Friday, May 03, 2013

MI Homeschoolers and Common Core

Common Core and related standards and assessments are a defacto national standard and are part of the process to create a P-20 seamless pathway from school to the work force.  Make no mistake about it, the standards and related assessments will affect homeschoolers.    Homeschoolers know this and are making our opposition known to lawmakers.

We must be making an impact because the Michigan Department of Education issued a special "fact sheet" about Common Core and homeschoolers (PDF).  to be distributed to state lawmakers who are apparently fielding a lot of calls about Common Core.
Are home school parents and students required to adopt the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and develop a curriculum to align with the CCSS?  
No. Home school parents /guardians and students are not required to adopt, develop a curriculum, or follow the Common Core State Standards.
The fact that we are not REQUIRED to adopt or follow the CCSS does not mean that we are immune to the consequences of a defacto national educational system.  All students, regardless of where they attend school must be included in the P-20 seamless pathway.  Much to the frustration of the Michigan Department of Education,  homeschoolers are outside the pathway.

Homeschool students do not have to register with the state of Michigan unless they require special services.   MI Representative Stanley introduced a bill earlier this year to get homeschool students to report attendance but it hasn't gone anywhere. There is another avenue: assessments.

The Michigan Department of Education fact sheet curiously addresses the privacy concerns in the Smarter Balanced Assessments even though homeschool students are NOT required to take any assessment.
Student Data Collection
Will answers to Smarter Balanced Assessments be stored individually for each student?
Yes.  Answers to Smarter Balanced test items will be collected and securely stor for individual students.  This is necessary to compile and provide accurate achievement
reports for students, educators and parents.  
This "fact sheet" distributed to Michigan lawmakers is NOT factual at all.  Currently, Michigan requires the MEAP for grades 3-9 and MME for all high school students.  In a rhetorical slight of hand, the Michigan Department of Education transitions away from MEAP/MME to Smarter Balanced Assessment without any explanation.

Michigan homeschool students are exempt from state-mandated tests and that would include the SBA if it were to be adopted.  Replacing the MME with the Smarter Balanced Assessment (SBA) would require an act of the legislature, so why include it in a fact sheet when it currently does not apply to homeschooolers and SBA has not been adopted?

The SBA is one of two consortia developing a test to align with the Common Core.  There are 22 states in each consoritum the other is known as PARCC.  If  the Michigan legislature and the other states adopt a common test this creates a defacto national test.   It also easily ushers in a national, portable, credentialed "valid" diploma recognized by colleges and employers around the country.  They only way a homeschool student can earn that credentialed diploma is take the high-stakes state SBA offered solely by the state of Michigan.  A student who does not take the test could be perceived to be less qualified simply because they didn't take the SBA. So while homeschoolers won't be FORCED to align or test using the SBA, the consequences of NOT taking it are potentially significant.

Remember, education reform is also an economic reform.  Michigan  Governor Snyder views education as a mechanism to link children to their future careers.   Work force development depends on accurate testing and tracking data, P-20. All students must be in the system and that includes Michigan homeschoolers. 


Rebekah said...

Crap, just found out my state adopted common core this April (3013). Now what?!?!?!

Anonymous said...

This is a super helpful article. I am wondering how the SBA would be different from something like the SAT's? Is it a diploma requirement?
Trying to understand the ramifications a little better.

Anonymous said...

Join the fight! Please make calls!