Archive for the ‘math’ Tag

Kentucky University Student Speaks Up About Common Core   3 comments

shannon of kentucky

Guest Post by Shannon Crouch

Hello, my name is Shannon Crouch. I am a 20-year-old college student studying Mathematics and Statistics at Eastern Kentucky University.

I attended high school at Morgan County High School in West Liberty, Kentucky. I was a part of the graduating class in 2011 and though I did not receive this method of schooling I have seen it enacted in my brother’s high school career as he began Sophomore year in 2011-2012.  I also dealt with its repercussions as a Developmental Lab Instructor at Eastern Kentucky University (EKU) for the Department of Mathematics & Statistics.

My brother’s story

To begin, I will share a brief description of the classes my brother has undertaken these last three years. At the beginning of each school year, all students are given a pre-test to determine the student’s understanding of the oncoming class content. As the semester continues, all homework assignments are handouts that relate to a ‘weekly’ mini-subject (ex. for math: solving for zeros, logarithms, solving rational functions, etc.) that make up the course outline. I will use the term ‘week’ loosely to relay the expected time frame schools believe each mini-subject should be taught. Students are pre-tested and post-tested at the beginning and ends of each ‘week’ and they move into the next ‘week’ mini-subject if a defined majority of the class passes. If that majority does not pass, then the class must repeat the subject content until either the majority has passed –or it has been taught three ‘weeks’ in a row.

To convey the detriment of such a process on student learning in full needs more than just typed words, but nonetheless I will try.

In simple terms, this modular system of teaching causes the average student to be the only student to excel. To break that sentence down further and define the difference from ‘average’ students to others, we have to look at the system being used. Given a student who makes good grades in a class and passes these pre- and post-tests each time, the process of having to repeat the class hinders his or her development in the progression of studies, but also thinking of a student who is not passing the pre- and post-tests, he/she is being dragged along by the system, unable to understand basic subjects, but often passing the class because he or she has been able to copy off peers. Some would ask what difference this last case has to older developmental systems. In return to that question, I would like to point out the handouts. These handouts are created based on the subjects to be taught for each class and are the only required work for the class. Students are no longer required to put in individualized effort into using textbooks, writing out questions, or even using critical thinking.  These handouts are the perfect tools for a student to cheat with given that everything is outlined the same way.

My experience as a university math tutor

Taking a step away from its implementation, however, let’s look at the results some colleges and universities are seeing now. I will use Eastern Kentucky University as my example: According to statistics presented to us at orientation, when I enrolled in Fall 2011, approximately 48% of the incoming freshmen were required to take developmental math or Reading/English courses. This was before the implementation of Common Core –and you are correct in thinking that is a pretty high number.

The scarier thought, however, is information they shared in my job training as a developmental instructor and a tutor for the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. In the 2013-2014 academic year, approximately 60% of our incoming freshmen were required to take developmental Math or Reading/English classes. That means in a span of two years with Common Core Standards implemented in High Schools, college preparedness dropped by an extra 12% for students that enrolled to Eastern Kentucky University.

The effect seen at EKU frightens me as a student today and even as a future parent. This influx of developmental students tells me that our students are being pushed through high school without the literacy skills and basic math skills required to function in the world today. Students are being trained to pass the test rather than retain what they learn and so when it comes to their college readiness exams like the ACT, COMPASS, and KYOTE they fail to have the knowledge required to think through the questions they come across.

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As an update to this story:  Shannon’s relative lives in Utah. She sent a copy of the above article to a member of her Wasatch County School Board.  This is what she received:

from: DEBBIE.JONES@wasatch.edu>

Subject: Re: Kentucky and Common Core
Date: March 13, 2014 at 8:33:22 AM MDT
It makes me sad that implementation of the standards isn’t going well for some districts, like the one in this story. I’m so grateful we have amazing teachers who are doing great things for students in our district.
Take care,
Deb
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Shannon then wrote back:
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Ms. Jones,

I was interested to learn that you believe the effects of common core in Morgan County are a result of poor teachers, but I feel that I must correct your assumption on this.
Morgan County has many amazing teachers, especially for their core curriculum in Math, Science, and English. One such teacher, Stacey Perry is a mathematics teacher. She is qualified to teach not only the required mathematics programs for high school but extends her knowledge to AP curriculum for Calculus I and Calculus II, with one of the highest AP Exam passing percentiles for AP Calculus in Eastern Kentucky.
I want to mention this in detail so that I can relay to you that it is not the desire of beautifully brilliant teachers such as Mrs. Perry to implement common core so poorly, but rather it has been forced on them via the agreements of common core with all states.
Please do not consider your district and state as having immunity because if you do then you will see your students declining in individuality, scholastic achievement, and critical thinking. If you have any concern for you future generations, take the matter seriously and question all that you are being told by Common Core representatives.

Shannon Crouch

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake: By Peter Wood   2 comments

This article was originally posted at MindingTheCampus.Com.  It is reposted with permission.    The author is president of the National Association of Scholars.

 

peter wood

The SAT “Upgrade” Is A Big Mistake

Guest post by Peter Wood

 

The College Board is reformulating the SAT.  Again.

The new changes, like others that have been instituted since the mid 1990s, are driven by politics. David Coleman, head of the College Board, is also the chief architect of the Common Core K-12 State Standards, which are now mired in controversy across the country.  Coleman’s initiative in revising the SAT should be seen first of all as a rescue mission.  As the Common Core flounders, he is throwing it an SAT life preserver. I’ll explain, but first let’s get the essentials of how the SAT is about to change.

Changes

The essay is now optional, ending a decade-long experiment in awarding points for sloppy writing graded by mindless formulae.

The parts of the test that explored the range and richness of a student’s vocabulary have been etiolated. The test now will look for evidence that students are familiar with academic buzzwords and jargon.  The College Board calls this “Relevant Words in Context.”  Test-takers won’t have to “memorize obscure words” but instead “will be asked to interpret the meaning of words based on the context of the passage in which they appear.”

The deductions for guessing wrong are gone.  Literally, there will be no harm in guessing.

Math will narrow to linear equations, functions, and proportions.

The scale on which scores are recorded will revert to the old 800 each on two sections, from the current 2,400 on three sections.  (Goodbye essay points.)

The old verbal section will be replaced by “evidence-based reading and writing.”

All the tests will include snippets from America’s Founding Documents.

What They Mean

The College Board’s announcement of these changes came under the headline “Delivering Opportunity: Redesigning the SAT Is Just One Step.”  The “delivering opportunity” theme is divided into three parts:

Ensure that students are propelled forward.

Provide free test preparation for the world.

Promote excellent classroom work and support students who are behind.

There is a thicket of explanation behind each of these headings, some of it beyond silly.  We learn, for example, that the College Board, “cannot stand by while students’ futures remain unclaimed.”  Unclaimed?  Like lottery prizes?  Like coats left in a checkroom?

If you work your way through this folderol, it appears that the College Board is launching a whole battery of new diversity programs.   “Access to Opportunity (“A2O”) pushes (“propels”) low-income, first-generation, underrepresented students to college.  The “All In Campaign” aims “to ensure to ensure that every African American, Latino, and Native American student who is ready for rigorous work takes an AP course or another advanced course.”  Another program offers college application fee waivers.

Those initiatives bear on the redesigned SAT mainly as evidence of the College Board’s preoccupation with its ideas about social justice.  The announcement of the changes in the SAT itself is succinct–and friendly, with helpful icons to get across ideas like “documents”–

The redesigned SAT will focus on the knowledge and skills that current research shows are most essential for college and career readiness and success. The exam will reflect the best of classroom work:

  • Relevant words in context
  • Command of evidence
  • Essay analyzing a source
  • Math focused on three key areas
  • Problems grounded in real-world contexts
  • Analysis in science and social studies
  • Founding documents and great global conversation
  • No penalty for wrong answers

The student who comes across the College Board’s explanation–and maybe even the journalist who reads it–might miss the full weight of that key phrase “college and career readiness.”  That’s the smoking gun that what is really happening in the College Board’s revision of the SAT is that the test is being wrenched into alignment with the Common Core.  That phrase, “college and career readiness,” is the Common Core mantra.  The Common Core was vigorously promoted to the states and to the public as something that would “raise standards” in the schools by creating a nationwide framework that would lead students to “college readiness.”

But alas, as the Common Core Standards emerged, it became apparent that they set a ceiling on the academic preparation of most students.  Students who go through schools that follow the Common Core Standards will be ill-prepared for the rigors of college.  That is, unless something can be done on the other end to ensure that colleges lower their standards. Then everything will be well.

The Bind

None of this might matter if the Common Core were just a baseline and students and schools could easily move above it if they wished to.  The trouble is that the Common Core has been designed to be a sticky baseline. It is hard for schools to rise above it.  There are two reasons for that.

First, it uses up most of the time in a K-12 curriculum, leaving little room for anything else.

Second, the states that were leveraged into it via Obama’s “Race to the Top” agreed that students who graduate from high school with a Common Core education and are admitted to public colleges and universities will automatically be entered into “credit-bearing courses.”  This is tricky.  Essentially what it means is that public colleges will have to adjust their curricula down to the level of knowledge and skill that the Common Core mandates.  And that in turn means that most schools will have little reason to offer anything beyond the Common Core, even if they can.

In this way, the Common Core floor becomes very much a ceiling too.  The changes in the SAT are meant to expedite this transition.

The Common Core Connection

The life-preserver that the College Board is throwing to the Common Core is a redefinition of what it means to be “college ready.” The SAT after all is a test aimed at determining who is ready for college. An SAT refurbished to match what the Common Core actually teaches instead of what colleges expect freshmen to know will go far to quiet worries that the Common Core is selling students short.  If the SAT says a student is “college ready,” who is to say that he is not?

The new changes in the SAT are meant first to skate around the looming problem that students educated within the framework of the Common Core would almost certainly see their performance on the old SAT plummet compared to students educated in pre-Common Core curricula.

The subject can get complicated, so it is best to consider an example.

Pre-pre-calculus

Perhaps the most vivid example of how the Common Core lowers standards and creates a situation which invites mischief with the SATs is the decision of the Common Core architects to defer teaching algebra to 9thgrade.  That move, along with several other pieces of the Common Core’s Mathematics Standards, generally means that students in high school will not reach the level of “pre-calculus.”  And that in turn means that as college freshmen, they will be at least a year behind where college freshmen used to be.  Instead of starting in with a freshman calculus course, they will have to start with complex numbers, trigonometric functions, conic sections, parametric equations, and the like.

Of course, lots of students who go to college today never take a calculus course and are in no way hindered if their high school math preparation stopped with binomial equations.  The trouble comes with students who wish to pursue science, technology, or engineering–the “STEM” fields. College curricula generally assume that students who set out to study these fields have already reached the level of calculus.

One might think that students who have aptitudes and interests in these areas could simply leapfrog the Common Core by taking accelerated math courses in high school.  Some indeed will be able to do just that.  They will be students who attend prosperous schools that have the resources to work around the Common Core.  Or they will be students whose parents pay for tutors or courses outside school.

We can be confident that Americans will be ingenious in finding ways to circumnavigate this new roadblock. And we can count on the emergence of entrepreneurs who will serve the market for extra-curricular math instruction.  There is no reason to think that MIT and Caltech will go begging for suitably prepared students.

But there is reason to worry that a large percentage of bright and capable students in ordinary American schools are going to be shortchanged in math.

And while I have chosen math as the example, the Common Core is up to similar mischief in English, and the SAT is being similarly altered to match the diminished K-12 curriculum there too. Those who have followed the debate on the Common Core will have some idea of how this works out.  The Common Core prizes “informational texts” above literature, and it prizes teaching students how to treat documents as “evidence” above teaching students how to search out the deeper meaning in what they read.  The Common Core approaches reading and writing in a utilitarian spirit. Clearly this has some power. It fosters certain kinds of analytic skills–those that might be called forensic.  But it scants the cultivation of other aspects of reading and writing, especially those that depend on analogy, implication, and aesthetic sense.

That’s why the Common Core has such limited use for imaginative literature and why it so readily turns to out-of-context excerpts and uprooted fragments.  Information is information; it does not much depend on a sense of the whole; nor does it depend on gathering in the unsaid background.  The now infamous example of the Common Core’s deracinated approach to writing is a reading of the Gettysburg Address shorn of any explanation that it was a speech commemorating a battlefield, let alone the battlefield of the decisive battle in the Civil War.

Presumably the Common Core folks will repair this particular mistake, but it is telling that it happened in the first place.  And it is telling that the College Board has adopted all the same conceptual devices in the new SAT:  relevant words in context, command of evidence, analyzing sources, and using fragments and excerpts of historical documents.  None of these by itself should raise concern.  Each is a legitimate line for testing.  But note that they come unaccompanied by anything that would balance the focus on “evidence-based” inquiry with examination of other skills.

A Puzzle

Why should a grandly announced effort to raise school standards end up lowering them instead?  The answer lies in the convergence of several political forces.  Politicians see a can’t-lose proposition in the conceit that everyone should have the opportunity to go to college.  School standards that really separated the wheat from the chaff would be unpopular.  Americans today like the pretense that the only thing that holds us back is external circumstance, not natural limitation.  And the academic “achievement gap” between Asians and whites on one hand and blacks and Hispanics on the other has made forthright discussion of standards extremely difficult.

For all these reasons, we Americans were in the market for a new brand of educational snake oil and the Common Core provided it.  Politicians on both sides of the aisle lined up to buy franchises: Obama on the left, Jeb Bush on the right, and many more.

Now that the charm has worn off, the politicians have become hotly defensive about their support for Common Core. This isn’t the place to delve into their excuses and recriminations, but it is important to remember that that rancor is the backdrop to the College Board’s decision to change the SAT. Again.

test

SAT Down

My account of what lies behind the changes differs quite a bit from whatThe New York Times reported. The Times story emphasized Coleman’s heroic decision to take on the test preparation industry, which profits by exploiting the anxieties of students over how they will perform on the SAT.  Test preparation can be expensive and thus wealthier families have an edge. According to the Times, Coleman declared, “It is time for the College Board to say in a clearer voice that the culture and practice of costly test preparation that has arisen around admissions exams drives the perception of inequality and injustice in our country.”

How exactly the changes in the SAT will combat that “culture and practice” is unclear.  The test preparation industry itself seemed to shrug at Coleman’s oration.  The Timesquotes a vice president for Kaplan Test Prep saying that “Test changes always spur demand.”

Coleman is far from the first to rejigger the SAT to advance a notion of equality and justice.  The SAT was invented in 1926 to open the doors to college for students who were natively smart but came from unpromising backgrounds.  Over the decades it became a primary tool for college admissions officers to match potential students with the level off rigor embodied in a college’s curriculum. The goal was to find students who in all likelihood would succeed.

That began to change with the push for racial preferences in college admissions in the 1970s and 1980s. As colleges and universities more and more foregrounded the goal of “diversity” in admissions, the SAT began to look like an embarrassing artifact of an earlier time.  It stood for established standards and evidence of intellectual reach at a time when it had become much more useful to emphasize “evolving” definitions of excellence and achievement.  The new approaches emphasized cultural variety in how people think and what they think about, and the greater relevance to college work of “personal perspective” and viewpoint over mere knowledge.  Likewise “experience” began to seem as valuable in a college applicant as intellectual skill.

The first real fruit of these new concerns was the “recentering” of the SAT’s scoring system in the 1990s, which ballooned the scores of mediocre students and erased the differences among students at the higher end of the scale.  Then, among other changes, came the elimination in 2002 of the verbal analogies portion of the tests, which jettisoned a section for the explicit reason that black students on average performed less well on it than they did on other sections.  That same year the College Board removed the “asterisk” that indicated that a student had taken the test with special accommodations such as extra time.

So the attempt to use the SAT as an instrument to advance “social justice” is, in a sense, more of the same.  We can expect most colleges and universities to welcome Coleman’s changes in that spirit. But there are always costs, and sooner or later we will pay them.  We are embarking on a great expansion of the left’s long-term project of trading off our best chances to foster individual excellence for broadly-distributed access to mediocre education.

