We love labels. We divide students into tracks, such as, the gifted, the low achieving, the Cambridge, and my personal favorite the IB. IB stands for the International Baccalaureate Program. Needless to say, nothing about the IB schools, at least in the state of Florida is international. There are flags of other countries in the library, but their knowledge of international curriculum or alignment with it is non-existent. IB schools in Florida simply follow the common core curriculum like any other school. The gifted class doesn’t equate to enriched curriculum, but accelerated curriculum, which simply means a textbook from a grade ahead. Rules and policies in education are created by the people who had never stepped into the classroom. Testing is provided by Pearson, a British company that strives to standardize education in the time when decades of research find that differentiation is the way to go.
Being a student in this age of testing and common core curriculum is even harder than being a teacher. A second grader needs to know amount of hundreds in 15 tens. Ask any adult the same question and time how long it takes them to answer. By the time students get to upper elementary, they are utterly confused by the “depth” and discovery of math curriculum that solving a basic algorithm of long division is a major challenge.
We fail as teachers, parents, and a country, every day that we let this madness go on. We are taking the joy of learning and inquiry out of the classroom. The incessant testing and accountability is pointless and self-defeating. No other country does this, and it is hard to find a country in the advanced world that doesn’t outperform us.