’s too bad there is no way to go back in time and see how CPS students would have tested in the 1940’s or some other “simpler” time. I wonder how similar the results would be to what we have now.

  • 20. cps Mom  |  December 8, 2011 at 9:07 am

    I think @7 is on to something. Tests are used as a filter and not necessarily a bad one.

    I always thought it was college where you learned about real life (in more ways than one). I know in my major/field, accounting, they teach corporate accounting, auditing, tax accounting, not for profit, statistics/economics, financial management, yet it’s not likely that any one job will incorporate all that knowledge. I’m sure the same is true for law, medicine and other fields. I thought school prepared me quite well short of having actual experience (which can be gained in internships). Back in those prehistoric days we were required to take standardized tests – even though there was much less emphasis. We took them because we wanted to pursue college and careers other than being a secretary or airline stewardess (the big aspirations for girls at the time). I think that its a reach to say that these tests could have changed the course of life.

  • 21. Mayfair Dad  |  December 8, 2011 at 10:16 am

    It seems like everyone agrees measuring progress and accountability is good, reliance on flawed high-stakes testing is bad. Surely experts in the field of education could devise a fair, comprehensive and useful way to measure a student’s progress that would be broadly agreed upon by stakeholders. Why is this so elusive? Politics? Is the high-stakes testing industry in bed with the charter school moguls?

  • 22. Beth  |  December 8, 2011 at 10:45 am

    The educational testing industry is a big business. The controversy is that they have non-profit status but make big profits. And then the socio-economic and cultural biases in the testing. How schools have come to use them so extensively is probably for a lot of different reasons that others mentioned: trying to find the best way to measure student outcomes and teaching assessment too.

    Education is now trying to come up with better ways of assessment. For teachers: student outcomes (testing), portfolios, principal reviews, parent reviews (!?). If the union has a lot of say, as they do in Illinois, then these things will be debated much more fervently. For students: portfolios and more comprehensive assessment. As you can guess, all of the above is more expensive and things move glacially in education. Sigh. Interesting, my husband said that, in medicine, they are moving away from more testing because a) it’s expensive and b) tests can be stressful and may even be harmful, like xrays. They just treat what they can/know… Don’t know if the analogy goes

  • 23. Anonymouse  |  December 8, 2011 at 10:48 am

    Great time to invest in ed companies.

    Ed reformers are trying to figure out how to use standardized tests for preschoolers and kindergartners, and in subjects like gym, art, library, and music. Districts will grade all teachers’ performance based in part on kids’ scores. Teachers can be laid off.

    Replacements can be found quickly at the for-profit alternative teacher training companies. They train 40% of Texas teachers. now.

    There are the for-profit charter operators.

    Then the real estate investment funds that work with big city school districts on leasing empty schools to charters.

    I’m sure I’m missing a few other ventures?

  • 24. Norwood  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:20 am

    In the “real world” of work, family and neighborhood, I make complicated decisions based on a scarcity of information that is going to have, in some cases, a big impact on the well being of my family, co-workers, customers and others. Thinking and analyzing is a big deal, and there isn’t a lot of time to do it.

    We are training kids for this, and the math, science, and language/literature programs in school are geared toward this goal. They don’t make high stakes decisions that can impact the neighborhood yet, but we can give them high stakes tests.

    No, I don’t remember any of the material that I knew at one time taking the GRE, GMAT, SAT, etc. But I learned how to think, and felt pressure to do so. And I would hope that all doctors, business people, parents, teachers, and administrators go through this process before they take on the real world and real issues. In the mean time, for 10th graders, they can practice thinking with their curriculum and their tests.

    So, obviously, I am pro test. The harder the better. I am not in favor of raising a bunch of academic whimps. Else another country will have to step in the gap and give us qualified professionals.

  • 25. Chicago Mom  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    @21 Mayfair Dad: Professional educators can make these assessments and decisions regarding these assessments. However, starting at the top, Arne Duncan, what are his professional education credentials? What about Ron Huberman? Mayor Emanuel? These men are making decisions all over the place that affect our students and they have NEVER spent a day, let alone a week, year or semester, in a classroom.

  • 26. Chicago Mom  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:29 am

    oops…RE: Ron Hub. should have said “has made decisions”

  • 27. Gunnery Sgt Hartman  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Didn’t they spend some time in a classroom when they were students, or were they all homeschooled?