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Thank you, Peter Wood.

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Math Teacher’s Book About Ed School Groupthink   2 comments

barry

How would you like to be a fly on the wall in a teacher education classroom?  What are colleges training teachers to teach today?  Is it legitimate education?

Barry Garelick, a California math teacher, has written a book (his introduction is below) based on his university teacher- education experiences,  and experiences as a student teacher.  Garelick used two pen names, “Huck Finn” and “John Dewey” –to avoid ruining his chance of obtaining a teaching credential at the time, and to avoid being blackballed from teaching because of differences in teaching philosophy.

The insightful and sometimes very funny chronicles show that the one-size-fits-all mentality displayed by Common Core starts before our children enter K-12 classrooms; it starts in the groupthink of teacher education schools.

Thanks, Barry.

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In Which I Explain Myself  Without Apology

 Guest post by Barry Garelick

I have written a book entitled “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside”.  It is a collection of letters that I wrote which chronicle my experiences in a math teaching methods class in Ed. school (using the name John Dewey) and my experiences student teaching (using the name Huck Finn).  I teach mathematics in California.  I have a degree in the subject and an intense interest in how it is taught.

When my daughter was in elementary school I saw things I didn’t like about the way she was being taught math.  I was also tutoring high school students in math and saw disturbing weaknesses in basic math skills.  This caused me to embark in research about what is going on in math education.  I decided that the way I could possibly make a difference was to teach mathematics in middle or high school.  In the fall of 2005, with six more years left until I could retire, I enrolled in education school.

By way of a short background, the debate over how math is best taught in K-12  (and which is known as the “math wars“) has been going on for many years, starting perhaps in the early part of the 20th century.  The education theory at the heart of the dispute can be traced to John Dewey, an early proponent of learning through discovery.  Fast forward to 1957 when Sputnik was launched and the New Math era began in earnest, which continued until the early 70’s.  Then came the “back to basics” movement, and in 1989 the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) came out with The Curriculum and Evaluation Standards for School Mathematics, also known as the NCTM standards. 

The NCTM’s view was that traditional teaching techniques were akin to “rote memorization” and that in order for students to truly learn mathematics, the subject must be taught “with understanding”.  Thus, process trumped contentShowing how students obtained the answer to a problem was more important than getting a right answer.  Open-ended ill-posed problems became the order for the day.  The prevailing education groupthink was (and still is) that teaching the mathematical procedures for particular types of problems was just more rote.  Such approaches didn’t teach students “higher order thinking skills”, “critical thinking” and many other terms that are part of the education establishment’s lexicon.

By the time I enrolled in Ed. school, I pretty much knew what I was in for.  I was well acquainted with the theories of teaching and learning which dominated the education establishment in general and education schools in particular. Nevertheless, I was surprised at what I heard when going through the candidate interviews, which was part of the application process.  Future teachers of science and math were herded in one group and given a brief talk by the coordinator of secondary education.  Among her opening remarks was the announcement that “The way math and science are taught today is probably not how you were taught when you were in school.”  A few sentences later, the coordinator, with index finger pointing to the ceiling for emphasis, said “Inquiry-based learning!”   Though a bit unnerved, I at least knew where I was.

All in all, my Ed. school experience had some redeeming features. Most of my teachers had taught in K-12, and had valuable advice about classroom management problems and some good common-sense approaches to teaching that didn’t rely on nausea-inducing theories.  Also, I learned how to make it sound like my approach to teaching was what was being taught. I learned to talk about discovery approaches and small group exercises—no one has to know that such techniques are not going to be your dominant teaching approach.   In short, since future teachers will be working in a bureaucracy that is often dictated by the groupthink of the education establishment, Ed. school serves the purpose of teaching survival techniques.

Sometime after I took my first course, I decided to write a series of letters documenting my experience in Ed. school, using the pseudonym of John Dewey.  There was a new education blog that had emerged called Edspresso, edited by a genial and talented young man named Ryan Boots. (Unfortunately, he left Edspresso several years ago).  I pitched the idea to him, asking him what he thought.  He responded almost immediately along the lines of “An Ed. school mole writing about his experiences?  When can you start?”

My series of letters for Edspresso covered mainly one class—the beginning math teaching methods class.  The letters proved to be very popular and many people left comments—some supportive, and some very angry.  I wrote the letters almost in real time—there was perhaps a one or two week delay between the letter I was writing and the events of a particular class.

As I progressed through the class, I noticed that while my views on teaching may have differed from that of the teacher (an adjunct professor who I refer to as Mr. NCTM), there were certain views that we shared in common.  We were both around the same age, and he had taught high school math for 30 years.  He had very good advice and it was clear that he liked me.  I came to the realization that though there were vast differences in teaching philosophies within the teaching profession, one had to work with fellow teachers as well as the people in power on a daily basis.  The trick would be to find a situation in which I could be loyal to how I believed math should be taught, and find that common bond with the other teachers and the administration that would allow us all to get along.

I decided to stop writing the letters when the math teaching methods class ended.  This was not only because of the time involved in writing them, but because of a fear that their continuation would ultimately lead someone to discover the identity of the author.  I didn’t want to ruin any chance of obtaining a teaching credential, nor to be blackballed from any teaching positions because of differences in teaching philosophy.

After several years, I had completed all my coursework and was ready to move on to student teaching.  I had a few months to go until retirement, and then could take on the commitment for the remaining task.  I felt that this phase called for a resurrection of John Dewey, but my initial draft of a letter seemed forced and the voice of Mr. Dewey no longer seemed appropriate.

Around that time, I had the good fortune to have seen a performance of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain.  Mr. Holbrook was 85, so I knew this might be my last chance to see him.  The performance lived up to everything I had heard about it, but one part of the evening stood out.  He did a reading from Huckleberry Finn that was extremely moving and convincing.  I heard the voice of a naive young boy commenting on rather serious matters over which he had no control, but about which he was beginning to form life-changing opinions.  I realized the next day that Huck Finn was the perfect choice for the author of the letters about student teaching, immersed in the polarized world of education, and drifting along the ideological, political and cultural divide.

I asked Katharine Beals who runs the blog “Out In Left Field” if she wouldn’t mind publishing some letters from Huck Finn about the process of becoming a math teacher.  She was excited about this and so I decided to give it a go.  I was grateful for her taking Huck in; she is known as “Miss Katharine” in the letters.  The name seemed to fit her quite well.

The first two Huck Finn letters are about a year apart, and then they follow the student teaching.  I couldn’t write those in real time since the teaching kept me rather busy, so I wrote the letters after I finished.  After another year I wrote six more episodes, this time looking at Huck’s experience as a substitute teacher.

I’m trying to think of something profound and moving to close with here and the best I could come up with was  “For anyone wanting to make a movie based on these letters, please don’t have me played by Matt Damon.” Actually, a comment I received on one of the Huck Finn letters from Niki Hayes, a former teacher and principal, is much better I think, so let me close with that and offer it to you as advice:

So you learned what teaching is about: The dispensing of content information so that kids don’t have to “struggle” repeatedly to understand it (which makes most humans turn off the learning switch) AND experiencing those wonderful young eyes that make you want to be a better teacher and person. You’ll always remember these kids because they were your first “tutors.” Let me assure you, there will be many more as you enter the special land of teaching.

My goal is to get this book to be required reading in math teaching methods classes at ed schools.  So if you know anyone in an Ed. school with influence, please tell them about this book.    -Barry Garelick

 “Letters from John Dewey/Letters from Huck Finn: A Look at Math Education from the Inside” is available on Amazon.  

Open Letters: Common Core is Evil Posing as Good   10 comments

dixie

Dixie Allen, my State School Board Representative

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Sharing a long string of emails between my State School Board representative and me, from this week and last.
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Christel-

I hope that given the time you have spent the last couple of years discussing this issue, that you would understand that Utah has already adopted and put in place the Common Core Standard in Mathematics and English/Language Arts. We have added some standards and will contiue to update the Standards as needed – but we have already adopted and have wonderful teachers working on Curriculum and lesson design to effectively teach the Core.

If you have specific concerns with specific standards – please let me know.

Dixie Allen
Region 12
Utah State Board of Education

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Dear Dixie,

My purpose in sharing the article was to suggest that Utah’s State School Board, like so many boards and legislators nationwide, might consider halting or at least pausing Common Core as many other places are doing (or are seriously considering doing) given the amount of pushback that continues on this subject.

I am fully aware that Utah adopted Common Core!

Common Core is, frankly, evil posing as good. For the state school board to continue to deny this is either evidence of incompetence or it’s endorsement of these evils.

I do not use the word “evil” casually.

Common Core is evil because it is based on political power-grabbing that snuffed the voice of the people, a move that was based on dollar signs and not academic honesty. It was agreed to for a chance at federal cash.

It cannot back up its lies of “being an improvement” academically, since it’s totally experimental and untested. Similarly, it cannot back up its lie of being “internationally benchmarked” because it’s not internationally benchmarked.

It cannot back up its lie of being unattached to the federal government since it is tied like an umbilical cord to the Department of Education; the Dept. of Ed is officially partnered with the very group that created it (CCSSO) both in the standards and in common data technologies. The Department of Ed has contracts that mandate micromanagement of Common Core testing. There is much more –all documented online and you can prove or disprove it if you are honest enough to try.

And why should we– why should you, specifically, fight federal intrusion into education?

I am a teacher. Common Core diminishes teachers’ autonomy –and students’ well-being– through federally supervised testing that drives curriculum (or will, by next year when testing really kicks in) and by the federally funded SLDS data mining that amounts to “unreasonable search and seizure” of private effects.

While there are some harmless or even some good things in the standards themselves at the elementary school level perhaps, the standards do diminish classic literature especially for high schoolers, and they marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math –as has been admitted even by its creators. (Click here to see this very short video link of this out loud admission of the math-dumbing, by Common Core creator Jason Zimba).

Even if this all were not true– if somehow standards did not diminish classic literature, marginalize narrative writing, and dumb down high school math, they are still AN ATROCITY, Dixie, from which you should be protecting the children of Utah. And the teachers of Utah.

Because they suffocate the spirit of liberty and independence.

1. COMMON CORE LACKS A REPRESENTATIVE AMENDMENT PROCESS.

If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would be amendable by those governed by it.

Dixie, if this were legitimate, you and I would have a voice. But we do not.

Neither you as a state school board member, nor I as a Utah credentialed teacher, have diddly squat to say over what gets tested and taught in our math and English classrooms in Utah– because Common Core is only amendable by the NGA/CCSSO, according to their own words on their own creepy website.

Read it, for heaven’s sake! It states: “The Standards are intended to be a living work: as new and
better evidence emerges, the Standards will be revised.” (Revised by whom?)

Not you and not me.

Again, from the official Common Core site: (their caps, not mine) “ANY USE OF THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS OTHER THAN AS AUTHORIZED UNDER THIS LICENSE OR COPYRIGHT LAW IS PROHIBITED. ANY PERSON WHO EXERCISES ANY RIGHTS TO THE COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS THEREBY ACCEPTS AND AGREES TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS… NGA Center/CCSSO shall be acknowledged as the sole owners and developers of the Common Core State Standards, and no claims to the contrary shall be made.”

2. IT LACKS CHECKS AND BALANCES. The use of checks and balances was designed to make it difficult for a minority of people to control the government and to restrain the government itself. If the Common Core Initiative– a nationalized system of standards, aligned tests, data collection and teacher accountability measures promoted federally– if this initiative were in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be held in the power of a minority of the people (of the NGA/CCSSO and of the Dept. of Ed which is partnered with CCSSO). It would have been vetted prior to implementation by the proper means outlined in the Constitution– but it wasn’t. As Alyson Williams pointed out, “There is no such thing in the U.S. Constitution as a council of governors… Governors working together to jointly address issues and create rules that affect the whole nation is not a legitimate alternative to Congress, our national representative body.”

3. IT LACKS AUTHORITY. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would have been born legitimately: but its only “authority” is the unprecedented assigning of money to the discretion of the Education Secretary without proper congressional oversight. From that Stimulus money came the State Fiscal Stabilization Fund and the Race to the Top grant programs that enabled the Department of Ed to get away with setting up their own, experimental rules for us to follow in exchange for the money – rules that normally would be determined by the States alone.

4. IT ALTERS THE LIMITS OF FEDERAL POWER. If the Common Core Initiative was in harmony with the Constitution, it would not be openly admitted even by its most notorious proponent, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, to alter the traditionally limited role of the federal government. Look:

Duncan said, in his 2010 “Vision of Education Reform” speech

: “Our vision of reform takes account of the fact that, in several respects, the governance of education in the United States is unusual. Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy… The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more… [THIS IS CLEARLY, CLEARLY UNCONSTITUTIONAL, DIXIE.] …the Recovery Act created additional competitive funding like the high-visibility $4.35 billion Race to the Top program and the $650 million Investing in Innovation Fund… America is now in the midst of a “quiet revolution” in school reform… In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to develop standards and assessments… Virtually everyone thought the president was dreaming. But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing a white paper—they have actually done it.

Do you hear Secretary Duncan gloating over his ability to control us?

Yet the honorable Utah State School Board continues to promote the notion that we are free under Common Core. It’s a lie. The State School Board may be full of very good people like yourself, who donate to Sub-for-Santa and read to their grandchildren; but they are still guilty of passing along huge lies which they have received and believed from the pushers of the Common Core gold rush.

Common Core governance is a slap in the face to the work of the Founding Fathers.

We are rightly shuddering at the math disaster and the high-stakes testing, are rightly gasping at the lack of any cost analysis to taxpayers and at the privacy-robbing aspects of the Common Core agenda. But these arguments are secondary to the hairiest of the reform devils, the destruction of individual liberty and the end of local control of education.

Dixie, my dear representative! Please, please stand up to these people. Stop swallowing the hogwash. Stop allowing your peers on the board to spread the propaganda. It is not based in truth.

Christel Swasey
Utah Teacher

apple books

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Updating with more letters 1-17-14

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Dixie,

To answer your question, I taught public high school English for five years, University level English at UVU for two years, and public school third grade for two years. I have also been a home school teacher of fourth and fifth grade for two years. I began teaching in 1995, am still teaching, and my credential has never expired.

But. I don’t think my resume (nor yours) matters, though, because it is the principle of local and individual liberty that is the issue most harmed by the Common Core Initiative and the “Blueprint for Reform” that Common Core rides upon.

Educational experience and resumes don’t even come into the question; anyone can see through this if they take five minutes to use their brains.

I notice that you are still avoiding the issues I raised, and that you are unruffled by where the Common Core came from, or who gains financially at our expense from them, and who ultimately controls them –and thus who ultimately controls you and me and our grandchildren.

It is unfortunate that you will not confront these uncomfortable realities, very sad for the rest of us whom you are supposed to be elected to represent.

I’m forwarding news links that a Colorado principal forwarded to me today. I hope you become aware of not only the important reasons, but also the speed at which Common Core opposition is growing.

