Standardized students

Let me tell you about a wonderful student at the school in which I work. I will call this student Christopher, or Chris for short. Chris struggles with his grade 6 math, particularly math word problems. Chris is not lazy and it’s not because Chris doesn’t care. Quite the contrary. Chris does care, and Chris wants to please his teachers and mother by succeeding in school. But Chris has a problem. Please allow me to describe what I believe to be Chris’s problem.

I believe Chris’s problem is a group of businessmen and lawyers in Columbus that we call the state legislature. This group sincerely believes it is passing laws that eventually will lead Chris to a happy and successful life. What this group does not know is that Chris is at a developmental stage that does not quite allow him to successfully complete his grade 6 math.

We in the education profession used to regularly talk about Piaget’s theory. We don’t follow that theory any more, mostly because of things such as the 1983 National Commission on Excellence in Education which used incomplete data to compare the United States’ education system with education systems overseas.

This led to the No Child Left Behind Act, standardized testing, national standards and ultimately to the disaster we in the education system call Common Core.

In the past 30-plus years of “education reform,” we seem to have lost sight of something very important. The kids. We will never be able to standardize Chris.

Respectfully yours,

Michael R. Paolella,