  • 28. cps Mom  |  December 8, 2011 at 12:43 pm

    One also needs to be in a position of power to implement education policy. Not many educators are. The assumption is that heads of education systems and politicians would rely on analysis of outcomes and suggestions given by educators (and greased palms, Ouija boards, favors owed – whatever goes into these decisions)

  • 29. Eric  |  December 8, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    @CPS Mom

    Hell yeah! You would think politicians would have a firm grasp of logic…

    @ Norwood

    Nobody is trying to raise “academic whimps”, and there is hardly a shortage of qualified professionals in this market.

    Many of the kids in CPS will have to make high stakes decisions based on the constrictions of poverty and education can prevent that, but a lot of stuff needs to change.

    High stakes testing accountability doesn’t work. You only need to look to the recent string of cheating scandals in large urban school districts (Atlanta, Michelle Rhee in DC) or the high dropout/pushout rates, or the narrowing of the curriculum to prepare for tests.

    I agree, people should be trained for high pressure environments, but should we really be holding back 3rd graders for failing one test? Do you know what this does to their social and emotional development? Will they ever catch up? Not likely.

    Tests should be challenging, inclusive, and fair, but extreme pressure to pass them doesn’t make them learn. Kids should be allowed to make mistakes without punishment. We need trial and error.

  • 30. anonymous  |  December 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    I am a kindergarten teacher. We don’t give scantron type standardized tests, but we do give what are called Dibels and TRC’s on top of my own personalized assessments to cover all the things these two required tests don’t cover.
    Dibels measure a child’s “at risk-ness” in literacy. TRC’s measure a child’s reading level (though I have issues with its accuracy).
    Both of these tests must be given one-on-one. Dibels must be given 3 times per year and take between 10-20 minutes per child. They are supposed to be done in a quiet space, but there isn’t staff to do that. TRC’s take about the same amount of time.
    Then, depending on how kids do on dibels and TRC, kids fall into one of three categories:
    high risk, some risk, and low risk. High risk kids must be “progress monitored” at least once every 2 weeks. This means the same kind of test as Dibels, but a different form. “Some risk” kids are tested every month, and “low risk kids” once or twice between the mandated 3X per year. And, if a kid is on an RTI program (response to intervention, due to low performance), those kids must be re-tested every.single.week until they stop needing interventions.

    I have 11 kids in my classroom who are high risk. 6 are on an RTI plan. I spend 3/5 days during center time and our reading time JUST testing kids. Every week. The other 2 days, if we have a full week, are spent with small groups giving interventions in small groups.
    If this was a best practice environment, I’d only be testing 1/5 days. Testing and assessment is GREAT. But not as much as I am required to do.
    If I had a smaller class size, it would help. If I had an aide, it would help. I am lucky to have an ESL teacher who comes in for 45 minutes per day and she helps with providing interventions in small groups and with some of the testing.
    Oh, and my teacher made assessment, which also covers the math portion of our day, takes approximately 30 minutes one-to-one, per kid. I can’t teach without that assessment. I need it to really be on top of who can do what skill and have the hard data to prove it so I can alter my instructional practice based on what the assessment is telling me. It is a good assessment, but again, I need more help. If there was a way to assess things more in a group, I would, but someone has to sit and listen to each kid count to a hundred. Someone has to sit with each kid and find out who knows what each coin is and its value. With kindergarteners, a worksheet often doesn’t really show what they can do. They stare off into space, make silly mistakes or guess. One-to-one, they get it.
    I always said the day they have kindergarteners doing scantron tests is the day I quit. I do feel that day is coming. We’ll see.

    Fwiw, I hate the state tests (ISATs) for many reasons. I am looking into if I can refuse to let my kids take it (or the Common Core which will replace it in 2014). Parents can refuse vaccines due to any reason they choose, why can’t I refuse a stupid test?

  • 31. CPSDepressed  |  December 8, 2011 at 8:40 pm

    No, you can’t refuse vaccines due to any reason. You need a religious exemption. It’s given with little fuss, and if you choose to perjure yourself, it’s up to you. But it’s not due to any reason.

    I have relatives who are Christian Scientists, by the way, and they take the right to the religious exemption seriously.

  • 32. Mom  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    CPSDepressed — your relatives may take the religious exemption seriously. However, unfortunately, many others don’t. They take a “conscientious objector” exemption, not necessarily tied to any religion. Typically, that has very little to do with what “God” told them to do, and very much to do with, an equivalent, “the Internet,” and what that told them to do. Tongue in cheek, of course.

