Archive for the ‘Dr. Sandra Stotsky’ Tag
By Sandra Stotsky
The burning education issue facing most states at the moment is which tests should they give their K-12 students next year to satisfy the conditions of their waivers from the United States Department of Education (USED) or the commitments they made in their Race to the Top (RttT) applications, whether or not they received an RttT grant or other funds from the USED or the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
The two testing consortia funded by the USED – Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) and the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) – for the purpose of developing common tests based on Common Core’s standards have experienced dwindling state commitments. SBAC is down to less than 20, and PARCC is down to possibly 9. Both consortia have been piloting test items across the states this past academic year to acquire the pool of items needed for computer-adaptive testing (by SBAC) and for gauging difficulty levels at all the grade levels participating in the assessments (K-11).
A new twist is the question of whether state boards, commissioners, and/or departments of education committed their states (i.e., the taxpayers) to particular testing companies and future technology costs without going through statute-mandated bidding procedures and cost-benefit analyses. New Mexico and Louisiana seem to be tied up in constitutional issues on contractual matters, while Arizona is trying to ensure it follows its own statutory bidding procedures.
What hasn’t been getting much attention from mainstream media, possibly because most reporters have no children in Common Core-based classrooms and don’t talk to parents of school-age children on a regular basis, are the problems students and teachers are encountering with the tests themselves and the similarities in the problems reported for PARCC and SBAC pilot tests.
The information on PARCC’s pilot tests comes from school administrators in the Bridgewater-Raynham Regional School District in Massachusetts, as reported on June 18 in Wickedlocal.com. The article was based chiefly on what took place at a school board meeting in June, during which the School Committee voted unanimously to stay with MCAS, the state test, for the next academic year. At the meeting, the school administrators explained why they wanted to stay with MCAS, based on the experiences teachers and students had with the PARCC pilot tests the school district gave in the spring of 2014.
“It’s like telling our teachers, ‘We’ll teach you how to drive.’ But then the test says you won’t be driving cars. You’ll be driving boats,” said Bridgewater-Raynham school Superintendent Jacqueline Forbes of the PARCC exam. “It’s not aligning with our curriculum or instruction.”
Based on pilot testing, school officials said PARCC did not match up with Bridgewater-Raynham’s teaching methods and also contained numerous technological flaws.
“The one word I’d use to sum up our experience is ‘frustration,’” said Brian Lynch, an elementary school principal. “First, there were a lot of problems administering the test, which is taken on a computer – and the snags weren’t on the district’s end.”
“Second, the test requires students to be familiar with software programs the district does not teach,” Lynch continued. “The district uses a lot of technology, but students still take basic math tests on topics such as number lines and graphing using a paper and pencil.”
“Are we testing math or are we testing a child’s ability to drag and type?” asked Forbes. “We don’t teach typing in third grade. It’s not developmentally appropriate.”
According to high school Principal Angela Watson, the district piloted the PARCC Algebra I test to randomly selected ninth graders.
“Unfortunately, what we found is our written, taught and assessed curriculum doesn’t match up exactly with the PARCC exam. … It puts kids in unfamiliar territory,” Watsonsaid. “It would take time and resources to make the switch to a curriculum that matches up with PARCC.”
Forbes, however, said that effort might turn out to be misdirected because other districts have articulated similar concerns about the PARCC test.
Regarding SBAC’s pilot tests, a recent letter by Fairgrounds Middle School Principal John Nelson to Nashua Superintendent Mark Conrad provided a disturbing picture, wrote theNashua Telegraph in late January.
New Hampshire teachers had been asked by their local superintendent of schools to take an early version of SBAC in December 2013. According to the article, the teachers said the “new computerized test is confusing, doesn’t work well, and leads to frustration.”
In his letter to members of the Nashua Board of Education, Nelson said, “Teachers shared frustrations they had when they were taking the test and disappointment in test format and the difficulties they had trying to use their computer to take this test.”
His teachers agreed the test should not be used on Nashua students.
