Sunday, October 30, 2011

Common Core State Standards

I will confess; I am NOT fully up-to-speed on this issue.  But I was reading over the minutes from the Board Work Session on CCSS that was held on October 19, 2011 and wanted to point out several issues around CCSS as well as what parents know or don't know.

To note, some of the confusion is that we have Washington State Standards, SPS graduation requirements and CCSS and while there is overlap, I believe they all have differences.  What they are and what they mean to your child remains to be seen.  

The following is straight from the minutes.

Guests from OSPI were Deputy Superintendent Alan Burke and Assistant Superintendent Jessica Vavrus.

He (Mr. Burke) also noted that most states are aligning with CCSS standards, acknowledging the need to have national curriculum alignment, and that as of today, more than 40 states have adopted CCSS, including Washington.  Directors expressed familiarity with CCSS policy development and noted common core standards should not be confused with graduation requirements.  

Ms. Vavrus described the CCSS initiative and standards, transition plans from GLEs to the CCSS, implementation timeline, supports, Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC), and shifts in math and language arts.  She explained their learning goals, the case for CCSS (clarity, cost-effective, student success & consistent standards from state to state), how CCSS implementation is different, Phases 1-4 timeline through 2014-15, professional learning resources and statewide transition and implementation supports (quarterly webinar series, symposiums for school district teams, public forums, and conferences throughout the year).  CCSS professional learning resources refer to non-monetary resources like tapping into other state’s curriculum and other groups’ expertise.

Directors noted OSPI needs to be clear about what curriculum is vs. what materials are to avoid making erroneous assumptions.

Directors noted that SPS cannot keep shortening the school year while trying to improve test scores, and asked what is the difference between CCSS and Washington State standards, and will CCSS use increased vigor.and higher standards.  Mr. Burk replied we are not lowering but stepping up standards so students are college ready at 11th grade. 

Ms. Vavrus said the goal is implementation in 2014 and requires building CCSS awareness statewide, working with schools and Education Service Districts, and building a statewide communications team to work with the Washington Education Association (WEA) and PTAs.&nbs

Mr. Burke explained cost savings with CCSS ($20 vs. $43) per student test, due to economies of scale, and noted that they are not ready yet to use online exams.  Directors noted there is a long lead time to upgrade school networks to facilitate online testing if CCSS decides to do that.  (Note; they mention SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) which I believe may replace MSP.)

Directors asked how the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) correlates with CCSS.  Mr. Burke said that is not clear and the goal is that SBAC will replace Measures of Student Progress testing, but he anticipates there will be resistance to changes.

Ms. Vasquez discussed the need to engage communities to discuss the shift that is coming.   Supt. Enfield commented on the need to orient our teachers to this shift and finding ways and the time to engage teachers.   Directors noted there is awareness that standards are changing in the community.

Directors asked about those students who do not want to go to college and Supt. Enfield said the emphasis is on making students college ready even if a student is not headed that way and
noted the need to have high standards.
End of minutes.

I may be wrong but I think parents may only have the vaguest of ideas that standards are changing but this kind of big shift where it will affect student testing, textbooks and possibly graduation requirements?  That's information that should be getting out there in a timely fashion so parents don't get a big information overload all at once.


Anonymous said...

Here's one perspective on the CCSS from Laurie Rogers in Spokane (March 5, 2011):

CCSS: Please ask all legislators to vote to delay

-a reader

dan dempsey said...

Burke and Vavrus spoke for 75 minutes and Ms. Vasquez spoke for 15 minutes. Chris Jackins and I were there for the entire 90 minute presentation.

It is amazing that these presentations which deal with Standards and more testing are seen as a solution to Education malaise USA. The problems that are really impediments to student achievement are not being dealt with but are rather ignored. Changing Standards and Testing in WA state now is like changing your hat when your underwear needs changing.

Seattle classrooms is where the learning takes place or does not.... The CCSS is an expensive diversion from tackling the real issues.