  • 33. Eric  |  December 8, 2011 at 11:28 pm

    @ 21. Mayfair Dad

    The Ed field has tons of research that measures growth fairly, and plenty that finds no growth in many school initiatives (*coughREN2010*cough). As you alluded to, policies are rarely grounded in research.

    Americans are stuck in a contradiction when it comes to education. On one hand we have free education for all, on the other we believe in American exceptionalism.

    How can we get people to agree on fair comprehensive testing if they’re busy trying to get their kid ahead at all costs?

  • 34. Mayfair Dad  |  December 9, 2011 at 10:11 am

    @ 33. Eric

    I figured as much. For as long as there have been schools, there has been testing and assessment. It does not surprise me that true educators have agreed upon a common framework of best practices by now. Fair, comprehensive and appropriate to the task at hand: teaching children.

    The current version of testing and assessment feels more like Six Sigma / Deming-inspired quality management practices cooked up by some MBAs with little or no understanding of how children learn. It is easy to see how simpleton Daley was cowed by con men like Vallas-Duncan-Huberman, brainy cats who spoke that magical MBA speak, exposing Daley’s feelings of inadequacy about his own “dese, dem and dose” patois.

    Here’s my bigger question: How did this misguided application of (discredited) quality management practices from the manufacturing world take over the education world? Doesn’t every state have some form of ISAT madness? Is there a city or state out there doing things significantly differently?

    And what role did University of Chicago play in all this? I thought CPS was U of C’s petri dish of education reform. Did the brainiacs at U of C perpetuate the Six Sigma jive, or were they waving the red flag the whole time?

    To be clear, I am all for testing and holding teachers accountable for student progress, I just don’t think CPS has the first clue how to do it properly. And they spend a boatload of money doing it the wrong way.

  • 35. careergurl  |  December 9, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Deming had good stuff. It got hacked up, however.

  • 36. RL Julia  |  December 9, 2011 at 1:28 pm

    I don’t have a problem with testing per se but I do have a problem with the sheer number of assessments currently given to at CPS – never mind the test prep for the ISATs that frequently starts in after the winter break.

    Also – to Kindergarten teacher – it is my understanding that in fact as a parent you can opt of out testing -it is your right – however, it won’t be easy. I think the process is something like you have to write a letter specifying which tests you aren’t allowing your child to take(which means you have to know which tests are being given in the first place) and I’d bet you’d probably be on your own in terms of enforcement. Also I am certain you’d be given a hard time if for some reason you needed test results for some service or application and you didn’t have them. For instance, I doubt any accomodation would be given on an SEHS application if your CPS enrolled child opted out of the ISAT in 7th grade. Ditto any other application and/or IEP/54 related action.

  • 37. liza  |  December 9, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    Oh how I long for the days of yore when I first started at CPS! During the school year, you used the student’s work or classroom assessments to decide what needed to be retaught, revise your lesson plans, differentiate for individual students, etc. and taught the curriculum mandated in the CPS curriculum guides.

    Every Spring, the students took the ITBS. When the scores came back, you filled out your rate of progress sheet which measured student growth (and sometimes loss!). It was expected that your mean rate of growth would be a minimum of one year or better. If it wasn’t, you had some explaining to do to the principal. And, yes, many teachers’ ratings were lowered because they did not meet that expected target.

    So, in essence, the students were tested using a nationally standardized test, parents got to see how their kid was doing in a way that was easy to understand, and teachers were held accountable for the progress of their students.

    I’m not convinced that what is happening in the schools now is a better system. Good teachers assess often and know when and what their students are mastering and what skills they need extra time and practice in. I’m not quite sure why I need to give six other tests(3 Scantron and 3 Common Core) to find out this information. I feel like I’m spending more time testing than teaching. The kids are burnt out by the time ISAT rolls around!

  • 38. Norwood  |  December 9, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    @ 34. Mayfair Dad

    Based on your posting, you will be amused to know that the only person commenting on this post who is strictly pro-test (aka me) has an MBA, from the University of Chicago no less.

    Nonetheless, I maintain my position that children should undergo hard, unfair, high stakes tests as good training for the real world. That will counter act somewhat the other trend out there, where everyone on the team gets a big trophy, whether they play or not, even if there team has a losing record.

  • 39. Mayfair Dad  |  December 9, 2011 at 6:32 pm

    Hey Norwood:

    No hard feelings, okay?

    Bonus points for using nonetheless in your post. Truth be told, I am a little intimidated by brainiac U of C MBAs with a sense of humor.