The FMS staff collectively believe that the Smarter Balance Test is inappropriate for our students at this time and that the results from this test will not measure the academic achievement of our students; but will be a test of computer skills and students’ abilities to endure through a cumbersome task.
Despite the teachers’ plea and support from Nashua’s teacher union, Conrad, the state board, and Department of Education refused to back down, leaving Nashua’s students with a test their own teachers think is meaningless.
As in Nashua and Bridgewater-Raynham, local reporters all over the country are likely reporting what is happening in their local schools as they pilot Common Core-based tests. But Congress, state legislators, governors, and other policymakers at the state and national levels are not getting an accurate picture of what is happening to the curriculum in our public schools or to the children in them.
Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D. is Professor Emerita at the University of Arkansas. This article is posted with her permission and was first published at Breitbart.com
Hear Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram explain to interviewer Ann Marie Banfield why they each refused to sign off on the academic legitimacy of the Common Core standards, when they served as official Common Core validation committee members. Intro is about five minutes; Dr. Stotsky begins to speak at about minute 5:00.
DR. TERRENCE MOORE
This week “Grassroots Radio Colorado” hosted two lively, informative Common Core debates. The podcasts are available by clicking here.
Hour one features History Professor Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College (opposed to Common Core) versus former school board member Laura Boggs (pro Common Core).
Highlights from hour one:
At minute 10:45 Laura Moore gives a 7-minute pro-Common Core intro. She explains why she thinks that it is good to have national education standards, comparing educational standards to car wheels. She speaks about the “states coming together” as if they did so.
She says that she is opposed to the federal government having much say in education, which really confuses me. I don’t comprehend how she can sit on that fence, but she apparently believes that Colorado’s Common Core was created largely by Colorado teachers, rather than the CCSSO and NGA. This, even though the CCSSO/NGA declares, right on the copyright page, that it is the sole developer of the standards, and even though the CCSSO declares, on its official website, that it is partnered with the federal Department of Education.
At minute 17:50 Dr. Terrence Moore gives a 7-minute anti-Common Core intro.
He talks about the reduction of literary texts, and discusses the lexile framework of the Common Core creators that makes huge errors, such as placing Steinbeck’s “The Grapes of Wrath” on a 3rd grade reading level; he discusses the Appendix B recommendations of Common Core that crowds out classics and religious writers and Ben Franklin, with the Common Core’s preference for modern authors and informational text.
Here’s a great moment: at minute 36:00 the question is asked: “Are Common Core standards actually field tested?”
Laura Boggs says that they are “absolutely tested.” (She does not say where or how or by whom they were supposedly tested.)
Dr. Terrence Moore answers the same question: he says that the Common Core standards were absolutely not field tested.
At minute 42:00 Dr. Terrence Moore explains why we should reject Common Core outright. He also mentions learning more about this in his book, “Storykillers.”
He asks when the last time was, that we heard Secretary Arne Duncan or a school board member quote Shakespeare. He makes the point that one of the biggest problems we have in education is that “the people who are in charge do not love education.”
LAURA BOGGS (FORMER SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER)
TEACHER ANTHONY CODY
Hour two features California teacher Anthony Cody (opposed to Common Core) versus Fordham Institute member Michael Brickman (pro Common Core).
Hour two also includes Common Core validation committee member Dr. Sandra Stotsky and The American Principles Project’s Jane Robbins.
DR. SANDRA STOTSKY
Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s opinion editorial with Maureen Downey in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution is just plain important. It’s published in this week’s AJC:
SHOULD AMERICAN HIGH SCHOOLS PREPARE ANY STUDENTS FOR STEM? COMMON CORE DOESN’T THINK SO.
By Sandra Stotsky
When states adopted Common Core’s mathematics standards, they were told (among other things) that these standards would make all high school students “college- and career-ready” and strengthen the critical pipeline for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).
However, with the exception of a few standards in trigonometry, the math standards end after Algebra II, as James Milgram, professor of mathematics emeritus at Stanford University, observed in “Lowering the Bar: How Common Core Math Fails to Prepare High School Students for STEM,” a report that we co-authored for the Pioneer Institute.
