After wading through various hardware, software and connection problems on my iPhone, laptop and desktop, I have attempted some of the released model sample high school Common Core English and math questions.
I am profoundly underwhelmed by the questions and by the supposed genius of David Coleman — their mastermind and Rhodes scholar, who however has never taught any classes ever in any K-12 level.
You can look at them for yourself here.
The English section compares two poems about Daedalus and Icarus (the waxy feathers flight melt-in-sun myth). One poem was originally by Ovid, a Roman poet, but we are reading it in one particular translation into English. The other one is by a modern author.
I actually read quite a bit of Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Latin about 50 years ago while a student in a DC public school and two high schools elsewhere. (This except was taken from that enormous work which goes on and on.) I don’t have any of Ovid memorized*, but while taking the ‘test’ I kept thinking more and more that a halfway decent argument could be made for every single one of the proposed answer choices, but even more than on other IQ- type tests, I was being asked to guess what David Coleman or one of his acolytes would think was the correct answer.
(As an example: with a little effort I could write a well- defined polynomial function such that the number that comes after 0, 2, 4, 6, is not 8 but -22.31415777 instead. I remember well a student telling me the next number in that sequence should be 0, since she guessed that the pattern just repeats. Frankly, she was at least as right as me!)
Knowing that the stories of Icarus, Perseus, Minos, the Minotaur, and Daedalus were made up and embellished by various Greek and Roman authors from a basis of ??possibly some distorted historical facts or else pure patriotic propaganda or ??? And knowing how pompous and full of c#%p I thought most Roman poets were, I gradually came to the conclusion that the best answer to just about all of those questions was one of these (take your pick):
1. Who cares?
2. None of the above.
3. I don’t feel like playing your little obscure mind game.
4. I reject your rule that in today’s society with ubiquitous electronic devices that are often (but not always) able to connect students to world-wide, instantaneous sources of information, students would be prohibited from doing so and would be obliged to parse two long, stupid and very ambiguous and pretentious pieces of literature, and guess what DAVID COLEMAN was thinking.
Did I mention that I’m not very impressed with either poet’s work?
When I got to the math section, I began to throw up my hands again. I mean, who in their right mind wants to solve math problems by writing on a keyboard the way they want you to?
It takes much more time and is much more technically difficult to solve problems on a keyboard than it is with a blank piece of paper and a pen or pencil. (Graph paper would be nice but not required.) for example- just try writing a proportion and factoring equations and drawing and labeling a diagram via Mouse & keyboard? It’s nuts!
It’s fairly simple, and cheap, to give students a piece of paper and a pencil and eraser. It would take time for an experienced teacher to look at the student’s efforts, naturally, and figure out how much the child understands. But- woo-woo — that wouldn’t produce large bucks for Pearson, Apple, Microsoft and a whole bunch of corporate profiteers.
And this is how teachers are going to be judged– by “improvements” in scores on this sort of cockamamie, poorly thought out test? I think if a teacher could somehow teach well enough that 90 % or more of his or her students actively boycotted the test, he or she should be given a nice framed certificate and a pat on the back and have his or her suggestions for improvement to schooling taken seriously for a change!!
*I’d be glad to recite the first few lines of the Aeneid if you like. Poor Vergil wrote book after book of this supposed founding myth of Rome, but by the end of the work, the hero had barely even reached Italy!