RMT Sunday: Leveled Education…YUCK!

As if CCS (Common Core Standards) haven’t reeked enough havoc on our students, I’ve discovered yet ANOTHER dull, boring, and downright yucky website totally devoted to ‘leveling’ reading for our youngest of students. What an unmitigated disaster!! So,here’s today riddle: The website?? Benchmark Education (see: http://www.benchmarkeducation.com/)

What an educratic phrase  fest going on in this screen shot!!
What an educratic phrase fest going on in this screen shot!!

Where There’s a Benchmark, There’s a Gates:

You knew the Gates Foundation JUST had to be involved, right? With a company name including one of the most well known ‘false positives of CCS’ (benchmark), it is pretty much a given. However, to be fair let’s see just HOW Gates is involved. For that, go to “Business Wire” from 2013. The date? August 19th. Headline read:

Benchmark Education Receives Grant for New Online ACE© Research Project Organizer

K-12 Publisher Benefits from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Grant

Get the entire story: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20130819005189/en/Benchmark-Education-Receives-Grant-Online-ACE%C2%A9-Research#.VMLwEkfF-hQ

Oh, Wait, There’s More About Benchmarking!!:

From the Benchmark Education website, you can learn how the resources aren’t just for American students..they are to be used in at least 3 other countries. You see their research for CCS aligned materials is ‘scientifically proven’, as well.

Which company is the ‘scientific’ researcher?? “Main Street Academix”. MSA is a division of the Center for School Climate and Learning. This group has a “6Core” Strategy for education..and, yes, CCS is the kingpin! (see: http://thecscldotcom.wix.com/corestrategies#!about/c1flv) Oh, the ‘carrot’ dangled before you about the “6Core”, is ‘free resources’! Topping the list of strategies, however..using student data!

Among the clients of the Center for School Climate and Learning are the TN Dept. of Education; the CA Dept. of Education, the LA Dept. of Education, the U.S. Dept. of Justice, and many others. (to see the list of clients on the website, go to the CSCL main page and click on ‘clients’.) By the way, the director of the Center is also the director of Main Street Academix. So much for objective research, huh?

Back to the Bench, Folks:

Benchmark Education’s sister company is Newmark Learning. Both companies are based in NY. Both love the CCS and both  provide resources aligned to the Standards in more than 1 country. You can read the story about how both companies have been honored several times by “Learning Magazine” (see: http://www.eschoolnews.com/2012/12/04/benchmark-education-and-newmark-learning-win-three-learning-magazine-2013-teachers-choice-awards/) Be sure to click the picture below for Newmark’s homepage..there’s a ‘surprise’ waiting for you warriors.

newmark

“Leveled” Reading:

At Benchmark, reading materials are leveled, meaning your students get all the differentiation and information text they will be able to stomach. Trouble is, real research has proven that this type of reading is the WORST! But, we warriors know that. We don’t receive pro CCS money to buy in to the misinformation.

At Newmark, reading leveled books also come in sets. Lucky us, book sets are in English and Spanish.

At Benchmark, there is actually a leveled book set for older readers entitled “Rigor”. I guess it covers the English Language side of CCS.

At Newmark, their “Rigor” series is devoted to Math. Oh, and while I was at the Newmark’s site looking at ‘Rigor’, I saw ‘free resources’..hhmm..guess what? Texas, which didn’t ‘adopt’ CCS is featured with Newmark’s STAAR/TEKS correlations. (see it here: http://www.newmarklearning.com/free-resources.html )

Both the sister companies are privately held, so finding out about them has proven to be a bit tough. I did find at “GlassDoor” (a website devoted to what it’s like to work at companies) shows that the main competition for Benchmark Education, LLC are Pearson Publishing, MacGraw-Hill, and Scholastic. Benchmark rakes in somewhere between $10 and 25 million (USD) per year. Newmark Learning, is available at places like Barnes and Nobles, so I imagine sales are quite good.

Closing:

Well, the riddle was pretty easy to solve. I hope you can guess why I would say ‘Yuck’ to all this. If not, the ‘yuck’ is tied to the concept of reading being dulled down, aligned, and anti imagination based. One of my all time favorite pastimes is reading. All the students I’ve either taught first hand, tutored outside of classes, or influenced have been taught that reading is fun, it builds imagination, vocabulary, thinking independently and so much more. I hope one day reading will once again be the stuff that fuels our students, not leveled CCS crap.

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