Common Core

Earth to Teachers. Come in, Teachers. You Can't Support Common Core But Oppose Testing.


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A recent Gallup Poll exposed the fact that many teachers have a Jekyll and Hyde complex when it comes to Common Core: they like the idea of uniform national standards but vigorously oppose standardized tests.

According to the poll, 76 percent of teachers reacted positively to the idea of having "one set of educational standards across the country for reading, writing, and math." Good news for Common Core proponents, right? Unfortunately, the other half of Common Core is rigorous testing, and 72 percent of teachers reacted negatively to "standardized computer-based tests to measure all students' performance and progress." When the poll suggested "linking teacher evaluations to their students' Common Core test scores," teachers were horrified: 89 percent didn't like that idea.

Common Core cannot be stripped of standardized testing and still survive. Tests were not some incidental byproduct of the national standards effort; they are an integral part of the package. There will be no way to tell if the standards are working—or if schools are implementing them correctly—if the tests are tossed out but the standards maintained.

Certainly, some teachers merely oppose the tests because they don't want to be held responsible for their students' progress at all. That's bad; teacher compensation and evaluation should be based on something tangible, like student achievement, rather than something automatic, like tenure or degree attainment.

But I can't fault teachers who don't want to be held responsible for students' negative test scores when the students clearly don't stand a chance of passing. Haphazard implementation of Common Core means that not all students are absorbing Core-aligned material at the appropriate grades, rendering the tests ill-suited to the task at hand. And how are kindergartners at struggling, cash-strapped, inner-city schools going to pass a computerized exam, no matter how dedicated their teachers are?

One of the main problems of public education is a lack of accountability. There is no way to excise bad teachers from the system, and good teachers have little incentive to stay. Better testing is a perfectly valid solution to deal with that problem. But this test—a test forced on the states by large federal and corporate interests—is clearly creating more problems than it solves.

Incidentally, Common Core tests are so unpopular that some former supporters of the effort have been forced to change course in order to avoid alienting teachers. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is fighting to keep his governorship, has significantly walked back his pro-Core stances. His Republican opponent, Rob Astorino, is even more opposed to Common Core, and will actually appear on the ballot as the nominee of the "Stop Common Core" party.

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  1. Why WOULD teachers be responsible for their students’ IQ?

    1. They aren’t. But they are (largely) responsible for how much more knowledge the students have at the end of the year compared to the beginning.

    2. Well, teachers want you to think that they’re incredibly critical to educational outcomes, so they should be paid like surgeons.

      If teachers are helpless before the deterministic factors of IQ and home environment, then teachers can’t possibly be critical enough to the outcome to justify that kind of compensation.

      So essentially teachers want to be seen as responsible for good scores but not responsible for bad scores.

      1. Yeah, it’s amazing that they’re still getting away with this doublethink.

        Are you guys responsible for students’ ability to learn? Okay, then you can get paid well but you have to show that your students are learning.

        Are you guys not responsible for students’ ability to learn? Okay, then you don’t have to show that your students are learning, but we’re putting in a minimum wage bum to do the teaching.

        1. “Yeah, it’s amazing that they’re still getting away with this doublethink.”

          I’ve heard this too many times to hold the teaching profession in high regard:

          “I love my job and I sacrifice for the good of the children but I despise the way I’m not paid for it the way I think I should be”

      2. good scores = good teaching

        1. I had a pretty awful history teacher for three years in high school. In tenth grade, our class got an award for having one of the highest average grades in the world, for our class our size, on the AP European history exam.

          And by “our class got an award”, I mean the school district had a podium and plaque made and gave it as an award to our teacher.

          The next year, half of his class failed the exam and I don’t think anyone got a top score.

          One data point doesn’t mean the teacher is excellent. Maybe the kids just studied their asses off.

      3. bad scores = bad parenting

        1. You’ve gone all black and white on a situation that is far from it.

          1. That’s the argument I usually get from teachers. If the kids do well the teacher gets all the credit. If any kids do poorly it’s only because the parents are not properly engaged.

