Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Common Core's Killing Kindergarten; CCSD Next

Here's a response via Diane Ravitch from a kindergarten veteran (of 20 years).

These comments were posted by a kindergarten teacher in response to a post about the Common Core English language arts standards:
"I teach kindergarten. The five year olds have an incredibly tight schedule to keep in our county: an hour of math, hour of science, 2 hours of language arts, half hour of social studies. We kindergarten teachers have had to sneak in rest time and social centers (such as puppets, blocks, housekeeping, play dough) which are so critical to their development.
"My class has 13 out of 16 ELL students (Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Arabic & a dialect from India are all represented). Ten of them are free or reduced lunch (aka low socioeconomic). Two of them never went to preschool at all, and two are on the spectrum, one severely so. All of them have to read by the end of the year. All of them have been required to participate in two close reading activities which required writing sentences.
"Both of my formal observations were done during the first 60 days of school. I was criticized because my students don’t do “turn & talk” correctly (they didn’t respond to their peer by telling them why they either agree with or disagree with them). I was evaluated as “lacking in pedagogy” because I asked them to give me facts from a kindergarten level book on stars and they repeatedly tried to tell me what they knew/thought. I was told I require action in pedagogy because the book I used to sing and act out verbs also included several words (such as jump, paint, swing, march, & slide) that were also nouns and because my students could not do charades without my assistance (which I gladly gave but caused that part of the lesson to go on too long). Apparently, my pedagogy went mysteriously missing over the summer, as I’ve never been criticized for that in any of my previous 20 years of teaching experience. 
"They have been forced to sit through the two close readings that go on for three days each and require them to write notes and then sentences to explain what they learned. My poor babies turned in papers with sentences made of fragments from our fact chart we had made, but they hung their heads because they couldn’t read the sentences they’d managed to write. I hugged them, told them they were great, and gave them chocolate. Then I reported that only 4 of my students passed….another poor reflection on my teaching.
"If this is happening in kindergarten, I can only imagine what is happening in later grades. My school is set in a high socioeconomic neighborhood and has been an A school for 12 years now; I shudder to think how this affects the less fortunate schools!"
What the Charleston County School District plans to implement fully next year. Good luck.


Clisby said...

This isn't just a problem with Common Core, in my opinion. I think U.S. public school systems, for whatever reasons, are pushing ridiculously inappropriate curricula on little kids, and have done this for some time.

I'm 60. When I entered 1st grade in a Catholic school, my teachers didn't expect a student to know even the first letter of the alphabet. They expected that first-graders had no idea how to read, and they started from there. (As it happens, I could read - I was the only 1st grader who could - so they sent me to reading class with the 2nd graders. The weren't moronic enough to think all the other kids were deficient.)

The U.S. would be way better off if we went back to those standards, which are far more in tune with normal child development.

Kindergarten should be a time when kids learn to get along with each other, to cooperate, to be responsible, to communicate with their teachers, etc. It should not be an academic period.

Alex Peronneau said...

There are more than a couple of Charleston County School Board members who would agree with you. Let young children enjoy their childhood and allow them to progress at their own pace. This push for early performance is nuts. So is over testing, with an emphasis on teaching to the test, knowing full well the test results serve no particular benefit to the individual student.

Anonymous said...

God bless this teacher...and others like her/him.