Louis C.K. Went On An Amazing Twitter Rant Against Standardized Testing and the Common Core

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Image via Wikimedia Commons
Louis C.K.
Everyone hates the Common Core, a set of "educational standards" that 44 states have adopted for their K-12 students. Really. Everyone. The ultra right hates it because it's a sinister Obama-controlled conspiracy designed to enslave our children and turn them into Communist Socialist hivemind robots, while the rest of the country despises it because of common sense. Common Core questions take happy subjects like math and reading and turn them into strange, contorted, logic- and linguistics-defying puzzles, designed to leave your fourth-grader weeping in frustration over a wadded-up page of fractions. (Take a look at some sample math questions for New York state's third graders, if you'd like to feel your stomach clench in vicarious anxiety).

Legions of frustrated parents are tired of struggling to help their children understand absurd word salad like "Which is a related subtraction sentence?". Louis C.K. is among them; the comedian has two grade-school age children and a deep, festering, entirely understandable rage towards how they're being asked to learn.

We know that because C.K. spent most of Monday tweeting angrily about his third grader's absurd math homework:

Mid-rant, C.K. got emotional about watching his daughters' enthusiasm for school turn into dread:

On a related note, the State Board of Regents spent Monday engaged in a bitter debate over whether the Common Core-aligned tests here are, as Capital New York puts it, "developmentally inappropriate or ambiguous."


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12 comments
jack294
jack294

If you think its bad in the US - we have something much worse in Australia - it's called Naplan. - National Assessment Program – Literacy and Numeracy


Let me say it right out - Naplan is bullshit.

One of the things that I cannot believe about this process is that parents worry about it and have their kids study for it. Is it not clear?? It's a test of the school and the teachers - not the kids. It's the school that should worry - not any individual child. For the child those results count for NOTHING - let me say it again NOTHING.

Having had that little rant let me also add that Naplan is not a bulletproof exam system.

In the Year 12 exams the papers are delivered by courier only shortly before the exam starts - and then they are picked up - again by courier - as soon as the exam is finished. There is almost no margin for fudging, cheating etc. Everything is really too tight.

The Naplan papers - on the other hand - are held by the school for weeks before the children take the tests - and given back pretty much at the school's leisure. Meaning - who the hell knows what goes on in between.

The other part of Naplan - my personal favourite - is when the school is asked to enter data about parent's level of employment and level of education. This information is provided by - you guessed it - the parents themselves. This means that in most of the nouveau riche type schools people simply lie. Plumbers list themselves as Level 1 (which is supposed to be doctors, lawyers etc). When I asked at a government inservice who gets to see this - i.e., if I list the tradesmen as Level 3 instead of 1 do they get to see? I was told "no-one gets to see or really cares, so just mark down whatever you like - just put something".

This, people, is the level of quality of school data given to the public. It all depends on lowly paid data entry clerks and corrupt school admin.

So when you look at it, really, it's nothing more than advertising.

Viktor Burovsky
Viktor Burovsky

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classic53174
classic53174

Louis sounds like a little bit of a whiner here.  I don't see what the big deal is.  I think the questions force the kids see math problems in a different light, which may help them solve more abstract problems down the road.  Maybe attitudes like his are the reason this country is getting its ass kicked in education by the rest of the developed world.

Rayne Macy
Rayne Macy

we had a certain way we had to write out everything..i didn't work like that...if my dad, from eastern europe, could've taught me i would've got it..but not the way we had to learn!! maybe that's why i don't fit..or choose not to now..into 'regular' society

Marco Gil
Marco Gil

Lawrence Evans Patricia Lazo

gynnady
gynnady

I can't say I see why the frustration is any different than what our parents faced with the "New Math" of the early 60s. We learned it and it worked for most of us. I've read the examples and I can't answer the questions because I'm not a 3rd grader but I have no trouble understanding what they're asking.

mattwoodford
mattwoodford

@classic53174  The beauty of expressing arithmetic in numbers is it's the simplest and most elegant way of doing so. It's much easier and better for 5-year-olds to understand '7-3=4' than ugly, inelegant language on 'subtraction number sentences' or other such age-inappropriate bureaucratese.

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