My heart sinks. My panic grows. Overkill. Overkill. Overkill. The Florida Department of Education
and the State of Florida's legislative branch is overkilling testing with "thousands of instructional- aligned standards
resources (https://portal.fldoesso.org/PORTAL/Sign-on/Resources/Available-Resources.aspx)"; required monitoring tools,
'formative assessment' with accompanying instructional resources (isn't that redundant?); "learning tools for administrators
to support 'continuous improvement'; another monitoring (and, oh yeah, a reporting tool--to whom do those reports go?) and
yet another "recording and reporting" tool.
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Don't
they have anything better to do?
These "tools" include: CPALMS and elPREPs and IBPT (whoops! I meant IBTP-now that
makes a difference!) and PMRNs.
These tools do not include teachers' and students' ingenuity and creativity. These tools
do not include wonder and excitement.
These tools do not dare address people's hearts and their brains, for each
person's is different. Each is unique. Each has much to offer and, although the standardized tests proponents
purport to honor that uniqueness, they do not. For just the word "standardized" indicates a rote "we-are-all-alike-and-so-we-all-learn-alike-and-we-will-all-succeed-or-we-will-all-fail-together."
There will be a scant few who, through these standardized tests, will demonstrate their "greatness." They
may only be great at taking a test or typing, but that does not matter. They will sit atop a mountain of held back and
discouraged children. They will be "air-lifted" to an elite university where they will receive internships
and scholarships...while the rest of the mountain of children is left behind.
But even the former FCAT stars are worried
about the new FSA' "higher and more rigorous standards." Even they are fretful that they will be left on the mountain...
what of the now thousands and thousands of held back, discouraged, diploma-less children? What of that mountain?
of that mountain?
What of that mountain--ever growing, ever more stinky with the rotting creativity all of
the IPTPs and PMRNs and CPALMS--that they and their like have built? What of that?
Let's plop a putrid--hold your nose--pile
of teachers' careers on top.
"Pearson is watching..."
My ninety one year old Christian mother-in-law thinks maybe these are
the end times; that biblical prophecies are being fulfilled.
I don't know about end times, but I do know troubling times. I dreamt last night of a big eye in the
heavens watching us. In my dream it was a sober eye with rays of light extending to earth. There was no place
on our planet that eye did not see.
I'm not sure if I dreamt of God
or Pearson Publishing. Both trouble me. God because he's watching me and my family all the time and we never, ever meet his
standards and that's the point of being his children. He guides, protects, loves, and forgives us. Pearson Publishing troubles
me because it's not God and it's acting like God. It does not guide, it indoctrinates. It does not protect, it
withholds. It does not love, it judges.
most certainly does not forgive.
Pearson is watching me and my family.
It's most especially watching my public school children. It's watching them to see if they post any little thing about
one of their online tests. These are important tests! My children prepare for hours and hours each year for these tests
and I, their mother, never know the tests' content. My children's teachers don't know either.
Pearson says its threats of "invalidation" if children talk about tests
and their threats of teachers' losing their jobs if they talk about the test is necessary to "...ensure fairness for
all students and teachers and to ensure that the results of any assessment are trustworthy and valid." That's from
its official statement (http://www.pearsoned.com/news/pearson-statement-on-test-security/) after a New Jersey youngster posted
a comment on social media about one of its writing prompts.
Imagine, please, the online surveillance of millions of our nation's public school children's social media
accounts. "Hey wasn't the (fill in the blank) prompt STUPID?!" ten year old children may innocently
write, in spite of having "signed their lives away" on the "test agreement" form. A ten year old may not
yet be filled with the pulsating fear of "talking about the test". They are, however, already filled with
the fear of "not passing the test." They've been filled with that fear since some of their friends were left
behind in third grade, but the "YOU MAY NOT TALK ABOUT THE TEST EVER" fear may not yet be filling them. "May
I go to the bathroom?" a bored student in a computer lab taking a test might say. Quick, quick! Dim her computer
screen! Shush her! Scurry her out so she "does not disturb others."
But she is unsupervised in the bathroom. There is her friend. Maybe
they quickly say to each other. "It's hard. What'd you write about (fill in the blank)?" Maybe not.
How, Pearson, do you control for that?
In college I had to design an experiment. I remember feeling exasperated at
not being able to control all variables, for how could I in this grand idea I had about influencing meal choice by my flight
attendant description of that meal? For instance, I'd decided to offer "beef or chicken?" to a number of passengers,
then switch to "Beef Wellington or chicken" and then to "chicken or Beef Wellington" and then to "beef
or Chicken Cordon Bleu" etc. My professor asked whether I'd be smiling or frowning when I offered each meal choice.
"My God!" I'd wanted to yell at her; "You're taking all the fun out of this!" Had I actually conducted
the experiment--a full 747 from Miami to L.A.--probably there would only have been time to serve First Class.
We are, without our full knowledge and against the will of many of us,
participating in an experiment whose variables simply cannot be controlled. Maybe that's what I dreamed about last night.
Maybe my dream was just a reflection of the chaotic "no-controlled-variables"
life I lead and so it was God's loving and patient eye. watching over me. But maybe the dream was a reflection of my growing
alarm at the insidiousness of our collective loss of privacy and the eye is not God's eye at all.
There is no place to hide. Pearson is watching.