  • 40. CPSDepressed  |  December 10, 2011 at 9:08 am

    @37: I do believe that good teachers assess often, etc. The truth, though, is that not all teachers are good. If they were not teaching to the test, they would not be teaching, and that’s a fact.

    One of the reasons we have a system that puts so much emphasis on testing is to force the bad teachers to do their jobs.

  • 41. anonymous  |  December 10, 2011 at 9:26 am

    #40, When you have time, would you provide a link so I can look at the research/data that supports the idea that “If they were not teaching to the test, they would not be teaching, and that’s a fact.” I’d be very interested to read the research you’ve been reading or doing to support that idea.

  • 42. CPSDepressed  |  December 10, 2011 at 10:37 am

    Hmmm. Well, Chicago students are doing better in the NAEP since the increased emphasis on standardized testing, although they are still behind their peers nationally. I’d take that as a sign that more kids are learning something.

    I’d like to see research that shows that every teacher is equally excellent in every possible way, because that certainly flies in my face as a former student and current parent.

  • 43. CPSDepressed  |  December 10, 2011 at 10:45 am

    And, to get back to the issue of standardized testing, I think it’s interesting to note that the parents are more supportive of it than the teachers. Although I think there is too much standardized testing, I think it’s important to know where my kid stands and where my kid’s school stands. I do not have enough trust in CPS and CTU to take the teacher’s word for it.

  • 44. anonymous  |  December 10, 2011 at 5:05 pm

    I can tell you from my personal experience as an educator and a parent that no, all teachers aren’t equally excellent in every way. I know some who need to lose their jobs, in fact, I work with two of them. One literally shames ESL kids for their lack of speaking skills. The other, besides driving all her colleagues out of their minds, has too many deficits to name. One will retire this spring, thank god, though not before inflicting years of bad instruction on kids and the other will likely be fired next year when tenure is eliminated and all it takes is a principal giving two bad ratings for her to be fired.

    Still, I am not sure I agree with the concept that, “if it weren’t for the tests, they would not be teaching”.
    As a parent, I am against MY own kids being tested with things like ISATs. (one, I think they are useless and two, they perform far beyond whatever standards the state holds for them, so what benefit does the test hold for them? None) I love the tests my kids’ school gives, complete with rubrics that identify 5-8 criteria looked at in the grading process. I get to see exactly what they are looking for and why and also revere their teachers highly for the sheer amount of hours that go into grading just that one piece of work.

    As a teacher, I am in full support of many forms of testing, and would be even more supportive if I personally, and the education field as a whole, had the supports in place to use the data from testing to its full potential. (and again, not ISATs. For testing to be valuable, it needs to be frequent and have a very quick turnaround time. And then the teacher needs support to offer remediation.)
    What good is testing if there isn’t much help available after the data comes back? I have 4 students who I worry so much about. They need intensive one-to-one help for at least an hour daily, based on the data I have on them. I can’t give them that. I do the best I can, but I don’t want to take all my available small group time for just those kids. 50% of my students are reading, another 20% are close and I am not going to hold them back until the lowest catch up. Plus, my higher kids need differentiation too! And if it was just a matter of time, the longer day would take care of that. But my students are five years old and they need a lot of adult attention. I can’t be doing small groups the entire day, the room would be up for grabs.

    It is very frustrating to me that I have this fabulous data on them, but cannot remediate and enrich the way I would like to because I simply don’t have the help or the physical resources (books) to do it. Brizard, are you reading this? Please, please, please give me a part time teaching assistant. If you do, and if I can’t get virtually all my students reading by June, fire me.

    If I had a teaching assistant I could provide individualized homework for every child, small reading groups at least 3 times a week for every student with some meeting every day, and I wouldn’t be spending valuable time on things like collecting taffy apple money or picture money or field trip forms or helping with breakfast. I’d much rather be reading and implementing new research and using the data I do have to alter my practice.

  • 45. anonymous  |  December 10, 2011 at 5:06 pm

    Should clarify that when I said “they are useless” I mean the ISATs, not my children!

  • 46. Anonymous  |  December 11, 2011 at 11:45 am

    thanks 44, you’ve explained things very well. What is your class size? Is it fairly common to have 11 at risk and 6 RTI?

