Assessment in California Teacher Education

Nicholas Meier

(This column is adapted from a talk I gave at the University of Kyoto in January, 2012)

Those in the field of assessment often refer to two important standards that assessments are expected to meet, reliability and validity. Reliability meaning that the same results would be obtained if the assessment were given again, or if a different person was scoring the assessment.

Validity means that the assessment actually measures, assesses, what it claims to be measuring/assessing—and whether it predicts how one will perform in the future (Ormrod, 2005).

One type of validity is “face validity”—that is, it is accepted that the assessment actually does measure what it claims to measure, without needing statistical proof that it does. The road test portion of the driving test might be an example of that: We can easily agree that if we want to know if someone knows how to drive, we can sit…

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Bad for Solidarity and Message to Critique Specifics of CC

I’ve been resisting this position for a while, but critiquing the specifics of the Common Core may be unnecessary, confusing, and potentially divisive .  I admit I got caught up in it for a while.  I enjoyed the critique of the language arts standards,  reading commentary that points out all the pedagogical and curricular flaws, and it seemed to add one more position that those of us opposing corporate reform and standardized testing could unite on.

I noticed myself, though, not reading too much critique of the math because I was a little afraid that I wouldn’t agree with the critique. I’m not a math teacher, so it didn’t hit a nerve with me, but it all did seem to smack of criticizing something for being a little more difficult to teach and to learn because, well, it is more difficult, especially to a nation of children who don’t usually have to approach math or anything else as an open-ended confusing reflective slow process.  So, again, I didn’t go deep with it because, in retrospect, I was afraid I would disagree with the critique, and I don’t want to disagree.  I disagree with everybody else in the world.  Can I just be united with one group on its major tenets for once in my life?

But then, I started to take a look at the 3 C’s social studies framework, and I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. Oh, dear, I think I may like these broad standards, and people I respect hate them. It brought back memories of reading Diane Ravitch’s work on the history standards that I wasn’t completely aligned with in my master’s thesis.  No, I will not disagree with my hero, not right now.  I quickly closed the file to see if I could forget, but of course, unfortunately, I couldn’t forget, nor should I.  I know too much about social studies not to have an opinion.

I bring this up, not because I’m neurotic about disagreeing with people, but because we need to remember the merits of the Common Core standards are irrelevant. What is relevant is how and why they were created and who took part, and how and why they should have been created, and who should have taken part.  We know that the quality of our students’ learning experience has been severely diminished  and anything “good” that may be in the standards wouldn’t get into the test, so we probably won’t be teaching it. That is the relevant travesty that unites us against corporate reform and standardized testing.

When this fight is over, that will be the time for healthy respectful democratic dialogue and debate to negotiate what education should look like.  Now is not the time. Now is the time for unity and to preserve the integrity and clarity of the message.

Even Harvard? Crap.

I decided to explore the Harvard Graduate School of Education website this morning for some good best practices research , maybe a well reasoned critique on educational reform, and I wanted to check out their amazing teacher education coursework as a possible alternative to Arne Duncan’s weird standards.   Instead, I saw this, “Dean James Ryan has announced a $5 million grant from the Walton Family Foundation that will fund fellowships in the Doctor of Education Leadership (Ed.L.D.) Program.”  Oh, well, back to Ravich, Schneider, and Edushyster…

Those 24 Common Core 2009 Work Group Members


In May 2009, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and former State Education Superintendent Paul Pastorek signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) for the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). This CCSS MOU would become “Appendix B” for the US Department of Education’s (USDOE’s) Race to the Top (RTTT) program.

In June 2009, the National Governors Association (NGA), in conjunction with US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, announced that 46 states were already signed on for what would become CCSS.

The formal document, the CCSS MOU, outlines in detail the different groups of individuals and what their roles would be in “developing” CCSS.

The document signed by Jindal and Pastorek in May 2009– the CCSS MOU that would become RTTT Appendix B– is the same document I wrote about in this post.

The CCSS MOU makes it clear that the chief decision makers for CCSS were the individuals on the…

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Sarah Blaine: How Can We Stop Arne’s Zany Plan to Grade Ed School by the Scores of Students of Their Graduates?

Diane Ravitch's blog

Sarah Blaine, a lawyer who wrote the earlier post explaining the absurdity of Arne Duncan’s plan to grade colleges of education in relation to the test scores of the students taught by their graduates, here responds to a question about the possibility of litigation. By the way, if you want to comment on Arne’s plan, here is where you write:

Sarah Blaine writes:

There’s a lot to be said for impact litigation, and if someone offered me the opportunity for employment working on meaningful anti-reform education-related impact litigation, I’d be the first to say yes. Education Law Center in NJ, for instance, has done great work over the years, but they’re one tiny organization (and they haven’t offered me a job). And funding is a huge issue here — impact litigation isn’t cheap, and while I do my blogging for free, I do need to earn a living from my…

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Anthony Cody: The Scary Revival of Eugenics

Shocking. I didn’t see that coming. But I should have. It’s a continuation of the fascism theme that keeps emerging in the rhetoric and actions of the corporate “reformers”and their government allies.

Diane Ravitch's blog

Anthony Cody is rightly concerned about an article in the Néw York Tomes proposing the use of genetics to identify which students need which interventions.

As he observes, eugenics has an ugly history. In the early decades of the twentieth century, some of our leading intellectuals became enthusiastic about the idea that the human race could be improved if we applied the same principles used in breeding animals to the breeding of people. Those of high intelligence and character should marry and reproduce, while those who were of low intelligence should be discouraged from reproducing, even sterilized to prevent them from doing so. That was the moral of the famous story of the Jukes and the Kallikaks. That cautionary tale was included in high school textbooks as late as the 1950s (I know because I read those textbooks in high school).

Now, as Cody writes, eugenics is presented as…

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