Sunday, May 25, 2014

Common Core Continues to Be on the Run

No matter how many tweets that DFER or ReadyWashington or any other group that supports Common Core send out saying that it's here to stay, the evidence is mounting that it may survive but not in exactly the way its end game was pictured.

Update on CC across the country:

Indiana has already bowed out of Common Core but only to replace it with their "own" standards which appear to be a cut-and-paste of CC.  Minnesota adopted the LA standards but kept their own math standards saying they are "more rigorous" than CC. 

The Oklahoma state legislature, both houses, approved a bill to exit their state from Common Core standards.  It is going to their governor's desk soon.  Rep. T.W. Shannon had this to say:

The federal government sold Common Core with the promise of increased standards, but instead gave us an inflexible curriculum that does not equip our children for college,” said Shannon. “The federal government has disregarded parental rights, over-regulated teachers, and over-tested our kids. Parents, local governments and teachers are better equipped to meet the needs of their students than the federal government. Parents and teachers are the best leaders for quality education in Oklahoma communities—not bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.”

From Senators Josh Brecheen and Anothony Sykes:
With this bill, we’re pressing the pause button and guaranteeing to teachers that next year they will be able to teach the same math and English content they taught this year, until new standards are established in 2016. Those new standards will have to be approved by the Legislature thus bringing representative government into the process to ensure they won’t be a ‘copy and paste’ version of common core under a new name.”

The statement that Shannon made - about CC not equipping children for college - is partially true (and even the creators of CC admit this).  The "standards" are only good enough for community college or a very basic university but not the ones with higher standards of admission.

Important Reading #1 on Common Core
It's funny because CC supporters want to paint CC opponents as "hysterical" or "Tea Partiers" when  most opponents are neither.

Diane Ravitch takes this on, telling people how absolutely ridiculous Glenn Beck's statements on CC are (he has a new book), but then she calmly explains how to fix the problem.  THAT's opposing something BUT finding solutions.   It's solid advice. 

This is crazy stuff, and it makes it difficult if not impossible to have a reasonable discussion about the pros and cons of the Common Core. The Common Core is not wicked, evil, or dangerous, nor are those who wrote it.

Perhaps my critique of Common Core is too sophisticated for those who want simplistic answers. I don't condemn those who want to use Common Core. I don't they are wrong or un-American. If they like it, they should use it. 

My advice to states that want to use it, who think it is better than what they do now, is this: 

 1. Convene your best classroom teachers and review CCSS. Fix whatever needs fixing. Recognize that not all students learn at the same pace. Leave time for play in K-3. 

2. Do not use the federally funded tests. Do not spend billions on hardware and software for testing. Let teachers write their own tests. Use standardized tests sparingly, like a state-level NAEP, to establish trends, not to label or rank children and teachers.

3. Do not use results of CC to produce ratings to "measure" teacher quality. Study after study, report after report warns that this is a very bad idea that will harm the quality of education by focusing too much on standardized tests, narrowing the curriculum, and forcing teachers to teach to the tests. 

4. Do not let your judgment be clouded by people who make hysterical claims about the standards or those who wrote them.

Important Reading #2
This comes from a conservative education writer, Michael J. Petrilli, who explains at EducationNext why Common Core is not playing out well.  This is frustration you hear a lot from people who genuinely support standards but realize that CC is being horribly rolled out and is replete with problems.

Problems like:

Pearson did, in fact, claim that digits (a textbook) was “written entirely to the Common Core State Standards.” But that’s hard to believe, as Pearson published the package just a few months after the final version of the Common Core standards was released.

For instance, the standards are clear that elementary-school teachers should assign texts that match a student’s grade level, rather than their current reading level. Yet the majority of teachers reported that they continue to assign such “leveled texts” to their charges. Furthermore, the standards encourage teachers to focus on text selection first and building skills second. Yet most teachers continue to do it the other way around, picking a skill to teach and then finding a text to help them accomplish that.

We asked Ruth Wattenberg, former editor of the American Federation of Teachers’ American Educator journal, to examine state websites and basal readers from major publishers to find examples of a content-rich elementary curriculum. To say they were scarce is an understatement. “So far, sadly, there is little evidence that the coherent content-rich curriculum called for by CCSS is being put in place,” she writes. “Such a curriculum is not embodied in the new purportedly Common Core aligned textbooks, nor is it (generally) being established by states.”

Important reading #3
From one of my favorite ed blogs, Curmudgucation,  a thread called, Did President Obama Ruin CCSS?

States were not open to CCSS because of some burning desire to revamp their education systems. They were all sitting on the ticking time bomb that was (actually, is) No Child Left Behind, otherwise known as ESEA, otherwise known as federal law. The feds were always involved. Always.

For Pearson et al, CCSS represent a marketing opportunity sent from heaven. CCSS opened up the US education market faster and more completely than a velociraptor fileting a sleepy cow. To open a national market, they needed national standards, not the state-by-state patchwork of the past.  

Who can seriously argue that all the states were going to say, "Yeah, we should totally implement this untested set of standards, sight unseen. Especially since they come with a huge price tag. Yes, let's do it." Particularly states that had perfectly good standards already. "Now that we've paid off this beautiful Lexus, let's junk it and get a Yugo for twice the cost," said no car owner ever,

No, a wave of bribery (Race to the Top) was needed to get the ball rolling. Or do you seriously want to suggest that states would have raced toward the Core for free. And when states wouldn't fall in line for the bribe, we moved on to the extortion-- "I'd hate to see anything happen to your state just because of some crazy No Child Left Behind law; you should really consider getting our special protection waiver plan." 

Education is the cute fluffy bunny of politics, the one that plays in happy fields far away from third rails. Any politician who has an excuse to pick up the bunny for a photo op will do so because, up until recently, there was no down side. Being in favor of good schools and teaching children was a guaranteed win. It's a measure of how big a botch the CCSS complex is that it has actually turned education into a thorny issue.  


Anonymous said...

DFER lives in its own fantasy world. They seem not to be connected to reality.


Anonymous said...

Remember Voltaire's famous quote: The agglomeration which was called, and which still calls itself the Holy Roman Empire, was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an Empire? That applies to the so-called Democrats for Education reform. They are neither Democrats, nor for education, nor reformers. they are grifters out to make a fast buck, at the expense of taxpayers and our children.

-- Ivan Weiss

Melissa Westbrook said...

I see DFER as more power-hungry, condescending know-it-alls than grifters. Is one better than the other? Not really.

Anonymous said...

DINOcrats for Ed Deform?


dan dempsey said...

Look at how the CCSSM was used to dump "Jump Math" from the selection process.
Jump was greatly preferred by the community both on line and walk in over the Pearson product being submitted to the Board for adoption.

Jump has actual data from double - blind studies which shows it is effective.

To improve a system requires the intelligent application of relevant data. .. Unfortunately the SPS have never cared about relevant data.

Common Core alignment guarantees nothing.

Dimocrat said...

Isn't DFER a two person office?

It is possible that DFER is in violation of using the name "Democrats" for their organization.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Dimocrat, I think there was a bit of a scuffle over the name in California but it got cleared up.

What is clear is that they are NOT connected the regular Dems organization.

Anonymous said...

"What is clear is that they are NOT connected the regular Dems organization."

And who exactly are the "regular Dems," anymore? I haven't seen one in years. All I see is one money-driven party with wealthy and extreme Left and Right wings, whose tails wag the dog, year after year.