# Resisting Test Prep is Tricky

I’ve been asked to do a math talk or a math teaching talk for a bunch of math teachers. (I like this). The host suggested I consider tying into the common core standards, but even better would be a talk on organizing all math teachers for the revolution that is needed.

Clever me, I’m thinking about a talk on avoiding the common core, or teaching around it, or ignoring it.

But I don’t know if I can do that. First of all, I need to read the damned documents. Skimming is not enough. But second, if teachers are going to be rated on student test scores…

which offends me on so many levels I can hardly begin – the scores will not reflect teaching skill – the metrics to account for different circumstances are primitive and cannot advance appreciably, no matter how many tweaks – so much is not on the test – teaching encompasses habits and behavior, not just correct and incorrect responses – we already have a perfectly good way of telling if a teacher is ok (just watch) – the entire exercise invites gaming – the entire exercise hands the rating decisions to non-educator suits sitting in central offices…

but if teachers are going to be rated on student test scores, then job trumps honor. The quality of Pearson/Kaplan/state tests is so low that they can be successfully prepped, and I would be some sort of idiot if I told other teachers not to do so. And they would be stupid to listen to me.

My feeling is that it’s not about the standards – it’s about the assessments that will follow. What I read in the Common Core Math was not so awful – I could still create a viable, challenging curriculum from them, but the assessments that are devised to measure the standards is usually where the “bodies are buried.”

The Common Core Standards include a whole section on Mathematical Practices that quite good. However, the focus of most discussion is on the content standards, because they are more lengthy, more what people expect, and easier to assess. I’ve seen some authentic good come out of individual teachers trying to shift the discussion from content to practice standards.