A Must Read from Ann Policelli Cronin- SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one

First published in the CT Mirror, SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one fellow public educator advocate and columnist has a great article that provides important information to parents across Connecticut and should be required reading for Connecticut’s elected officials.

SBAC: Failing most Connecticut children in more ways than one by Ann Policelli Cronin

The Connecticut SBAC scores will be released by the State Department of Education any day now. The scores will be low. You will be told that the low scores are because the SBAC tests are rigorous and our students don’t measure up.

Don’t believe it.

First of all, the test can’t possibly be rigorous because the Common Core Standards on which the tests are based are vapid. The Common Core English Standards do not teach students to be thoughtful readers, deep thinkers, or effective writers, so the SBAC exams do not measure those competencies.

Secondly, we have no idea if what is tested has predictability for the students’ future success in the next grade or college because no one checked with grade 4-12 teachers or college professors to see what competencies students will need. The Common Core English Standards were written by makers of standardized tests and are comprised of what can be measured by those tests, not comprised of what students need to learn.

Lastly, even though the Common Core has a low intellectual bar, most students will fail the tests because the passing grades have been artificially set. Last November, before any students had taken the 2015 SBAC tests, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education, representing Gov. Dannel Malloy, signed an agreement that the 2015 SBAC tests would fail 59 percent of high school juniors in English, 67 percent of high school juniors in math, 56-62 percent of third through eighth graders in English, and 61-68 percent of third through eighth graders in math       (“Cutoff Scores Set for Common-Core Tests”,Education Week, November 17, 2014).

When the majority of Connecticut children are soon told that they are failures, it is not because some absolute measure with objective criteria determined that, but because a test was designed to fail them.

By other criteria, Connecticut students are highly successful. For example, since 1992, Connecticut, along with Massachusetts and New Jersey, has had the highest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores in the country, and Connecticut ranks fifth in the world, outranked by only three countries and the state of Massachusetts, in reading scores of 15-year-olds on the international PISA test. And we as a state have accomplished all of that with the highest achievement gap in the country and without excluding our lowest performing students from taking those tests. Somebody, mostly our kids, are doing something right. Yet most of them will be deemed failures next week.

There is something very wrong with this picture.

I have worked with hundreds of Connecticut English teachers and am confident that any of them could design a test that would fail two thirds of their students. But I don’t know one teacher who would do it.  That’s because they are educators and not politicians using manufactured test results to advance political agendas.

Those English teachers and I know how to design rigorous exams. We also know how to teach students so that those who do what we ask of them and put out good effort each day in class will demonstrate competency on rigorous assessments. We also know that some of those students will perform in truly exceptional ways on the assessments and that an occasional student will exceed even our wildest dreams and thrill us beyond belief.

We teach students the skills and then see how far they go with them. We teach for success.

Last January, I reviewed a midterm English exam with high school students who had just taken it. They had their graded exams on their desks along with a description of the competencies the exam asked of them.  Those competencies were:

  • Asking their own complex and multi-layered questions as thoughtful inquiry.
  • Engaging in active and critical reading of poetry, non-fiction, fiction, and films.
  • Thinking analytically as they independently interpreted challenging literary texts.
  • Thinking imaginatively as they made connections between a historical or fictional character and their own lives and creating a persona to write about that connection.
  • Engaging in narrative thinking as they told the story of their own learning.
  • Collaborating with others in order to strengthen their own interpretations and evaluations.
  • Writing essays which demonstrate their ability to revise and strengthen a piece over time as well as writing essays in a timed classroom setting.
  • Using correct grammar and usage.
  • Demonstrating focus, energy, and passion as they prepare for and participate in the two-hour exam.

Those students knew their exam was rigorous. Those students had been taught how to succeed as readers, writers, and thinkers. Those students, therefore, did succeed as readers, writers, and thinkers.

After comparing their exams to the list of competencies, the students ascertained their strengths and determined what they needed to work on in the next semester. And, for sure, these students knew they were not failures.

Not so when the SBAC scores come out. Most students will consider themselves failures. Or, perhaps, the Connecticut State Department of Education will do what the State of Washington did and lower the passing grade to keep educators and parents quiet about the low test scores.

Either way, the message of SBAC hurts kids. Either way, SBAC is not about teaching and learning. The truth is: The SBAC test is political monkey business.