  • 47. Bookworm  |  December 11, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    @31- Totally off topic but many Christian Scientists do get their kids shots. It’s not an all or nothing religion…. ( and that’s with three generations of C.S in our family) The scientist that originally published the tie between autism and vaccines recently admitted that he falsified his results.
    I’d love to be able to have my kids opt out of ISAT testing and we have always wondered what would happen if we did. Especially in years when they are not tied to progressing. The baselines for high ” success” are so totally low they don’t really tell us much anyhow.

  • 48. anonymous  |  December 11, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    #46, I have 26 kindergarteners (which is on the small end for CPS and I am grateful for that much!). It is very, very common to have that many at risk kids, in fact, at my last school, I’d place 25/31 at some risk/high risk according to Dibels. But, I am at a decent/good neighborhood school so we have less of the very low kids. And thankfully, our parents are open to following through at home at least some of the time. Still, what matters most is that by the end of the year, that my students become proficient enough so that a much smaller percentage are considered at risk or on RTI. (at many high poverty schools I’d guess that most
    As for RTI, it kind of depends on the teacher. The process involves hours of paperwork and the more kids in the process, the more paperwork involved. I find I spend about 2 hours per week just doing paperwork for those 6 kids. Some teachers might be reluctant to start kids in RTI because of that. I would compare RTI to a mini-IEP. My two grade level colleagues have half the number of kids on RTI as I do, but I am kind of intense about making sure I am meeting my administrator’s requirements. I am possibly a little bit nutty about making sure every single kid gets what they need too (much like another teacher friend of mine who has been known to administer practice AP tests or practice ACTs on Saturdays, without pay, on a totally voluntary basis, even bringing in bottled water and snacks for all 80 of the kids taking the practice test).

  • 49. anonymous  |  December 11, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    I can’t seem to manage to proofread properly and always hit submit before reading though. Ignore the piece of my parenthesis that doesn’t make sense.

  • 50. curiousgeorge  |  December 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    @42 I am somewhat perplexed (not sure if that is the right word I want) by your comments. It just seems to me that if you were that disappointed in your own experiences and education through the system, why would you send your own children to CPS?

    I’m also not sure what you expect from teachers. Do you want them to just teach to the test so everything looks good on paper, or are you looking for them to not teach to a test and go a different route? From your comment, it’s hard to tell what your expectations of teachers are exactly.

    We all know that there are some less then stellar teachers out there, but if you really feel that most of the teachers in the system are bad or incapable of providing your child a good education, or just plain lazy, again, my question is why would you keep your child in the system?

    I don’t know what your circumstances are, and maybe it is not feasible to send your child to a private school which I can truly understand, but I am truly a hard time understanding why you would send your children to school in a system that you have so little faith in.

  • 51. CPSDepressed  |  December 12, 2011 at 9:13 am

    I want kids in Chicago to graduate from high school ready to compete in a global economy.

    My kid is in a “good” CPS school, and I am smart enough to know how rare that is. Look at the competition for the SEHS – is that a sign that people have faith in the system, or that they are desperate to get their kids a good education? I know parents who have moved to the suburbs because they their kids can’t get into an SEHS. Is that what we want from CPS?

    I don’t feel that most teachers are bad, but some of them are. And that is a problem. It is not the only problem in CPS, but I am seriously disturbed by the idea that we should just accept bad teachers because, you know, kids whose parents care about their education will see that those kids learn and, well, you just can’t teach the other kids.

    I believe that good teachers can do a lot to teach children the basics and critical thinking skills without resorting to the tests. But I do not believe that all teachers are good. Because we cannot get rid of bad teachers, at least not in any sort of reasonable fashion, we have to design a curriculum that forces them to teach basic math, basic grammar, basic vocabulary, and that means teaching to standardized testing. As far as I can tell, that is the only way of addressing bad teaching that is remotely acceptable to CTU.

  • 52. Mom  |  December 12, 2011 at 11:26 am

    @50 –

    We are stuck in Chicago and have no money.

    Can’t sell our house, don’t have enough money for private school.

    Stuck sending our kids to CPS. Stuck.

  • 53. cps Mom  |  December 12, 2011 at 3:33 pm

    Why is it that the best teachers are the most concerned about accountability? If all teachers were as contentious about their performance, there wouldn’t be much concern.

    My experience has been that the “bad” teacher as described in @44 are few and far between. There are, however, certain teachers that just can’t provide an adequate level of education. Reading a Trib article about public school test scores suggesting that in both the city and suburbs scores have a direct relationship to poverty makes sense. The article states that higher income families supplement their child’s education with Kaplan, Sylvan and other tutoring, various test prep and attend museums frequently thus the differences. I believe it…I did it.