Another expensive change is masquerading as a solution.

Note the CCSS began as a Gates Funded project (that was initially a big secret)... It is moving like National Standards under nation Governor's Association cover... while Arne Duncan bribes states into submission.

OSPI's Randy Dorn was all gaga over CCSS because WA had plans to be SBAC leaders. Sure enough Joe Wilhoft (the WASL Godfather) resigned from OSPI to become SBAC executive director.

For the First time .. the Math EoCs have given the public and the Districts a test that shows math performance on items taught in class. The EoC #1 for algebra is especially good.

The CCSS looks at math in strands not by courses and there is no plan for EoC testing in the SBAC plan..... As if the WASL was not bad enough ... Mr. WASL is now Mr. SBAC.

Consider the failure of the Seattle District to reduce the range of students in the classrooms through intelligent grouping decisions and the continued flushing of $$$ into ProD for "differentiated instruction" .... so the State is now requiring local districts from local funds to the tune of $165 million over five years to pay for .... different standards and different tests.

The early WA entry into this was completely unjustified... waiting at least two years or more was an obvious choice .... except then WA could not be an SBAC leader and we would miss out on Mr. WASL becoming Mr. SBAC.

Here are the kind of results EoC #1 produces.

Catherine said...

Dan and Melissa... let me see if I have this straight:
SPS didn't like the results they were getting with the ITBS tests, so they swapped to whatever the WASL standards were. SPS didn't like the WASL test results, so then they switched to the standards on which the MAP tests are based. Now SPS isn't liking those results, and is looking at Common Core State Standards and the test associated with that. Do I have this right? thx.

seattle citizen said...

Here is a link to the national Common Core webpage and here is a link to the Washington State Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium

The SBAC has drafts of Common Core State Standard.

For comparison, here is a link to OSPI's Washington State Standards.

seattle citizen said...


CCSS adoption is a state initiative. SPS is certainly in agreement with it. But if SPS wasn't in agreement with adoption, they might not have much choice in the matter as CCSS will replace WSS/GLEs in the tests, and become the de facto state standards so SPS couldn't stick with WSS even if they wanted to.

In my opinion, they are happy to go along with it because "data" is the name of the game, now, particularly data that can be compared across state lines. How can one state say, "OUR students rose X-percent in Reading [insert some arbitrary measurement of knowledge where X is] and yours TANKED! Thereby, give us more RTT or NCLB funding!" if they don't have a common test?

It's all about the machine, now, and the feds are either driving or fueling it: Systems, "data," "accountability" to the data...They all want to say what education IS, with numbers, and then tell us what number we should reach towards. Now it's federalized. I think they want us to reach for 42, a number that makes "no sense whatsoever- a number, and a mundane one at that." (paraphrase of Douglas Adams)

Anonymous said...

Here is how the CCSS are playing out in New York:

Occupy the DOE

-a reader

seattle citizen said...

from a reader's link to the NY resistance to CCSS:

"Demonstrators also chant that the city wants to raise standards without the supports that students need to reach them."

No way! Demanding more of students and educators without giving them supports they need?! No one would do THAT!

WV needs some pirel to wash its hands after handling THAT news.

Anonymous said...

This is an outstanding opportunity for the layers at the ESDs and the big districts and OSPI and the colleges of ed to waste tons of taxpayer dollars on meetings and meetings and meetings, and getting paid.

If the layers manage to recreate the WASL disaster, they have another 5 or 10 years of mucking around, and getting paid, before people are sick of the excuses, and the layers migrate on to the next acronym of salvation.

The real venal 'beauty' of this fiasco, especially for those belonging to the layers getting paid, is that the Gates crowd is co-opting the layers crowd, and both can continue blaming teachers!

What are these layer people supposed to do? Figure out a reasonable set of realistic best practices, put them on the web, and then devote resources to classrooms and KIDS ??