It is our job as citizens and parents to tell students the truth about SBAC. It is our job as educators to keep teaching and assessing students in real and honest ways.

Otherwise, we adults are the failures.

You can read more of Ann Policelli Cronin’s pieces at her blog: http://reallearningct.com/

Say No to SBAC (by Ann P. Cronin)

If you don’t follow Ann Cronin’s new blog entitled Real Learning CT you need to go bookmark the site and make a daily stop to read her latest pieces.  Ann is a Connecticut educator and has posted a number of guest columns here at Wait, What?  She now has her own education blog and today she has a MUST READ commentary piece titled Say No to SBAC.

Ann Cronin writes;

Say No to SBAC.

Connecticut currently mandates the testing of public school students in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11 with standardized tests produced by the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC). I am opposed to SBAC testing for English language arts because those tests neither measure authentic achievement nor foster students’ growth as readers, writers, and thinkers. Here are 10 reasons to STOP the harmful SBAC testing.

  1. SBAC tests are not rigorous.

The tests do not demand complex thinking. The tests are aligned to the Common Core standards, and the content of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts is inferior content which does not serve to develop students as motivated, engaged readers and effective writers.

  1. SBAC tests are not field-tested for college and career readiness.

No one knows if a good score indicates that a student will be successful in college or careers or if a poor score indicates that a student will struggle in college or careers. According to Joseph Willholt, executive director of SBAC, there is a “large validity question “ about the tests in regard to college readiness.

The SBAC tests do not measure the skills students will need for the global workforce. Those needed skills are: to pose and shape critical questions, to collaborate with others of different cultures and points of view, to communicate effectively orally and in writing, and to use meta-cognitive skills (learning how to learn skills) when facing new problems. Other countries with which we compare ourselves measure those skills because they have standards for them, but we have neither the standards to teach those skills nor the SBAC tests to measure them.

  1. SBAC tests are not developmentally appropriate.

The Common Core English Language Arts Common Standards were not written by educators or those with knowledge of child and adolescent development. They were written by employees of testing companies. The content of the standards and of the SBAC tests is simply what test makers determined could be measured on standardized tests, not what is appropriate for students to learn or what fosters student growth as readers, writers, and thinkers. The National Council of Teachers of English did not endorse the Common Core because of the content of those standards,  the content SBAC tests measure.

  1. SBAC tests are capriciously graded.

The passing grade on the tests is arbitrarily set. On the high school SBAC tests, the passing grade is set such that 70% of students will be labeled as failing the math portion and 60% labeled as failing the English portion. The passing grade on SBAC has been set at what the highly respected National Assessment of Educational Progress considers a B+/ A- performance. SBAC labels all those who score a B or lower as failures.

  1. SBAC tests serve to widen the achievement gap.

The more time students spend preparing for SBAC tests, the less education they will have in authentic literacy learning. Time spent in test prep for SBAC robs students of reading, writing, and collaborating experiences which develop literacy skills. Schools with a history of low test scores spend concentrated time on test prep; schools with traditionally high test scores do not spend time on test prep. Therefore, the gap between those graduates with genuine skills in reading, writing, and collaborating will widen with students of privilege receiving a notably better education than students in schools with historically low test scores.

  1. SBAC tests discriminate against Connecticut’s neediest students.

Since all standardized test scores correlate with family income, many children of poverty will fail. How long will students be motivated to learn and how long will they stay in school if they fail tests in 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5thgrade, 6th grade, 7th grade, and 8th grade? Not only are impoverished students receiving a poor education with Common Core but their dropout rate will also increase.

  1. SBAC tests narrow the curriculum.

Preparing students for SBAC tests requires a high school English curriculum that strictly adheres  to the Common Core. That adherence severely limits what students read, what thinking skills they learn as readers, what students write, and what kind of thinking skills they learn as writers.

Common Core limits the amount of literature read and totally eliminates teaching students the skills of questioning, making text connections to themselves and their world, and analyzing multiple and divergent interpretations  that reading literature offers. None of those skills are assessed on the SBAC test so are not part of the test prep curriculum many schools have adopted.

Similarly, that test prep curriculum does not develop students as writers and thinkers. High school students are tested only on how they write formulaic arguments, graded either by computers or hourly employees hired through Craig’s List and not required to have knowledge about the craft of writing.   Therefore, students do not have a curriculum rich in writing experiences which develop their inductive, explorative,  and narrative thinking – all keys to success in higher education and the workplace.