    In that sense, I have to agree. I never felt that ISAT test prep was lacking and for those kids who have no other source of education, it provides at least a minimum standard (very minimum).

    Yes, we are one of the “stuck” families. I always justified having to supplement a CPS education as “well we get a free education, so the cost is small price to pay”. But, honestly, I think we can do much better and that teachers need to be accountable at a level even greater than standardized testing can provide.

  • 54. Mom  |  December 12, 2011 at 3:52 pm

    Stuck:A Haiku

    cps stuck kid
    his house parents can not rid
    wilmette in our dreams

  • 55. klm  |  December 12, 2011 at 3:58 pm

    @53 cps Mom

    I know that it’s hard to imagine that there are really that many teachers out there that are THAT bad –especially for anybody that grew up in a middle-class+ type environment with corresponding schools. Again, I’ll mention that things in some inner-city areas really are about as bad as one can imagine, in some cases. At my inner-city (not CPS) middle-school, I had a teacher that read newspapers 90% of the time (we were given mindless ‘assignments’ constantly or were shown ‘educational’ films), another was constantly “not feeling well” and would put her head down on the desk while we “worked” (i.e., talked and fooled around and did absolutely NOTHING academic, many boys rolled dice, etc.), another teacher never changed exams from year to tear, so people just passed them down to the next grade, so that we never has to study (or learn)., on and on….

    Obviously, there was 0% accountability and absolutely no fear of getting fired.

    My spouse attended excellent public schools K-8 and when I first described my own experience in public school, was in utter disbelief. “How could that be?!”.

  • 56. klm  |  December 12, 2011 at 4:03 pm

    I shoould mention that this was the late 1970s, very early 1980s –most likely there SOME accountability at even these kinds of schools.

    Also, my spouse has been involved in volunteer tutoring for adult literacy. The first client was a CPS HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE (!!!?!?!), but was unable to read even the word “the” or recognize all the alphabet.

  • 57. Eric  |  December 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    @ 34. Mayfair Dad

    Don’t be intimidated by some MBA from U of C, if current trends mean anything, then he (?) doesn’t know what it takes to educate all of our youth 😉

    “Here’s my bigger question: How did this misguided application of (discredited) quality management practices from the manufacturing world take over the education world?”

    Funnily enough, the Chicago School of Economics (UofC, Milton Friedman whose principles were adopted by Reagan, Bush, Clinton etc).

    In the 80s/90s the federal education focus switched from equity (ESEA) to excellence (accountability, Nation at Risk, NCLB). Through Nation at Risk, Reagan and Co. tried to reduce the federal role and create (a false) panic around education. The Republicans were able to switch the focus and introduce free market ideas and efficiency. Now we have strong bi-partisan support for business driven school initiatives.

    It’s also no secret that Reagan and Co. were greatly influenced by Milton Friedman, who also sought to decrease the federal role in…everything. He championed vouchers, and many believe charters are the compromise between Democrats to appease voucher-seeking Republicans.

    The Consortium on Chicago School Research is doing great work, but sadly they don’t make policy.

    The focus on tests and accountability diverts attention away from the real issue: equity.

    LBJ knew it.

  • 58. Mayfair Dad  |  December 12, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    Interesting article on Tim Cawley, new COO of CPS (a.k.a. the guy who refuses to move from the suburbs).


    When Tim Cawley left his post as a senior vice president at Motorola in October 2007 to become the managing director of finance and administration at Chicago’s Academy for Urban School Leadership (AUSL), a nonprofit teacher residency program and school management network, he was fulfilling a lifelong plan. And now that he has recently moved from AUSL to become chief operating officer (COO) at Chicago Public Schools, his sense is that the plan has taken its next natural turn… But by 2001, when he was recruited to join Motorola, Cawley had begun to think about where and how he would be able contribute to the nonprofit sector. That train of thought, Cawley says, was inspired, in part, by the efforts of Paul Vallas, the then CEO of Chicago Public Schools “Some of the things I read about that he was doing sounded a lot like what I was doing in business: hiring the right people, measuring results, holding people accountable, strategic allocations of resources…”

    Stay tuned for more of the Six Sigma approach to teaching children. He sounds like a bright guy – I just wish he knew something about education.

