6th Graders, Forced to Test Common Core, Demand Compensation

Sixth graders are sick of working as conscripted product testers for Common Core.


Venable Village Elementary School kids
Rebekah Lampman (Wikimedia Commons)

Sixth graders at a public school in Ipswich, Massachusetts, are sick of working as conscripted product testers for Common Core–aligned standardized exams—and have written a letter demanding compensation.

The exams are administered by the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), a non-profit state consortium tasked with designing the testing component of the new Common Core education standards. PARCC has been doing trial runs of its new standardized tests over the last few months. The states randomly chose which schools and classrooms get the honor of losing a week's worth of classes to be guinea pigs for PARCC.

But Ipswich Middle School's A and B period math classes have had enough, according to the Ipswich Chronicle:

During class [on] Monday, May 19, a teacher jokingly mentioned that the students should get paid for taking the test since their participation helps the PARCC and at the end of class the students pressed Laroche further on the idea.

"The kids proceeded to tell me that PARCC is going to be making money from the test, so they should get paid as guinea pigs for helping them out in creating this test," said Laroche. "So I said, 'OK, if that's the case and you guys feel strongly then there are venues and things you can do to voice your opinion, and one would be to write a letter and have some support behind that letter with petition."

At 8 p.m. that night Laroche received a shared Google document with an attached letter from A-period student Brett Beaulieu, who asked that he and his peers be compensated for their assistance.

"I thought it was unfair that we weren't paid for anything and we didn't volunteer for anything," said Beaulieu. "It was as if we said, 'Oh we can do it for free.'"

Showcasing math skills that might have led to his class's selection in the first place, Beaulieu calculated that the sixth graders should have earned $1,628 for 330 minutes of minimum wage work. That money could be used to buy school supplies, he said:

Beaulieu thinks they will receive some type of reply. He would be satisfied receiving school supplies, but he's rooting for the money. "I hope that we can get the money," Beaulieu said. "I mean it's really not all about that, but I think it would be cool if we could actually kind of make a difference."

Laroche and Beaulieu eventually sent the letter to PARCC and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. It doesn't appear that either responded. I called PARCC to find out if they intend to answer. A spokesperson told me he would look into it.

Standardized testing is increasingly controversial, especially now that two test makers—PARCC for states in the south and east, and the Smarter Balanced Testing Consortium for states in the north and west—have exclusive federal mandates to administer Common Core–aligned testing.

Common Core is unpopular for many reasons, but a chief complaint is the perceived erosion of local autonomy over testing and curriculum decisions at the hands of federal bureaucrats and regional testing consortia. Fears of a nationalization of schools has led activists—including both left-leaning groups like teachers unions and right-leaning groups like the Tea Party—to pressure lawmakers in many states to cancel implementation of Common Core and its related standardized testing requirements.

Regardless of ideology, it seems like nobody—not teachers, not parents, not local officials, and certainly not sixth graders—likes being a guinea pig in an expensive national education experiment.

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  1. I applaud anything that teaches kids to be ruthless little capitalists.

    1. I applaud anything that teaches kids to jealously guard their rights.

      1. This, too, is good!

        1. Yes, but then the kid wanted to distribute the results of their labor to the common pool. So, these are budding Communists here. Just Sayin’

    2. I think it would be better if they all refused to take part, said fuck this, and went outside to play kickball.

      But I guess this will do.

  2. “The kids proceeded to tell me that PARCC is going to be making money from the test, so they should get paid as guinea pigs for helping them out in creating this test,” said Laroche.

    Since no court takes the 13th Amendment seriously we can’t go that way, but how about prosecuting PRCC under child labor law?

    1. Hahaha, that’d be awesome.

  3. Regardles of ideology, it seems like nobody?not teachers, not parents, not local officials, and certainly not sixth graders?likes being a guinea pig in an expensive, national education experiment.

    Rest assured that someone is making a crapload of money from common core, and they don’t care who has to be a guinea pig.

    1. By someone, you mean “Marc S. Tucker” and company, right?

    2. There’s always a crony benefiting from every government action. Always.

      1. I had to define the terms “rent seeking” and “regulatory capture” for a bunch of other lobbyists yesterday. It was very odd.

  4. It’ll be awesome.if this.succeeds. $1700 is chump change for product testing and the positive publicity would be well worth it.’ll never happen because some bullshit about altruism and’s the.kid’s duty to help other students get the best tests available etc., ad nauseam.

    1. Couldn’t they, in essence, seek punitive damages for the mental anguish of slave labor? Shouldn’t they also, then, be compensated at fair market value- not minimum wage? How much would it cost to develop focus groups, pay those participants accordingly, etc. I think they should get much more. I also think this could/should be a class action suit with all public school students named.

  5. Those kids had better be careful about drawing too much attention to their apparently-racist classes.

  6. Kids

    Well that’s not the worst first alt-text I’ve seen.

  7. Well, goddam. Last week saw a sighting of the near-mythical good cop, and here we have what appears to be the near-mythical good pubsec teacher.

    1. And here, I though a unicorn never farted twice in the same place.

    2. This is a math teacher.

      I’d bet part of the reason I liked math as a kid was because numbers either work out or they are wrong. You can’t lie your way through a math test (you can cheat, but that isn’t lying).

      It is no coincidence that of the 5 teachers in high school I actually respected 4 were math teachers. And it wasn’t necessarily due to their teaching ability, it was because they would actually skip instruction once in a while and have adult conversations about the world and the kids’ plans for the future.

      Even the bad math teachers I had did a better job than my guidance counselor who was more interested in her career than the students’ futures.

  8. “I thought it was unfair that we weren’t paid for anything and we didn’t volunteer for anything,” said Beaulieu. “It was as if we said, ‘Oh we can do it for free.'”