–Christel

Many State Legislatures 2014 Sessions to Debate Common Core Testing Issues

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2014/01/08/15sessions_ep.h33.html

New York Assembly Speaker Says Case for Common Core Testing Should be Delayed

http://www.newsday.com/long-island/assembly-speaker-common-core-should-be-delayed-1.6752646

New York Teachers to Vote “No Confidence” in State Ed. Head for Ignoring Common Core Testing Moratorium Call

http://www.nystateofpolitics.com/2014/01/nysut-will-seek-no-confidence-vote-on-king/

New York Common Core Website Links to Offensive Test-Prep

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/11/common-core-chaos-ny-state-website-sends-kids-to-offensive-test-prep/

Florida Lawmakers Question Rush to Implement Common Core Exams

http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/01/08/3859588/lawmakers-question-timeline-for.html

North Carolina State Ed Board May Delay Move to Common Core Tests

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/08/3516802/nc-education-board-wants-to-keep.html

New Testing Standards Stress Connecticut Educators

http://www.nhregister.com/social-affairs/20140108/new-testing-standards-stressing-new-haven-educators

Rushed Common Core Testing Rollout is Like Driving in the Fog

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/02/259082746/education-critics-say-common-core-standards-rollout-is-rushed

How Progressives Opposing Common Core Testing Should Deal with Strange Political Bedfellows

http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2014/01/are_progressive_critics_of_com.html

FairTest Fact Sheet on Why a Common Core Testing Moratorium is Necessary

http://www.fairtest.org/common-core-assessments-factsheet

Educators Explain Alternatives to High-Stakes Exams

http://www.northjersey.com/news/239854621_Educators_air_academic_alternative_to_increased_student_testing.html

See Why and How Performance Assessment Works

http://www.fairtest.org/performance-assessments-succeed-new-york

Opt Out of Tests to Force a Balanced Assessment System

http://childrenaremorethantestscores.blogspot.com/2014/01/we-demand-balanced-assessment-system.html

Virginia Lawmakers Call for Fewer Tests

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/virginia-lawmakers-call-for-fewer-sol-tests/2014/01/13/a7461654-789a-11e3-8963-b4b654bcc9b2_story.html

North Carolina Teachers Protest Plan to Give Third-Graders 36 Mini-Tests

http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/09/3519784/wake-to-give-more-tests-to-third.html

Rhode Island Expands Graduation Test Waivers

http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20140110-r.i.-department-of-education-expands-necap-waiver-for-high-school-graduation.ece

Mass. Teachers Reject Test-Based “Merit” Pay Bonuses

http://dianeravitch.net/2014/01/10/teachers-in-lee-ma-return-merit-pay/

Let’s Teach Students to Think Critically, Not Test Mindlessly

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/eric-cooper/lets-teach-students-to-th_b_4556320.html

Weingarten: Teaching and Learning Over Testing

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/randi-weingarten/teaching-and-learning-ove_b_4575705.html

Standardized Testing Has Created Standardized Students with Useless skills

http://www.highlandernews.org/11749/standardized-testing-has-created-standardized-students-with-useless-skills/

Anthem for a High-Stakes Testing Era (with apologies to Country Joe and the Fish)

http://www.schoolsmatter.info/2014/01/anthem-for-high-stakes-testing-era-with.html

“Standardized,” the Movie, Screening Schedule

https://www.facebook.com/STANDARDIZEDtheMOVIE

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Christel,

It is good to know where you have experienced teaching and educational oversight. Thanks for sharing!

However, the concerns you share form the Colorado administrator still are mostly about the assessment programs. I hope that you are aware that we are developing our own assessments with the help of the AIR Company. We are doing everything we can to be in control of our Standards, Assessments and Data and I am convinced we are accomplishing our goals.

Thanks for your input, but would really like to see you look at what Utah is actually doing and not align us to other states, especially without checking out the facts as they apply to our state. It would be so good to have you working to help us improve our school system, rather than identifying what isn’t working across the nation. We still are trying to focus on improving education for the students of Utah and I believe we are making progress each and every year.

Best Wishes,

Dixie

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elephant

Dear Dixie,

It’s not just other states that are unhappy with Common Core tests. Utahns have plenty to say about Common Core tests and their AIR/SAGE $39 million dollar waste– costs to us not only in dollars but costs to student data privacy and costs to liberty from oppressive federal and corporate oversight of Utah’s own educational business.

Have you read Matthew Sanders’ Deseret News “Common Core Testing Fraught With Flaws” op-ed on AIR? Have you read Dr. Gary Thompson’s many writings and heard his testimony? Thompson, a Utah child psychologist, exposed how AIR tests are to embed subjective assessments which are illegal. He sees AIR subjecting all students, but especially more vulnerable populations (including African Americans, gifted students, autistic students, Latino students, Asbergers’ students) to what he names “cognitive child abuse”. Thompson has spoken out here in Utah and across the nation, notably at the Wisconsin Legislature, specifically about the huge problems with AIR and similar tests.

Dr. Thompson said: “AIR’s stated mission is to “to conduct and apply the best behavioral and social science research and evaluation towards improving peoples’ lives, with a special emphasis on the disadvantaged,” and any reasonable minded person, as well as a State Superintendent of Public Schools, should at least reasonably conclude that this billion dollar research corporation (AIR) with some of the brightest minds on the planet can design tests any way that they please, unless per contractual agreement and other applied constraints, they are expressly forbidden from doing so. Utah’s parents have been told in multiple town hall meetings by the USOE that they will never be able to have access to testing questions devised by AIR in order to ensure “test integrity.” Although I am impressed with USOE and various politicians who stated that 15 parents and a few politicians will be allowed to view the tests being designed by AIR, I question their qualifications to perform anything more than a cursory review of the questions being designed. Speaker of the House Becky Lockhart may be able to balance a complex state budget, but I doubt that she has the necessary background in psychometrics to perform a critical analysis of the issues that need to be examined.”

Matt Sanders expressed additional concerns with AIR/SAGE very concisely. I would love to see the state board answer his questions, and Dr. Thompson’s concerns, about privacy of student data under AIR/SAGE.

Sanders’ article, in the April 2013 Deseret News, said:

“A key component of the Utah Common Core implementation is a new online, adaptive testing system called Student Assessment of Growth and Excellence (SAGE). The the Utah State Office of Education (USOE) contracted to pay $39 million to American Institutes of Research, a Washington, D.C., behavior and social science research organization, to build and host the new testing environment.

I applaud innovation in education and believe the pursuit of standards to improve competitiveness a step in the right direction. I also believe adaptive testing shows some promise. Further, I admire the efforts made by USOE personnel to hold town meetings across the state to introduce the proposed new testing approach to educators and parents — at times encountering some hostility from parents concerned about their children being subjected to unproven educational systems.

At the SAGE introduction in Davis County, I observed many concerns raised by parents. While there, I also asked a couple of questions, but the answers left me wanting. Upon further reflection and analysis, I believe the SAGE approach is deeply problematic, and I put forth the following questions:

Where is the evidence?

Public sector projects should carry assurance of maximum societal benefit for optimal cost. For approval, they should present evidence from research and pilot or scaled tests of the proposed reform.

Despite substantial searching, I could find no defensible studies anywhere on the USOE website, and was given no assurance by state officials that any pilot studies underpin the wholesale changes. They have not cited, as would be asked of any high school research paper, any support for their reforms. Thus, the USOE has implemented new standards, new curriculum and has spent scarce state resources on an apparently untested, unproven testing approach.

How will student data be used?

The contract with AIR contains no explicit protections of student data collected in testing by the well-known federally funded researcher. Despite repeated questions to USOE officials, they could provide no reference statutory protection of student data. USOE should provide complete assurance to families and educators that data are protected and not available for personal identification.

One of the key objectives of the Common Core initiative is to provide means for inter-state performance comparisons. However, the USOE FAQ on testing indicates that, “There are currently no national norms for the new common core or Utah Core Standards … they cannot indicate where Utah’s students stand relative the common-core standards.” So no collaborative benefits exist for developing a unique Utah test.

Why not a different approach?

Consistent with its mandate, the USOE is appropriately concerned by the college readiness of Utah students. Rather than wholesale reforms dependent on unproven curricula and tests, why not direct efforts to proven methods with known cost effectiveness?

For instance, the USOE could be redirecting the $39 million to Utah school districts to reduce class size and invest in technology, increasingly necessary to accommodate Utah’s rising student population.

… Utah schools could adopt and adapt the use of ACT benchmark tests beginning in the 8th grade to determine college preparation progress. The ACT and SAT tests have long been considered robust indicators of readiness by educators and college admissions staff alike.

While the Common Core aims are admirably ambitious, the outcomes so far don’t seem to make the grade…” — Matt Sanders msanders@deseretnews.com TWITTER: Sanders_Matt

Another point is my own: It is clear to all Utahns (it’s stated on AIR’s website) that AIR is partnered with SBAC, which is under a stranglehold by the Department of Ed. SBAC is mandated to “share student data”, to “synchronize tests” with other national common core testing groups, and to give constant reports to the feds. By its partnership, thus AIR is entangled in the same stranglehold. That means Utah is entangled, despite what the state board claims and wishes.

I have yet to see any evidence that AIR/SAGE tests are purely math and English assessments. I have yet to see any evidence that the tests are even being developed by Utahns rather than by the psychometricians that the AIR website flaunts as spearheading all the works of AIR.

Again, thanks for talking.

Christel

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Christel,

I am well aware of all your quotes and concerns. Having served on the adoption committee for our new assessment with testing directors, superintendents, teachers and specialists in the field from districts and the state office, I have heard all the concerns and recommendations on our new assessment program. I also was privileged to meet with the parent committee that examined all the test items and helped correct a few minor problems, but heard nothing about any far reaching problems that hadn’t been noted and improved.

I also had the opportunity to oversee several of the pilot districts that used “computer adaptive assessment” which was then the North West Evaluation Association. The pilots were created by the State Board and Governor Huntsman after a year or so of looking at quality assessment programs. These districts had used the assessment to accomplish great growth in student scores for about five years. NWEA was one of the companies that applied to fill the role of our assessment program that had been funded and approved by the legislature. However, NWEA was not willing to write test items that addressed Utah’s specific Core Items. Thus our committee chose AIR because of their willingness to help us (teachers in the field) to help write items that addressed our specific Core Curriculum and they also had great recommendations from other educational entities throughout the nation.

It would be great if we did not have to invest so much in evaluation, but with Grading Schools and other legislation throughout our state and the nation, we must insure we are providing accurate information for the public and our schools. It has also been proven over the past few years that the Computer Adaptive Assessments have been valuable to teacher, parents and students, as it provides a clear understanding of what curricular issues students understand and what needs extra work and support. Testing is now and has always been an instructional support to help teachers, students and parents know how to help our students improve and be successful.

Now, as you suggest, it would be great if our legislature understood how important it is to fund lower class size, preschool education for “At-Risk” students and establishing enough funding to attract the best and brightest teachers to our classrooms. As the lowest per pupil funding in the nation, I really believe that both the State Office of Education and our district partners are doing the very best they can to provide a quality education for our students. Can we do more? SURE!! But the more takes funding and spending less energy and resources to fight battles that reflect on issues that we have already identified and attempted to solve.

Christel, it would be so nice if you would come to our Board Meetings and take in all that has and continues to be done to improve our standards, our curriculum support systems, our assessment and our commitment to quality educators and education for all of our students. Many people are working so hard to insure we are doing the best with what we can afford to provide the children of our state.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss these issues, but hope you will come see the process in action and join with us to improve our education with a positive attitude and support system.

Thanks again!!

Dixie
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elefant

Dixie,

I guess I should thank you for the invitation to “join with you to improve education with a positive attitude” at school board meetings.

But I noticed at the State School Board Meetings that I went to in 2013 and 2012 that there was an elephant that filled the room; he was so big that people couldn’t even see around him and so loud that people couldn’t talk.

He stood so that people could not move. He silenced visitors who were in his way just by leaning on them, and his glare frightened teachers, parents, and students who had come to participate in the meetings. He had his feet on some children. He wore a huge banner with his name on it, but the school board used different language to name him than what he had named himself, if they spoke of him at all.

Oddly, the Board most often dodged elephant-related questions.

He attended the Wasatch District’s school board meetings too.

For two years now, he’s eaten endlessly at the expense of taxpayers –money which was reserved for the sacred use of school children and their teachers. He ate a lot.

He’s still eating. There is not enough food for him as well as for the children, yet the Board said it would rather feed him, for some reason. So the board asks the legislature to feed the children and the teachers. Because all the board’s money is gone to feeding the elephant.

A positive attitude?

I howl because I can not get the damn elephant off my children without your help.

You have the power. Please remove him.

Christel
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Christel,

Although you don’t name the “elephant in the room” — I surmise you see it as Federal Intrusion. I encourage you to really look at what the Federal Government does to help provide dollars for public education and the actual data that they and our state legislature ask for in policy and then help us find ways to insure that such data doesn’t compromise the individual rights of our students. Some data is absolutely necessary, but if we know specifically what data is problematic, we can look at those issues. From my point of view as an educator, I see that test data pulled together for teachers, schools, districts and the state helps us insure that we are providing a quality education. If we overstep the process in regard to trying to insure a quality educational system — we need to know specifics — not the letters to the editor or posting on facebook, twitter and etc., with no details as to what is the real problem.

We all want to improve and support public education. Hope you will help us, instead of continuing to state there is an “elephant in the room” — but with no definition of what the elephant is and how you see we can solve the problem.

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Dixie,

The elephant is the Common Core Initiative.

The Common Core elephant –its head is the set of experimental, untested, distorted standards which were neither written nor known about by Utahns before they were forced upon us.

I say “forced” because that is exactly what happened. The board never asked legislators, teachers, principals or parents to analyze these standards prior to throwing away classic standards. And if we speak against them now, we are labeled “insubordinate” or “misinformed”.

I say “distorted” because they are inappropriately “rigourous” for the youngest grades and inappropriately low, especially in math, for the high school grades.

The Common Core elephant– its heart is common data standards (via PESC) which Utah agreed to in its acceptance of federal grant money for the federal SLDS system. This is the heart of the data problem. We don’t have a state system; we have a federal system that we call the “state” longitudinal database. But there is nothing protecting private student data from being submitted to the federal Edfacts exchange nor to the federally partnered EIMAC/CCSSO national data collection vehicle.

Individual student data is none of anyone’s business beyond the district. Only the teacher and principal and parents need to know how a student is doing. Period. The end of the data story.

Governments grading schools is a wrong concept and should be fought but until that’s won, let them grade in aggregate form. That’s not what is happening. Even Superintendent Menlove is a member of the CCSSO, whose stated goal is to disaggregate student data.

I do not see any justification for Utah’s FORCED database (SLDS) from which no parent may opt her child out, according to this very board.

The Common Core elephant– its legs are the tests. The tests drive the future curriculum. They label teachers. They force the standards to center stage, stealing from other subjects and activities that the teacher would otherwise focus on, for example, Utah’s added standard of cursive or a teacher’s personal expertise and enthusiasm for things that go above or beyond Common Core.

Utah’s AIR/SAGE test’s alignment with all the other national common core tests are the death of its autonomy. And the federal say in these tests makes them illegitimate under the Constitution and GEPA law, which states: No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system .

Common Core is the elephant in the room because at the board meeting, nobody talks about it. They call it “Utah core.” They call them “Utah’s standards.”

Common Core sits on top of and drives EVERYTHING in Utah education today. It saps all our funding. It dominates all our teacher preparation. It dictates all new technologies. It defines our data collection. It is the basis for our $39 million dollar test. And alignment to Common Core is the ONLY prerequisite for any textbook to be used in a classroom anymore– content no longer matters; just common core alignment matters. I know this from speaking with the Utah curriculum committee.

One would think that Common Core must be remarkable and wonderful, to have such honored place in Utah, to wield such power. But it’s a joke. A joke on us. It costs us countless millions yet it’s academically distorted, is not even written by educators and has never been field tested!

It’s nothing that it says it is– not “globally competitive,” not “internationally benchmarked,” not “state-led” nor “state created.” It was David “Corporate” Coleman who on a whim decided informational text is better than classic literature, and he is the King of Common Core. Not only did he design the ELA, but now he runs the entire College Board where he aligns college entrance exams to his creation– not the other way around, as has been claimed. This is not college readiness. It’s corporate control of what that term even means anymore. We don’t get a say. The corporate elite, meaning David Coleman/Achieve Inc./Bill Gates/Pearson/CCSSO who are officially in partnership with Arne Duncan, are calling the shots. And why don’t they want us to have legitimate, high, classical college-ready standards? Because it costs too much money. This is clearly explained by Marc Tucker, CEO of the National Center on Education and the Economy .

Dixie, I have told you all of this before. You either don’t believe me or don’t think it matters.

Many people don’t want to call anything evil. But I believe there is no good if there is no evil, and I believe that good and evil do not form alliances. There are people and collaborations with whom we should not shake hands, no matter how pleasingly they present themselves to us. Because they are selfish; they are steal what is good and important away from us. They hurt us while promising us the moon.