  • 59. cps Mom  |  December 12, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    KLM – I don’t think that CPS is THAT bad and I am “stuck” in Chicago by choice, this is where I choose to live. Overall I am a fan of public education and in spite of it’s faults do see and benefit from its positive aspects. It can be better. For some, much better. I don’t necessarily believe that private schools are exempt from some of these same problems. If I had to pay to tutor my child on top of tuition that would be a low blow. On the other hand, I don’t think that free education means Carte Blanche exoneration of educational responsibility.

    @58 MD – after reading the article, my thoughts on having a financial/business person running CPS are positive too. As long as he listens to educators. He seems to be a reasonable guy looking to make a difference.

  • 60. anonymous  |  December 12, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    I am slightly bitter that Cawley can work for CPS without having to live in the city but the majority of others don’t have that perk. Nice double standard we have here.

  • 61. Mayfair Dad  |  December 13, 2011 at 9:49 am

    @ 59 cps Mom: By all accounts, Cawley is highly competent and a proven problem-solver. A good hire by CPS.

    My concern is his corporate pedigree, particularly his stint at Motorola – the birthplace of the Six Sigma methodology. Based on the new COO’s career path, it does not seem likely CPS will abandon the “TQM” approach to education reform any time soon, even though a spate of recent articles have called its effectiveness into question. This mindset paves the way for further corporate takeover of our tax-funded public education system. This has been going on for over a decade and we haven’t seen the big gains we were promised, which has me wondering aloud if we took a wrong turn.

  • 62. klm  |  December 13, 2011 at 10:17 am


    I’m with you. My kids go to some GREAT (CPS) public schools –among the best in the state. Their schools score higher on the ISATs than the North Shore communities we’ve considered moving to in the past –how geat is that?! And without North Shore property taxes, no less. Are things perfect? No. But we’re very happy, overall. I only wish my family’s experience could be shared more evenly throughout CPS.

    However, I am also aware that without any accountability (yes, testing and frequent on the job critiques of educators), fear of being fired, combined with an institutional culture of mediocrity and dysfunction, many originally good-hearted, enthusiastic teachers can fall into the trap of doing the bare minimum until they qualify for their pension. Teachers are no worse than anybody else, it’s just that when there’s only an expectation of showing up for work 75% of the time and nothing else, eventually even hard-working people go down the road of minimum-output, given that nobody else is working hard, so why should I?, …these kids don’t EVEN want to learn,…I hate my job, but I’m ‘stuck’ now that I need 3 more years to get vested for my pension and retirement health benefits, otherwise I’ll be a pauper, etc. I experienced it personally.

    As for tests, well I’m afraid that I fall in the pro-testing camp. People and institutions need to know where they stand. Tests are a fact of life –and not only for the LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, etc… Even electricians, pumbers and paharmacy techs, hair stylists, nail technicians, etc., have to take (and pass) them.

  • 63. Liza  |  December 13, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    @55 KLM You’ve shared so much of your background and experiences in your own education that it started me wondering about a few things. I know it’s not any of my business and I wouldn’t be upset if you chose not to respond (I’d still be wondering though). My first question is how involved were your parents in your education? I guess I mean was it important to them that you did well in school? Did they give you support at home, like helping with homework, working with you, etc? I guess I am wondering did you decide on your own that education was important or was it your parents’ expectation that you would do well in school, go to college, etc.?

  • 64. klm  |  December 14, 2011 at 10:56 am


    My father was effectively absent (alcholism, etc.) and gew up in an orphanage. My mother had mental health issues (Depression, etc.,) that prevented her from being all that she could be (disability, welfare, food stamps, etc., etc. instead of a steady paycheck) but she did somehow have almost 2 years of college before becoming a mother, was the type of parent that valued education, read often (we spent lots of time at the library –our Haven from the projects and the Heroine-plagued 1970s urban landscape), had expectations for us kids to do well and go to college, etc., so that I had a great role model at home in terms of learning, even if we didn’t have any money. My mother was a middle-class-thinking person trapped in dire circumstances, but she loved her kids and wanted what’s best for them. It was her way of thinking that was the greatest influence on my life. So many poor kids don’t have any role-models other than intergenerational failure.

    I had relatives in pleasant bungalow-belt blue-collar suburbs and was able to travel through a youth sports program which allowed me to see the world outside my own family’s circumstances and surroundings.

