Proficiency Based Learning is a Cruel Experiment That Has Failed

Dear Friends

An informative article on proficiency-based learning. Written by Mike Bernier, a public school teacher, published in the Sun Journal. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

 

“Proficiency-based learning is a cruel experiment that has failed”

Never, in my 30 years of high school teaching, have I seen an initiative do so much damage to student learning and motivation as I have with Maine’s Proficiency-Based Learning Diploma. It is a piece of feel-good legislation that was poorly conceived and enacted.

Fortunately, the Legislature is now considering repealing PBL. I hope others will join me in respectfully encouraging legislators to do so.

PBL is short-changing students in preparing them for the real world, contrary to what supporters claims. Why? In my district (which is not in the same town where I live), under PBL, there are no homework deadlines and exams can be retaken, sometimes over and over again. In addition, school attendance doesn’t count toward grades or graduation.

This is what I have observed in my classes since PBL’s implementation:

Before PBL, approximately 9 percent of my students didn’t complete homework; today the average is about 33 percent. (Recently, 41 percent of my students failed to complete a 20-minute vocabulary assignment.) Yet, I am still required to accept late work within a 10-day window.

Because of that, cheating and plagiarism are on the rise. Before PBL, approximately 8 percent of my students missed class on any given day; today the average is about 18 percent.

Last year’s graduating class had approximately 291 graduates, up from 230 the previous year — a 26 percent gain. Why such an increase in one year?  And why did some graduates miss more than 25 days of school and still graduate?

I understand that schools are under pressure to improve the graduation rate, but it is disingenuous to say that PBL is improving student learning. Next, if students fail standards during regular classes, our district offers seven credit recovery programs, including summer school in which to recover lost standards. With so many opportunities to retake standards, some students no longer take classes seriously. Their reasoning is simple. “Why put all the effort in class when it takes so much less effort to earn standards in credit recovery?”

Far too many students are learning to “game the system” so they can graduate with as little effort as possible. That diminishes the value of a high school diploma and is unfair to those students who really do work hard, attend school and make every effort to succeed.

How does this prepare students for the real world? In the real world, effort, attendance and personal responsibility count. If I fail to show up to work, carry out my responsibilities, or meet my deadlines, I will be fired — and rightfully so. In effect, PBL is taking away the students’ responsibility for learning. Imagine how this will impact the labor force.

With PBL, we are treating high school students as if they are in elementary school. In essence, we are preparing them to fail.

Looking at the Sun Journal’s three-part series on PBL (April 15-17), it is interesting to note that many who support it are policy makers and administrators. I fail to see much support from parents, students or teachers. I suspect that it is because the view from the boardroom is sometimes different from the view from the classroom. Working at the grassroots level, teachers, parents and students understand the failings of PBL.

Using our children in this state-wide experiment is unethical, especially since there is no independent, long-term research or evidence to prove that PBL improves student learning. It is just not there. If we continue with PBL, we are putting an entire generation of Maine’s young people at risk.

 There are reasons why high-performing high schools are trying to retain the traditional grading system. It works. The Legislature needs to understand that our children’s futures depend on it.

http://www.sunjournal.com/proficiency-based-learning-is-a-cruel-experiment-that-has-failed/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Bias Embedded In The Classroom

Dear Friends,

An informative article regarding biased teachings in our schools, written by Lance Izumi. Izumi is Koret senior fellow in education studies and senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute.  He is the author of the 2017 PRI book “The Corrupt Classroom.” Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“Bias Embedded In The Classroom”

While the antics of anti-Trump teachers, such as the recent viral video of a Southern California teacher beating a President Trump piñata, make headlines, classroom bias is much more deeply embedded, especially in the Common Core curriculum.

When the Obama administration pushed states to adopt the Common Core national education standards, states then adopted curricula aligned to those standards. Bias in Common Core-aligned curricula has become a critical problem.

Take, for example, the Common Core English standards.

Common Core mandated a 50/50 division between literary texts and so-called “informational” texts at every grade level.

The use of these “informational” texts has opened a huge avenue for states, school districts, and teachers to push ideological agendas under the guise of English and reading comprehension.

A substitute teacher in California recently showed me a fifth-grade lesson for the reading-comprehension component of her class that was based on an “informational” text that was clearly biased and one-sided.

The lesson focused on global warming, its effects, and who’s to blame.

According to the lesson, the Arctic is warming, and “scientists blame global warming for the Arctic thaw” and “predict that half the summer sea ice in the Arctic will melt by the end of this century.”  Seals, polar bears and native Inuit people will be the first victims.

Who is to blame for global warming? The lesson says: “Scientists say human activity is to blame for global warming.” Burning fossil fuels, “gives off gases that trap heat from the sun and add to the overheating of the Earth.” According to the lesson, “scientists say people need to limit their use of fossil fuels.”

Among the questions students are asked to answer after reading this “informational” text: “How could your life change if global warming continues as scientists think it will.”

Yet, despite the certainty of the lesson’s scientific declarations, the empirical evidence is much less clear.

It so happens that a federal court case is currently underway where oil companies are being sued over issues involving emissions regulations. In an interesting development, Judge William Alsup asked for tutorials on climate change to be submitted for his edification.

Last month, Princeton physics professor William Happer, a former director of energy research at the U.S. Department of Energy under President George H.W. Bush, NYU scientist Steven Koonin, a former undersecretary for science at the U.S. Department of Energy under President Obama, and MIT professor of meteorology Richard Lindzen submitted a comprehensive data-based tutorial for the judge.

According to these three eminent scientists, “The climate is always changing; changes like those of the past half-century are common in the geologic record, driven by powerful natural phenomena.” Indeed, they point out, “much of the alarming rise [in temperature] in the last few years is due to an El Niño condition.”

Further, say the scientists, human influences on the climate are a small 1 percent factor in the changes to the energy flows of Earth’s climate system. And, they note, “It is not possible to tell how much of the recent warming can be ascribed to human influences.”

Finally, the scientists conclude, “Contrary to the impression from media reporting and political discussions, the historical data . . . do not convey any sense that weather extremes are becoming more common globally.” Therefore, “today’s projections of future changes are highly uncertain.”

Although the fifth-grade lesson claims that humans and their use of fossil fuels cause global warming, these top scientists show that the evidence undercuts these claims.

The bottom line for parents and their children is that under Common Core, so-called “informational” texts are being used in English and reading lessons to push particular ideological points of view, without any concern for fairness and balance.

After reviewing the fifth-grade lesson on global warming, a California legislative staffer with extensive education policy experience termed the lesson “indoctrination” meant to “frighten children and turn them into committed leftwing activists.”  Such indoctrination demonstrates why parents should have school-choice tools that allow them to avoid public-school indoctrination and choose private schools that better meet the needs of their children.

http://dailycaller.com/2018/04/19/bias-embedded-in-the-classroom/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com