Report from Louisiana: Reject the Scripted Curriculum

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Report from Louisiana: Reject the Scripted Curriculum

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – Let’s talk Com­mon Core one more time. I don’t know why this is still an issue, why this is still a thing, why it still exists, but it does.

Many states have renamed it, but no mat­ter what name you give it, it’s still Com­mon Core, and it’s rotten.

Besides the con­stant bar­rage of stan­dard­ized tests (in many cases at least once a month), stu­dents are also forced to endure a scripted cur­ricu­lum, mind-​numbing pre-​prepared slides, and end­less waves of graphic orga­niz­ers, Cor­nell notes, and pages of non-​fiction to end­lessly anno­tate, day after day after day.

Do par­ents really know this is still going on? Do par­ents approve of this? Do par­ents con­sent to hav­ing their kids put under the pres­sure of fif­teen stan­dard­ized tests per semes­ter (not count­ing the end­less Cold Read Tasks, Exten­sion Tasks, and other actual class­room tests)?

This mas­sive over reach into America’s class­rooms has robbed teach­ers of any inno­va­tion and cre­ativ­ity in the class­room. After years of Kagan strate­gies and Harry Wong strate­gies, now teach­ers are told that all kids learn the same, by the script, by the worksheet.

Col­lege pro­fes­sor, and for­mer mid­dle school teacher, John Spenser is an advo­cate for inno­va­tion in the class­room. He writes:

Now, I don’t see any­thing inher­ently wrong with boxed cur­ricu­lum. After all, a great novel is essen­tially “boxed.” The issue is when insti­tu­tions force teach­ers to use boxed cur­ricu­lum in a lock-​step way where they lack the per­mis­sion to make it their own.

This dis­trict adopted the pre­scribed cur­ricu­lum as a way to embrace “best prac­tices in edu­ca­tion.” And yet … the dis­trict also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Cen­tury Learn­ing” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: inno­va­tion requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our atten­tion on best prac­tices and cod­ify these ideas into tightly pack­aged cur­ricu­lum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.

When teach­ers are required to use these scripted pro­grams with fidelity, by the let­ter, all cre­ativ­ity is gone.

Kids are read­ing very lit­tle fic­tion these days and there’s a much heav­ier focus on non-​fiction. In fact, in some dis­tricts the cur­ricu­lum might include a novel, but only cer­tain chap­ters. Nov­els are now called “Anchor Texts” and stu­dents read arti­cles, or “infor­ma­tional texts” about the novel, and per­haps will read the Pro­logue and a cou­ple of chap­ters of the novel.

This is absurd. When teach­ers are required to use these scripted pro­grams with fidelity, by the let­ter, all cre­ativ­ity is gone.

Teach­ers quit lov­ing their job, they lose their pas­sion, because really a robot could read a script and pass out a worksheet.

This is what’s going on in many class­rooms across America.

Some dis­tricts, thank good­ness, have rebelled and refused to par­tic­i­pate in this indoc­tri­na­tion non­sense. Some dis­tricts still believe that the teacher is the one who knows what the stu­dent needs because the teacher knows the student.

See, kids aren’t data. Kids aren’t test scores. They aren’t num­bers. They’re kids. And it’s time school dis­tricts start remem­ber­ing that.

Years of school let­ter grades and skewed teacher account­abil­ity pro­grams have dis­tracted us from the real goal – teach­ing kids not just how to take a test but how to be pro­duc­tive, com­pas­sion­ate, edu­cated citizens.

Par­ents need to be involved and ask ques­tions. Meet the teach­ers who spend most of the day with your kids. How often are your kids being tested? What’s the cur­ricu­lum look like?

This needs to change and teach­ers need to reclaim their auton­omy. We’re rais­ing a gen­er­a­tion of kids now who can anno­tate the heck out of an arti­cle on microbes but can’t tell you who Atti­cus Finch is or why he is important.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Let’s talk Common Core one more time.  I don’t know why this is still an issue, why this is still a thing, why it still exists, but it does.

Many states have renamed it, but no matter what name you give it, it’s still Common Core, and it’s rotten.

Besides the constant barrage of standardized tests (in many cases at least once a month), students are also forced to endure a scripted curriculum, mind-numbing pre-prepared slides, and endless waves of graphic organizers, Cornell notes, and pages of non-fiction to endlessly annotate, day after day after day.

Do parents really know this is still going on?  Do parents approve of this?  Do parents consent to having their kids put under the pressure of fifteen standardized tests per semester (not counting the endless Cold Read Tasks, Extension Tasks, and other actual classroom tests)?

This massive over reach into America’s classrooms has robbed teachers of any innovation and creativity in the classroom.  After years of Kagan strategies and Harry Wong strategies, now teachers are told that all kids learn the same, by the script, by the worksheet.

College professor, and former middle school teacher, John Spenser is an advocate for innovation in the classroom.  He writes:

Now, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with boxed curriculum. After all, a great novel is essentially “boxed.” The issue is when institutions force teachers to use boxed curriculum in a lock-step way where they lack the permission to make it their own.

This district adopted the prescribed curriculum as a way to embrace “best practices in education.” And yet . . . the district also describes the needs to meet the demands of a “21st Century Learning” and “spark innovation.”

But here’s the thing: innovation requires you to step into the unknown. If we focus all of our attention on best practices and codify these ideas into tightly packaged curriculum, we will inevitably fail to experiment.

When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Kids are reading very little fiction these days and there’s a much heavier focus on non-fiction.  In fact, in some districts the curriculum might include a novel, but only certain chapters.  Novels are now called “Anchor Texts” and students read articles, or “informational texts” about the novel, and perhaps will read the Prologue and a couple of chapters of the novel.

This is absurd. When teachers are required to use these scripted programs with fidelity, by the letter, all creativity is gone.

Teachers quit loving their job, they lose their passion, because really a robot could read a script and pass out a worksheet.

This is what’s going on in many classrooms across America.

Some districts, thank goodness, have rebelled and refused to participate in this indoctrination nonsense.  Some districts still believe that the teacher is the one who knows what the student needs because the teacher knows the student.

See, kids aren’t data.  Kids aren’t test scores.  They aren’t numbers.  They’re kids.  And it’s time school districts start remembering that.

Years of school letter grades and skewed teacher accountability programs have distracted us from the real goal – teaching kids not just how to take a test but how to be productive, compassionate, educated citizens.

Parents need to be involved and ask questions.  Meet the teachers who spend most of the day with your kids.  How often are your kids being tested?  What’s the curriculum look like?

This needs to change and teachers need to reclaim their autonomy.  We’re raising a generation of kids now who can annotate the heck out of an article on microbes but can’t tell you who Atticus Finch is or why he is important.

Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport.