Common Core; Hitting Massive Roadblocks

The big question; will Common Core survive and, if it does, will it be so beaten down that it's unrecognizable?

Story One:
Huge Common Core supporter, Governor Rick Scott of Florida, on Monday withdrew Florida from the group known as PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers) consortium that is creating Common Core assessments. 

From the American Enterprise Institute blog (never thought I'd type those words here):

The Florida decision is especially significant for three reasons. 

First, Florida has long been one of the states leading the charge. It has acted as a “fiscal agent” for one of the two major testing consortia, and its state superintendents have played an active role as champions of the Common Core effort. This isn’t some state in the chorus pulling back; it’s the drum major having second thoughts.

Second, Florida’s decision appeared increasingly likely after former state superintendent Tony Bennett resigned this summer. Bennett is a prominent conservative school reformer and one of the most visible GOP advocates for the Common Core. When his job was at stake, Republicans who might normally have rallied around Bennett were surprisingly absent—due, in no small part, to lukewarm feelings towards the Common Core. Florida’s reversal teaches opponents that removing one prominent Common Core backer in a state may deliver outsized change.

Third, Florida is seen as Jeb Bush’s backyard. Bush, a potential 2016 GOP candidate and former two-term Florida governor, is the most significant Republican champion of the Common Core. Rightly or wrongly, Scott’s decision is likely to be seen as a reflection on Bush’s influence and his tenuous relationship with conservatives, even in Florida—and even on school reform.

Make no mistake - Jeb Bush IS the face of ed reform in this country and Florida was his go-to state.  

Story Two:
 Did you see this video out of Maryland where a man is shoved and taken out of a School Board meeting for objecting to Common Core?  People in the audience shout for him to be allowed to speak but the security person - an off-duty cop who flashes his badge at man - takes him out and then arrests him.

This video has gone viral and is yet another sign of the attempt to tamp down any discussion questioning Common Core.

Story Three:
In East Newton, Missouri, their school board signed a resolution against Common Core.   You can read the whole resolution at the Missouri Education Watchdog but here is part of it:

1. CCSSI was never approved by Congress, but was embedded in the “four assurances” that the U.S. Department of Education required of governors to apply for State Fiscal Stabilization Funds and Race to the Top grants financed by the American Recovery Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
2. CCSSI was never evaluated by Missouri State Legislators; the people’s representatives were bypassed.
3. CCSSI was presented as an enticement for “Race to the Top” funds and the waiver of “No Child Left Behind.” Because “No Child Left Behind” saddled school districts with the unrealistic requirement that 100% of students be proficient in reading and math by 2014, a waiver was a must to avoid loss of accreditation.
4. CCSSI are copyrighted to non-government trade organizations. We have concerns regarding access to additional information and the cost of such information.
5. Individual school districts are committed to paying unknown costs associated with implementing Common Core assessment plans, and purchase of materials, of which tax payers and their elected representatives never had any input. This would imply taxation without representation.
7. CCSSI, which is an integral component of a U.S. Department of Education plan to collect a large amount of data collection on students as well as teachers, could lead to unauthorized sale or sharing of personal data to commercial sources. 

 Story Four
Can't stand the heat?  Change the name.  This out of my home state of Arizona, where Governor Jan Brewer, trying to placate conservatives in her state who don't like Common Core, has ordered that state agencies stop calling the standards "Common Core."  

From the Verde Independent:

In an executive order, the governor said she was "reaffirming Arizona's right to set education policy.' And her order spells out that "no standards or curriculum shall be imposed on Arizona by the federal government.'

But it concedes that the standards adopted by the state Board of Education in 2010 already are being implemented. And Brewer herself referred to them as Common Core in her State of the State speech and her budget request to the Legislature.

That leaves only one substantive part of her directive: Use the name "Arizona's College and Career Ready Standards.'

Story Five
Also in Florida, a new group called the Badass Teachers Association,  has risen up to challenge ed reform and made a foray into Florida.  From the Miami Herald:

“It’s not just the Tea Party that’s skeptical of the Common Core,” said Bonnie Cunard, a Fort Myers teacher who manages the Facebook page for the 1,200 Florida BATs. “We on the left, like the folks on the right, are saying we want local control.”

