The Regents are just not that altruistic. Competency Based Learning will replace testing. 

This is the first installment in a two part series on digital learning.

If you don’t know what CBE is, better brush up fast! It’s been all over social media all month and it’s zooming in at breakneck speeds. 

Short version, it’s digital education.

Read here- 

Digital Curriculum: Questions Parents Should be Asking

What’s most interesting, is that the big money giants do just the opposite with their own children. They have no common core, and they have no digital screen learning.  

From the piece above- “In the heart of Silicon Valley is a nine-classroom school where employees of tech giants Google, Apple and Yahoo send their children. But despite its location in America’s digital centre, there is not an iPad, smartphone or screen in sight.

Instead teachers at the Waldorf School of the Peninsula prefer a more hands-on, experiential approach to learning that contrasts sharply with the rush to fill classrooms with the latest electronic devices. The pedagogy emphasises the role of imagination in learning and takes a holistic approach that integrates the intellectual, practical and creative development of pupils.

But the fact that parents working for pioneering technology companies are questioning the value of computers in education begs the question – is the futuristic dream of high-tech classrooms really in the best interests of the next generation?”

Why do the children of the elite not fall victim to the same unsound practices as the children of the masses? 

Educator Debbie Dermady shares her thoughts on CBE. 

“CBE/Online Learning is garbage learning. I can tell you because I have had to use iReady, one of those CBE programs you are talking about in my classroom. It is horrible to think that you are told 45 min a week for Math and 45 min a week for ELA will give the child individualized instruction and YOU, their teacher, all the bells and whistles for individualized assessment. Here is what happened. Students pre-tested, took lessons, mid testing, more lessons and end of lesson assessments. Garbage. Students would hurry through the lessons they found boring to get to the rest period that had games to play, and then try to take the tests. You could see how long the children used the lessons for. Many tried to get away with only a few minutes on each, thus their test scores showing evidence of this. The curriculum was always of a higher level with the students becoming very frustrated. Students were asked what they thought about this, as well as Castle Learning lessons and testing and various other online programs we have used over the last six years. They said they would much rather have teachers instruct them and do paper and pencil with lessons and with assessments. Kids think online learning is gaming. They want a game and they want to be entertained. If something is difficult, most kids feel frustrated and do not want to finish. If they do not see a “game” side to online learning, they are bored and just keep clicking away as quickly as they can. 

Online learning is fine for review, but should never, ever replace the teacher’s guidance with lessons and assessments. Here we go again…forgetting the “Human Factor.” I saw this coming in 1983 when I first started teaching computer technology. Since becoming a classroom teacher in ’92, I realized where we were going and started saying it was wrong. In 2000, I witnessed a PARCC process that stated student’s essays would be graded by a computer. The computers would look for higher vocabulary and give the student’s credit for those words, but not check about complete sentences, grammar, etc. That is when I said I would not let this happen. I continue to fight this garbage today. Students writing due to technology has worsened, not gotten better.  

How many of you that are positive about CBE really have watched this happening? If you truly have watched this, you know it is garbage. Let our kids slow down, and teach writing again. Writing (Printing or cursive, as long as it is readable) is an art form. It is a beautiful way to express yourself. Those who write in journals and on paper will realize what an important piece of history we must keep for the present and future. For me, opting out of tests INCLUDES online testing. Let teachers create tests once again. They were able to create wonderful assessments no computer can do. You see, they are able to really know their students, and that we are all different! Thank goodness we are! That’s America!”

What is wrong with a digital learning environment? Competency based learning can be excessive. Eliminating the teacher – student interaction, it can create an unhealthy environment, especially for the youngest students.  

 “In some classrooms technology is overused. This can lead to a variety of problems. Many students learn best by physically and mentally interacting with what they are studying. If most of the teaching is done using a computer, these students’ needs are not being met. Technology should be used to supplement the classroom curriculum, but should not be used as the sole source of learning.”

Screen time is a hoax, says TIME. 
Let’s discuss the Regents. Why the Regents change of tune? Simple. Common core reboot. Digital tracking of all students. College and career pathways that are easily manageable and recordable.  