Who was responsible for telling the Georgia Board of Education when it adopted these standards in 2010 that Common Core includes no standards for precalculus or for getting to precalculus from a weak Algebra II? Who should be telling Georgia business executives and Georgia college presidents today that high school graduates taught only to Common Core’s mathematics standards won’t be able to pursue a four-year degree in STEM?
Superintendents, local school committees, and most parents, in fact, have been led to believe that Common Core’s mathematics standards are rigorous. They are not complicit in this clever act of educational sabotage. But those who wrote these standards are. They knew that only one out of every 50 prospective STEM majors who begin their undergraduate math coursework at the precalculus level or lower will earn bachelor’s degrees in a STEM area.
It’s not as if the lead mathematics standards writers themselves didn’t tell us how low Common Core’s high school mathematics standards were. At a March 2010 meeting* of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, Jason Zimba, a lead writer, told the board that the standards are “not for STEM.” In January 2010, William McCallum, another lead writer, told a group of mathematicians: “The overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [to] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”
Moreover, Professor Milgram and I were members of Common Core’s Validation Committee, which was charged with reviewing drafts of the standards. We both refused to sign off on the academic quality of the final version of Common Core’s standards and made our criticism public.
There are other consequences to having a college readiness test in mathematics with low expectations. The U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top program requires states to place students who have been admitted by their public colleges and universities into credit-bearing (non-remedial) mathematics (and English) courses if they have passed a Common Core–based “college readiness” test. All public colleges, engineering schools, and universities in Georgia will likely have to lower the level of their introductory math courses to avoid unacceptably high failure rates.
It is still astonishing that Georgia’s state Board of Education adopted Common Core’s standards without asking the engineering, science, and mathematics faculty at its own higher education institutions (and the mathematics teachers in its own high schools) to analyze Common Core’s definition of college readiness and make public their recommendations. After all, who could be better judges of what students need for a STEM major?
Georgia should revise or abandon its Common Core’s mathematics standards as soon as possible unless, of course, the governor and the state’s board of education aren’t interested in having American-born and educated engineers, doctors, or scientists.
If that is the case, then keep the Common Core status quo.
Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on Common Core’s official Validation Committee from 2009-2010, wrote a report for Georgia state Sen. William Ligon comparing Common Core’s English standards with Georgia’s Performance Standards.
*The above-mentioned meeting (where Common Core creators admitted that Common Core does not prepare students for STEM careers, and that it is only meant for nonselective, two year colleges) was filmed and is viewable here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJZY4mh2rt8
Also, here is a link to view Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Christopher Tienken, and others speaking at a recent Carroll County, Maryland, pro-and-con Common Core Forum.
On December 8th, in Howard County, Dr. Stotsky and Dr. Tienken will be speaking at another forum, alongside many others including the Maryland Superintendent of Schools and the cofounder of United Opt Out. The press release gave the following time and address for anyone who is able to attend: 5:00 pm, Sunday, December 8th: Reservoir High School, 11550 Scaggsville Road in Fulton, Maryland.
I can hardly wait to quote these ten brilliant American professors who have spoken out to say that the Common Core is far from its claim of representing academic excellence; that it’s a sheer academic tragedy.
But before I share the professors’ words, let me tell you what sparked today’s post.
I saw for the first time this 2013 document put out by the NCEE (National Center on Education and the Economy) that says OUT LOUD that it’s not important under Common Core to have high educational standards in high school; that it’s silly to waste time educating all high school graduates as high as the level of Algebra II.
No joke. They’re pushing for an emphasis on the lowest common denominator, while marketing Common Core as a push for “rigorous” academics.
Outragous, yes. But absolutely factual: this is what they are telling America: Read these Common Core proponents’ lips:
“Mastery of Algebra II is widely thought to be a prerequisite for success in college and careers. Our research shows that that is not so… Based on our data, one cannot make the case that high school graduates must be proficient in Algebra II to be ready for college and careers. The high school mathematics curriculum is now centered on the teaching of a sequence of courses leading to calculus that includes Geometry, Algebra II, Pre-Calculus and Calculus. However, fewer than five percent of American workers and an even smaller percentage of community college students will ever need to master the courses in this sequence in their college or in the workplace… they should not be required courses in our high schools. To require these courses in high school is to deny to many students the opportunity to graduate high school because they have not mastered a sequence of mathematics courses they will never need. In the face of these findings, the policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”
(Maybe Common Core proponents better quit using the word “rigorous.”)
