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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Limited, One-Time Offer

Next year it appears our history students will be asked to take a Common-Core aligned history test.  I've heard the opinions of parents and math teachers about the 2014 Common-Core aligned Algebra tests.  In 2014, students took both the Common-Core aligned regents and the more traditional version.  It's no surprise that students who scored in the high nineties on the traditional version ended up with a Common-Core grade in the seventies.  Although I'm betting even native English speakers had trouble, I heard that the wordiness of many problems made the test especially hard for those who may know the math, but not the language.  

So, what will be my tactic for preparing ninth-grade students for the Common-Core aligned 2016 Global History and Geography Regents?  Should I start giving tests designed to fail students despite the fact that I learned my first year teaching that this is academically negligent?  Should I start overwhelming them with readings that even an English-born student might find obtuse?  Should I shock them into an Oxford-educated-level of vocabulary and focus on word power over the the impact of historical events?  Should I flood them with facts to close down young minds? 

I didn't become a teacher to make children hate school.  Did you?  I will teach much as I have always taught, trying to pull the critical issues that are still with us today out of ages long past.  I will try to remember the things that have stuck with me over the years and aim to convey the type of lessons that instead of reinforcing failure provide the majority of students with the real possibility of success.

Just as the evaluation system in my school seems to ensure that most of us will always be rated merely effective, the Common-Core tests will ensure that the majority of my students fail.  I could kid myself into believing that I'm working hard to help my kids pass or earn a highly-effective rating, but I know the cards have already been stacked against us.  I won't buy into that system--even if it's on sale for a limited, one-time offer.  

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