Child Development Affects Test Readiness

Sharing some great insight from an educator who speaks out against King, cc and testing in NYS:

In My Opinion: Child development affects test readiness

Scores from standardized tests administered in grades three through eight in New York state public schools are reported to show that “incremental progress” has been made but that students are “still not on track to graduate ready for college,” according to Commissioner John King Jr. in an Associated Press article.

“Incremental progress” is reported from 31 percent proficient to 36 percent for mathematics and from 31.3 percent proficient to 31.4 percent in English.

King states that standardized tests are “aligned to the Common Core standards, a set of guidelines adopted by most states intended to promote critical thinking…”

“We hoped for incremental progress; that’s what we at the state and the districts are working toward,” he said. “The overall picture here is one of statewide progress but clearly much more work to do.”

In truth, the Common Core standards are more than guidelines; they reflect a questionable definition of critical thinking, and Common Core is finally being challenged in numerous states.

Surely there is much work to be done to prepare students to “think critically.”

The advocates of the current version of standardization have knowingly capitalized upon an accepted notion that raising expectations is a good thing.

However, anyone who has studied the literature and research on cognitive development knows that critical thinking involves synthesis or the putting together of ideas drawn from uniquely personal experiences that lead to constructions of meaningful relationships between one set of ideas and another.

Learning outcomes resulting from this individualized process cannot be measured with a one-size-fits-all standardized test.

“Backmapping” and “raising standards” are at the heart of the strategies for change advocated by the supporters of Common Core and standardized tests.

“Backmapping” is a process being used for laying out a prescribed instructional sequence for all students, designed to achieve predictable learning outcomes regardless of developmental and experiential differences in each learner.

Starting with an arbitrary and narrowly defined concept of “college and career readiness,” and working backward one grade level at a time, expected performance for all students at each level is being defined as far back as pre-kindergarten.

Eventually all grades will predictably be provided mass-produced instructional materials with so-called learning outcomes measured by standardized tests. The results are to be expressed in numerical scores that are presumed to accurately represent proficiency or non-proficiency.

Common Core advocates believe that implementation, especially for elementary and early adolescent learners, requires continuous exposure to specific, pre-planned instruction employing worksheets and test questions that typically feature abstract and hypothetical problems.

The content contained in worksheets and test questions are thought to represent “raised standards.” Responding successfully to many of these standards requires intellectual capabilities for formal logic. (Jean Piaget)

The Common Core standards often assume intellectual capabilities not yet possible for pre-logical 4- and 5-year-olds and even many 6-, 7-, 8- and 9-year-olds. Most 10-year-olds are just beginning to use simple logic connected specifically to their direct, hands-on, concrete experiences.

Approximately 12 percent of 12-year-olds have been found to have reached a capability for formal logic required to deal insightfully with abstract and hypothetical problems.

These levels of intellectual development are validated by extensive evidence derived from the work of established scholars: Jean Piaget, Viktor Lowenfeld and Lev Vygotsky, among many other cognitive developmental theorists.

Behaviors that represent developmental levels are consistently recognized by parents and competent teachers.

Processes leading to developmental levels of intellectual maturity are programmed in our genes to evolve in a predictable sequence unless driven off course, for example by developmentally inappropriate instruction.

Levels of developmental maturity emerge in the life of each individual at an unpredictable time, influenced for better or worse by experience or lack of experience.

Developing maturity is not guaranteed by age or grade levels, yet these designations are currently used to interpret and report the results of standardized assessments and evaluations.

A lack of sufficient developmental maturity is most likely responsible for student failures when learners are confronted prematurely with pre-canned and abstract hypothetical problems.

This promotes severe frustration with potentially devastating long-term psychological consequences for both learners and teachers.


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