So, the NCEE report goes on to say that traditional high school English classes, with their emphasis on classic literature and personal, narrative writing, is useless. The report says that Common Core will save students from the worthless classics with its emphasis on technical subjects and social studies via the dominance of informational text in the Common Core classroom:
“The Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts (CCSSE) address reading in history/social studies as well as science and technical subjects, and in so doing may increase the relevance of high school instruction.”
They just trashed English lit. And, in calling classic literature and personal writing irrelevant, these Common Core proponents only underscore the socialist mentality: that only job prep matters, only the collective economy, not the mind and soul of the individual.
A TOP TEN LIST OF AMERICAN PROFESSORS WHO SPEAK OUT AGAINST COMMON CORE
First, Dr. Anthony Esolen of Providence College in Rhode Island:
“What appalls me most about the standards … is the cavalier contempt for great works of human art and thought, in literary form. It is a sheer ignorance of the life of the imagination. We are not programming machines. We are teaching children. We are not producing functionaries, factory-like. We are to be forming the minds and hearts of men and women… to be human beings, honoring what is good and right and cherishing what is beautiful.”
Second, Dr. Thomas Newkirk of University of New Hampshire:
The standards are portrayed as so consensual, so universally endorsed, so thoroughly researched and vetted, so self-evidently necessary to economic progress, so broadly representative of beliefs in the educational community—that they cease to be even debatable… The principle of opportunity costs prompts us to ask: “What conversations won’t we be having?” Since the CCSS virtually ignore poetry, will we cease to speak about it? What about character education, service learning? What about fiction writing in the upper high school grades? What about the arts that are not amenable to standardized testing? … We lose opportunities when we cease to discuss these issues and allow the CCSS to completely set the agenda, when the only map is the one it creates.”
Third, Dr. Daniel Coupland of Hillsdale College:
“Yes, man is made for work, but he’s also made for so much more… Education should be about the highest things. We should study these things of the stars, plant cells, Mozart’s Requiem… not simply because they’ll get us into the right college or into the right line of work. Rather, we should study these noble things because they can tell us who we are, why we’re here… If education has become –as Common Core openly declares– preparation for work in a global economy, then this situation is far worse than Common Core critics ever anticipated. And the concerns about cost, and quality, and yes, even the constitutionality of Common Core, pale in comparison to the concerns for the hearts, minds, and souls of American children.”
Fourth, Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University:
“Education reform in the United States is being driven largely by ideology, rhetoric, and dogma instead of evidence…. Where is the evidence of the efficacy of the standards? … Let us be very frank: The CCSS are no improvement over the current set of state standards. The CCSS are simply another set of lists of performance objectives.”
Fifth and Sixth, Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University) and Dr. Sandra Stotsky (University of Arkansas):
“We hear no proponents or endorsers of Common Core’s standards warning this country about the effects of the college-readiness level in Common Core’s mathematics standards on postsecondary and post-baccalaureate academic and professional programs. We hear no proponents or
endorsers of Common Core’s standards advising district superintendents and state education policy makers on the kind of mathematics curriculum and courses they need to make available in our secondary schools if our undergraduate engineering colleges are to enroll American students.
At this time we can only conclude that a gigantic fraud has been perpetrated on this country, in particular on parents in this country, by those developing, promoting, or endorsing Common Core’s standards. We have no illusion that the college-readiness level in ELA will be any more demanding than Common Core’s college-readiness level in mathematics.” – Sept. 2013 paper: Can This Country Survive Common Core’s College
Readiness Level? by R. James Milgram and Sandra Stotsky
Seventh, Dr. Alan Manning of Brigham Young University:
“The Core standards just set in concrete approaches to reading/writing that we already know don’t work very well. Having the Core standards set in concrete means that any attempts to innovate and improve reading/writing instruction will certainly be crushed. Actual learning outcomes will stagnate at best. An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than less attention the reading/analysis of stories known to effective in terms of structure (i.e. “classic” time-tested stories). An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics. This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches.”