Common Core is the excuse and the rallying cry for the robbers of autonomy and our local conscience in educational decision making. These people ride on the back of the elephant and get richer and more powerful all the way. These riders of the elephant include David Coleman and his corporations, the CCSSO, NGA, Pearson, Gates, Arne Duncan, and the corporations that sell Common Core aligned products. None of them care whether they’re selling snake oil or something real. They don’t care. They count on us to be too busy or too stupid to check their claims and their price tags.

Thanks for listening.

Christel
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Christel,

Wow — I really thought you might have a valid point with the intrusion element. However, as a teacher, principal, curriculum director and now a State School Board Member for now over 40 years total, I have to tell you some facts!

First – all of our standards for the State of Utah have been unproven — mostly because they were created by educators in the field and tested over time and revised over time. Over the years we have, as a state, created our own assessments with help of great talent at our State Office — but both standards and testing items are created by our state teachers and specialists and evaluated and revised over time. The Common Core is and will be the same — except there are several specialists at the university level who has helped us look forward to the ramifications of State and Federal Standards and how all students will be equipped for college and universities regardless of what state university or college they choose.

Secondly, as a Principal of elementary, a 5th grade center and a high school, I can attest that with our past “stair step curriculum” – using Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1 and 2, we lost almost a third of our students in being prepared to master the math curriculum for the high school. The standards for both the Mathematics and Language Arts for the Common Core is much more relevant to the investigative and inquiry expectations of both learning and work skills needed by our graduates.

Finally, Utah did not take any money specifically from the Feds for adopting the Common Core. We, along with 47 other states, found the standards higher and more relevant to the expectations of higher education and careers throughout the United States. Also, we had the support of our Governor and the Governor’s Association, the Chief School Officers and our Chief School Officer and almost all university professors and teachers we asked to evaluate the standards.

Bottom line, Christel, the Standards are a higher quality than what we have had previously and they have saved our state thousands of dollars, as we did not have to bring the specialists together by ourselves, but were able to share with the rest of the nation in the creation and evaluation of the standards.

I am sorry you see the Standards as the “Elephant in the Room” — because they are a very effective step forward toward a 21st century curriculum for our state and our teachers and students are rising to the level of the new standards very effectively. Even my elementary grandchildren now know how to substitute letters for numbers and solve for the unknown. Interestingly, as a high school junior I was the only one in my small high school that was taking Algebra — and that was only about 40 years ago. Needless to say our standards need to change over time and working together is much more effective than attempting to do it by ourselves.

Let me know if you want to find answers and work to help us move forward. I would like to have you working with us, instead of buying into the right wing rhetoric that you find on the internet.

Dixie
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Dixie,

Previous standards were not unproven; they were time-tested. Common Core is not time tested. ( Did you look at the article I shared about the “dataless decision making” that is Common Core, the link from Seton Hall University?)

Students have NEVER been deprived of classic literature or basic high school math in past sets of standards. They have never been pushed, for example, to write so many “boring” informational essays to the exclusion of narrative writing. They have not been given insurmountable, unreasonable obstacles to hurdle at first grade levels before. They have not been deprived of calculus in high school math before. This is all new. This is all totally unproven. This is so dangerous as we have no idea what the consequences will be, good or bad. We are putting unfounded, undeserved faith in people like noneducator David Coleman who wrote the ELA standards. We are putting all our eggs in a soggy paper basket.

Math: Thousands of Utahns disagree with your assessment of what good math teaching should look like. You are entitled to your opinion, but I can tell you that my son’s friends’ mothers (of children who remained in public school when I took my son out to home school him two years ago) now tell me their children cry and hate school, and ask their mothers (who are not as willing) to please home school them also. This is tragic. And these mothers always say the children’s cries of discontent center on the bad “new” math– which is Common Core math. These are fifth graders.

Money: We took millions from the feds for their ed reforms– which specifically included Common Core and SLDS. Utah took these many millions in exchange for adoption of four federal education reforms. Part of the money, $9.6 million from the feds, built the student-snooping system they wanted, which we now call the Utah State Longitudinal Database System. As part of that SLDS grant, we agreed to PESC common data standards. This agreement is stated on page 4 of section 1 (page 20 on the PDF) of Utah’s 2009 ARRA Data Grant: “The UDA will adhere to standards such as… the Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council (PESC)…”

“The State Core Model is a common technical reference model for states implementing state longitudinal data systems (SLDS). It was developed by CCSSO as part of the Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) adoption work with funding from the Gates Foundation…The State Core Model will do for State Longitudinal Data Systems what the Common Core is doing for Curriculum Frameworks and the two assessment consortia. The core purpose of an SLDS is to fulfill federal reporting (EDEN/EDFacts)…”

Those are their words, not mine.

Obama gave governors $53.6 billion from the “State Fiscal Stabilization Fund” contained in the federal stimulus. The money, used in exchange for the adoption of four federal ed reforms, was given conditionally: These reforms are detailed on the US Department of Education’s website. They are:

1.Adopt College-and-Career Ready standards [COMMON CORE] and high-quality, valid and reliable assessments [SAGE/AIR].
2.Develop and use pre-K through post-secondary and career data systems [SLDS].
3.Increase teacher effectiveness and ensure equitable distribution of qualified teachers. [FORCED REDISTRIBUTION]
4.Turn around the lowest-performing schools [ACCORDING TO THE FEDS' DEFINITION, NOT OURS].

How anyone can say with a straight face that the feds aren’t involved with Common Core, is beyond me. They even redefined the term “college and career readiness” as “standards common to a significant number of states” which is only Common Core, on their federal site.

As for right-wing rhetoric or left-wing rhetoric, there’s as much left-wing rhetoric condemning Common Core (tests and standards and student data snooping) as there is right-wing rhetoric, anyway.

Left wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Diane Ravitch, Paul Horton, Mass Sen. Ed Markey (D)

Right wing criticism of Common Core/SLDS: Pioneer Institute, Heritage Foundation, Cato Institute, The Blaze network, Fox News network.

And there are right wingers who praise it –or refuse to condemn it– (notably Jeb Bush, Rush Limbaugh, Gary Herbert) just as there are left-wingers.

Thanks again for talking and listening.

Christel

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Christel – since you choose to post my responses – I am through trying to help you understand the REAL truth.

So sorry!

Dixie

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Dixie,

I appreciated your openness, which seemed so much more courteous and open-minded than other USOE and USSB representatives have been to the teachers and public who have asked to talk with them about Common Core.

I am sorry that you aren’t comfortable with others reading your responses. I feel people have a right to know what their board representatives really think and what they see as the truth, especially where their children are concerned.

As you know, all state school board correspondence is open to the public via GRAMA legal requests as well.

Christel

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Meme Unconstitutional Common Core Christel Swasey

Gideon’s Math Homework   6 comments

Reposted with permission from Alan Singer of Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY

Gideon, my grandson, is almost nine-years old and starting fourth grade this year. He loves soccer, baseball, online videos, hip-hop, and school because that is where his friends are during the day. His attitude toward homework, and I suspect any school assignment, is to get it done fast so he can move on to more important and interesting things.

On last year’s New York State 3rd grade common core aligned math assessment Gideon scored in the proficient range, not the highest level, but not bad on a test where 70% of the students failed. I have been doing math homework with Gideon since school started and I noticed a couple of things that concern me about how math is being taught. I am not blaming his teachers or the school. I am certainly not blaming Gideon. But I worry that the problems he is having in math reflect the push for test prep for standardized tests.

The first problem is that Gideon seems to be convinced that there is only one right way to solve a problem and if he does not solve it that way he will be marked wrong. This problem he will get over either as he learns more about how the world works or becomes less interested in pleasing his teachers.

The second problem is a bit more serious to me as a teacher and grandparent. Instead of trying to understand a math problem and being willing to play with the numbers, Gideon is committed to remembering a long, complicated sequence of steps to finding a solution. If he makes a mistake somewhere in the sequence he gets the answer incorrect, but he does not recognize it as incorrect, because his goal was following the prescribed steps, not coming up with a result that makes sense.

Kids are supposed to be learning to estimate from the start of elementary school so they can stop and say this cannot possibly be the answer, but estimation requires both feeling comfortable with the relationships between numbers and a willingness to experiment and speculate, qualities that appear to be neglected in the test prep math curriculum.

One night recently Gideon had to figure out how many tens are in 540. He set up number groups. There are 10 tens in one hundred so he had five groups of 10 tens each. There are 4 tens in forty. He then added 10+10+10+10+10+4=54. I did not have a problem so far. But then he had to figure out how many tens were in 370 and he started to set up his number groups again instead of just saying if there are 54 tens in 540, there must be 37 tens in 370. He did not see or even look for the relationship between the two problems. They were separate entities.

The third question was how many twenties are in 640 and again he started by setting up his number groups. I asked him how many tens were in 640 and if there were more tens or twenties, but his response was “That’s not the way we are supposed to do it.”

Maybe that was what he was told, maybe he was misinterpreting instructions, but in either case, he would not play with the numbers and try to figure out a solution on his own. He was memorizing rules, not learning math.

Initially I thought the problem here might just be Gideon’s stubbornness and anxiousness to be finished, after all there were other more rewarding things to be done. But email exchanges on the Long Island “Middle School Principals” listserv (principals-ms@nassauboces.org) point towards much more serious problems with the way math is being taught and assessed in the New World of Common Core and high-stakes assessments.

A principal at one affluent Nassau County middle school reported that in his school 235 eighth grade students took accelerated ninth grade math and 190 of them, 78.6% of the students, earned a grade of 80% or better. But inexplicably, 82 out of the 190 high scorers, 43%, scored less than proficient on the 8th-grade common math assessment. Three other middle school principals from similar districts reported the same phenomenon.

A fifth principal from another affluent high-performing Nassau County school district described the state math assessments as a “Kafkaesque system” that “does not make sense,” as a “fake testing system” that “hurts kids” and their teachers. He has middle school students who passed high school math examines with mastery level scores but who failed the common core standardized test and now must be assigned to remedial classes. He also cannot figure out how when his school had the highest seventh grade English and math assessment results in the state on the common core test, only one out of six of his seventh grade ELA and math teachers was rated highly effective.

He charged that the current instructional and testing system “only enriched consultants, textbook companies and service corporations.” He called it a “fiasco” that “only ensures further unfunded mandates, pushes schools to become test-prep centers, further institutionalizes an over-testing system that terribly hurts kids, and enshrines an unfair evaluation system that actually makes it harder to terminate unsatisfactory teachers.”

Actually, I do not find the lack of correlation between the 9th-grade algebra test scores and the 8th-grade common core assessments inexplicable. I think the same phenomenon is at work that I saw in Gideon’s homework. Students are not learning math, they are being prepped for tests to maximize test scores.

When you put different types of questions on the math test they are stymied because the procedures they were taught to follow do quite line up with the problems and they either do not know how, or are afraid to, adjust. They do not estimate, they do not hypothesize, they do not “do the math,” they just get lost in the steps and get the answers incorrect.

I remember learning math the old-fashioned way, my friends and I had fun figuring out things we actually wanted to know and were very competitive at it. Back in the days before calculators and computers, the newspapers only updated baseball batting averages on Sundays, except for the league leaders. My friends and I were big baseball fans, our elementary and middle schools were about a mile from Yankee Stadium, and we needed to know the latest batting averages for Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Yogi Berra, Elston Howard, and “The Moose” Bill Skowron, so we calculated them every day during lunch (and sometimes when we were not paying attention in classes). It was not that we liked math –we loved baseball. Math was just a tool.

I walked into my high school 10th grade statewide geometry math test without having paid attention for most of the year (Bill Cosby used to tell the joke that when he was a kid his family was so poor he couldn’t afford to pay attention). But I was comfortable with math, numbers and problem solving and actually figured out geometry while taking the test itself.

I like finding patterns in math, I enjoy problem solving, and I appreciate the way it helps me to think systematically and provide evidence to support my conclusions. But I am convinced my comfort level is rooted in my love of baseball and the Yankees.

The other night I asked a group of college students if Robbie Cano is batting .310 and goes one for three with a sharp single, two fly outs, and a base on balls, what happens to his batting average. Some of the students had no idea, some of them started to calculate, but I knew his batting average went up, by just a little bit, because I know the relationships between numbers. That is what I am trying to teach Gideon.

Alan Singer, Director, Secondary Education Social Studies
Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership
128 Hagedorn Hall / 119 Hofstra University / Hempstead, NY 11549

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Thanks to Professor Singer for this article which is also published at Huffington Post.

Professors Provide Proof Georgia Math and English Standards Were Better Before Common Core   Leave a comment

In July (2013) a report was issued (at the request of Georgia Senator William Ligon) that compares Georgia’s pre-Common Core standards to Georgia’s now-adopted Common Core standards.

Oh, boy.

You can read the full reports at the Senator’s web page, here and you can see the web page of Dr. Mary Kay Bacallao, the Georgia math professor who provided the report, here. You can also read the report of Dr. Sandra Stotsky who provided the English Language Arts segment for Senator Ligon’s report, here.

There are a few vital highlights that I want to share.

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From Dr. Bacallao’s math report:</strong>

“What is missing in the new Common Core Math Standards? A few examples:

- Mean, median, mode, and range — gone in elementary grades.

- The concept of pi, including area and circumference of circles – gone in elementary grades.

- The Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic (prime factorization) – gone completely.

- Using fractions, decimals, and percents interchangeably — gone completely.

- Measurement -density – no measurement instruction after 5th grade.

- Division of a fraction by a fraction – gone in elementary grades.

- Algebra — inadequate readiness in the elementary grades and pushed back one year (from middle school – 8th grade – to high school – 9th grade). This means the majority of Georgia students will not reach calculus in high school, as expected by selective universities.

- Geometry — simple skills such as calculating the area of triangles, parallelograms and polygons are no longer taught in elementary grades.”

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Highlights from Dr. Stotsky’s English Language Arts report for Georgia:

“1. Georgia should re-adopt its previous standards with some revisions spelled out below because they are far superior to Common Core’s. They emphasize reading far more than does Common Core, they stress the kind of reading (literary study) that fosters critical thinking, and they serve as far better guides to the kind of reading that secondary students in Georgia should be assigned in the school curriculum whether they choose to go to an institution of higher education, go into an occupational trade, or go into the military.

2. Georgia should base its state assessments in reading and literature on its previous standards, not on Common Core’s inferior English language arts standards. It would be a waste of the taxpayers’ money to base state assessments on a set of standards that needs to be completely revised, if not abandoned.

3. Georgia’s legislators should ask literary and humanities scholars at their own fine universities to work with a group of experienced and well-trained high school English teachers to design a readiness test in reading and literature for admission to Georgia’s own colleges and universities. They should also ask engineering, science and mathematics faculty at the University of Georgia and the Georgia Institute of Technology to design a readiness test in mathematics and science for admission to Georgia’s own higher education institutions, as well as the syllabi for the advanced mathematics and science coursework this faculty wants to see Georgia high school students take. Georgia can do much better than Common Core’s standards or tests for these purposes. Georgia does not need federal education policy-makers (or test developers) to decide what admission requirements to Georgia’s colleges and universities should be in reading, literature, mathematics, or science.

4. Before Georgia uses its previous ELA standards to guide classroom curriculum and state testing, the legislature should require them to be reviewed and vetted by experienced Georgia high school teachers and literary scholars at its own colleges and universities.
a. Some standards belong at the graduate level.
b. Some standards are repetitious, superfluous, or non-accessable.
c. The Reading Across the Curriculum (RC) standards should be removed. They are inappropriate for English teachers and English classes.
d. All of the standards for “multicultural” literature should be folded as appropriate into grade 8 or the high school courses for American, British and world literature. High quality literary works by “multicultural” authors are part of one of these bodies of literature and should not be isolated.”

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Post Script:

The fact is, the Common Core standards are an unpiloted experiment. School boards and governors signed on to them via federal coercion, to get a shot at the Race to the Top grant money. It was never about academic superiority. (That part about “international competitiveness” and “rigor” has always been an unverifiable claim / lie.)

So as brilliant and helpful as the above explanations are in educating Americans about the tragic weaknesses of Common Core, I still feel that ultimately, long term, the discussion –about whether Common Core Standards are worse or better in any given state– barely even matters. It’s always been about control of the American people and their schools; it’s never really been about raising educational standards.

Georgia (and every other state that adopted Common Core) should reject Common Core, yes. –But not primarily for the reason that previous standards were better. The standards should be rejected because they rob states of their Constitutionally guaranteed right to determine educational standards locally.

Nationally controlled education systems have been a well-known hallmark of tyrannies throughout modern history. The only thing standing between Americans and modern day kinglike tyranny is our separation of powers and our clearly defined state sovereignties outlined in the U.S. Constitution. And Common Core disrespects that– in pursuit of collectivity; of monopoly on thought, curriculum and education sales products.

Common Core pushes the nationalization of education not only federally (the Dept. of Ed used grants as a lure and NCLB waivers as a threat) but also corporate-wise (Common Core uses the biggest ed sales company on earth –Pearson– that is officially partnered with the 2nd richest man in the world –Gates–to create one size fits all curriculum and a uniform customer base.) This public-private partnershipping circumvents the American voter. We are left on the sidelines.

Just yesterday I was speaking with a friend about her kindergarten teacher/friend who says that she loves the Common Core standards, because teachers used to introduce new letters to kindergarteners too slowly and now they do many more letters fast.

(Here, I took a deep breath. I’d heard this so many times before: one can always find teachers who like Common Core, just as you can find teachers who hate Common Core. But the argument misses the more important issue: of future control of standards.)

I said, “Ask the teacher what she’d think if Common Core’s writers next year announced that they will be introducing all 26 letters of the alphabet on the first day of kindergarten. Think about it. If Common Core has the power to raise a standard in an area, it also has the power to lower it– or to raise it so high that it hurts children. The point is, why should the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors’ Association hold the right to sit there in D.C. and tell us in our state how fast to introduce kindergarterners to the letters of the alphabet?”

Common Core is education without represenation. Whether the standards are academically better or worse is NOT the issue. Whether school boards, teachers and parents remain free to chart the course for their own students is the issue.

Those who hold the power over Common Core Standards (the private, unaccountable organizations that hold the copyright on these standards: NGA and CCSSO) can and will change them. They could take Dr. Bacallao’s and Dr. Stotsky’s recommendations and turn out new and improved Common Core standards. Or they could take the advice of the National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) and actually lower national education standards further and further. Not kidding. The NCEE actually says this out loud: “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 policy of requiring a passing score on an Algebra II exam for high school graduation simply cannot be justified.”

So arguing about the academic value of the Common Core standards seems to me a little bit pointless. Good or bad, they still put us in a position of helplessness by their governance structure and testing structure and data collection schemes.

Good or bad, the Common Core standards still leave us out of decisionmaking regarding national or local standards for learning and testing. They leave us powerless and unrepresented. As American education has morphed into the opposite of freedom and self-determination under the Common Core agenda, we’ve also become powerless to alter the data-mining (without parental consent) that is such a huge part of the Common Core. Interoperable databases are aligning all states’ standards, tests, teacher accountability systems and technological capacities (interoperabilities) –under federal supervision.

Isn’t it ironic that the Common Core debate is barely even about education –it’s about political and corporate power.

We The People, are losing our constitutional rights and freedoms.

Fight back. The stakes could not be higher. We are talking about the liberty of our children. Don’t let Common Core win.

September 4 2013 371

Fox News: Common Core is a Risky Experiment on Children – by James Milgram and Emmett McGroarty   4 comments

Do the math — Common Core = a massive, risky experiment on your kids

Yesterday’s Fox News editorial by Emmett McGroarty and James Milgram is staggeringly important. I’ve pasted excerpts. Plese read the whole article at this link.

Remember that James Milgram is a former NASA mathematician, Stanford math professor, and the only true mathematician to serve on the validation committee for Common Core (a mathematician, a math analyst, as opposed to just being a math teacher). He refused to sign off that there was adequate academic legitimacy to Common Core. This is why.

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“One of Common Core’s most glaring deficiencies is its handling of adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing numbers.
… The classic method of, for example, adding two-digit numbers is to add the digits in the “ones” column, carry the remainder to the “tens” column, and then add the “tens” digits. This “standard algorithm” works first time, every time. But instead of teaching this method, which enables students to solve problems quickly and routinely, Common Core creates a two-step process.

The first is to let students choose from several alternative algorithms (number lines, estimating, etc.) for doing one-digit additions, subtractions, and multiplications.

The second is probably to extend these student constructions to more complex calculations. (We say “probably” because the standards are not at all clear on this point.)

There is no point where the student-constructed algorithms are explicitly replaced by the very efficient standard methods for doing one-digit operations.

Why does Common Core adopt this convoluted method of teaching math?

The stated reason is that learning the standard algorithm doesn’t give students a “deeper conceptual understanding” of what they’re doing. But the use of student-constructed algorithms is at odds with the practices of high-achieving countries and is not supported by research. Common Core is using our children for a huge and risky experiment.

There are also severe problems with the way Common Core handles percents, ratios, rates, and proportions – the critical topics that are essential if students are to learn more advanced topics such as trigonometry, statistics, and even calculus.

As well, the way Common Core presents geometry is not research-based – and the only country that tried this approach on a large scale rapidly abandoned it.

In addition to these deficiencies, Common Core only includes most (but not all) of the standard algebra I expectations, together with only some parts of standard geometry and algebra II courses. There is no content beyond this.

Hidden in Common Core is the real objective – presenting the minimal amount of material that high-school graduates need to be able to enter the work force in an entry-level job, or to enroll in a community college with a reasonable expectation of avoiding a remedial math course.

There is no preparation for anything more, such as entering a university (not a community college) with a reasonable expectation of being able to skip the entry-level courses.

(Virtually no university student who has to take an entry-level math course ever gets a degree in a technical area such as the hard sciences, engineering, economics, statistics, or mathematics.)

Common Core thus amounts to a disservice to our students. It puts them at least two years behind their peers in high-performing countries, and leaves them ill-prepared for authentic college course work.

Those who doubt that this low-level workforce-development is the goal of Common Core should ponder the admission of Jason Zimba, one of the chief drafters of the math standards.

In a public meeting of the Massachusetts State Board of Education in 2010, Dr. Zimba testified that Common Core is designed to prepare students only for a non-selective community college, not a university… …”

Read the rest:

Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Mathematics at Stanford University, has extensive experience developing mathematics standards throughout the nation and served on the Validation Committee for the Common Core Standards.

Emmett McGroarty, serves as Executive Director of the American Principles Project’s Preserve Innocence Initiative which informs Americans about the dangers of centralizing education through the Common Core. He is co-author of “Controlling Education From the Top: Why Common Core Is Bad for America.”

Dr. Milgram has elsewhere written (responding to a request for clarification about math standards):

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.“

Standing Room Only at Utah State Capitol’s Stop Common Core Meeting   3 comments

Legislators heard two and a half hours of public testimonies at last night’s Stop Common Core meeting at the Utah State Capitol Building which packed the Hall of Governors to overflowing.

Legislators claimed the first few rows of seats, and at least 500 people filled every chair while many people had to stand along the walls. The crowd and the legislators listened to two and a half hours of testimonies from teachers, parents and students.

Hundreds who wanted to speak out against Common Core were prevented by time. (Their written or filmed testimonies will be uploaded later at Utahns Against Common Core.)

Highlights:

– Teenage students speaking out against Common Core.
— Teachers, both current and retired, speaking out against Common Core.
— A licensed child psychologist speaking out against Common Core.
— Three (out of the seven members) of the Alpine School Board, Utah’s largest school district, each speaking out against Common Core, especially noting concerns about the common core-aligned standardized testing which ends liberty and local control.
— A legislator who rose to the enthusiastically cheering crowd and said, “We hear you. And we are going to work.”

The event was filmed and will be viewable soon. It was also covered by Channel 4 and by the Deseret News.

http://www.abc4.com/mostpopular/story/Utahns-gather-at-the-State-Capitol-to-voice/IA79JikQ2EmeaAnaG-M6LA.cspx

Video: College Board Accidentally Explains Dumbing Down AP to Match Common Core   4 comments

AP tests are aligning to Common Core. So, explain this, Common Core proponents: the reason to change college-credit AP tests to Common Core is to make sure that they were actually college-ready?

Um, that makes no sense.

This video is a must-see. Start at about 1:05 when the College Board representative says that Common Core doesn’t include Calculus.

By definition a college-credit test should be testing college-ready information. So, the only reason to change the AP tests is to hide the Common Core’s decline for true college-readiness.

That does make sense, since Common Core is a concession to national, agreed-upon, defined middle ground (mediocrity). While some states have risen to the new Common Core, other states have dropped their standards to adopt Common Core. That’s what collectivism does, folks. It erases excellence and success because it values sameness above soaring.

It makes sense, then, that college entrance exams and AP exams that are Common Core-aligned, will be dropping their standards, too.

Now that AP, SAT, and ACT tests are changing to be Common Core aligned, we can’t compare pre-Common Core to post-Common Core and will not be able to prove the massive failure that would most likely have been discovered in the near future.

This College Board representative in the video doesn’t come out directly and say that Common Core only prepares students for a nonselective two year college, but he might has well have said it.

Jason Zimba, a lead Common Core writer, did say it. So did Professor William McCallum of the University of Arizona, one of the three writers of the math Common Core standards:

“While acknowledging the concerns about front-loading demands in early grades, [McCallum] said that the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [with] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.”

http://boston.com/community/blogs/rock_the_schoolhouse/2011/11/myths_about_national_standards.html

Professor Tienken, Ze’ev Wurman, Barry Garelick Take on Utah State Office of Education: On Common Core Math   3 comments

First, I received yet another “makes-no-sense” common core math explanation from the Utah State Office of Education, via Ms. Diana Suddreth.

Next, I asked nationally recognized experts to help me digest Suddreth’s words.  This included curricular expert Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University, New Jersey, former Dept of Ed advisor and Hoover Institute (Stanford University visiting scholar) Ze’ev Wurman of California; and U.S. Coalition for World Class Math founder Barry Garelick.

This is what they wrote.  (Ms. Suddreth’s writing is also posted below.)

From Dr. Christopher H. Tienken:

Christel,

The UTAH bureaucrat is referencing this book – see below. Look at chpts 7 and 11 for where I think she is gathering support.

http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=9822

Her answer still does not make curricular sense in that she explains that fluency with moving between fractions and decimals is assumed in some ways. With all due respect, the curriculum document is a legally binding agreement of what will be taught. Teachers are bound by law to follow it (of course many don’t but that is going to change with this new testing system). Therefore, if it is not explicitly in the document, it might not get taught.

There are a lot of assumptions made in the Core. Just look at the Kindergarten math sequence. It assumes a lot of prior knowledge on the part of kids. That might be fine for some towns, but certainly not for others.

Perhaps the bureaucrat can point to specific standards that call for students to demonstrate fluency in converting fractions to decimals etc.

However, I think the bigger issue is that parents now don’t have a say in terms of whether and how much emphasis is placed on those skills. Local control is one mechanism for parents to lobby for emphasis of content. Not all content is equally important to each community. The negotiation of “emphasis” is a local issue, but that has now been decided for parents by a distal force.

Christopher H. Tienken, Ed.D.

Editor, AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice

Editor, Kappa Delta Pi Record

Seton Hall University

College of Education and Human Services

Department of Education Leadership, Management, and Policy

South Orange, NJ

Visit me @: http://www.christienken.com

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Dear Members of the Board,

Ms. Swasey forwarded to me an email that you have received recently, discussing how Utah Core supposedly handles the conversion between fraction forms. I would like to pass you my comments on that email.

First, let me briefly introduce myself. I am a visiting scholar at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. I was a member of the California Academic Content Standards Commission in 2010, which reviewed the Common Core standards before their adoption by the state of California. Prior to that I served as a senior policy adviser at the U.S. Department of Education.

Response to Diana Suddreth’s note, passed to Utah’s Board of Education on April 23, regarding the question of conversion among fractional forms
(Original in italics)

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving.
Unfortunately, Ms. Suddreth does not address above the question at hand—whether, or how, does the Utah Core expect students to develop fluency and understanding with conversion among fractional representations of fractions, decimals and percent—and instead offers general description of how Utah Core treats fractions. This is fine as it goes, but it does not add anything to the discussion.

In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.)

The above is incorrect. In grade 5, as in previous grades, the Common Core (or Utah Core, if you will) frequently treats fractions as “parts of the whole.” There is no other way to interpret grade 5 standards such as “Solve word problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions referring to the same whole … e.g., by using visual fraction models …” (5.NF.2) or “Interpret the product (a/b) × q as a parts of a partition of q into b equal parts;” (5.NF.4a). All this, however, has little to do with the question at hand.

As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

Yet again Ms. Suddreth is clearly wrong. Percent are not even introduced by the Common (Utah) Core before grade 6.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

Here, like in her first paragraph, Ms. Suddereth, avoids responding to the question and hopes that writing about unrelated issues will cover this void. The argument was never that the Common Core does not develop understanding of fractions as rational numbers, as decimals, and as percents. The argument was that such understanding is developed in isolation for each form, and that fluent conversion between forms is barely developed in a single standard that touches only peripherally on the conversion and does it at much later (grade 7) than it ought to. Fluency with conversion among fractional representations was identified as a key skill by the National Research Council, the NCTM, and the presidential National Math Advisory Panel. It is not some marginal aspect of elementary mathematics that should be “inferred” and “understood” from other standards. The Common Core is already full of painstakingly detailed standards dealing with fractions and arguing that such cardinal area as fluency with conversion (“perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics” in NRC’s opinion) should not be addressed explicitly is disingenuous.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Curriculum Focal Points explicitly requires fluency with conversion between fractional forms by grade 7, which is absent in the Common Core. It also, for example, expects fluency with dividing integers and with addition and subtraction of decimals by grade 5, which the Common Core expects only by grade 6. One wonders what else it would take to make Ms. Suddreth label them as in conflict. One also wonders how much is the Common Core really “based on the research in Adding It Up” if it essentially forgot even to address what Adding It Up considers “perhaps the deepest translation problem in pre-K to grade 8 mathematics”—the conversion among fractions, decimals, and percent.

In summary, Ms. Suddereth’s note passed to you by Ms. Pyfer contains both misleading and incorrect claims and is bound to confuse rather than illuminate.

Ze’ev Wurman
zeev@ieee.org
Palo Alto, Calif.
650-384-5291

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From Barry Garelick of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math:
Feel free to send them links to my article (which is a three part article).  There’s a very good comment that someone left [on part one] which once they read might make them realize they better tread a bit more carefully.  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/standards-for-mathematical-practice-cheshire-cats-grin-part-three/
BG

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From: Tami Pyfer <tami.pyfer@usu.edu>

Date: Tue, Apr 23, 2013 at 8:22 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

To: Board of Education <Board@schools.utah.gov>, “Hales, Brenda (Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov)” <Brenda.Hales@schools.utah.gov>

Cc: “Christel S (212christel@gmail.com)” <212christel@gmail.com>, “Diana Suddreth (Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov)” <Diana.Suddreth@schools.utah.gov>

Dear Board members-

The note below from Diana Suddreth is additional information that I hope will be helpful for you in understanding the questions you may have gotten regarding the claim that the new math core doesn’t require students to know how to convert fractions to decimals, or addresses the skill inadequately. Diana has just returned from a math conference and I appreciate her expertise in this area and the additional clarification.

Please feel free to share this with others who may be contacting you with questions.

Hope this helps!

Tami

The question that was originally asked was about converting fractions to decimals; therefore, the response pointed to the specific standard where that skill is to be mastered. A close reading of the Utah Core will reveal that the development of a conceptual understanding of fractions that leads to procedural skills begins in grade 3 and is developed through 7th grade. The new core does not list every specific procedure that students will engage in; however, explaining equivalence of fractions (3rd & 4th grade), ordering fractions (4th grade), understanding decimal notation for fractions (4th grade), and performing operations with fractions (4th, 5th, and 6th grade) all suggest and even require certain procedures to support understanding and problem solving. In 5th grade, fractions are understood as division problems where the numerator is divided by the denominator. (In fact, the new core does a better job of this than the old where fractions were more often treated as parts of a whole, without also relating them to division.) As for percents, students learn that percent is a rate per 100 (a fraction), a concept that is fully developed with a focus on problem solving in 5th and 6th grade.