Isn't that a demeaning and plebeian assignment for people with fancy degrees and big job titles and complicated job descriptions?


David Grosskopf said...

A couple of years ago, I was with the high school Language Arts teachers, working on revising our standards. We spent at least two meetings a month, including pull-out sub days on this, working closely with the Common Core Standards and standards from the College Board (the corporation that runs all the Advanced Placement programs). We knew the Common Core was starting to spread and that we'd probably adopt it. We nevertheless spent a good deal of time out of the classroom putting the standards into our own words, adding an idea here and there.

The thing is, I actually liked the language and standards of the Common Core. I think they're pretty good.

I'm sorry we spent so much time (all the LA dept. heads taking at least one sub day for a year) just to put things in our words for the precious buy-in.

But I'm okay with those standards.

David Grosskopf

seattle citizen said...

The standards are okay. But in the big picture, IAmCeasar is, I think, closer to the truth: Non-educators in glass towers fiddling about while telling educators it's their fault for failing to raise "standards" that were just put into place and now are being dumped. How much time was spent creating EALRs? How much on WSS? How much, now, on CCSS? And all the while educators are called out as being unqualified because the "achievement gap," as identified by those ever-changing standards, isn't being fixed by them single-handedly.

Yes, discussion in your department about standards and what might happen in the classeoom around them is good. But that's not the point of the standards anymore, the point seems to be to just assign a number to students and educators and bully them with those numbers.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Grosskopf - I was speaking of the math 'standards' etc etc of the last 10 and 15 years. If the l.a. standards are better, count your blessings.


dan dempsey said...


Here is a little history... The WASL began as a way to look at schools and kids in general to get an idea of what was happening... it morphed into something to evaluate students and point fingers at schools.

Spring 97 was the first state wide WASL score report for grade 4. Spring 98 for grade 7 and Spring 99 for grade 10.

For several years only grades 4, 7, 10 were WASL tested.

From 2000 to 2005 there was Iowa testing at grades 3, 6, and 9. The ITBS at grades 3 and 6 with ITED at grade 9 reported scores using a national percentile.

In Spring 2006 the WASL expanded into other grades and the Iowa tests disappeared.

In Spring 2010 the MSP replaced the WASL in grades 3 thru 8. The HSPE came in at grade 10.

As for Math in 2008 the state adopted new standards. The first testing of these standards was on the 2010 MSP.

The High School math standards were not tested until the 2011 End of Course Exams... (Note the MAth HSPE in 2010 was not testing the new math standards).

Now it is off to spend lots more money nation wide on the Common Core Standards and all the expensive testing to go with it. ... The chance of individual states having much say in any of this is near ZERO.

My recall of Mr. Dorn is partially centered on his failure to fulfill his duty in regard to reporting on CCSS adoption impacts in a timely manner.

SEE HERE. ... See pages 1 and 2

Mr. Dorn has clearly violated his oath of office.
RCW 28A.655.071 states: (2) By January 1, 2011, the superintendent of public instruction shall submit to the education committees of the house of representatives and the senate:
(a) A detailed comparison of the provisionally adopted standards and the state essential academic learning requirements as of June 10, 2010, including the comparative level of rigor and specificity of the standards and the implications of any identified differences; and
(b) An estimated timeline and costs to the state and to school districts to implement the provisionally adopted standards, including providing necessary training, realignment of curriculum, adjustment of state assessments, and other actions.

====== Superintendent of Public Instruction clearly violated the law by making the above submission on January 31, 2011; a full 30 days late.

Dana Twight said...

To hear Supt. Dorn discuss the Common Core standards-please attend the League of Women Voters Forum on the role of the Federal Government in Education,Tuesday Nov. 1st at Town Hall Seattle. There is an audience Q and A scheduled. See Town Hall or League of women Voters websites for more information. www.seattlelwv.org
Admission is free of charge.

Dana Twight