When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball,
Could a Plain Belly get in the game… ? Not at all.
You only could play if your bellies had stars.
And the Plain Belly children had none upon thars.
Dr. Seuss from The Sneetches
How ironic that today, when children should have been celebrating Dr. Seuss’s birthday with activities to rejoice about the joy of reading, schools across America really got into the full swing of PARCC testing.
Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) measures math and English/language arts K-12. The assessments are supposedly designed to determine if students are on track for college.
Is your kindergartener or third grader on the right college track? Is this something parents of young children should be worrying about already? Can’t everyone just enjoy their children when they are young? Won’t college come soon enough?
One of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories is called The Sneetches and it is rich with analogy about following, fitting in, and the one-size-fits-all mentality. It is also about being scorned. I thought about this story when I was reviewing all the troubling stories about the PARCC testing.
Right now it is easy to see the Sneetches story playing out across the country when it comes to public schools. The reformers want everyone on the same page doing what they think best, and if you don’t do as you are told you fall out of favor.
For the Sneetches, Sylvester McMonkey McBean shows up with a machine to put stars on bellies of all the Sneetches.
“Just pay me your money and hop right aboard!”
So they clambered inside. Then the big machine roared
And it klonked. And it bonked. And it jerked. And it berked.
And it bopped them about. But the thing really worked!
When the Plain-Belly Sneetches popped out, they had stars!
They actually did. They had stars upon thars!
Of course when everyone has stars the snooty Sneetches pay Sylvester McMonkey McBean even more money to get their stars removed, because they are no longer different.
Back and forth the Sneetches go, stars on—stars off—trying to be the best.
If you haven’t been keeping up with the PARCC controversy, here are some tidbits to ponder about PARCC testing as students are made to struggle to become star-bellied Sneetches!
- New Jersey parents and teachers should be credited for fighting the PARCC, and people there understand the test stinks, but they are going to do it anyway.
- Times of Trenton Editorial Board likens the test to the President’s Affordable Care Act. It might not be smooth at first, but sooner or later they hope it will improve. Just how many students they will practice on remains to be seen.
- Already there are concerns that many students will fail the tests. Adults who took the practice tests claim they are too difficult for the level being tested.
Russ Walsh, a reading specialist, determined that the PARCC sample tests really are more difficult—parents were right—about two grade levels above the readability level of the age group.
- The PARCC ushers in a new focus on online teaching. Students must take the test online, and the way it is discussed by the media one can see it is really about pushing students online so that they will distance themselves from teachers.
- Holding that thought, district leaders around the country with poor mouths about scraping funds together for basic school necessities, broke their piggy banks to outfit their school districts with computers for the PARCC. They don’t seem to see an iPad they don’t like either.
- Here is a video of parents discussing PARCC on Anthony Cody’s Living in Dialogue blog, some in tears, describing what the PARCC will do to children. This is pretty difficult to watch if you like kids.
- The Denver Post and Denver schools seem to be going after anti-high-stakes testing activist Peggy Robertson for standing up against the PARCC. The only recourse parents seem to have is having their students opt out of the test. Peggy is the head of United Opt Out. Convenient timing I’d say.
- The State of Colorado, however, is uncomfortable with the test in general. However, they are just not uncomfortable enough. I mean, they don’t have to take it.
- Sheila Resseger, a retired teacher from the Rhode Island School for the Deaf, in The Providence Journal, spoke out against the PARCC. She made many fine points, not the least of which was that the PARCC testing means further marginalizing children with special needs — English-language learners, students with individualized education programs and 504 plans, and children from high-poverty neighborhoods. It does these students a particular disservice to force-feed them a stale diet of test prep in reading and math to the exclusion of engaging learning.
- Arkansas has some who call the PARCC a sinking ship and many there wonder what the answers mean and how they will benefit students.
- At first, Chicago would only give a 10% of students the PARCC test, but they backed down in order to give it to all students because the state threatened to withhold $1 billion.
- And already it has been reported today that administration of the testing on the computer has not gone smoothly in places around the country especially in Florida. The testing in Florida is not the PARCC but AIR exams.
- In New Mexico, hundreds of students walk out of the PARCC testing joining other students across the nation.
- Thousands of students walked out the PARCC test in New Jersey. And parents are leery in New Jersey so much so CBS talked about it.
I could go on. Feel free to remind me of something going on in your state concerning PARCC and I will add to the list on this page or in the comments.
So will PARCC continue to get push back, or will it become a part of the school landscape in America? Will the country continue to push harmful high-stakes testing, so that every student will be a star-bellied Sneetch?
Then, when every last cent of their money was spent,
The Fix-It-Up Chappie packed up. And he went.
And he laughed as he drove In his car up the beach,
“They never will learn. No. You can’t Teach a Sneetch!”
But McBean was quite wrong. I’m quite happy to say.
That the Sneetches got really quite smart on that day.
The day they decided that Sneetches are Sneetches.
And no kind of Sneetch is the best on the beaches.
That day, all the Sneetches forgot about stars and whether
They had one, or not, upon thars.
Thank you, Theodor Seuss Geisel, for having done the best thing ever to help children learn.
You still make them think and most definitely laugh!
And there is truly, I’d say, not a thing wrong with that.
How much I wanted to write something fun, but sadly I couldn’t, it just wouldn’t be done.
Sorry. I am no Dr. Seuss, but go read The Sneetches and Other Stories. August 21, 1961.