The new core promotes a strong development of the understanding of fractions as rational numbers, including representations in decimal, fraction, or percent form. Mathematics is far too rich a field to be reduced to a series of procedures without looking at the underlying connections and various representations. There is nothing in the new core to suggest that students will not develop the kinds of procedural skills that support this depth of understanding.

The new core is, in fact, supported by the Curriculum Focal Points from NCTM, which do not conflict with anything in the new core, but rather provide detailed illustrations of how a teacher might focus on the development of mathematics with their students. The new core is based on the research in Adding It Up. Some of the researchers on that project were also involved in the development of the Common Core, which forms the basis for the Utah Core.

Diana Suddreth, STEM Coordinator

Utah State Office of Education

Salt Lake City, UT

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From: Christel S [212christel@gmail.com]

Sent: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 10:42 PM

Subject: Follow-up on Question about math standard

My math and curriculum friends, I don’t know how to argue with these people. Can you assist? Here we have countless parents hating the common core math, and reviewers telling us it puts us light years behind legitimate college readiness, but the USOE continues the charade.

Please help– point me to facts and documentation that will make sense to the average person. Thank you.

Renee Discusses Common Core Math: The Emperor Is Wearing No Clothes   6 comments

Here’s another GoogleHangout with Renee, Alisa and me. Renee relates the story of what happened when she asked a teacher at her daughter’s school what exactly her perception was of Common Core math.

What had been added to, or taken away from, how math used to be taught, she asked.

This elementary school teacher’s response illustrates the muddiness of the whole Common Core, and the way it’s held up by claims and fluffy consensus, not anything substantive, not anything worth the money, time, and liberty we’re giving up for it.

It’s almost, almost funny. –Except that it’s not.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1dXqN3J18v0&feature=youtu.be

Common Core Covered On Glenn Beck TV – March 14, 2013   3 comments

Right after the show 14Mar2013.

It was a privilege to speak with Glenn Beck on his t.v. show on Thursday, along with Utah teacher David Cox of  Odyssey Charter School , Emmett McGroarty of the American Principles Project, and Sherena Arrington of Stop Common Core in Georgia.  I’m posting three clips from the show.

This first portion of the show is a clip of Glenn Beck introducing common core and its “Equity and Excellence Commission” which aims to use the educational system to redistribute;  to redistribute not only exactly the same standards and testing nationwide, but also the nation’s wealth.  Glenn calls the Common Core issue bigger than any other issue facing America today.

http://www.video.theblaze.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=25729047&topic_id=24584158&tcid=vpp_copy_25729047&v=3

The next clip introduces the scarily non-traditional Common Core math, the dumbing-down via “student-centered” rather than teacher-directed instruction; and shows –my favorite part–  the moment Glenn was stunned to find out that state legislatures were not a part of the adoption of Common Core, in any state.

     Notice when Sherena Arrington describes this.  She calls it the executive branch being “off the chain.”   Great choice of words.  Off the chain– like a mad bulldog.  Yes, there is a chain and American needs to stay attached to it because it’s an umbilical cord to mother freedom.  It’s a chain forged by the U.S. Constitution, the process of voter representation, the importance of due process and the separation and balance of powers.

http://www.video.theblaze.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=25729091&topic_id=24584158&tcid=vpp_copy_25729091&v=3

 

This next clip covers the part of the show where we discussed the “no-parental-consent” school data mining.

http://www.video.theblaze.com/media/video.jsp?content_id=25729151&topic_id=24584158&tcid=vpp_copy_25729151&v=3

I mentioned one of the seminal documents of the Common Core movement, the Cooperative Agreement between Secretary Arne Duncan and the SBAC testing group, which says that the SBAC and PARCC (the other testing group) have to synchronize their tests and data, and that student-level data (personal, identifiable data) must be shared. That creates a national testing system, nationalizing education just like China or any socialist/communist country.   This is so offensive, considering the fact that both the Constitution and U.S. GEPA law (General Educational Provisions Act) specify that the federal government may not direct or supervise educational programs or curriculum or tests in any way.

Then I brought up the fact that the Department of Education went behind Congress’ back to alter FERPA law (privacy law) so that parental consent is no longer a legal requirement to access student information. The National Data Collection Model asks for hundreds of data points to be collected on our loved ones, including family income, religion, nicknames, psychological issues, and so much more.

Yes, the executive branch is way off the chain and does need to be brought to account by Congress.  By We, The People.

Thank you, Glenn Beck.  Thank you for exposing to parents and other viewers nationwide what common core is really all about:  it’s so much more than just academic standards.

Jennifer Kabbany: Some Californians Note ‘Overall Lack of Rigor,’ Lost Control with Common Core   Leave a comment

‘COMMON CORE’ STRIPS LOCAL POWER ON EDUCATION

By U-T San Diego – Jennifer Kabbany

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jan/28/tp-common-core-strips-local-power-on-education/?print&page=all

Changes are headed to your child’s school — big ones — and they’re not good.

The federal government has mounted a massive effort to control what students are expected to learn, how they are to be tested, what they will be tested on, and so forth.

These changes are called “Common Core State Standards,” but any time the feds try to run anything, it never turns out well. Yet the folks in Washington think they know best what and how to teach Southwest County kids? Yikes.

But the changes are afoot. California schools chief Tom Torlakson, in an announcement last week, stated that with the state budget fiasco averted, education officials can now focus on fully implementing these so-called common core standards. Education leaders in other states are taking similar measures.

Meanwhile, longtime Murrieta Valley Unified School District Trustee Paul Diffley shares my concern and has voiced grave reservations about the impending changes at recent school board meetings and to local parents.

Problem No. 1, Diffley said in an interview last week, is that parents don’t even really know it’s happening.

“Oh, it’s not on the radar, and that’s what’s scary,” he said. “I have mentioned this to parents, and they look at me and say, ‘What is common core?’”

Bureaucrats have billed common core standards as a way to align what students learn nationally, so everyone is on the same page, so to speak. Both Diffley and I agree, however, it’s more about the federal government controlling schools and what students are taught.

Once common core is instituted, “school boards and local superintendents will be largely meaningless, and what we have to say about curriculum, and what we have to say about the particular needs of particular students, will be meaningless,” Diffley said, adding that’s a big problem.

“Students in Murrieta are not the same as students in Compton, students in the Silicon Valley, or students in Mississippi or Louisiana,” he said.

The common core academic changes proposed also hurt the learning experience, Diffley said, referring to their emphasis on nonfiction for English classes at the expense of literature and creative writing.

“We are going to lose a lot of fiction, where the core of rich vocabulary is learned,” he said.

What’s more, common core math standards eliminate Algebra I in the eighth grade. Instead, it will be taught in ninth grade. Another change pushes division from fifth to sixth grade.

“They have an overall lack of rigor,” Diffley said. “It’s the dumbing-down of education.”

People need to contact lawmakers and make a big deal about this, before it’s too late.

Contact Jennifer Kabbany at Jennifer.Kabbany@gmail.com

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Thanks to Jennifer Kabbany for permission to repost her article here.

Developing Algebraic Habits of Mind (Not Gonna Happen with Common Core)   Leave a comment

“Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted.”

Full text posted at Education News:  http://www.educationnews.org/k-12-schools/developing-the-habits-of-mind-for-algebraic-thinking/

Developing the Habits of Mind for Algebraic Thinking

by Barry Garelick

The idea of whether algebraic thinking can be taught outside of the context of algebra has attracted much attention over the past two decades. Interestingly, the idea has recently been raised as a question and a subject for further research in a recent article appearing in American Mathematical Society Notices which asks, “Is there evidence that teaching sense making without algebra is more or less effective than teaching the same concepts with algebra?” I sincerely hope this request is followed up on.

The term “habits of mind” comes up repeatedly in discussions about education — and math education in particular. The idea that teaching the “habits of mind” that make up algebraic thinking in advance of learning algebra has attracted its share of followers. Teaching algebraic habits of mind has been tried in various incarnations in classrooms across the U.S.

Habits of mind are important and necessary to instill in students. They make sense when the habits taught arise naturally out of the context of the material being learned. Thus, a habit such as “Say in your head what you are doing whenever you are doing math” will have different forms depending on what is being taught. In elementary math it might be “One third of six is two”; in algebra “Combining like terms 3x and 4x gives me 7x”; in geometry “Linear pairs add to 180, therefore 2x + (x +30) = 180”; in calculus “Composite function, chain rule, derivative of outside function times derivative of inside function”.

Similarly, in fourth or fifth grade students can learn to use the distributive property to multiply 57 x 3 as 3 x (50 + 7). In algebra, that is extended to a more formal expression: a(b + c) = ab + ac.

But what I see being promoted as “habits of mind” in math are all too often the teaching of particular thinking skills without the content to support it. For example, a friend of mine who lives in Spokane directed me to the website of the Spokane school district, where they posted a math problem at a meeting for teachers regarding best practices for teaching math.

The teachers were shown the following problem which was given to fifth graders. They were to discuss the problem and assess what different levels of “understanding” were demonstrated by student answers to the problem:

Not only have students in fifth grade not yet learned how to represent equations using algebra, the problem is more of an IQ test than an exercise in math ability. Where’s the math? The “habit of mind” is apparently to see a pattern and then to represent it mathematically.

Such problems are reliant on intuition — i.e., the student must be able to recognize a mathematical pattern — and ignore the deductive nature of mathematics. An unintended habit of mind from such inductive type reasoning is that students learn the habit of inductively jumping to conclusions. This develops a habit of mind in which once a person thinks they have the pattern, then there is nothing further to be done. Such thinking becomes a problem later when working on more complex problems.

Presentating problems like the button problem above prior to a pre-algebra or algebra course will likely result in clumsy attempts at solutions that may or may not lead to algebraic thinking. Since the students do not have the experience or mathematical maturity to express mathematical ideas algebraically, algebraic thinking is not inherent at such a stage.

Specifically, one student answered the problem as 1 x (11 x 3) + 1, which would be taken as evidence by some that the child is learning the “habit” of identifying patterns and expressing them algebraically. Another student answered it as 4 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 + 3 = 34.

Rather than establishing an algebraic habit of mind, such problems may result in bad habits. It is not unusual, for example, to see students in algebra classes making charts for problems similar to the one above, even though they may be working on identifying linear relationships, and making connections to algebraic equations. By making algebraic habits of mind part of the 5th-grade curriculum in advance of any algebra, students are being told “You are now doing algebra.” By the time they get to an actual algebra class, they revert back to their 5th grade understanding of what algebra is.

In addition, the above type of problem (no matter when it is given) is better presented so as to allow deductive rather than inductive reasoning to occur.

“Gita makes a sequence of patterns with her grandmother’s buttons. For each pattern she uses one black button and several white buttons as follows: For the first pattern she takes 1 black button and places 1 white button on three sides of the black button as shown. For the second pattern she places 2 white buttons on each of three sides of one black button; for the third 3 white buttons, and continues this pattern. Write an expression that tells how many buttons will be in the nth pattern.”

The purveyors of providing students problems that require algebraic solutions outside of algebra courses sometimes justify such techniques by stating that the methods follow the recommendations of Polya’s problem solving techniques. Polya, in his classic book “How to Solve It”, advises students to “work backwards” or “solve a similar and simpler problem”.

But Polya was not addressing students in lower grades; he was addressing students who are well on their way to developing problem solving expertise by virtue of having an extensive problem solving repertoire — something that students in lower grades lack. For lower grade students, Polya’s advice is not self-executing and has about the same effect as providing advice on safe bicycle riding by telling a child to “be careful”. For younger students to find simpler problems, they must receive explicit guidance from a teacher.

As an example, consider a student who stares blankly at a problem requiring them to calculate how many 2/15 mile intervals there are in a stretch of highway that is 7/10 of a mile long. The teacher can provide the student with a simpler problem such as “How many 2 mile intervals are there in a stretch of highway that is 10 miles long?” The student should readily see this is solved by division: 10 divided by 2. The teacher then asks the student to apply that to the original problem. The student will likely say in a hesitant voice: “Uhh, 7/10 divided by 2/15?”, and the student will be on his way. Note that in this example, the problem is set in the context of what the student has learned — not based on skills or concepts to be learned later.

Giving students problems to solve for which they have little or no prior knowledge or mastery of algebraic skills is not likely to develop the habit of mind of algebraic thinking. But the purveyors of this practice believe that continually exposing children to unfamiliar and confusing problems will result in a problem-solving “schema” and that students are being trained to adapt in this way. In my opinion, it is the wrong assumption. A more accurate assumption is that after the necessary math is learned, one is equipped with the prerequisites to solve problems that may be unfamiliar but which rely on what has been learned and mastered. I hope research in this area is indeed conducted. I hope it proves me right.

Barry Garelick has written extensively about math education in various publications including The Atlantic, Education Next, Educational Leadership, and Education News. He recently retired from the U.S. EPA and is teaching middle and high school math in California.

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Thanks to Barry Garelick for permission to post his article here.

Read “Betrayed” -Laurie Rogers on Common Core Math   Leave a comment

Here are highlights from a great article written to anyone who doesn’t understand what the problems are with common core math:  Full text: http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com/2013/01/common-core-leading-districts-to-adopt.html

In the article, Laurie Rogers, Washington educator, explains the term “student-centered” and shows why Common Core’s “student-centered” math is failing us.  She writes that:

“Many of America’s public schools have incorporated “student-centered learning” models into their math programs. An adoption committee in Spokane appears poised to recommend the adoption of yet another version of a “student-centered” program for Grades 3-8 mathematics.

It’s critically important that American citizens know what that term means.

… Student-centered learning has largely replaced direct instruction in the public-school classroom. It was pushed on the country beginning in the 1980s by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, the federal government, colleges of education, and various corporations and foundations. Despite its abject failure to produce well-educated students, student-centered learning is coming back around, again pushed by the NCTM, colleges of education, the federal government and various corporations and foundations.

Despite the lack of supporting research for the approach, trillions of taxpayer dollars were spent on implementing it across the nation. Despite its grim results, trillions more will be spent on it via the Common Core initiatives….

Student-centered learning is designed to “engage” students in discussion, debate, critical thinking, exploration and group work, all supposedly to gain “deeper conceptual understanding” and the ability to apply concepts to “real world” situations. New teachers receive instruction in student-centered learning in colleges of education, and their instruction in the approach (i.e. their indoctrination) continues non-stop at state and district levels.

The popularity of student-centered learning in the education community rests on: a) constant indoctrination, b) ego, c) money, and d) the ability to hide weak outcomes from the public.

Ask yourself this: How does one actually quantify “exploration,” “deeper conceptual understanding” and “application to real world situations”? How do we test for that? We can’t, really, which helps explain why math test scores can soar even as actual math skills deteriorate.

With student-centered learning, teachers are not to be a “sage on the stage” – they are to be a “guide on the side.” Students are to innovate and create, come up with their own methods, develop their own understanding, work in groups, talk problems out, teach each other, and depend on their classmates for help before asking the teacher. Student-centered learning is supposed to be a challenge for teachers, whereas direct instruction is considered to be too easy (basically handing information over to students on a silver platter).

Ask yourself this: How much learning can be done in a class with 28 students of different abilities and backgrounds, all talking; a teacher who guides but doesn’t teach; and classmates who must teach each other things they don’t understand? How do students get help with this approach at home? What happens to students who don’t have a textbook, don’t have proper guidance, and don’t have any help at home? Direct instruction does make learning easier; that’s a positive for it, not a negative. Learning can be efficient and easy. How is it better to purposefully make children struggle, fail and doubt themselves?

…In student-centered learning, student discussion and debate precedes (and often replaces) teacher instruction. “Deeper conceptual understanding” is supposed to precede the learning of skills. But placing application before the learning puts the “why” before the “how,” thus asking students to apply something they don’t know how to do. How does that make sense?