The Regents, some newly appointed, are suddenly APPEARING to take a different tactic on support of the testocracy that has bloomed since common core began. Some are saying, “well, it’s a start! Maybe the Regents have wised up!” That is not the full story. The reason the NYS Regents have suddenly been admitting there are possibly too many tests, is because NYSED is ready for the next phase of common core and tracking our students; digital education- Aka COMPETENCY BASED EDUCATION. And they’ll blame the opt out movement for this switch, and market digital learning as a gift, a prize for those who steadfastly refused the testing to begin with.  

Tests under CBE will be subtle, parents will not know about them. They will be given right on the tablet every student has access to, thanks to the SMART BOND ACT (LOAN) that our grandchildren will be paying back. Embedded in every day lessons, they will be rolling in real time  and they will monitor constant progress. Ultimately, any proctor can stand in a room as a tech support representative, masters leveled teachers need not apply for digital classrooms.

The Regents now have new blood, and they must address the forward march to CBE that Tisch, King et al, put into place. NYSED will of course parade educational consultants (sales people) before the new Regents, trying to sell them on CBE. Hopefully, they will stick to their new mission of only supporting researched based initiatives in educational policy, and not marketing brochures.  Can they earn our trust? 

What about opting out? 

Numerous bloggers have stated today that “opt out is dead.” That’s an oversimplification. What they mean is that we are entering the end game stage for the testocracy – a digital classroom.  
Testing will be much more subtle. Added will be more online classes to the 2035 agenda, which will be interspersed with this digital learning trend. There will be very little material written or available for home use as it will all be electronically provided. 

Note below:

Click to access GEF.Agenda_eng_full.pdf

What’s next? 

Each student will have data tags. All learning will be recorded based on a child’s student ID number that will follow them indefinitely. This is where common core was headed all along. The tests were just the path, a means to an end. 

How about this? Talent pipelines!! Edublocks and digital badges. For children!
Brave new world!

An earlier piece:

So, is opt out dead? Not really. But, it has morphed greatly. We now enter a whole new era of testing and data collection.  Proponents of CBE believe that relying on technology as the primary source to deliver education and for children to learn is a superior way to educate children, with an eye towards economies of scale. CBE, personalized learning based on technology, is designed to replace the Carnegie Unit, other wise known as “seat time”, where learning is taught by real teachers and documented and transcribed on the basis of what students “prove” they know and can do based on those lessons. In fact, the hallmark of CBE is built around the common core mantra that students must “show what they know”, CBE involves learning that does not include hands on lessons, real time interaction with teachers or socialization amongst peers.

Seat time manifesting in the Carnegie Unit, was created in the early twentieth century. Though it was never the intent, this calculation of number of instructional hours that children spend in seat time became a proxy for learning. However, in 2010, the wheels of change toward CBE began turning very swiftly when former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan claimed the Carnegie Unit was antiquated when he said: “A century ago, maybe it made sense to adopt seat-time requirements for graduation. … But the factory model of education is the wrong model for the 21st century.” 

Truth be told, CBE can be traced well before 2010. When the measure first emerged, it was based largely on the philosophy of behaviorism – a teaching methodolgy that purported to expand access to education to underserved, non-traditional learners and indeed, CBE is touted by supporters as the key to promoting educational equity between wealthy and underserved populations.

Whether CBE will actually level the playing field remains to be seen, in fact the jury is still out as to the educational benefits, or otherwise, of digital technology for children. Proponents of CBE rely on it and see it as a necessary wave of the future. What has not been adequately examined or addressed, is the fact that there are serious negative effects of using technology as the primary teaching source in the classroom, in fact, it cannot be disputed that technology can hinder the learning process and stymie child social, emotional and educational development. 
Until a clearer picture of CBE and its effects emerge, concerns voiced by CBE critics are legitimate. Many questions persist and it seems that parental vigilance and suspicion is most warranted.

Next, the second in this series on CBE and the new digital classroom.
Additional contributions from Hudson Valley Parent Educator Inititive