    I’m glad to see that these kids haven’t yet learned the lesson that their prison guards have attempted to teach them.

  9. Considering the protections laid out in the Belmont Report as they relate to kids in human subject research, I bet a couple of legal eagles could make the case that the informed consent and maybe the voluntariness of this cohort of kids were violated by the researchers and they are entitled to compensation.

    1. Interesting. The key issue seems to be whether this is “research”, defined as

      By contrast, the term “research” designates an activity designed
      to test a hypothesis, permit conclusions to be drawn, and thereby to
      develop or contribute to generalizable knowledge (expressed, for example,
      in theories, principles, and statements of relationships).

      An analogy is easily drawn to late-stage clinical trials, where a given mode of treatment/test is “piloted” with groups of real patients/students in order to refine earlier study results, set parameters for use, etc.

      1. And was the study vetted by the IRB? My wife did some educational model testing that was a minuscule “intervention” compared to this, and the IRB paperwork on using human subjects took her months to get approved.

  10. “Sixth graders at a public school in Ipswich, Massachusetts, are sick of working as conscripted product testers for Common Core-aligned standardized exams?and have written a letter demanding compensation.”

    Even they’re not willing to just do it for the children!

  11. It’d be awesome if the next phase involved the kids “going on strike”.

    1. You want these kids to die? I guara-fucking-tee you that Mass. truancy officers have access to SWAT.

      1. I want those kids to get a good lesson in the utter inanity and pettiness of government bureaucrats and bullies (but I repeat myself).

        Of course this is Massachusetts so I’m sure their Masshole parents will explain to them that agents of the state represent government which represents all of us and that they should just obey orders like good children.

      2. Yeah, you’re right.

        It’d be awesome if the next phase involved the kids “having some difficulties” with Common Core.

  12. ” “I hope that we can get that money,” Beaulieu said

    And That’s One to Grow On, people

    1. Nice.

      I hanker for a hunka’ cash.

  13. Ipswich? There’s got to be some Lovecraftian influence here. Have any of the kids ever mentioned Yog-Sothoth?

  14. “I hope that we can get the money,” Beaulieu said. “I mean it’s really not all about that,

    And then your mealymouthed parents undercut your natural tendencies. Shame.

  15. Ia! Ia! The Test with a thousand answers!

    1. In reply to Epi, above.

  16. Best. ALT TEXT. EVER!

  17. OMG

    Anna Marie Cox sez ‘Rand Paul smells slightly better than most GOP’ and the comments have brainsplosion


    03 June 2014 4:55pm

    Libertarianism only looks good until people realize the Big-Gov scam they’ve been happily living off their entire life is going to be eliminated.

    Crony-socialism and crony-fascism are the most common ISM’s because a majority of the humans know that spending other-people’s-money is the best money you can spend. The only disagreement is over the bullshit about what is actually a “scam” and what is actually an “investment in our children’s future”.

    Let’s have a show of hands of how many “libertarians” and “conservatives” are happily living off of: Big-Ag, Big-MIC, Big-Road, Big-Water, Big-Airport, Big-Energy, Big-Ed, Big-House, Big-Fin, Big-OldFart, Big-Healthcare, Big-AntiDrug, & Big-PoliceState?.”

    1. Meh, he’s right. That applies for a lot of people.

      Of course, if his conclusion is, “so we need to go whole hog on big government!,” well, that would be stupid.

    2. Of course, like most big-gov supporters, he stops at the first order causes. Yes, many libertarians and conservatives live off of government programs.

      However, just try taking private roads for any meaningful distance… you can’t, because gov’t has monopolized roads. Try flying commercially out of a privately owned airport… can’t, gov’t has monopolized it. Try getting a private education… costs double because you still pay for your child’s phantom public education. Try taking out a fully private loan on your house… can’t unless you have an enormous down payment, because the gov’t has undercut the banks. Try paying for school without loans… very hard, because the cheap money in higher education has inflated tuition prices.

      If anything, the commenter has exposed how hard gov’t works to make each and every one of us dependent on it.

      1. Government breaking legs and handing out crutches since time Immoral.

    3. I saw a similar sentiment to this in my Derpbook feed when some jabrone asked (and he thought rhetorically) how anyone that had served in the military could suddenly turn libertarian? Um, yeah, being a serialized piece of government property could never make one a libertarian.

  18. Fears of a nationalization of schools has led activists?including both left-leaning groups like teachers unions and right-leaning groups like the Tea Party?to pressure lawmakers in many states to cancel implementation of Common Core and its related standardized testing requirements

    I have it on good authority that the only people opposed to Common Core are the Bible-thumpers opposed to it mentioning EVILution and Kochsuckers opposed to it mentioning ‘so-called climate change’.

    1. “Good authority” = one individual’s small brain.

  19. What asshole is putting autoplay ads on the website? Cancel my subscription!

    1. Get NoScript or Ghostery, depending if you’re using Firefox or Chrome. Those + Adblock = What’s an ad?

    2. What andrew said

      I think you may have what I had – the ‘viewster’ toolbar virus. trying to remove it from IE was a major hassle, so i ditched it and went with Firefox & Adblock+ and poof: no more problems.

  20. If the kids are going to ask for minimum wage, they should ask for profit-sharing, too.

  21. If I were them, I would have asked for $162,800. If they questioned my math, I would question their teaching of math.

  22. There is still hope for this country if more kids can think for themselves.

  23. I believe researching and writing a dissertation can bring many benefits for those who are interested gaining more knowledge and self-improvement. As a rule custom dissertation writing reports the results of a huge, important, life-altering study. Writing this paper is a challenging and of course rewarding life experience and at the same time it is acknowledged to be an exhausting, time-consuming and exasperating process. At least it helps to acquire some skills that might bring lots of benefits in the future career.

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