The BATs represent a new wave of liberal opposition to the Common Core standards, which includes some union leaders, progressive activists and Democratic lawmakers. They are joining forces with Tea Party groups and libertarians, who want states like Florida to slow down efforts to adopt the new benchmarks and corresponding tests.

“The liberal critique of Common Core is that this a huge profit-making enterprise that costs school districts a tremendous amount of money, and pushes out the things kids love about school, like art and music,” said Mark Naison, a professor at Fordham University in New York and co-founder of the Badass Teachers Association. 

But the opposition is strong enough that state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, is calling for a review before Florida moves further ahead with the standards and accompanying exams.

“I get what the intention was with Common Core,” said Bullard, a Miami Democrat and teacher. “But it got lost in the shuffle with all of the other education reform policies. Now, you might as well scrap the whole idea.”

Read more here:

Read more here:

Read more here:

Next up, Arne Duncan.  The Secretary of Education is getting increasingly shrill about Common Core, saying to a group of education writers that critics are "just not intellectually honest."  

In other words, lying.   

Are you getting worried, Mr. Secretary?  


Anonymous said…
This was awesome. I like how you pulled them all together...

There is so much happening right now against Common Core, there is a giant need for the collection of all the stories in a concise form in one place...
And there are many more - I just picked these.
Anonymous said…
Gov. Scott of Florida has decided that he no longer wants Florida to be the fiscal agent for PARCC nor does he ultimately want to use their assessments. However, Gov. Scott has declared that he is a supporter of the Common Core State Standards and has asked the State Board of Education to begin exploring the process of developing their own state assessment system aligned to the Common Core. In other words, Florida is continuing to move forward on Common Core, just not with PARCC.

--- swk
SWK,sure but this may be the first step to watering them down.

My main and major concern is student (and teacher) date privacy.

That is the real fight.

CC is just going to be another boondoggle that makes a lot of money for somebodies and not much in the way of real progress for American Education.

Kinda like NCLB.
Anonymous said…
I would suggest treading carefully in the anti-Common Core world, or you'll be relegated to posting from much more extreme blogs than the AEI. Not a lot of rational people playing in that space.

- Strange bedfellows
Anonymous said…
Melissa, at least one of the consortia SEEMS to share your concerns: But the proof will be in pudding, as the saying goes.

--- swk
Mark Ahlness said…
And yet the inroads common core has made in the schools already are huge. Nobody knew what was happening but the teachers. In my last year teaching, 2011-12, you just were NOT to be in any way critical or questioning of the common core. It's coming, and we WILL do it, that was the mantra. Never forget one of my last staff meetings, getting shut down for even suggesting there would be increased testing (on computers of course) with the common core. This is now a widely accepted, foregone conclusion.
Anonymous said…
Mark, I'm looking at a PowerPoint by Robin Munson, OSPI Assistant Superintendent for Assessment and Student Information, that shows that testing time in grades 4, 7, and high school was actually decrease with the Common Core assessments. The other grades will increase. Overall across all grades, it looks like the testing times will decrease.

--- swk
Linh-Co said…
It's too bad Seattle SD is spending tons of money and professional development training on Common Core.

None of it will do anything for student achievement. What a complete waste of time and money.
Anonymous said…
The common core is a pay day loan, it is a money trap. Only a fiscal idiot would buy into this ruse.

ScrawnyKayaker said…
Why is Gov. Scott (R-Medicare Fraud) hedging? Did the religious faction finally notice that a federal curriculum is going to make it harder for them to sneak in their "The earth is Gawd's special 6000-year-old snowflake/Jeebus was a fiscal conservative" insanity?
Mark Ahlness said…
@swk Good luck with your belief in an OSPI expert that testing time will actually decrease with common core. Put that out there in a headline and see how far it goes. Not gonna happen. Common core ramps up high stakes tests, big time. Everybody knows it, and it's already happening - see esp. the east coast...
Anonymous said…
Common Core will undoubtedly have increased testing as both consortium (PARCC and SmarterBalanced) both have "interim" tests for each grade level that we heard at the Test Task Force Meeting that Seattle is interested in buying. This additional money has to come from somewhere and I assume it's coming from student services. I wish we would finally have testing that informs teaching directly to improve student outcomes.

