Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Common Core Roundup

The fight is still on in many states over Common Core.  New wrinkles have emerged like all kinds of products "aligned" to Common Core and being pushed to states.

First (and thanks to Dan Dempsy) is a YouTube video from Ben Swann on the issues around Common Core.   This is the best, most distilled down information on CC I have ever heard.  Recommended.

Think CC isn't linked to DOE money?  I'll let Diane Ravitch tell you what happened to Georgia:

A few days ago, Georgia announced that it was dropping out of PARCC, the Common Core testing consortium funded by the U.S. Department of Education. State officials said the state could not afford the technology or the cost.

The U.S. Department of Education was swift to respond. It wrote Georgia to warn that it is withholding $10 million from the state’s Race to the Top funding. Maybe the timing was a coincidence. Maybe not. 

The state says it needs more time to fix its educator evaluation system before it can be implemented, but the Feds insist that Georgia must start evaluating teachers and principals based on test scores without further delay.

New York State is the first state to have a real bill against the use of Common Core (and this is pushed by parents, not Tea Party people).  Great website with good solid information.

The New York state site has a great list of all the items they want to use in your child's classroom (or even that your child will wear) and biometric bracelets are one of them.  This from the group in Illinois trying to stop Common Core.  From Stephanie Simon of Before It's News:

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which has poured more than $4 billion into efforts to transform public education in the U.S., is pushing to develop an “engagement pedometer.” Biometric devices wrapped around the wrists of students would identify which classroom moments excite and interest them — and which fall flat.

Gates officials hope the devices, known as Q Sensors, can become a common classroom tool, enabling teachers to see, in real time, which kids are tuned in and which are zoned out.

Existing measures of student engagement, such as videotaping classes for expert review or simply asking kids what they liked in a lesson, “only get us so far,” said Debbie Robinson, a spokeswoman for the Gates Foundation. To truly improve teaching and learning, she said, “we need universal, valid, reliable and practical instruments” such as the biosensors.

“In high school biology I didn’t learn a thing all year, but boy was I stimulated. The girl who sat next to me was gorgeous. Just gorgeous,” said Arthur Goldstein, a veteran English teacher in New York City who has long been critical of Gates-funded education reform.

The engagement pedometer project fits neatly with the Gates Foundation’s emphasis on mining daily classroom interactions for data. 

It does not fit neatly with what ANY other country in the world is doing to better K-12 public education.

"Common Core" is going to be the stamp of approval for many new instructional materials.  Who judges what's good and what's not good and how it aligns to Common Core?  This story from Ed Week.

And caveat emptor applies as much to the educational-materials marketplace as it does to any other swath of the free-market system. But in an era when one set of standards is being used by so many states, vendors have a shot at selling the same product to many states. 

 From Ed Week, "Our Teachers are Going Crazy" - comes under the category of "Are districts preparing teachers with training and resources to meet Common Core?"

On the off chance people were looking for a lively discussion about the connections between the Common Core State Standards and teacher evaluations on a mid-summer Sunday afternoon, they would have found it at the National Association of State Boards of Education's annual conference in Arlington, Va., on July 28.

The 2013-14 academic year is shaping up to be a hugely important year for both education policy topics, and a year when they will begin to converge in schools. For the upcoming school year, 17 states (including Colorado, Florida, New Jersey, and Oregon) will be asking districts to fully implement new teacher evaluations, Angela Minnici, the principal researcher in the American Institutes for Research's education program, told an audience during a NASBE panel on the new standards and evaluations. (Last school year, 11 states, including Illinois, New York, and Virginia, did so.) 

Minnici and that there is in fact a "broad consensus" now on the substance of the evaluations across states' policies, Minnici said. Three key goals, she said, is to get trained professionals to administer the evaluation systems, recasting teacher certification and professional development for the standards, and the need to have a greater quantity of reliable measures by which to measure teachers. 

But the NASBE audience in several instances expressed anxiety about the convergence Minnici discussed, perhaps an indication of just how nervous states generally are about the next two years (common core assessments in their finished form are scheduled for the 2014-15 academic year). One audience member questioned the basic validity of tying evaluations to test scores, given the non-random placement of students in classes, and another said teachers are simply worried about keeping their jobs under the sweeping policy changes. 

Asked about the extent to which states are already tracking the measurable effectiveness of teacher training and development programs, she said, "States are not doing that. Districts are not doing that for the most part."


Patrick said...

Gates should apply the Engagement Pedometer to Microsoft software! Let Microsoft developers see which moments of using their software make them swear or feel like punching the screen.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Will Gates use those bracelets on his own children's classes?

dw said...

Will Gates use those bracelets on his own children's classes?

My thoughts as well. The answer is: Of Course Not! Someone should ask him outright the next time he is out in public discussing education issues.

Another question about this, where does all the ongoing data go? Is it archived? Is it attached to individual children? (The bracelets sure would be) This sounds like another fantastic bit of data for inBloom to archive forever, and to share with all kinds of commercial organizations! Yes, that's sarcasm.

dan dempsey said...

Under you can't make this stuff up -- about Tony Bennet
Be sure to click the link
"13 reasons why I oppose Common Core" - by John Eppolito

Anonymous said...

I remember when the "engagement" measurement bracelet development idea was first brought up on the blog. It is a very odd idea. What motivates the idea, do you think? That most of the developers (as compared to teachers) are bad at reading faces/aspect? One of the baseline skills of most of the teachers I know is being able to tell by looking at someone whether they are paying attention. But, that's not a skill I associate with tech developers, so maybe they don't get that other people can read faces?

Alternatively, the method could be used for data mining (10,000 teachers, teaching the same curriculum, see if there are any large scale differences in "engagement" -- I recommend blowing stuff up as a way of testing the bracelet).

or, it could be used for online teaching, where the teacher doesn't see the student.

I thought it was just gee wizz tech that would eventual be sold to advertisers, but, who knows.


mirmac1 said...


That some cannot read faces is not a bad thing. Ask any family with an child on the autism spectrum. You may have meant it as a funny, but it's not.