THE BLOG
08/28/2013 06:02 pm ET Updated Oct 28, 2013

What Is Louisiana State Superintendent John White Promoting as Common Core Sample Assessment Materials?

Let us consider the materials Louisiana State Superintendent of Education John White and his Louisiana Department of Education offer as materials designed to guide teachers wishing to know what to expect regarding Common Core State Standards (CCSS) assessment questions. According to the CCSS website:

The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter credit bearing entry courses in two or four year college programs or enter the workforce.

In the four brief videos below, "Dianne X" examines the content of the Louisiana Believes website, including excerpts from the Race to the Top (RTTT) agreement that contradicts White's "mission in Louisiana to have every child achieve a college degree or professional career" and sample Enhanced Assessment of Grade Level Expectations (EAGLE) test items offered to the public as being in line with the Common Core State Standards (CCSS).

This first video includes lofty introductory remarks from John White and comparison of his words to select, specific actual RTTT agreement details:

The second video includes EAGLE items for third grade English Language Arts (ELA) and a definite promotion of the Obama administration. (Warning: Dianne X's sarcasm is undeniable in this video. The opinions of the Obamas belong to Dianne X, not to Mercedes Schneider.) The EAGLE item is nowhere near "rigorous" given the example of an "exemplary" response to the test question:

Below is clarification from Dianne X for her remarks about "Obama as a hero":

... My word choice for the video was not the best for the example. I should have enlarged the video's scope to include the actual curriculum showing that in first grade students are to be taught that Obama is a hero. (In second grade, he is merely taught as famous.) Those are not my words; that is what is in the actual curriculum. At the time I made the video, that portion of the curriculum could still be viewed online. The state has since scrubbed that from viewing. But, as I have learned to do ever since they scrubbed the lesson plans on population control, I have them saved. Here is a copy. The part about Obama being a hero is in activity 8. [Emphasis added.]

In the third video, Dianne X examines a sample EAGLE item for grade 10 ELA: The focus is on "the evolution of employment in the United States." The reading assignment: White House memos:

The final video includes examination of grade 4 ELA question on the brontosaurus, a known fiction erroneously presented as fact in the EAGLE item, and grade 11-12 ELA, in which the "rigor" is not only a paraphrase of a Shakespearean sonnet but one that incorrectly interprets Shakespeare's use of the term, "fortune":


The examples Dianne X presents illustrate the dulling of critical thought. Perhaps this will help CCSS proponents support their predictions for CCSS assessment failure. Her examples also demonstrate the errors inevitably present when one rushes to throw together curricula and associated sample assessment items for a set of standards arriving a year early. (Louisiana was not supposed to fully implement CCSS until the 2014-15 school year, but Arne Duncan is worried about states dropping CCSS, so let's rush it through so that we can argue to keep CCSS "since we've already started.") Keep in mind that these EAGLE assessment items have not been developed in conjunction with the Louisiana CCSS assessment, Jeb Bush's Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC), which is only this year being field tested, so who knows really what to expect of PARCC for next year? (An aside: Our faculty has already been told that the non-piloted PARCC items are "hard.")

In the end, the high-stakes deciding factor in Louisiana CCSS is the PARCC cut score. Never mind really what students learn (or fail to learn); never mind the quality of the EAGLE items or the disconnect between EAGLE and barely-existent PARCC. If New York's experience has taught us anything, it is this:

He who sets the cut scores rules the world.

A version of this post was originally posted at deutsch29.wordpress.com

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