            1. Talking to a teacher who is against testing is an exercise in stupidity. They will drag you down and beat you unmercifully with stupid.

            2. And those teachers have gone all black and white if they present that single view.

              On a more positive note, the small rural school my two kids attend does a pretty decent job of praising parents when kids excel. I’ve had teachers thank me and the wife for being so involved in our kids’ education (the which has produced positive results). I do get a distinct feel from my kids’ teachers that there is something of a partnership here. And, I thank them as well for their efforts.

              Obviously, this isn’t the case with all teachers but in some corners there really are teachers who are hard-working and dedicated.

              1. Fuck yeah

                I had some wicked awesome teachers

                But I found it interesting that on average my prep school teachers were ON AVERAGE better teachers than my public school teachers. I’m taking into account class size differences, different audience etc

                The private school teachers, who were not required to have a teachers cert were better at communicating ideas, leading discussion, answering questions (clearly had a much better grasp of their subject matter) etc

                There were some very good teachers in public school, but the superiority of the private school ones was pretty obvious

              2. Obviously, this isn’t the case with all teachers but in some corners there really are teachers who are hard-working and dedicated.

                Which says a lot about the unions who protect the jobs of the crappy teachers.

                1. It’s their right to be shitty teachers and have a union represent them and help them keep their jobs.

  2. This is easy to understand if you look at both questions through the frame of avoiding responsibility.

    One national standard for what to teach? Great, I’m not responsible for deciding what to teach!

    Standardized tests that measure outcomes? Booooo, someone might think I’m responsible for part of those outcomes.

    1. ^This.

      They have the same incentives as admins who favor zero tolerance policies. Same paycheck, less actual mind work required.

    2. A classroom full of diverse minds and upbringings can all be made to test positive in such a manner that the results can prove a teacher’s capabilities?

      Not letting ol’ teach of the hook here but the classroom is a bowl of often divergent factors.

      1. So then the teacher isn’t making an impact and should be replaced by someone cheaper, who can also not make an impact.

        1. Teachers should be judged by more than test scores alone and, yes, some teachers should have been fired within their first few years of teaching. Some just do not belong in the classroom for any number of reasons.

          I attended high school in the inner city and I remember one algebra teacher in tenth grade who was so abused by her students there was literally no way the low test results of that class should in any way prove her to be an unproductive teacher. I thought she was a sweetheart and a good teacher at the time. I struggled terribly in that class due to the unruly kids- it had nothing to do with her teaching ability. Should a tougher math teacher have held her position? Sure. But that’s ‘toughness’- not teaching capability.

          1. “Should a tougher math teacher have held her position?”

            No. her abusive students should have been put out on the street to let nature take care of their idiotic gene pool.

          2. I thought she was a sweetheart and a good teacher at the time.

            Should a tougher math teacher have held her position? Sure.

            Make up your mind.

          3. “I struggled terribly in that class due to the unruly kids- it had nothing to do with her teaching ability. Should a tougher math teacher have held her position? Sure. But that’s ‘toughness’- not teaching capability.”

            Sometimes when you have a job things interfere with your ability to do your job which are not your fault.

            If you’re a cashier at McDonald’s, you shrug and sulk and take it out on your customers. And if you get really frustrated you walk across the street and get a job at the Burger King.

            If you’re a professional, you recognize that your job is important and take pride in the quality of your work. You and your colleagues use your positions of influence to push back at bad management practices that are harming your business and alienating your customers.

            If you’re a member of the teaching profession, you do nothing but complain constantly about your stupid management and idiot customers. Demanding to be paid and treated like highly skilled professionals, while acting like the sulky teenagers spitting on our sesame-seed buns.

            Teachers need to take responsibility or stop pretending they’re important. Can’t do both.

          4. Should a tougher math teacher have held her position? Sure. But that’s ‘toughness’- not teaching capability.

            It sounds like those are actually the same things.

            If you can’t keep order, and as a result kids don’t learn, then you are a bad teacher.

