Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Standards Based Grading & Common Core

My goal is to give a VERY brief update on Standards Based Grading (SBG)  and Common Core in my hometown. I know this is a very heated battle being fought all across our country, experts on both sides can give MUCH more detailed information. That is not my intent. My intent is awareness to the few who read my blog. My hope is that upon reading this, people will research on their own and make their own conclusions. I encourage free thinking, I am not telling you what to think but I am telling you to think.

 About a month ago it was brought to our attention by some middle school students that our school was starting a Standards Based Grading system. 
The teachers’ objective is that the students would reach mastery of certain standards. The teachers continually teach, re-teach, assess (test) and re-assess students until they master the standard. 

There are several things I fundamentally disagree with about this but wanted to be open-minded, so I started researching and trying to learn what I could. Repeatedly I ran across the phrase Common Core, and this is where my freedom-radar goes off.

From what I understand, the federal government promised states additional funding through a stimulus package… tied to this was the concept of Common Core Academic Standards. The states agreed to allow the federal government to set the standards in exchange for money.

There will be national testing and national funding dependent on how well students do on the standard-ized testing, how well students master the national standards. (*Race to the Top Fund) Next year we will do away with our state test and switch to a national test. Light-bulb moment… SBG makes sense mostly through the lens of reaching Common Core Standards.

I’ve already heard from several people who are excited about there being a “national standard.” The goal is “no matter where you are in the country, the same academic standard will be taught.” I understand how and why this seems good.

So what is wrong with Common Core?

There are plenty of ideas out there, some are super scary, some are probably invalid, some aren’t. I’ve heard Bill Gates private foundation is involved in setting the standards???  I've read that they will be collecting data from our children.  Who knows, please research and decide for yourself.

What I do know is that generally the closer to home you get, the more you understand and know what is best for someone. For example…

Family knows best.
2nd a teacher.
3rd an administrator/School Board
4th the state government
5th and last, the federal government

It boils down to this… I don’t want the federal government setting standards for my children. We give them our money through taxes and now we have to follow their rules for our schools to get it back?? Why do they know more than our local authorities?

Yes I know standards are already set at the state level, I don’t love this, but at least the state is closer to home. Years ago local school boards and administrators set the standards, now it will be done by bureaucrats in Washington.  Do you know of any power that Washington has ever given back to the people? Before long we will wake up and not even have a need for local school boards or administrators. Our teachers will be evaluated by students' national test scores. Everything will be done federally, everything will be done the same, we will all be common.
"I hope we have once again reminded people that man is not free unless government is limited. There's a clear cause and effect here that is as neat and predictable as a law of physics: as government expands, liberty contracts."  - Ronald Reagan
 So you see, I don’t consider this as a battle between the parents and the administrators/school board. We believe in our school, we believe in our teachers, we believe they can do BEST for us… until they hand their authority over and it is no longer them making the decisions.

I often hear our sports team do a cheer,

We are… BOLIVAR!

I love this town. Ever since the day I came to SBU as a college student, I’ve loved Bolivar.

There’s something special about Bolivar. It can be done Better in Bolivar! So don’t just think how you are told or led to think. Think for yourself, research, discover and never quit learning.

Would all Liberators please stand and liberate our school from the common!

Additional Notes and Links - 
Race to the Top FundAwards in Race to the Top will go to States that are leading the way with ambitious yet achievable plans for implementing coherent, compelling, and comprehensive education reform. Race to the Top winners will help trail-blaze effective reforms and provide examples for States and local school districts throughout the country to follow as they too are hard at work on reforms that can transform our schools for decades to come.

Standards Based Grading - This is the video our school showed us to explain SBG.

Common Core Standards - Official Website

Missouri Coalition Against Common Core - This is my go-to site right not. It easily explains a lot and gives practical ways to get involved.

Many states have already started measures to take back their schools from the federal government. This is a link showing those details.


neubiewaters said...

Totally with you...I could not be less excited or supportive of Common Core...who wants to be common? Be the best at what you do!

Rachel said...

I've been half-way following how MO is implementing this in their schools. Thankful that for now, TX did not take the government money and will not participate in this. But you know, down here they've always been rebels. :)

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