As Igor Stravinsky once said, good composers borrow; great composers steal. So, instead of writing my own setting of the stage, let me steal from my fine colleague and friend at Common Core, Lynne Munson:
I challenge anyone to think of a nation that works as hard as we do to find silver linings in its educational failures. On Tuesday morning NAEP reported that, in the course of two years, our nation’s 4th and 8th graders improved a single point (on a 500-point scale) in three of four reading and math assessments, and flatlined on the fourth. If you look at figures plotting NAEP scores over the last 30 years, any upward slope in the data is nearly undetectable to the naked eye. Analysts have spent the last few days slicing and dicing this data and making unconvincing arguments that some positive trends can be detected.
But the reality is that these results are appalling — particularly if you consider the massive federal funding increases, intense reform debates, and the incessant promises of new technologies that have dominated the education discussion for nearly two decades. We have spent a great deal and worked very hard but gotten unimpressive results. And this is in reading and math where, to the detriment of so many other core subjects, we’ve aimed nearly all of our firepower.
Einstein* defined “insanity” as “doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” Well, my bet is that Einstein would have deemed NAEP data absolute proof of America’s educational insanity.
Well, what do you think? Will the disappointing news be met by even more of the same? Will it be even higher stakes testing, an even further narrowing of the curriculum, even more merit pay and school closures, more skirting minimum standards for arts instruction…?
Or will it be a genuine time to rethink the accountability run amuck?
Okay, I know there are those who say there has been no real narrowing of the curriculum. The CES study and others are flawed…right. It reminds me of an old joke, best told by Richard Pryor, but originating well before him, from the Marx Brothers, and as some would argue: Karl Marx: “a woman walks into her bedroom and finds her husband in bed with another woman. The man says to his wife: who are you going to believe, me or your lyin’ eyes?”