  1. SBAC tests encourage poor pedagogy.

Because of the high stakes of the SBAC tests, English teachers, especially in schools with a history of low standardized test scores,, prepare students for the test by adhering to the pedagogy prescribed by the Common Core. It, however, is a flawed and discredited pedagogy prevalent in the 1940’s and 50’s and does nor prepare students to think complexly. Not only does that pedagogy severely restrict students’ development as readers and writers, it discourages many of them from even wanting to become readers and writers.

  1. SBAC tests will not “level the playing field”.

Connecticut is already doing well with literacy education.

Connecticut ranks higher than 62 nations in the reading performance of 15 year olds (according to the 2012 PISA- Program of International Student Assessment) and ranks highest in the country in reading performance of high school seniors (according to NAEP, the nation’s most authoritative measure of academic performance in reading and math). If standardized tests are thought to give us useful information, we already have that information.

We know that affluent areas of Connecticut provide an unparalleled education for their students, and we know that where students are impacted by poverty and racism, those students suffer. To level the playing filed, we need to provide for impoverished students what their more privileged peers have been given and standardize opportunities for learning for all students.

  1. SBAC tests teach the wrong values.

The tests teach children that competition, beating out other schools and other students, is what matters instead of the student’s own learning, the student’s own passion for ideas, the student’s own growth as a thinker, a reader, and a writer.

Connecticut educators can design assessments which measure the achievements students really need for their future. I have done considerable work with teachers in both affluent and impoverished districts to design assessments that measure critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, and oral and written communication for students of all abilities. Student achievement always exceeds original expectations when teachers are invited to do this work.

We CAN improve achievement in Connecticut for ALL of our students but not with SBAC tests.

You can find this article and Ann Cronin’s other pieces at: http://reallearningct.com/

More on Common Core – Truth Is Truer Than Fiction (Guest post by Ann Policelli Cronin)

Ann Policelli Cronin provides Wait, What? readers with another powerful commentary piece!

Ann writes,

The old adage “If something seems too good to be true, maybe that’s because it is” came to mind as I read Jennifer Alexander’s Op-Ed (“Don’t let misinformation destroy the promise of the Common Core”, October 9, 2014) Read here. In it, she said that the Common Core standards will ensure that Connecticut remains a place where people want to live, work and invest in their future, that the standards are clear and high and will make students ready for college and careers, and that those standards will cause children of poverty to graduate from high school in increasing numbers.

Oh if only it were true. But none of it is. It is fantasy at best and the author not understanding what it means to teach and what it means to learn at worst.

First of all, the Common Core standards have never been tested in the real world for accuracy or effectiveness.  No one has any idea if a high score on a Common Core-aligned standardized test will result in a student being successful in college or in a career. No work has been done to determine if those tests actually measure the capabilities and skills that professors in higher education and people successful in a wide variety of careers want college students and professionals to have. Those people were never asked.  The standards were simply decided by employees of testing companies. All that we know for sure is that the Common Core standards are skills that testing companies can measure on their tests.

The Common Core standards are also neither “high” nor “clear”.  The Connecticut State Standards for English Language Arts are much more rigorous than the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts and have a strong and deep research base that is totally lacking with the Common Core. The Common Core standards require a way of teaching students to read and to write that has long been discredited. Not only will the Common Core approach severely restrict students’ development as readers and writers, it will discourage students from even wanting to become readers and writers. The Common Core standards are definitely not rigorous, as teachers who have required rigor of their students know.

Standards that are rigorous encourage students to read and to write. They actively involve students in reading books that engage them and in writing poems, essays, narratives, plays, and speeches about ideas that are theirs alone.  The author of the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts, David Coleman, has said over and over at conferences, in interviews and in online presentations that students’ personal responses and interpretations have no place in the classroom nor does discussion of the cultural and historical context in which books are written or in which students live belong in that classroom. Also, as writers, the personal voice of students is not allowed and essays of personal interpretation and evaluation have been replaced with impersonal, formulaic essays that have nothing in common with real writing. Rigorous learning engages students with the big questions that great literature poses, encourages students to connect their own lives to those questions, and requires students to integrate the classroom discussions about those ideas so that they create new knowledge for themselves.