    Eventually when it was time for HS, my mother and I knew that our local public HS was not a good one (I read recently that its average ACT last year was 13-point-something), so we looked at a Catholic High School (depite the fact that we’re not Catholic). There were no SE options. Between an early morning paper route (until I was mugged), my mother working extra shifts at a restaurant, some financial aid, work-study (I helped sweep school floors a few times a week), etc., I was able to attend a great Catholic High School that literally changed my life and sent me on a completely different trajectory from most kids in my circumstances. One of the faculty members gave me a ride to school and when that wasn’t an option, the school made sure another student kindly gave me a ride. Nobody ever accepted gas money. The faculty all were dedicated (all were required to remain in school for at least 1 hour after school for tutoring and questions) wonderful people that cared and made sure that we learned and were prepared for college –such a complete contrast to many of my public school teachers (who I know probably made 2X as much money and had better benefits). When it came time for Prom, I was quietly called aside and discreetly asked if I needed help paying for it, etc,… As for college, the school made sure I was able to get the right amount of financial aid, etc. …. on and on. To this day, I’m grateful and donate to that school when I can.

    I know first hand how much a great school can change somebody’s life.

    And I know how a crappy one can keep somebody down.

    I understand how some kids are “trapped” in circumstances that almost guarantee failure. Geoffery Canada had the right idea with the Harlem Children’s Zone. If only it were possible to replicate that model more easily everywhere…

  • 65. Albany Park Mom  |  December 14, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I’m sure many of you have seen this NYT opion piece on the inability of high stakes testing to address the actual causes of the achievement gap. What can we do as middle class parents to encourage the kinds of social support necessary to really make change?

    KLM mentions, as does this peice, Geoffrey Canada. Chicago recieved none of the Promise neighborhood grants, designed to replicate his model. Does anyone know of any organizations are at least trying? I found a little info on one such attempt in Woodlawn.

    I don’t post often on this board although I do read it frequently and I see how often posters are caught between their concerns as parents for the best possible education for their children and their conerns as citizens for the best possible education for all of our children. Unfortunately in Chicago it seems that these interests are so often competing.

    While we fight to get our kinds in the best magnet, SEES and SEHS schools perhaps we should also support those organizations trying to address the real problems of the inequitable playing field?

  • 66. Liza  |  December 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm

    Thanks for answering my questions. It’s great that your mom supported you and put you on the right path, but I have more admiration for you – without a certain inherent strength of character you might not have made it! I like hearing about people who have beat the odds, they serve as an inspiration to me as a human being and as a teacher. Thanks for sharing! I wish every child had a parent who grasped the big picture, it would surely make a difference in their lives and in our schools!

  • 67. cpsobsessed  |  December 14, 2011 at 6:00 pm

    KLM, I agree, that is quite a story. Thanks for sharing. The story of the Catholic high school you attended is really heartwarming and you’re so right about the difference a school makes. And it continues to break my heart to think of all the kids in Chicago who won’t get that chance, or really any chance to break out of it…

  • 68. Amy's Mom  |  December 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    CPS has the money to educate our children. I just attended a curriculum PD, given by CPS, at the Hyatt Regency on Wacker Dr. About 100 people attended to be told that CPS really doesn’t have a good grip on Core Curriculum. We had a lovely pastries, coffee and teas for breakfast. Chicken ceasar salads for lunch, more coffee and chocolate ganache cake. The waste and spending has not changed. It makes me cry to think of what inner city teachers could do with the money spent to feed admin from downtown.

  • 69. Mom  |  December 15, 2011 at 12:04 am

    KLM, your story brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing.

  • 70. Wavering on CPS  |  December 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    I’m curious to know if the pro-testing folks know how many times a year their kids are being tested in CPS. Do we have a CPS teacher lurking on this site who can enlighten us? When I toured a well-regarded magnet recently, the principal told us they administer the DIBELS to Kindergarten students, and the Scantron, the ISAT, and the Common Core to everyone else. (I do realize that the Common Core will eventually replace the ISAT.) Sounds like the DIBELS is being administered three times a year, and the ISAT, once a year. What about the other two?

  • 71. kate  |  December 19, 2011 at 1:53 pm

    Wavering – remember that the ISAT (& common core) are given to 3 grade +, so the testing load is specific to grade-level. I’m not sure how often the Scantrons are administered in the applicable grades. I assume that there might also be “benchmark” testing so that teachers can confirm ‘where their class is’. I do think that this year (and probably next) will be heavier testing loads as the Common Core is implemented. I think some schools already participated in Common Core benchmark testing…. kinda like when you take a new gadget out of the box – you gotta “test it” with a beta (guinea pig) group.

What do you think?

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