In student-centered learning, it’s thought to be bad practice to instruct, answer student questions, provide a template for the students, teach efficient processes, insist on proper structure or correct answers, or have students practice a skill to mastery. It’s OK for a class to take all day “exploring” because exploration supposedly promotes learning, whereas efficient instruction is supposedly counterproductive. Children are supposed to “muddle” along, get it wrong and depend on classmates for advice and guidance. Struggling is seen as critical to learning. Getting correct answers in an efficient manner is seen as unhelpful.

Ask yourself this: How can “efficient” instruction be counterproductive? Math is a tool, used to get a job done. Correct answers are critical, and efficiency is prized in the workforce. Quick, correct solutions reflect a depth of understanding that slow, incorrect solutions do not. Students do not enjoy struggling and getting things wrong. For children, struggle and failure are motivation killers.

The focus of a student-centered classroom is on supposed “real-world application.” (My experience with “real-world application” is that it’s typically a very adult world rather than a child world, and that now, it’s also a political world with a heavily partisan focus.)

Ask yourself this: How does it help children to be enmeshed in an adult world of worries, prevented from learning enough academics, and basted in a politically partisan outlook? (It doesn’t help them, but it suits adults who want a certain kind of voter when the students turn 18.)

All of this is at the expense of learning sufficient skills in mathematics…

Gaps in perception:

•Proponents of the “student-centered” approach see themselves as hard workers, suffering with opponents who are stuck in the 18th century. The “deeper conceptual understanding” that they believe they foster in students seems more important to them than building math skills that consistently lead to correct answers.
•Proponents of direct instruction see the students’ weakening self-image and poor skills, and we view the student-centered approach as limiting and even unkind. Math skills and correct answers are the point of math instruction, and we don’t believe students can have “deeper conceptual understanding” if they lack procedural skills.

Proponents of student-centered learning like to call their approach “best practices,” “research-based,” “evidence-based,” and so on, but no one has ever provided verifiable, replicable proof that student-centered learning works better than direct instruction as a method for teaching math. There is actually a wealth of solid evidence to indicate the contrary.

… the stated mission of Spokane’s adoption committee is to “deeply” align to the Common Core. (Not to choose a curriculum that will – oh, I don’t know – lead students to college or career readiness?) In supporting their stated mission, committee members asserted that the Common Core was vetted by “experts,” so they believe the initiatives will produce internationally competitive graduates. They provided no data, no proof, no solid research or studies for their belief. And they can’t because there aren’t any. The Common Core initiatives are an obscenely expensive, nation-wide pilot of unproved products.

Welcome to public education: Another day, another experiment on our children, except that this time, there is strong evidence that this experiment – a rehashing of the last experiment – will again fail. Try telling that to education and political leaders. No one seems to see the evidence. When you tell leaders about it or show it to them, no one seems to care. Meanwhile, many of those leaders get tutoring or outside help for their own children. (FYI: I have never seen a professional tutor use the “student-centered” method to teach math to any child.)

The Spokane adoption committee’s mission of “deep” alignment to the Common Core has caused them to choose to pilot – you guessed it – several sets of new (and unproved) materials that are distinctly more “student-centered” in their approach, heavy on words and discovery, and light on actual math.

Kicked to the bottom of their preferences were proved and rigorous programs favored by homeschooling parents and tutors, including Saxon Mathematics* and Singapore Math*. Saxon got my own daughter almost all of the way through Algebra II by the end of 8th grade, most of that without a calculator. When I asked my email list and various online contacts for their preferences, the majority picked Saxon over every other math program, and by a wide margin.

But a member of the Spokane adoption committee – a district employee – told me the Saxon representative called Saxon “parochial” and that the publisher initially refused to send Saxon to Spokane because it was unlikely to be adopted. (“Parochial” means provincial, narrow-minded, or “limited in range or scope.”) Do you believe the Saxon rep would call his product narrow-minded and limited in scope? Saxon is efficient, thorough, clear and concise. If there is a stronger K-8 math program out there, I don’t know of it. Naturally, the Spokane adoption committee does not want Saxon.

One of the programs the committee did choose to pilot is Connected Mathematics, a curriculum already being used in Spokane, one of the worst programs on the planet, excoriated for decades by mathematicians from border to border and from coast to coast. The district employee assured me the committee is hiding nothing from the public, but the committee didn’t mention to the public that it is again piloting Connected Mathematics. They don’t seem to see its failure. They love its focus on student-centered learning. The devastation it wreaks on math skills appears to matter naught to them…”

Full text here:  http://betrayed-whyeducationisfailing.blogspot.com

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Thanks to Laurie Rogers for her research and her blog.

* Note:  Both Saxon math and Singapore math are now being rewritten to “align” with Common Core.  Only the older texts may be really trustworthy. -Christel

Indiana to Vote Wednesday to Repeal Common Core or Not   Leave a comment

In Indiana this week, parents, teachers and legislators are hotly debating the bill that may repeal the Common Core from that state.  If the bill passes, Indiana would once again be free to decide for itself what its standards for education and testing will be, and the bill would remove the 15% cap that now limits standards-raising for any state or locality, under Common Core.

The bill would also free teachers to teach as much classic literature as they felt was appropriate, rather than mandating that informational texts would be the majority of English readings.  The move would free teachers from the Common Core’s “constructivist,” student-guessing methods so that teachers and parents could decide whether direct instruction and traditional algorithmic teaching would be preferable for authentic college preparation.

Full article and video here: http://www.theindychannel.com/news/local-news/parents-teachers-rally-against-common-core-standards-in-indiana-schools

Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer on Common Core Standards   8 comments

Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer

speaks out about the weak math in Common Core Standards.

Math Teacher Stephanie Sawyer was quoted on Diane Ravitch’s website saying the following about Common Core:

“…They pay lip service to actually practicing standard algorithms.

Seriously, students don’t have to be fluent in addition and subtraction with the standard algorithms until 4th grade?

I teach high school math. I took a break to work in the private sector from 2002 to 2009. Since my return, I have been stunned by my students’ lack of basic skills. How can I teach algebra 2 students about rational expressions when they can’t even deal with fractions with numbers?

Please don’t tell me this is a result of the rote learning that goes on in grade- and middle-school math classes, because I’m pretty sure that’s not what is happening at all. If that were true, I would have a room full of students who could divide fractions. But for some reason, most of them can’t, and don’t even know where to start.

I find it fascinating that students who have been looking at fractions from 3rd grade through 8th grade still can’t actually do anything with them. Yet I can ask adults over 35 how to add fractions and most can tell me. And do it. And I’m fairly certain they get the concept. There is something to be said for “traditional” methods and curriculum when looked at from this perspective.

Grade schools have been using Everyday Math and other incarnations for a good 5 to 10 years now, even more in some parts of the country. These are kids who have been taught the concept way before the algorithm, which is basically what the Common Core seems to promote. I have a 4th grade son who attends a school using Everyday Math. Luckily, he’s sharp enough to overcome the deficits inherent in the program. When asked to convert 568 inches to feet, he told me he needed to divide by 12, since he had to split the 568 into groups of 12. Yippee. He gets the concept. So I said to him, well, do it already! He explained that he couldn’t, since he only knew up to 12 times 12. But he did, after 7 agonizing minutes of developing his own iterated-subtraction-while-tallying system, tell me that 568 inches was 47 feet, 4 inches. Well, he got it right. But to be honest, I was mad; he could’ve done in a minute what ended up taking 7. And he already got the concept, since he knew he had to divide; he just needed to know how to actually do it. From my reading of the common core, that’s a great story. I can’t say I feel the same.

If Everyday Math and similar programs are what is in store for implementing the common core standards for math, then I think we will continue to see an increase in remedial math instruction in high schools and colleges. Or at least an increase in the clientele of the private tutoring centers, which do teach basic math skills.”

A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards – The Atlantic   Leave a comment

A New Kind of Problem: The Common Core Math Standards – The Atlantic.

This article by B. Garelick addresses the fact that Common Core creates little mathematicians who cannot do math.

What Experts Realize About Common Core Standards: 2012   1 comment

  Is it smart to ignore the mathematical advice of a mathematician so highly regarded that he’s on the NASA advisory council?  Dr. James Milgram, Professor of Math at Stanford University, emeritus, had such serious reservations about the fuzzy math of Common Core (Obama’s educational movement) that Milgram refused to sign off on the standards’ adequacy– as an official member of the Common Core Validation Committee.*

  Dr. Milgram’s NASA Advisory Council bio:  http://www.nasa.gov/offices/nac/members/milgram-bio.html

Dr. Milgram’s specific concerns about Common Core math are recorded in the white paper put out by Pioneer Institute:   http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf

Meanwhile…

Dr. Sandra Stotsky, another Validation Committee** member, felt the same way about the Common Core English standards.

   Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Endowed Chair in Teacher Quality at the University of Arkansas

Dr. Sandra Stotsky and Dr. James Milgram not only refused to sign off on the standards, but have gone on to testify with a warning voice to state legislatures and school boards about the inadequacy of the standards.

Dr. Stotsky’s concerns about Common Core can be read here:  http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Heritage_April_17_2012.pdf  and here http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sandra-stotsky-offers-utah-the-best-ela-standards-in-the-nation/ and here http://www.uark.edu/ua/der/People/Stotsky/Comment_for_South_Carolina_April_18_2012.pdf and here http://www.uaedreform.org/People/stotsky.php

Meanwhile…

Sutherland Institute, a Utah-based think tank, gave two thumbs down to Common Core, based on three principles:

1. Utah standards should be broad in substance and application in order to preserve a personalized learning environment for each individual student.

2. Utah standards should be the best possible.

3. Utah standards should be independent, with the ability to be changed at will.

To read the executive summary: http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/uploaded_files/sdmc/Common%20Core%20Executive%20Summary%20FINAL%207-9.pdf

To read the full report:  http://www.sutherlandinstitute.org/uploaded_files/sdmc/Common%20Core%20FINAL%207-9.pdf

And meanwhile…

                                            

And  Pioneer Institute,  a Boston-based think tank, partnered with American Principles Project to research the topic and they both gave two thumbs down to Common Core, based on five similar principles:

1. The Common Core Standards Are of Mediocre Quality and Rest on Questionable Philosophies

2. The Common Core Standards/Race to the Top Effort Violates Three Federal Statutes and Eliminates State Autonomy

3. The Common Core Standards Scheme Requires a Governance System that Will Further Impair State and Parental Rights

4. States and Their Taxpayers Will Incur Substantial Costs to implement Common Core

5. The Common Core Standards System Intrudes on Student and Family Privacy

                          Full text of formal white paper:  http://pioneerinstitute.org/pdf/120510_ControllingEducation.pdf

                                 Pioneer’s blog:   http://www.pioneerinstitute.org/blog/news/handwaving-away-opposition-to-the-national-standards/

And meanwhile…

    Pennsylvania’s bipartisan Commonwealth Education Organization has truckloads of links to articles on Common Core, that display why so many nationally respected education experts are sounding an alarm about Common Core:   http://www.ceopa.org/education-standards.aspx .

Happy Reading:

Common Core Standards

Dr. Bill Evers of the Hoover Institution discusses how the education is turning into a federal power grab that has profound effects for America’s children. While most advanced countries expect their children to learn algebra in the 8th grade, the federal government is setting a 9th grade standard. Is the new math worse than the old math? Is the Obama Administration deliberating setting lower standards for your children? Find out as Alexis Garcia brings you the latest from the front lines of US education policy.  >>link to video>>