As for the Common Core standards being “clear”, they are not.  There are 42 English Language Arts standards crammed with almost 200 different skills to be taught in each academic year.  They are a mishmash of skills without a plan of developmental appropriateness and devoid of logic as to why some of them are in one grade and others in another grade. In a recent article in Education Week (September 23, 2014), Mike Schmoker reports that Gerald Graff, the former president of the professional organization of college English professors (Modern Language Association) said that most of the Common Core standards are unnecessary and nonsensical. For curriculum expert Robert Shepherd, the Common Core standards are “just another set of blithering, poorly thought-out abstractions.” Schmoker challenges any of us to make sense out of this 8th grade Common Core standard:

Analyze how the points of view of the characters and audience or reader (e.g. created through the use of dramatic irony) create effects like suspense or humor.

It’s gobbeldy gook.

Not only are students receiving a poor education with the Common Core but the dropout rate will also increase. The Common Core aligned tests have the passing rate set at 30%; therefore, about 70% of the students in Connecticut will fail those tests. Since all standardized test scores correlate with family income, many children of poverty will fail.  The way to break that correlation is not by testing and punishing students but by addressing the needs of those disadvantaged by poverty and racism. Feed the kids, give them eye exams, lower the class size so that that they get the adult conversation they crave, add personnel for extended learning experiences after school and in the summer. Standardize opportunities for learning.

Insisting upon real rigor for all Connecticut’s children and addressing the needs of children disadvantaged by poverty and racism – that is how Connecticut will be a state where people want to live, work, and invest in their future.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught English, been a district level administrator for English programs, taught university courses in English education, been assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project, and won state awards for her teaching and national awards for curriculum design.

Connecticut, a Jim Crow state? [A must read by Ann Policelli Cronin]

This commentary piece by Ann Policelli Cronin first appeared in the CT Mirror –  Op-Ed: Connecticut, a Jim Crow state?

Unless Connecticut changes direction in what has been packaged and sold as “education reform,” its achievement gap, the largest in the nation, will be exacerbated.

All of Connecticut’s children are harmed by the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core Standards and by the amount of instructional time lost to preparing for and taking standardized tests to measure acquisition of that content.

Connecticut children of color,already hurt by poverty and racism, however, suffer the most. Current “education reform” will further marginalize them as Jim Crow laws of the past marginalized African Americans in southern states.

The content of the Common Core standards was established by employees of testing companies. The content is simply what those employees determined can be measured on standardized tests.

For example, not one educator with expertise in teaching students how to develop as thoughtful readers and effective writers chose the 188 random skills to be taught in grade 9 and 10 English courses, or the 192 random skills for grades 11 and 12.  Also, no field studies were done to determine if those particular skills lead to achievement in college or careers.

The tests to assess mastery of this arbitrary content are meaningless hurdles whose function is to produce scores by which schools, teachers, and students are ranked. The more a school focuses on teaching the narrow and inappropriate content of the Common Core, the more its students will be harmed.

Connecticut schools vary widely in their adherence to the Common Core. None of the private prep schools, which specialize in preparing students for college, teach or test the Common Core. Many school districts with affluent parents and a history of good test scores pay lip service to the Common Core and continue with their own curricula.

However, the school districts with a history of low test scores teach exclusively to the Common Core tests because so much rides on raising those scores and not being identified as failing schools. Teaching to the test means those students are not taught to be engaged readers, motivated writers, critical thinkers, and thoughtful questioners as their peers in schools of the more privileged are taught to be. Impoverished students of color are often taught to simply be takers of standardized tests.

All this test preparation, however, is not likely to help students, disadvantaged by poverty and racism, score well. The “cut score” or passing grade on the Common Core aligned tests has been arbitrarily set so that approximately 30 percent of the test takers pass and 70 percent fail.

Scores on all standardized tests, such as the SAT and Connecticut’s CMT and CAPT, correlate with the family income of the test takers. Children living in poverty are disadvantaged in so many ways that even stringent test prep will not produce scores equal to their more advantaged peers. A large proportion of the 70 percent of Connecticut students who fail the tests will come from homes affected by poverty and racism.

The Common Core tests are given in grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11. How will failing tests year after year affect children’s sense of themselves and their belief that schools are places for them to learn and grow?

