April 21, 2016 By Joseph P. Farrell

The bad news about the rotten heart of the Common Core program keeps coming. THis article was shared by Mr. S.D., and it contains yet another profound clue as to the scam being perpetrated on public schools are the western world by corporations that own and "calibrate" the standardized tests they have caused governments to force their students to take:

Teacher: What third-graders are being asked to do on 2016 Common Core test

Here's the crux of the problem, as outlined by New York teacher Katie Lapham on her blog:

Over the course of three consecutive days last week, students in Grades 3-8 took Pearson’s New York State Common Core English Language Arts tests.  As was the case in 2013, 2014 and 2015,  I felt that the the 2016 English Language Arts tests were developmentally inappropriate, confusing and tricky.  Despite the New York State Education Department (NYSED)’s “adjustments” to the 2016 assessments, there was no improvement to the quality of the tests.

While I am barred from disclosing the reading passages and questions that appeared on the tests, in no way will I refrain from broadcasting to the world how outraged I continue to be – year after year – over New York’stesting regime.  Since 2013, when Pearson’s Common Core tests were first administered in New York state, I’ve been documenting this on my blog.


Later, Ms. Lapham has this to say:

3.) The questions were confusing.  They were so sophisticated that it appeared incongruous to me to watch a third-grader wiggle her tooth while simultaneously struggle to answer high school-level questions. How does one paragraph relate to another?  Unfortunately, I can’t disclose more.  The multiple-choice answer choices were tricky, too. Students had to figure out the best answer among four answer choices, one of which was perfectly reasonable but not the best answer.

Here’s what P.S. 321’s principal, Elizabeth Phillips, wrote about the 2014 Common Core tests.  Her op-ed, “We Need to Talk About the Test,” appeared in the New York Times on April 9, 2014.  These same issues were evident on the third-grade 2016 English/Language Arts test.

“In general terms, the tests were confusing, developmentally inappropriate and not well aligned with the Common Core standards. The questions were focused on small details in the passages, rather than on overall comprehension, and many were ambiguous. Children as young as 8 were asked several questions that required rereading four different paragraphs and then deciding which one of those paragraphs best connected to a fifth paragraph. There was a strong emphasis on questions addressing the structure rather than the meaning of the texts. There was also a striking lack of passages with an urban setting. And the tests were too long; none of us can figure out why we need to test for three days to determine how well a child reads and writes.”

As Gary Lawrence and I document in our forthcoming book Rotten to the (Common) Core, this corporatization strategy is the latest twist in an old "argument from authority" in the standardized testing business: when the specific questions of a test are challenged (as they have been since their appearance in education) by various people, the stock-in-trade response of the "industry" has been to defend the questions, no matter how poor, by an appeal to the corporation's "anonymous experts" and "committees" and staticians. A pretense of listening to the opposition is offered, but the overall philosophical problem with the standardized test remains, and oftentimes, the "replacement" questions are worse than the ones challenged and, in a few cases, successfully overturned.

Stop and consider just that point alone: someone takes a test, gets a standardized test score, based on a test containined dubious test questions, which score is then used to "guide" a student in his or her career decisions. For the student, the standardized test is a life-affecting mechanism. Yet, are their scores modified (in time) for them to make appropriate life choices, even when a test question is rejected (and an even more dubious question is inserted)? And how valid then are the statistics over time on which the "industry" relies and upon which it bases so much of its "defense" of its dubious tests?

There's a further problem exposed by Ms. Lapham in the above quotations: namely, in spite of criticism from teachers themselves, the testing companies (in this case Pearson) continue to plow blithely on with their bad tests.

Additionally, the old defenses have now taken on a new tone of authoritarianism, for criticisms of these tests must be confined to generalized remarks, unable to refer to details of specific questions, because, of course, this is considered to be properietary!  So the corporate defenders of the test are allowed to refer to details to butress their arguments, while their critics are confined to generalized remarks and commentary, and hence, to a more ineffective form of argument! So much for the standardized testing industry promoting and defending true academic discussion, argument, and disagreement. In effect, what the corporations are doing is allowing themselves to "footnote" while denying the opposition the ability to do the same. They have used mercantilist policies to unlevel the playing field. And I submit, in so doing, they are committing an egregious fraud on the public they only ostensibly "serve."

I suggest that the corporations cannot have their cake and eat it too: they cannot lift quotations from literature and art, slap them into their tests, and then claim that these details constitute proprietary information or that their revelation for purposes of evaluation and debate and discussion would be a breach of confidentiality or skew the results of their tests!  The point is, their own bad questions, bad practice, and defense tactics are already skewing the results, and hence, the results of such tests cannot be considered "scientific" or "objective" in any meaningful sense.

The whole situation brought about by the corporatization of education in the West is, in other words, the exact opposite of education in any meaningful sense as it has obtained in the western tradition. Imagine a Peter Abelard or a THomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages being prevented from citing their opponents' writings and texts in their discussions and debates in the medieaval universities because of such dubious copyright or confidentiality or proprietary claims: the whole tradition and evolution of education in the western tradition would have never been born.

It's time for teachers and the general public to face the facts: corporatization of education, with all it entails, does not work because in its core philosophical principles it is utterly contrary to the process of education itself. And for those corporations to argue that they are compatible is to commit fraud on a rand scale.

It's time to put these racketeers out of their fraudulent business, We don't need educartels, we need a return to our traditions of education.

See you on the flip side...