            Saying otherwise is like saying, “That guy would be a great business analyst if only he could get people to answer his process questions,” or “That guy would be a great salesman if only he could get people to take his cold calls.”

    3. This is exactly what I thought when I read the story. They want to be responsible for nothing and still get a paycheck, which is exactly when I would expect from these lazy worthless union dirtbags.

    4. Exactly. You said it perfectly. Getting instructions from higher makes things easier and alleviates the need for me to think. Having the result I produce measured, makes life much harder.

    5. And the students are the ones who get fucked in the middle.

      They get an awful “standard” and they get tested to death. And walk away from years of public prison having learned almost nothing.

  3. ” And how are kindergartners at struggling, cash-strapped, inner-city schools…”

    Bullshit! In Georgia the school systems that spend the most money per student are all in the poorest parts of the metro area. Coincidentally, they also have the worst results. But guess what the dems who run the local governments say can cure all their problems?

    1. In the DC and Baltimore areas, the most underperforming school systems — DC, Baltimore, Prince George’s County, and Alexandria — all have jaw-droppingly high spending. But try telling that to the “Our schools are underfunded” crowd, and you’ll get treated to some weapons-grade “La la la, I can’t hear you.”

      1. Obviously universal Pre-Kindergarten will fix all that. Because the same people who can’t teach a high-schooler how to read are gonna be awesome at government-funded toddler daycare.

      2. jaw-droppingly high spending

        From a teacher’s perspective, it may indeed seem they are underfunded because all the money sure ain’t going into the classroom.

        1. That’s the definitive issue with government involvement in anything. The government is a middle man that will create 7+ layers of bureaucracy between your money and what you intend to spend it on.

          And as Hilary has recently pointed out to us, the trickle down theory doesn’t work.

  4. Here is the problem. You have a base of customers who are forced to buy a product with limited options. You have a group of service providers that are paid through extortion. Until you have a willing customer base and a competitive market to serve those customers nothing will improve appreciatively.

    1. Exactly. As long as the students and the money that goes with their attendance is mandated by law, the schools are going to do what is best for the teachers and administrators and not the students.

      But you have to remember liberals can’t accept that fact or really even understand that it could exist or be a problem. They operate under the assumption that incentives only matter when applied to abortion and all teachers and government employees are dedicated public servants who never act in their own self interest.

      It is nothing but a less sophisticated belief in the new Soviet Man. At least the Soviets understood that the Soviet Man had to be created. This people think he just magically exists.

      1. There is no greater proof imo of teachers unions looking out for their own at kid’s and parents expense then the shenanigans they pulled in California to try to keep homeschooling illegal

    2. As nice a summary of why public education is the way it is that I have seen, Mr. Man.

  5. Considering their issues with basic logic, maybe analytical reasoning classes should be mandatory to get a teaching certificate

  6. Why can’t you? Since when is central planning mutually exclusive with a complete lack of standards and accountability? If anything, central planning and lack of accountability are nearly always associated with each other. If there was a way to centrally plan something and maintain accountability at the micro scale, it might actually work once in a while.

  7. Robby, from what I’ve read of Common Core, they use “national standard” as a selling point, but each state is allowed to set its own cut-off score.

    So, for people who like central planning, it’s a “national standard.” For people who don’t like central planning, then they say each state can set their own standard. And then they’ll try to compare passing rates between states with different cut offs without mentioning that point.

    They say that teachers can create their own curriculums/teaching styles, but all the tests are formatted like the typical, insane examples you hear about number composition/decomposition etc. So, if you decide not to teach using that method, then your students won’t be able to interpret the test.

    It’s all smoke and mirrors.

  8. 76 percent of teachers reacted positively to the idea of having “one set of educational standards across the country for reading, writing, and math.”

    I am reminded of Germany, where education is strictly a state matter and AFAIK there is no movement to nationalize it. Hell, they got the idea from us after you-know-what. But god forbid you express doubt about national standards in the US today – what kind of child-hating, ratbagging teafucker would be against that?

    1. We got the idea of compulsory education from Germany before you-know-what.

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