How will it feel to come to school each day and look at the data wall in their classroom which posts each child’s scores on practice Common Core tests given throughout the school year and recognize their failures?

When they are 16, will they take the 11th grade test or drop out of school beforehand?  If they stay in school and are not among the 30 percent who pass the test, what will the schools do with the students who fail the test and, therefore, do not qualify to graduate? Keep testing them?

What will Connecticut as a state do with large numbers of teenagers who give up and drop out of school?  What are those young people without high school diplomas to do with their lives?

Connecticut’s students of privilege have the opportunity of receiving a private or public school education not restricted to the Common Core which prepares them to be future participants in society and the workforce who can innovate, collaborate, and communicate effectively. Students in schools intent upon raising test scores, however, have little opportunity of acquiring those necessary skills.

How can Connecticut turn this around and keep from becoming a Jim Crow state dividing those who are well-educated from those denied a productive education?

First, we must reject the misguided “reform” of the Common Core and its accompanying tests. As parents, we must opt our children out of those tests, and, as educators, we must reduce instructional time given to teaching the narrow and inappropriate Common Core content and preparing for Common Core tests.

Secondly and most importantly, as educators we must offer an alternate vision about teaching and learning, one grounded in well-documented knowledge about how children and adolescents grow and learn, and design ways to assess the achievement of real growth, real learning.

Connecticut has the resources — the educators, the research institutions, and the knowledge — to lead the country in creating real reform for children of all races and all incomes. Let’s begin.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught English, been a district level administrator for English programs, taught university courses in English education, been assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project, and won state awards for her teaching and national awards for curriculum design.

IT’S ABOUT THE SUBSTANCE (By Ann Policelli Cronin)

In this guest post, educator Ann Policelli Cronin provides a clear-cut explanation of some of the problems with the Common Core.  Now if our elected officials would just take the time to learn the facts, they’d join us in our effort to drop the Common Core and stop the inappropriate, unfair, and expensive Common Core Standardized Testing Scheme.

It’s about the Substance (By Ann Policelli Cronin)

It is mistake to continue with the Common Core in Connecticut. Doing so will gravely diminish the education of all our children.

Interviewed about Governor Malloy’s announcement on June 26th to continue with the Common Core, the Connecticut president of AFT, Melodie Peters, said those in opposition to Common Core are “a handful of folks across the country who have an agenda to undermine that”. Not so.

Five hundred early childhood educators, pediatricians, and professors of child development issued a public statement that the Common Core will be harmful to young children. More than 540 principals in New York State, which implemented Common Core a year ahead of Connecticut, wrote a letter to New York parents, stating the problems with the Common Core and accompanying testing.  More than 130 Catholic college professors have similarly issued a statement in opposition to the Common Core. The National Council of Teachers of English has not endorsed the Common Core.  These groups of professionals do not have a narrow political agenda, as implied by Ms. Peters, nor concern about implementation, which was the sole focus of the Governor’s Task Force. They all are opposed to the very substance of the Common Core.

In contrast to comments by Ms. Peters and others about those who oppose the Common Core, I offer the following multiple-choice test item:

Those who are in favor of the English Language Arts Standards of the Common Core:

A)     Do not have extensive knowledge about cognitive development in children and adolescents.

B)     Have never taught children or adolescents to be thoughtful readers and effective writers.

C)      Have not read the entire 58 pages of small print charts that define the 42 English Language Arts Standards.

D)     All of the above.

I fear D is all too frequently the correct answer. The fact is that no one is qualified to judge the substance of the English Language Arts Standards of the Common Core without having the knowledge and expertise of choices A-C.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education to school districts and schools of education. She has taught middle and high school English, was a district- level administrator for English programs, taught graduate courses in English education, and was assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project. She was Connecticut Outstanding Teacher of the Year and received national awards for English programs she created and implemented. 

THE HIGH COST OF IGNORING SKEPTICISM (By Ann Policelli Cronin)

What if the People are right and the Education Reform Industry is wrong!

