Wednesday, February 18, 2009

HELP! 7TH Grade Son Victimized by Social Studies CBA Classroom Based Assessment

Here is the link for the Washington State middle school
classroom based assessment for social studies.

Here's the basic outline, sounds simple enough.

In a cohesive paper or presentation2, you will:
State a position on the main factors that cause people to move.

Provide background on your position by: •

Explaining two or more geographic factors relating to the movement of
two groups with at least one factor per group. •

Explaining two or more economic factors relating to the movement of
two groups with at least one factor per group. ..

Provide reason(s) for your position that include: •

An analysis of one or more significant similarities or differences
related to the economic and geographic factors affecting the movement
of each group. .

Make explicit references within the paper or presentation to three or
more credible sources that provide relevant information AND cite
sources within the paper, presentation, or bibliography.

My son says they need to find a primary source - a direct quote or
picture from a person or event, not just a webpage that says such and
such happened. For some reason, he's not able to find any such source
for scandanavian immigrants. I was thinking, man if I was a PHD
candidate with a university library taking a college level course or
writing such a book I would be hard pressed to find such a source.

He showed me a provided examples of sources that a student could find:

Primary Source Support #1
1. Primary Source - "Japanese Farms in Washington" **unpublished
thesis** by John Isao nishinoiri, University of Washington 1926
Unpublished means... there's one, maybe TWO copies in existence, both
somewhere in a vault at the university of Washington. No way any
7th grader could even access this source, let alone know it exists
to use as a source.

2. (photo of picture bride) Flemming, Stan, "Shirakawa: stories from a
Pacific Northwest japanese American community" Seattle Washington.
University of Washington Press; Chesham: Combined Academic, 2002

The name of the author, Stan Flewelling, is not even correct in this
example, it came up blank in all libraries. Only the Seattle Central
library has 3 copies. Half of the copies in the King County system are
checked out, and none are in Bothell, Kirkland or Redmond.

There is no indication of how a 7th grader would know that this book
is a source from a web search of anything besides the author or the
title of the book, let alone how a 7th grader would extract the one
relevant page with the photo of a picture bride.

The only way somebody might find about this book would be a college
course on Asian American history, or a bibliography that includes this

No bibliography is provided by the CBA at all.

This is just as ridiculous as the 5th grade music CBA which asks 5th
graders to sing from sheet music by sight (no instrument), or draw a
picture of a classmate in cubist (distorted half-naked people) or
surrealist style (lipstick on a garage door). I'll just have to pull my
boy out of this ridiculous project.

He's told me that his high achieving friends are all stressed out
having the worst time of their lives (much worse than WASL), and
that stressed out enemies have harassed them in the library trying
to do research. It takes forever and they don't get anywhere.

White River Valley Museum: Shirakawa Book Order Form ... Northwest
Indian culture, Japanese-Americans, and the Northern Pacific Railroad.
... Shirakawa: Stories from a Pacific Northwest. Japanese American - Cached

"Shirakawa: Stories from a Pacific Northwest Japanese-American
Community" by Stan Flewelling (White River Valley Museum/UW Press). A
history of the Japanese-American community of the White River Valley,
between Seattle and Tacoma, from its beginnings as the truck-farming
"breadbasket" of Puget Sound through its sufferings during World War
RECOMMENDED READING Stan Flewelling, Shirakawa: Stories from a Pacific
Northwest Japanese American Community

King County Library - only 4 copies are available, none in Bothell.
Shirakawa : stories from a Pacific Northwest Japanese American
community / by Stan Flewelling ; fore Flewelling, Stan. Auburn, Wash.
: White River Valley Museum ; Seattle, Wash. : Distributed by
University of Washington Press, 2002. 254 p. : ill. ; 28 cm. Call
number: 979.700495 FLE
Location Call No. Status
Algona-Pacific Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE DUE 02-17-09
Auburn Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE CHECK SHELF
Bellevue Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE DUE 11-29-05BILLED
Burien Northwest Collection 979.700495 FLE CHECK SHELF
Covington Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE DUE 02-11-09
Federal Way Regional Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE DUE 03-03-09
Kent Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE CHECK SHELF
Maple Valley Nonfiction 979.700495 FLE CHECK SHELF

Seattle Public library
Central library has 3 copies, one branch.
Central Library Levels 7-9 Nonfiction 979.70049 F6396S 2002 Checked In
Central Library Levels 7-9 Nonfiction 979.70049 F6396S 2002 Checked In
Central Library REF - Level 10 Seattle Room (M:11-8pm Tu-F:11-6pm Sa:10-6 pm Su:12-6pm) 979.70049 F6396S 2002 Checked In
Beacon Hill Branch Nonfiction 979.70049 F6396S 2002 Checked In

This is what I am sending the teacher and principal:

Henry is my 7th grader son.

I am very concerned about this classroom based assessment. He says
that he's asking to look up the kind of sources that as far as I can
tell can't be found in an encyclopedia, textbook, or most of the web
pages on the internet.

1st person or original sources sounds like the kind of research that
would be tough for an author of a book on the topic with graduate
degree and a budget to travel to university libraries, let alone a 7th
grader. I don't have the faintest idea to find the sources he's
talking about and I have an MIT engineering degree. Would he have to
find a friend who has parents who trace their origins to scandanavia
and interview their grandparents???

When I was in 7th grade, we went off the textbook or world book
encyclopedia. It sounds like Henry's high achieving friends are having
breakdowns over this and are in misery, i can only imagine what
average or below average kids are going through.

I have reviewed many of the classroom based assessments in arts and
music, and have concluded that in general, they are well beyond the
capabilities of most college majors in those fields with tasks (draw a
portrait of your friend in cubist or surrealist style, sing sheet
music by sight in 5th grade) that would be unreasonable for adults and
are simply nonsensical for children.

I support high traditional standards of the sort that they use to have
30 years ago, but something appears to be seriously wrong when even I
am unable to help out with this project.

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