I. FEDS TELL US, “YOU PICK: EITHER NCLB OR COMMON CORE”
On conditions of implementing Common Core, the Dept. of Education’s ESEA Flexibility releases each ”waiver winning” state from No Child Left Behind law/ But ONLY on conditions of implementing Common Core.
On page 8 of the ESEA Flexibility document (updated June 7, 2012) found at http://www.ed.gov/esea/flexibility, we read: “A State’s college- and career-ready standards must be either (1) standards that are common to a significant number of States; or (2) standards that are approved by a State network ofinstitutions of higher education”. Thus, since Utah chose option one, we are stuck in Common Core by choosing to accept the NCLB waiver. And on page 9 of the same document, we read:
“ ‘Standards that are common to a significant number of States’ means standards that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium that includes a significant number of States. A State may supplement such standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for a content area. “
Thus, we not only have to stick with the Common Core State Standards by having accepted NCLB; we also are restricted from adding to the standards. We can no longer soar since we can add no more than 15% to the standards (and can subtract nothing.) The state does not seem to comprehend this fact yet. Many have said that we are still free, that Common Core is just a minimum set of standards which we can soar beyond.
Even by a member of the State School Board, I was told that my district should add whatever was necessary to make sure the kids weren’t suffering in the “repetition bubble” of 6th and 9th grade math. But if my district were to add a whole year’s worth of curriculum and standards, that would go far beyond the allowable 15%. So my district can’t actually do that under Common Core rules.
II. WHO WROTE THE STANDARDS AND THE COMMON TESTS?
Check out the D.C. governmental and nongovernmental groups claiming to have developed and released the standards and the tests: Achieve, Inc.; http://www.achieve.org/ NGA (who copyrighted them)http://www.corestandards.org/terms-of-use ; WestEd (not technically a government agency, but they “perform essential government functions” and are tax-exempt. http://www.wested.org/cs/we/print/docs/we/agency.htm
III. WHO COLLECTS THE COMMON TEST DATA? THE FEDS.
The Cooperative Agreement between the federal U.S. Dept. of Education and the SBAC testing consortium, of which Utah is a member, states that “on an ongoing basis” we must give our data to the federal government. We must synchronize our tests with the other consortium. We must give status updates to the federal government. http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop-assessment/sbac-cooperative-agreement.pdf