Answer: A dozen or more little high-stakes personalized tests every single day.
Have you ever felt like legislators, the Governor, USDE, NYSED, Congress, and the President are ‘stalling’ or ‘pacing’ when it comes to making changes to education policy? They throw us some scraps and pretend it is a big deal. They put together yet another phony task force or listening tour to make it look like our voices are being heard. They admit to the public that there is too much standardized testing, but they do very little. They tell us that parents have the right to opt-out, and then they try to slow down change, almost as if they are pacing themselves for something. But what are they stalling for?
Over the last three and a half years, I purposely laid out very solid principles for myself because that is the only way to prevent oneself from getting sucked into these games. These principles have steered me away from many traps along the way, including being part of the ‘stalling’ process above. But I still could not put my finger on exactly what this stalling and pacing tactic was being used for. In NYS state, the opt-out movement made state standardized tests pretty much invalid with over 225,000 refusing participation. You can’t very well compare schools when some schools only had 25% of students participating in the tests while others had near 100% participation. But why then is the Government still clinging so tightly to an invalid system that has already fallen?
NOW IT’S CLEAR!!! They are not clinging. They are stalling, pacing and stringing us along as the next generation of education deforms is not quite ready to be deployed. They still need a couple more years before the technology and infrastructure is entirely ready to go. And they need our opt-out movement to remain active to help usher in their new deform package. It’s called Competency Based Education (CBE). And, when it is ready, they will magically say that the parental opt-out movement was correct all along, and change is needed immediately. CBE will be there to save the day, and they will tell us that our opt-out movement forced the change and that we should be proud Americans for using the democratic process to our advantage.
I’m no expert on CBE, but let me describe it in basic terms. Think of it as a video game. They put our children on a computer tablet with a software program that functions like a video game. The student is given a set of tasks that are ‘personalized’ to their current ability level. When the student correctly completes that task they are rewarded like getting to the next level on a video game. The student is given a ‘badge’ for successfully completing the task, and then they move on to the next ‘level of the video game’. Maybe they do dozens of these each day. Every touch to the tablet is recorded as data, and the teacher and school are evaluated based on the growth and achievement of the student.
It’s basically like training a dog. If you ‘rollover’ you get a treat (badge). ‘Sit’ and you get a treat (badge). ‘Lie down’ and you get a treat. Kids have already been programmed for this through video games. The purpose of school becomes ‘get to the next level of the game’, not ‘develop an independent well-rounded person capable of ingenuity’. This is a recipe to create a massive standardized workforce and an obedient Skinnerian civilization all under the guise of ‘personalization’. The amount of money to be made by corporations under the CBE model dwarfs the amount of money being made under the current end-of-year standardized test model. Think about how much more software will be needed so that every child has a functioning tablet. Think about how many software updates will be needed on a daily basis. Think about the amount of data that will need to be stored and analyzed.
The opt-out movement is the ‘basic training’ that we needed so that we can move to the next level of resistance. Obviously, it would be very difficult to create an opt-out movement to refuse dozens of personalized high-stakes exercises every single day. But we have learned how to resist through the current opt-out movement. We have learned how to establish principles. We have learned how to assemble, protest, and effectively spread the word. I have not yet visualized a clear path to defeating CBE, as I had with annual high-stakes testing, but that path must been seen VERY SOON if we are going to save public education.
For my own family, we have been able to still prosper, while remaining in the public education system, by refusing high-stakes tests and forcing changes in our local school district. But once CBE becomes nationally embedded into the daily classroom environment it will be much more difficult to justify a healthy education for my children while remaining in the public education system. If we don’t stop it now, many families like my own, may be forced to seek cover in private schools, thereby worsening the achievement gap in the country and actually assisting in the collapse of public education. I don’t want to be part of that collapse. I want to remain in the public system. So, we have to act quickly.
We MUST force 500,000 opt-outs this year so that more families become empowered to take the ‘basic training’ and resist. We MUST force 500,000 opt-outs so the system of high-stakes testing is completely removed before CBE can take root. We MUST set our principles and resist the urge to be part of the ‘stalling’ process. We MUST call-out those that are using these stalling tactics. And, we MUST find a clear path to defeat CBE and all that comes with it.