Minnesota World’s Best Workforce and Common Core/College & Career Ready – What is the Connection
Minnesota’s World’s Best Workforce (WBW) is the capstone of fifty years of educational reform. Every iteration of the ESEA (Elementary and Secondary Education Act) from School to Work, Goals 2000 and Outcome-Based Education is unveiled. While No Child Left Behind introduced Americans to testing accountability measures and their consequences, College-and-Career Ready Standards (CCRS) and Common Core Standards (CCSS) via various grants, solidified testing to the extreme for the sole purpose of data collection and data-driven decision making for the workforce.
Minnesota’s ESEA Flexibility Waiver (No Child Left Behind) clearly states that, “Minnesota has formally adopted College-and-Career Ready Standards” in both English Language Arts and Math as well as the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts as a result of the Race to the Top grant. Additionally the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge, adopted by Minnesota in 2011, outlines Common Core Standards for pre-natal to age 5 children. Thus, Minnesota has both Common Core (ELA & Birth to 5) and College & Career Ready Standards (ELA+Math).
Our Minnesota Department of Education further states within the ESEA Waiver, CCSS and CCRS are “close(ly) aligned”. These standards, now adopted and rebranded as, “Minnesota State Standards” are the very standards described in the Academic Standards chapter 120B.021 and every other clause of Minnesota education law. These new standards are a poor representation of earlier Minnesota State Standards of the early 2000s and prior.
Common Core and College-and-Career Ready Standards and aligned curriculum is the vehicle whose ultimate goal is the workforce. Standardized tests, surveys and other data collection are the mechanisms that fuel the machine. The workforce is indeed the end-goal of the CCSS/CCRS.
Standardized testing is by far the most important instrument in data collection. Local school districts are forced to comply with national and state testing initiatives. Student data is collected and mined via the various standardized requirements. ACT, NWEA MAPs, MCAs- all have a platform for data collection. Minnesota utilized AIR, the American Institutes of Research, prior to 2014. One needs only a quick glance at their website to see the large quantity of psychometricians hired to unlock the secrets of each child’s personality, one keystroke at a time.
Due to the primary importance of standardized testing to the workforce initiative, Statute 120B.30, Statewide Testing and Reporting, is prominently referenced near the beginning of this law. The commissioner is required to include the following components when reporting test measurements:
- uniform statewide computer-adaptive assessments of all students in grades 3 through 7 and testing at the grade 8 and high school levels that provides appropriate, technically sound accommodations or alternate assessments;
- educational indicators that can be aggregated and compared across school districts and across time on a statewide basis, including average daily attendance, high school graduation rates, and high school drop-out rates by age and grade level;
- state results on the American College Test; and
- state results from participation in the National Assessment of Educational Progress so that the state can benchmark its performance against the nation and other states, and, where possible, against other countries, and contribute to the national effort to monitor achievement.
What are these tests measuring? A greater emphasis on job skills, values, behaviors and to a lesser degree academics. This is not about rigor or high expectations.
Our Minnesota Comprehensive Assessments (MCA) measure Common Core Standards in ELA and College and Career Ready Standards in Math. Pearson is contracted to write the exams. Is Pearson interested in the workforce? Most certainly! As the largest multinational conglomerate, Pearson is always earning by providing global curriculum, global testing and global workforce training and placement.
The ACT and NAEP Tests are Common Core-aligned. David Coleman, so-called “architect of the Common Core” and primary author of the CCSS English Language Arts standards was promptly promoted President of the College Board, a year and a half after finishing the standards. His mission has been to align all College Board tests to the Core, which he has accomplished with the exception of the CLEP.
The American College Test (ACT) gives special credence to College-and -Career Ready Standards and their (ACT’s) Work Readiness System. http://www.act.org/solutions/career-success/
“ACT’s Work Readiness System assembles a world-class set of components into an integrated solution for organizations seeking solid, insightful, and seamless information… The ACT Work Readiness System helps employers identify and invest in employees who can make real contributions to the bottom line of industries across America and around the world.
In addition, our solutions help ensure that individuals are ready for work—and for life. ACT’s National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC™) is a portable credential that demonstrates a certain level of workplace employability skills in Applied Mathematics, Locating Information, and Reading for Information. These workplace skills are highly important to the majority of jobs in the workplace. In the future, ACT Career Credentials, powered by ACT WorkKeys, will expand to offer certifications in other areas.”
The NAEP Test has been aligned to the ACT WorkKeys. However, NAEP scores are not able to be viewed by the school district. So is the NAEP offer any feedback for districts?
ACT and NAEP appear to be more interested in job skills and placement over academics or any true “rigorous” education. Which brings us back to the standards, Common Core and College-and-Career Ready and their connection to WBW. The Minnesota World’s Best Workforce is simply a rebranding of the entire reform, encapsulating all accountability measures of testing, data, curriculum, surveys and, of course, the important outcome of job training and the next generation of drones.