So about those “Great Dummy Down” Claims…

(Guest Post by Matthew Ladner)

Let me take a moment to reiterate that in my home state I’m very comfortable with Governor Ducey’s goal to create a set of high academic standards unique to Arizona. I see little value in “common” standards (NAEP scratches my cross-state comparison itch) but I hate state tests that the Wall Street stock picking chicken could pass on his way to receiving a false state endorsement of “proficiency” with the burning hatred of a thousand suns. I have no idea where this will ultimately wind up and I can easily imagine better strategies than those adopted, etc.

Having said that, let’s just say that the “great dummy down” claim just got put on the shelf next to bus-based retinal scan stories and United Nations conspiracy theories:

5 Responses to So about those “Great Dummy Down” Claims…

  1. Ze'ev Wurman says:

    At least Paul Peterson is better than you, Matt, in that he uses “proficiency standards” many times in his piece to distinguish between “test difficulty” (aka “proficiency standards”) and “rigor of, and high expectations by, the standards” (aka “content standards” or just “standards”)

    What Peterson documents here is that the TEST DIFFICULTY has risen across the board, which is unsurprising given that last year many states used either PARCC or SBAC tests. In fact, what IS surprising, and what undermines even the “test difficulty” claim, is the fact that NOT ALL of the PARCC/SBAC states had the identical A rating. Surely if the assumptions underlying the effort to impose a uniform test difficulty across the nation were correct, Peterson should have gotten identical ratings for all those states. But that’s an issue for another day.

    What Peterson does NOT document is that the content standards across the nation are more demanding or hold students to higher expectations. In fact, just the opposite is true as we see from 50% drop of algebra taking in grade 8 in California (54% to 28% between 2013 and 2015) or in Kentucky college math chairs complaining about dropping students’ proficiency under Common Core.

    So while I don’t know everything about retinal scans or UN conspiracies (although I do know a bit about the latter having lived for many years in Israel), discerning readers should know better than to place Common Core-induced dumbing down with them.

    (Incidentally, am I the only one annoyed that with so many neologisms cavalierly accepted by dictionaries these days, “dumbed” has not become a recognized verb yet?)

  2. matthewladner says:

    Let me see if I am understanding you correctly- we are supposed to focus on small differences between adopting states and ignore the massive increase in overall alignment with NAEP?

    • Ze'ev Wiseman says:

      No, I am not focusing on the — not so small, actually — differences between states. In fact, I said that’s for another day.

      What I focused on was the difference between “test difficulty” and “standards rigor” that you seem to have glossed over 🙂

      • matthewladner says:

        I confess I am far more concerned about states giving phony endorsements of academic proficiency than inherently subjective arguments over standards rigor.

  3. pdexiii says:

    3 years ago our students were chosen to take the NAEP in CA.
    Of course I looked over the shoulders of my students, and understand that in 2013 that was the last year CA students were tested against the older (and some say better) CA math frameworks which expected students to take traditional Algebra 1 in 8th grade. The NAEP math test for 8th grade is broader than Algebra 1; after 2 solid years of Common Core I’d say the current 8th grade CC standards are more aligned with the NAEP tests based on the questions I saw on the 2013 NAEP test my students took.

    As for Algebra in the 8th grade, the current grade 8 CC standards contain many topics that are part of a traditional Algebra 1 course, and if you accelerate the content for your 6th and 7th graders you can still have 8th graders engage Algebra 1 in 8th grade.

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