Monday, June 30, 2014

A Common Core News Roundup

It's a cavalcade of news but most of it, not so good.  I have nearly 50 other stories in the hopper.  About Pearson, about Gates, about what else states could do without (gasp!) CC. 

And then there are the mid-term elections and CCSS. 

Current Analysis
A great essay at Vox, The Republican Debate on Common Core is Over.  

But the Pew Research Center's recent profile of American political views destroys the assumption that these divides mean the Common Core is contentious among Republican voters. Business-friendly conservatives (the establishment base) and cultural conservatives (the tea party base) who know about the standards oppose them at identical levels. 

Supporters might hope otherwise, but the fight in the Republican Party is over and the standards have lost.

From Cudgucation, about the overall debate about CCSS.

At Impatient Optimists, a Gates Foundation website, Allan Golston recently wrote a notable piece entitled "America's Businesses Need the Common Core." It's a notable column, not because it has anything new to add to the discussion (it's a rehash of the usual pro-CCSS fluffernuttery), but because it contains this sentence:

Businesses are the primary consumers of the output of our schools, so it’s a natural alliance.

As a semi-professional hack writer and fake journalist, I can tell you that it's a challenge to fit a lot of wrong in just one sentence, but Mr. Golston has created a masterpiece of wrong, a monument of wrong, a mighty two-clause clown car of wrong. Let's just look under the hood.

Students are not output.  Here's another thing that students are not-- students are not consumer goods. 

Businesses are NOT the primary recipients of the benefits of well-educated young humans, because the purpose of education is NOT simply to prepare young humans to be useful to their future employers. A good education prepares them to be good citizens, neighbors, voters, parents, and spouses. All of those people are stakeholders, too

From the Washington Post's, The Answer Sheet, a piece by Carol Burris and John Murphy on NY state's testing.

.Murphy, a former English teacher, is the assistant principal of South Side High School in New York, and he coordinates the school’s IB program.  Burris, also a principal, has been tracking the implementation of CCSS.  She was named New York’s 2013 High School Principal of the Year by the School Administrators Association of New York and the National Association of Secondary School Principals, and in 2010, tapped as the 2010 New York State Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State.

There's a link to both the Algebra Regents test and the Common Core English Regents test.

Congratulations to the New York State Education Department. Officials there have solved the college remediation problem. Their Common Core graduation tests are so “rigorous” and have a  new passing score (for students graduating in 2022) set so high  that only about 1 in 4 students will graduate high school. 

From Diane Ravitch, an op-ed from the Boston Globe by Les Perelman on scoring the PARCC test. 

Perelman said that student essays written for the PARCC test, created by Pearson, would be scored by computers. Unfortunately, the computer scorers are unable to detect the meaning of language. Instead, they rely on length, grammar, and other measurable elements. 

So, he says, the computer would give a high score to this gibberish: 

““According to professor of theory of knowledge Leon Trotsky, privacy is the most fundamental report of humankind. Radiation on advocates to an orator transmits gamma rays of parsimony to implode.’’

A human scorer would recognize this as incoherent babble but the computer would be impressed. 

People’s belief in the current adequacy of Automated Essay Scoring is proportional to the square of their intellectual distance from people who actually know what they are talking about.”

Smarter Balanced computer needs
Thanks to Microsoft for explaining how much will be needed in order for districts to give these tests.

For many schools, time is running out. In a report issued by Smarter Balanced in 2012, it found that 56.1 percent of K–12 schools reporting were still running on aging Windows XP, which had an end of service (EOS) date of April 8, 2014. In the face of this looming cutoff of support, it’s recommended by IT professionals to migrate to the new Windows as soon as possible.

The AFT and the NEA will be having their annual conventions soon.  From teacher Michelle Gunderson, a post about what she hopes the discussions there will feature.

Sitting around the table in our teachers’ lunchroom a teacher said to me, “I didn’t go into teaching to be political.” I find this an amazing statement because no other human act is more political than teaching. As teachers we are charged in a democracy to educate a populace capable of self-governance.

Social justice unionists believe in the power and structure of our unions, but we are disheartened by many of the decisions of our national leadership: namely, the wholesale endorsement of the Common Core State Standards, negotiating contracts with test-based teacher evaluation, and acceptance of funding from foundations that act against our interests.

From Business Insider, one TFA teacher on why Common Core won't work for poor children.  

When we try to implement Common Core, we find that the level of rigor is much higher, which is great for kids who are ready. One thing the Common Core curriculum stresses is reading informational texts — this seems really practical, and I like that focus. It asks that kids do close reading and answer text-based questions with evidence from the text. But my kids are reading so far below grade level that they just shut down and feel defeated. Also, as far as I know, Common Core doesn't really address the needs of students with disabilities.

We need help getting our kids ramped up to grade level before we can address the goals of Common Core. 
It's challenging in ways policy makers don't consider.


Anonymous said...

For the midterm elections:

Vote Gerry Pollet and Jessyn Farrell for 46th Legislative Reps (Northeast Seattle). They both have immersed themselves into the weeds of SPS in order to try and build support for emergency funding for facilities.

Vote Jamie Pedersen and Reuven Carlyle too. They too have taken the time to understand our District in a VERY deep way and advocate for money for our district.

These 4 support us, now we need to support them so that they can keep on building a coalition within the Seattle delegation to get Seattle $$. We need it desperately.

Please vote. And, vote for these 4. They have all invested in our District, even when our District continues to pretend there aren't any problems...


mirmac1 said...

Vote Joe Fitzgibbon in the 34th Leg District. He has been a staunch supporter of public education and is well-informed of the issues. Along with Sharon Nelson and Eileen Cody, Joe rounds out a dynamite legislative team for the 34th!

Anonymous said...

An example of a math lesson gone wrong:

Can you spot the error?

The lesson is from engageNY, a NYSED teacher resource for CCSS implementation. The lesson modules are posted online, so teachers around the US can access them.

caveat emptor

Patrick said...

caveat emptor, that math book's author should be terribly embarrassed! shouldn't have gotten out of middle school math making mistakes like that.

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