Eighth, Dr. Bill Evers of Hoover Institute at Stanford University:
“The Common Core — effectively national math and English curriculum standards coming soon to a school near you — is supposed to be a new, higher bar that will take the United States from the academic doldrums to international dominance.
So why is there so much unhappiness about it? There didn’t seem to be much just three years ago. Back then, state school boards and governors were sprinting to adopt the Core. In practically the blink of an eye, 45 states had signed on.
But states weren’t leaping because they couldn’t resist the Core’s academic magnetism. They were leaping because it was the Great Recession — and the Obama administration was dangling a $4.35 billion Race to the Top carrot in front of them. Big points in that federal program were awarded for adopting the Core, so, with little public debate, most did.”
Ninth: Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College:
“Literature is the study of human nature. If we dissect it in this meaningless way, kids not only do not become college and career ready, they don’t even have a love of learning; they don’t even have an understanding of their fellow men… The thing that bothers me more than anything else is found on page number one of the introduction. That says that Common Core is a living work. That means that the thing that you vote on today could be something different tomorrow, and five years from now it is completely unrecognizable.”
Tenth: Dr. William Mathis, of the University of Colorado
“The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap.
• For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum.
• The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased.
• Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS requires. It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these costs.
• The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by the presence or absence of national standards.”
Dr. Sandra Stotsky published an opinion editorial in today’s Deseret News, and has also been interviewed by Rod Arquette on his radio show at KNRS today, for this afternoon’s program.
Sandra Stotsky is a lump of gold in a pile of pyrite. She’s one of the strongest voices in America, saying that we must study what we’ve signed up for, do our own fact-checking about Common Core, and wake up before it is too late to change course.
Dr. Stotsky served on the official validation committee for the Common Core standards, and she, along with Dr. James Milgram, a Stanford University mathematician, refused to sign off that the standards were legitimate or that they represented an upgrade for American schools.
Here are a few highlights from today’s op-ed. Read the whole article here.
Dr. Stotsky writes:
“The notion that Common Core’s college and career readiness standards are “rigorous” needs to be publicly put to bed by Arne Duncan, his friends at the Fordham Institute and the media. Two of Common Core’s own mathematics standards writers have publicly stated how weak Common Core’s college readiness mathematics standards are. At a public meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in March 2010, physics professor Jason Zimba said, “The concept of college readiness is minimal and focuses on non-selective colleges.”
“Common Core supporters still can’t figure out how to deal with legitimate criticisms of its English language arts (ELA) standards. So they just keep parroting the line that Common Core’s ELA skills are actually standards, are rigorous and prioritize literary study, when it’s quite obvious to any English teacher that they are none of the above.”
“Common Core was/is not about high-quality national education standards. It was/is not about getting low-income, high-achieving students into advanced math and science courses in high school and then into college. CCSSI was and is about how to lower the academic level of what states require for high school diplomas and for admission to public colleges.”
“Of course, Common Core proponents can’t say that lowering academic standards is their goal. Instead, they claim that its standards will reduce the seemingly terrible problems we have with interstate mobility (actually less than 2 percent nationally) or enable Massachusetts teachers to know how Mississippi students compare to theirs (something they never said they were eager to learn), or facilitate nationally the sale of high-tech products to the public schools (something the P-21 skills folks were eager for). They have looked desperately for motivating issues and these are the best cards in their deck, as poor as they are.”
“Their major selling point is how poor our K-12 public education system is in too many states. But it needs to be strengthened, not weakened. We continue to need capable doctors and engineers who build bridges and tunnels that won’t collapse.”
“Are we as a society really ready to agree to Common Core’s low-expectations for college readiness (as professors Zimba and McCallum indicate)? Are we willing to lower the bar as a way of closing the achievement gap?”
Sandra Stotsky is a professor emeritus at the University of Arkansas.