THE HIGH COST OF IGNORING SKEPTICISM (By Ann Policelli Cronin)

A recent UConn poll reported that most people (59% of respondents) believe their schools are already good or excellent.  Many (73% of respondents) like the idea of national standards but are highly skeptical of the Common Core standards.  In fact, the more people know about the Common Core, the less they think it will increase the quality of education, with 30% of the respondents saying that Common Core will actually be detrimental to education. That skepticism about Common Core was justified when Connecticut 12th graders excelled on the 2013 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The skepticism expressed in the UConn poll may well lead to increased attention to the lack of substance of the Common Core and recognition of its huge expense for the state and for local communities.  With that attention and recognition, we then as parents, educators, and citizens will be ready for political action.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress is the nation’s one authoritative measure of academic performance in reading and math over time and is a test with great validity. It is administered to samples of students. No one knows who will take it.  It assesses performance across a state and across the country and doesn’t report individual test scores. On that national test, Connecticut’s 12th graders ranked #1 in reading.

Also on an international test, the 2012 Program of International Student Assessment (PISA), Connecticut’s 15 year-olds also scored extremely high in reading. PISA assessed students in 65 nations plus the states of Connecticut, Florida, and Massachusetts. Connecticut ranked fifth in the world in reading, following closely behind fourth-ranked Massachusetts. Connecticut has a huge achievement gap yet scored better than 62 nations, including #1 Shanghai, which excluded its disadvantaged students from taking the test.

Reading skills develop over years in school, kindergarten through grade 12.  Connecticut was excelling before Common Core. Common Core isn’t responsible for current achievement in reading and isn’t needed for the effective teaching of reading to continue.

Common Core won’t improve instruction. Proponents claim Common Core will end rote memorization and introduce, for the first time, the practice of students using evidence from what they read to support their thinking. Not so. I have been in hundreds of English classrooms, in both our most affluent and our most disadvantaged communities, and have never once witnessed “rote memorization”. And using text evidence has forever been the center, the heart, the fundamental principle of teaching English; it’s nothing new.

Proponents of Common Core claim it’s needed to reduce the number of college students requiring remediation.   Not so. The number of students needing remediation is already declining nationally from 26.3% in 1999 to 20.4 % in 2008.  In CT, we do even better. In 2013, only 13%, of students took remedial courses in Connecticut’s public colleges and universities.

Of those requiring remediation, 91% attended community colleges. Those taking remedial courses at community colleges include both students right out of high school and adults already in the workforce. Community colleges have open enrollment and serve those who lack language or math skills necessary for college courses so remediation is both appropriate and beneficial for them.

Not only is Common Core not needed, but those surveyed who say the Common Core will do harm are correct.

The harm is that Common Core standards are not about improved learning; they are about improved test-taking.  The designers of Common Core were employees of testing companies.  Not one English teacher was involved in creating the English standards. The English standards are not intellectually rigorous, bring back failed pedagogy of the 1950’s, and severely limit critical and innovative thinking.

Also, the Common Core standards are not developmentally appropriate. Not one early childhood educator created the standards for elementary schools. Five hundred pediatricians and early childhood experts wrote a public statement explaining how the Common Core harms children.

Make no mistake about it:  The standards are curriculum with packaged lessons, correlated textbooks, and prescriptive teacher training. The accompanying tests, which affect student promotion and graduation and teacher evaluations, guarantee the Common Core will govern every day of the school year.

Test makers design Common Core aligned tests that the majority of children fail, but that does not mean the tests are challenging in meaningful ways.  The tests say very little about students’ abilities to do anything except take that particular test and very little about the quality of their minds.

No one knows if scoring well on those tests equals success in college or careers because the tests haven’t been field-tested.  They don’t guarantee anything because skills the modern world requires and other nations test, such as collaborating with others to problem solve and innovative thinking, are not measured.

We don’t need expensive Common Core testing. It drains local budgets and replaces valuable learning experiences with test prep.  If we want to know how we’re doing as a state, NAEP assesses that, and since it doesn’t rank students, teachers, and schools, there is no teaching to the test.  NAEP testing doesn’t affect curriculum or cost local school districts any money.

Common Core is a waste of money, a waste of time, and a waste of children’s lives. It’s time to act on our skepticism. Reject Common Core for Connecticut.

As parents, opt your children out of testing. As educators, advocate for real learning. As citizens, vote against any candidates who impose Common Core on Connecticut.

Ann Policelli Cronin is a consultant in English education for school districts and university schools of education. She has taught middle and high school English, was a district-level administrator for English, taught university courses in English education, and was assistant director of the Connecticut Writing Project. She was Connecticut Outstanding English Teacher of the Year and has received national awards for middle and high school curricula she designed and implemented.