The issue is not just about data privacy (although that is hugely significant) it's about the increased testing, massive set up and operational needs (computer testing that each school ends up trying to deal with), teaching to the test (hopefully it's better but it's not even ready or field tested properly so who knows???), loss of time spent teaching non-tested subjects (e.g. elementary science, art, social studies, music, etc), loss of library time (yes, that's where so many schools test), and awareness to the students that all adults think testing is the thing we should be focusing on (there are going to be obvious difficulties the first year!).

Teacher who loves useful information,
Krinn said…
Been watching the whole Common Core mess go down . . . now I get to see aligned curriculum being tried out on my kid. New pilot program, My Math. Looks like maybe good curriculum, but I don't know that anybody's clear on how it's supposed to be used for a student who qualifies for ALO/Spectrum.
Anonymous said…
Mark, what are your sources? At least I tried to reference a source to provide accurate information. All you're doing is providing your own (jaded) opinion and vague references to "everybody." I'm trying to provide information --- you're just complaining.

--- swk
Linh-Co said…
Don't forget that Dr. Joe Willhoft, the OSPI assessment director, who was involved with the WASL debacle is heading the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium.

I can't wait to see the items on the new tests.
Mark Ahlness said…
I'm not into conversing with anonymous pseudonyms. I should have known better. Outta here.
Teacher, your concerns are quite valid and are being played out across the country.

I got dinged elsewhere for not wanting to try something "new" and that's not the case. I could name several things I support.

But you are right on in the lack of field testing - rolling it out without a real test - as well as the costs in time and resources.
Anonymous said…
Teacher and Melissa, the Smarter Balanced tests will be field tested in Washington and across all consortium states this spring.

--- swk
Anonymous said…
Linh-Co, what was the "WASL debacle" to which you refer?

--- swk
dw said…
Mark Ahlness said: I'm not into conversing with anonymous pseudonyms. I should have known better. Outta here.

It's sad that you chose a weak and petty path to running away from the discussion. The vast majority of commenters here use pseudonyms, and rather than complain, you should acknowledge the fact that (because the blog is moderated) it HUGELY helps open up the conversations here. This community is made up of parents, teachers and yes, administration and other staff that absolutely cannot post with their real names, let alone a big picture of their mug. Yes I'm teasing, because it's so 15-year-old-on-facebook-esque.

What makes it worse is that my gut says you are correct in this discussion. You are correct to be concerned about additional test time; but it's not just the test time, it's all the time spent around the edges as well. Logistics planning, extra test prep that takes time away from non-tested subjects, extra $$ to implement the testing, loss of library time, etc.

But instead of acting like a 5 year old with arms crossed, eyes closed, and a big pout on his face, step up and defend your points. Convince other people. That is how you fight for a cause -- especially when you're right!
SWK, field-tested or rolled out? Not the same thing.

Anonymous said…
Melissa, fielding test for the Smarter Balanced summative tests will occur in the spring of 2014. The pilot testing occurred February through May of 2013. The operational summative assessments will begin in the 2014-15 school year.

The field test will be administered to approx. 20% of students in each member state and will be used to evaluate the final quality of items to be used on the first operational tests. The 20% of students will be derived from a demographic representative sample of students.

I don't know what you mean by "rolled out." I am using the term 'field test' in its technical definition. Could you help me understand the difference to you? If so, I can maybe better answer your question.

--- swk
Again, is it REAL field testing or just some districts rolling it out? Your statement didn't answer my query.

What you are stating is not my understanding so it would be helpful to know where you got this information.

Rolling out means some states/districts using it versus field test which means a chosen group of states/tests piloting the test and using those results - not as real scores - but only to tweak and fine-tune the assessments.
Anonymous said…
OK, now I understand the difference.

This will be REAL field testing. Actual items will be field tested in a select representative sample of schools in each member state. Washington is opening up the field test to all schools that wish to field test. However, Washington must at minimum achieve the 20% population plus the representative sample necessary. If not enough schools volunteer to participate or one or more student demographic group is not fully represented, the state will have to request certain schools participate.

The results will be used to determine the final set of operational items for the first administration of the operational tests to begin in 2014-15. In other words, real items will be field tested to a representative sample of students and schools.

You can find the basic information that I shared at under "How are the new tests being developed?". But aside from that, I guess I'm just going to ask that you trust that the information I'm providing is accurate. I don't know what else to provide without jeopardizing my anonymity.

--- swk

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