*Summer 2012             THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS             “I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government.” >>read more>>
*August 7, 2012             SOLVING THE TEXTBOOK-COMMON CORE CONUNDRUM             “Educational publishers have the resources to create comprehensive and effective materials that could significantly support teachers’ efforts to realize the promise of the new standards. Empowering well-informed adoption teams to make intelligent selections of effective instructional materials and then having teachers use them in the classroom are key steps in making the necessary changes to implement the new standards with fidelity.” >>read more>>
*August 6, 2012             UTAH DROPS OUT OF CONSORTIUM DEVELOPING COMMON CORE TESTS             “The state school board decided to withdraw Friday from a consortium of states working to develop tests based on new Common Core academic standards, after months of pressure from some conservatives.” >>read more>>
*Aug. 3, 2012             INDIANA SUPERINTENDENT: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION NATIONALIZED COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “At a Tea Party gathering last month, Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett expressed his concern with the growing federal overreach of Common Core education standards. ‘This administration has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach,’ he said. ‘The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.’ ” >>read more>>
July 24, 2012             DON’T BUY THE SNAKE OIL OF COMMON CORE             “…the nation’s teachers will find it difficult to implement these standards. And that the training they received in the nation’s education schools is one of the major sources of their difficulty…The very effort to develop the national standards that have been sprung upon this country is a response (however poorly thought out and executed) to the dismal results of the ideas about curriculum and instruction prospective teachers and administrators have been taught by our education schools for over half a century.” >>read more>>
July 20, 2012             MILGRAM ON COMMON CORE vs. INDIANA MATH STANDARDS             Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University answers some questions about the Common Core Standards. >>read more>>             Related article:             July 17, 2012             JIM MILGRAM ON THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS >>read more>>
July 19, 2012             COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS IS HEAVY ON THE ‘COMMON’             “The Common Core seems to create a façade of academic rigor to hide the perpetuation – or even proliferation – of mediocrity. The new standards supposedly will produce students who are ‘ready for first-year credit-bearing, post-secondary coursework in mathematics and English without the need for remediation.’ This suggests that all post-secondary coursework is created equal.” >>read more>>
July 17, 2012             STANDARDIZED TESTS OF TOMORROW BEHIND SCHEDULE, ACCORDING TO INSIDER SURVEY “(A) new survey, … suggests that ‘education insiders’ aren’t so sure that the one of the new tests will resolve all of the issues with standardized testing. Fifty-eight percent of those surveyed reported that they believe the Smarter, Balanced Assessment Coalition one of the two state-based consortia developing the tests, is on the wrong track.” >>read more>>
June 16, 2012             ROMNEY CAN SCORE BY HITTING OBAMA ON ACADEMIC STANDARDS “Where will the states get the money to pay for CCS? No one knows, except that it won’t come from the feds. States that are laying off thousands of teachers and cutting school days are expected to mortgage themselves to subsidize the publishing and testing industries. And for what? The Brookings Institute says the net benefit of the new standards for American students will be zero. Academic standards, by themselves, don’t do much.” >>read more>>
May 23, 2012             DESIGNING COMMON CORE TESTS FOR ALL PROVING A CHALLENGE             “Although more students with disabilities than ever are included in state testing programs, the task of giving these students high-quality assessments in the future that measure how adept they are at mastering the Common Core State Standards seems to have an endless number of hurdles to overcome before students face these new assessments in the 2014-15 school year.” >>read more>>
May 16, 2012             INCOMING COLLEGE BOARD PRESIDENT WANTS S.A.T. TO REFLECT COMMON CORE             “With $360 million in federal Race to the Top funds, all but five states are collaborating, in two groups, to design tests for those standards. Public institutions of higher education have pledged support to the idea of using a “college-readiness” cutoff score on those tests to allow students to skip remedial work and enroll in entry-level, credit-bearing courses. Leaders of that effort have been careful to emphasize that the common assessments will be used for course placement, not college admissions.” >>read more>>             Related article:             May 21, 2012             THE WRONG LESSON ON NATIONAL STANDARDS “The next time you would like to opine about why you and others should set national standards, curricula, and testing for America’s 50 million schoolchildren, I would ask you to reflect on your and your peers’ lack of even the most basic understanding of our Founding principles.” >>read more>>
May 10, 2012             NATIONAL CURRICULUM PLAN MAY FACE CHALLENGE “An influential group of conservative state lawmakers is on the verge of proposing model legislation to block the Common core national education standards that have been heavily promoted by the Obama administration.” >>read more>>
May 9, 2012             IS THE COMMON CORE JUST A DISTRACTION?             “One interpretation of the emphasis on developing the Common Core curriculum is that these debates provide a convenient distraction from potentially more intractable fights over bigger reform ideas like teacher evaluations, expanded school choice, or improved accountability systems.” >>read more>>
May 6, 2012             COMMON CORE RESEARCH IS ‘JUST ANOTHER PIECE OF MISLEADING ADVOCACY’             “What Dr. Schmidt presented is just another piece of misleading advocacy research, brought to you and paid for by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and channeled through the friendly services of Achieve (which received a recent $375K grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), the Foundation for Excellence in Education (which received a recent $1M grant for advocacy from the Gates Foundation), CCSSO (which received $9.5M last year from the Gates Foundation to promote the Common Core), and Chiefs for Change (funded by the Foundation for Excellence in Education).” >>read more>>
May 3, 2012             COLORADO BOARD OF ED REJECTS ADOPTION OF MULTI-STATE TESTING             “Colorado Board of Education isn’t the only body expressing concern of federal intrusion into education decisions traditionally made by states and local communities, and that sees national test-drafting and curriculum-drafting groups being “clearly all about” the eventual adoption of a national curriculum.” >>read more>>
May 2, 2012             CONTROVERSY OVER COMMON CORE SHOWS NO SIGNS OF SUBSIDING             “As the adoption of Common Core Curriculum is drawing closer, the critics on both sides of the political divide are attacking the efforts. Although the national standards that became the CC were envisioned as voluntary, after the Obama Administration made their adoption a prerequisite to the further granting of the No Child Left Behind waivers, conservative lawmakers, who saw the CC as federal overreach, started protesting.” >>read more>>
May 1, 2012             SELF-DEALING AMONG EDUCATION OFFICIALS             “I fully agree with Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institution who has been saying that in most instances higher standards don’t correlate with higher student achievement, but those states (like Massachusetts) that have used standards to drive the iron triangle of curricula, accountability and teacher quality, win big on student achievement.” >>read more>>
April 30, 2012             COMMON CORE STANDARDS DRIVE WEDGE IN EDUCATION CIRCLES             “A high-profile effort by a pair of national education groups to strengthen, simplify and focus the building blocks of elementary and secondary education is finally making its way into schools. But two years ahead of its planned implementation, critics on both the right and left are seizing upon it. A few educators say the new standards, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, are untested, and one Republican governor wants to block the measure, saying it’s a federal intrusion into local decisions.” >>read more>>
April 29, 2012             BATTLE LINES DRAWN IN COMMON CORE STANDARDS: WHOLE LANGUAGE VS. PHONICS             “(A) big argument has erupted over the Common Core Standards between those who know it is crucial for students to achieve mastery in sounding out words to the automaticity level vs. those whole language proponents who rely upon their prereading strategies (i.e., metacognitive strategies) that actually eliminate the need for students to be able to read the text.” >>read more>>
April 26, 2012             SARAH PALIN WAS A PROPHET ABOUT OBAMA’S EDUCATION TAKEOVER             “Sarah Palin was the first to recognize the problem: By participating in President Obama’s signature education initiative, the Common Core Standards, Alaska would lose control over its own curriculum.” >>read more>>
April 25, 2012             CONCERN ABOUNDS OVER TEACHERS’ PREPAREDNESS FOR STANDARDS, AS MANY TEACHERS NOT READY FOR THE COMMON CORE             “many teachers won’t be inclined to actually change what they are doing until they become familiar with the assessments aligned to the new standards.” >>read more>>
April 24, 2012             MATH TEACHING OFTEN DOESN’T FIT WITH NEW STANDARDS             “Many mathematics teachers are teaching topics at higher or lower grade levels—and for more years—than the Common Core State Standards recommend, according to preliminary results from new research. That finding suggests that when the new standards are fully implemented, many math teachers could face significant shifts in what they will teach.” >>read more>>
April 23, 2012             WHY STATES SHOULD HOP OFF THE NATIONAL STANDARDS BANDWAGON             “States across the nation are doing just that: reforming education by putting control back into the hands of parents and local leaders and empowering them with school choice. Common Core education standards would undermine these efforts by giving greater control to Washington. States that have adopted Common Core standards should reverse course and push back on federal control of standards and curriculum, ensuring that the needs of students—not Washington—come first.” >>read more>>
April 23, 2012             COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS FAIL TO ADD UP             “The push to nationalize the content taught in public schools across the country should be of great concern to state leaders. The Common Core national standards effort represents a massive federal overreach into what is taught in local schools, further removing parents from the educational decision-making process, and likely to cost state taxpayers $16 billion over seven years just to implement.” >>read more>>
April 19, 2012             ANTI-COMMON CORE FLIER HITS DELEGATE MAILBOXES             Stakeholders in Utah fight the Common Core standards participation by their state. >>read more>>
April 18, 2012             DOES THE COMMON CORE MATTER?             “On the basis of past experience with standards, the most reasonable prediction is that the common core will have little to no effect on student achievement.” >>read more>>
April 16, 2012             ROBOT ESSAY GRADING “A direct comparison between human graders and software designed to score student essays achieved virtually identical levels of accuracy, with the software in some cases proving to be more reliable, a groundbreaking study has found.” >>read more>>
Related article:             April 30, 2012             ROBOT GRADERS BEHAVING BADLY “In Concord, MA, there was a print shop that had a sign: “Good, Fast, Cheap: CHOOSE TWO, the point being you could not have all three. It seems clear to me that the Deeper Learning Project of the Hewlett Foundation is looking for writing assessment that is fast and cheap. It is hard to beat 16,000 “scores” in 20 seconds.” The interview goes on to discuss just how “good” it can be. >>read more>>
April 16, 2012             STATES MUST REJECT NATIONAL EDUCATION STANDARDS WHILE THERE IS STILL TIME             “States and local school districts can have success improving their standards and assessments without surrendering control to Washington. Increasing transparency of outcomes in a way that is meaningful to parents and taxpayers, providing flexibility for local school leaders, and advancing systemic reforms that include school choice options for families will go a long way in improving academic outcomes while at the same time preserving local control of education.” >>read more>>
April 12, 2012             OBAMA’S 2013 EDUCATION BUDGET: COSTLY FEDERAL CONTROL EXPANSION             “At a time when American taxpayers are calling for fiscal restraint in Washington, including restraint at the Department of Education, the budget and blueprint create a path to continued federal profligacy. These are proposals that exacerbate the existing bureaucratic maze of federal programs and further remove educational decision-making authority from state and local policymakers.” >>read more>>
March 30, 2012             AN INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE GASS: THOSE PESKY LITTLE THINGS CALLED LAWS “It’s a very troubling development in our democracy, but especially in K-12 education, which is supposed to teach our schoolchildren about the basic tenants of the rule of law. When unelected DC education trade groups and private foundations are willing to work with federal officials to either violate or circumvent federal laws, something has gone seriously wrong. These laws that proscribe the limits of national standards, testing, and curricula are not just a list of recommendations, but clear and longstanding prohibitions.” >>read more>>
March 25, 2012             THE HEADLESS HORSEMAN (TEACHER-PROOF RIDES AGAIN)             “The process of implementing the Common Core Standards is under way in districts across the country as almost every state has now signed onto the Common Core, (some of them agreeing to do in hopes of winning Race to the Top money from Washington D.C.). The initiative is intended to ensure that students in all parts of the country are learning from the same supposedly high standards. As we looked through the exemplar, examined a lesson previously created by some of our colleagues, and then began working on our own Core-related lessons, I was struck by how out of sync the Common Core is with what I consider to be good teaching. I have not yet gotten to the “core” of the Core, but I have scratched the surface, and I am not encouraged.” >>read more>>
March 2012             AN UNCOMMON APPROACH TO COSTLY COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS “Almost every state in the nation has rushed to join the Common Core curriculum movement with hardly a thought of the cost, financial or otherwise. In most cases, however, the ‘states’ have barely been involved. Simply put, massive educational bureaucracies have signed on to the Common Core and have expected, and generally received, no interference from the three branches of government….The Common Core provides a perfect example of how quickly a state can lose control of its K-12 educational system. Obviously, curriculum is central to education.” >>read more>>
Summer 2012             THE COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS: ARE THEY A STEP FORWARD OR BACKWARD?             “… Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members.” >>read more>>
March 1, 2012             THINK COMMON CORE STATE STANDARDS ARE STATE LED? GET THE FACTS             A history of how Common Core Standards have been in the works for years and where it all began. >>read more>>
February 2012 NATIONAL COST OF ALIGNING STATES AND LOCALITIES TO THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “Implementation of the Common Core standards is likely to represent substantial additional expense for most states. While a handful of states have begun to analyze these costs, most states have signed on to the initiative without a thorough, public vetting of the costs and benefits.” >>read more>>
February 27, 2012             MEET THE CHILDREN WHERE THEY ARE…AND KEEP THEM THERE             “Say what you will about CCSS, but there are three big ideas embedded within the English Language Arts standards that deserve to be at the very heart of literacy instruction in U.S. classrooms, with or with or without standards themselves. ” >>read more>>
February 24, 2012             THE CORE CONUNDRUM             “Whether you think that is a worthy goal is beside the point. Over the last fifty years Congress has repeatedly told the executive branch of the U.S. government “keep out” of the school curriculum.” >>read more>>
February 24, 2012             ‘SAY I THREATENED YOU AGAIN, AND YOU’LL REALLY BE SORRY!’             “Why is Duncan lashing out? Quite possibly, he’s reacting to a recent spate of research and commentary attacking the Common Core based on its highly dubious legality, quality, and odds of success.” >>read more>>
February 23, 2012             WHY COMMON CORE STANDARDS WILL FAIL             “The idea that common standards might create efficiencies and motivations that raise achievement is disproved by what has happened in the many states that created their own standards. Those states still have some schools scoring very well and others scoring miserably. That variation has not declined, defying happy talk from Common Core advocates.” >>read more>>
February 16, 2012             TEAM OBAMA HIJACKS SCHOOLS’ CORE STANDARDS             “Last week, two of the top former lawyers for the federal Department of Education released a peer-reviewed report showing the administration violating or evading three separate federal laws by pressuring states to adopt a national core curriculum. Those laws exist for good reason: Control of educational content by the national government risks creating a national system of indoctrination, without local recourse to diversity of thought.” >>read more>>
January 2012             COMMON CORE STANDARDS AREN’T CHEAP             “Numerous states currently struggling in the midst of steep education budget cuts may have more fiscal problems than they realize. Though 45 states rushed to adopt Common Core standards in the past two years, many have not taken the time to evaluate what the adoption of these standards will cost them. States that jumped on the Common Core bandwagon in hopes of securing Obama administration grant money may find themselves increasingly strapped for cash in the next few years as implementation costs begin to accumulate.” >>read more>>
January 2012             KENTUCKY TEACHERS SHOW LITTLE PROGRESS UNDER COMMON CORE             “A new report by the National Council on Teacher Quality has claimed that the state of Kentucky has failed to show considerable improvements in the two years since it implemented Common Core standards.” >>read more>>
December 19, 2011             NATIONALIZATION TRAIN STARTS GOING OFF THE TRACK             “As the train moves further along and the full implications of nationalizing key aspects of the education system become more obvious to everyone, more and more people will jump that train. Without significant coercion it will be very hard to keep everyone on board until they reach the station where standards, assessments, and curriculum are all centrally imposed.” >>read more>>
December 4, 2011             CHOKING ON THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS             “In reality, then, these standards were written by highly educated adults who do not teach children at present and, possibly, never did. Unconnected to the scientific research on children’s intellectual and emotional development and the everyday realities of children’s needs, interests and behavior, these writers relied only the folklore of academia, fantasizing not only what children should be expected to know and do, but also what adults need to function in actual colleges and workplaces.” >>read more>>
November 28, 2011             IMPLEMENTING COMMON CORE COULD COST STATES $30 BILLION “Many states have not evaluated the cost of implementing the Core, notes a 2011 McGraw-Hill education brief, but will be working through implementation in the next three years, so by 2014 most changes will be in place….Beyond the taxpayer-paid costs of implementing the Common Core, states are weighing the perhaps even greater cost of ceding education authority to federal control.” >>read more>>
November 2, 2011             OBAMA ED AIMS AT U.S. TAKEOVER             “Home School Legal Defense A’s federal relations staff have read this 868-page bill, and we believe that while it does not directly impact homeschool freedom, the bill will 1) increase the federal role in education at the expense of state, local and parental control, and 2) will greatly increase the pressure on states to align their curriculum and standards, resulting in de facto national education standards…While some specifics that could be included in a final bill remain unclear, ‘the trend of national standards could lead to homeschoolers losing the freedom to choose the curriculum for their children.’…national standards would remove control from local boards and districts and allow ‘unelected bureaucrats, not parents’ to decide what subjects should be taught.” >>read more>>
October 20, 2011             THE MARXIST REDISTRIBUTION OF TEACHERS AND FORCED CCSS “Good news for schools on getting rid of AYP but if you’re successful, it’s time to chop that school up and send some of those teachers to failing schools to make sure they get quality teachers too. Oh, and don’t miss the great news that the Feds aren’t mandating national standards, they’ll just force you to be on “college- and career-ready” standards. Gee, I wonder where we can find national standards that will fit that bill? Oh yeah, the CCSS are available for use.” >>read more>>
October 11, 2011             NATIONAL FEDERATION OF REPUBLICAN WOMEN RESOLUTION             NFRW passed this resolution unanimously to ‘Defeat National Standards for State Schools’ >>read more>>
September 26, 2011             WITH WAIVERS, NATIONAL STANDARDS ANYTHING BUT VOLUNTARY             “Now, the conditions-based NCLB waivers, with their requirement for national standards, get to the heart of the matter: The Common Core State Standards Initiative has been pushed as far as it has gotten in large part by federal dollars and pressure. This push for national standards and tests has become a federal enterprise—and a dangerous direction for our nation’s education system.” >>read more>>
September 21, 2011             JAY GREENE’S TESTIMONY ON NATIONAL STANDARDS BEFORE US HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE “The progress we were making in education, however, stalled when we started significantly centralizing education and reducing the extent of choice and competition among districts. The policies, practices, and funding of schools has increasingly shifted to the state and national governments and greater uniformity has been imposed by unionization. The enemy of high standards and improving outcomes is centralization.” >>read more>>
September 14, 2011             SENATOR RUBIO TO SECRETARY DUNCAN: CAJOLING STATES TO ADOPT OBAMA EDUCATION REFORMS UNCONSTITUTIONAL             Rubio: “This initiative is an overstep of authority that undermines existing law, and violates the constitutional separation of powers.” >>read more>>
September 4, 2011             NATIONAL STANDARDS WON’T HELP, WON’T WORK             “They are executing plans for instruction in all grades and, eventually, common assessments in math and English language arts. It sounds great. But it won’t help and won’t work. Such specific standards stifle creativity and conflict with a two-century American preference for local decision-making about schools….We should focus on better teaching methods and better training of teachers, as well as school structures that help educators work more as teams.” >>read more>>
August 22, 2011             THE STEALTH STRATEGY OF NATIONAL STANDARDS “It was also interesting that once I pressed people to say why they supported nationalization out loud, the flaws and limitations of their arguments became apparent — even to themselves. Having to articulate your reasons can serve as a useful check on whether people have really thought something through.” >>read more>>
August 10, 2011             FEDERAL EDUCATION AGENDA DUMBED DOWN             “There seem to be few limits on how far the administration will go to foist its ill-conceived national standards upon states. That apparently includes slamming the door on the only escape hatch available to countless underprivileged students. What began with great promise has devolved into disaster.” >>read more>>
August 10, 2011             SCHOOLS MISLEAD BY DUMBING DOWN THE MEANING OF ‘PROFICIENT’             By offering waivers and removing the “failing” school label, the Education Department hopes to give states more flexibility and encourage them to raise standards by removing the risk they’ll be stigmatized by low test scores. But raising the bar isn’t the cure-all for states and school districts: Their students should be expected to reach it.” >>read more>>
August 4, 2011             EDUCATION TO RAISE TECHNOLOGY CONSUMERS INSTEAD OF TECHNOLOGY CREATORS             “This framework does not expect our students to be able to do any science, or to be able to solve any science problem. This framework simply teaches our students science appreciation, rather than science. It expects our students to become good consumers of science and technology, rather than prepare them to be the discoverers of science and creators of technology.” >>read more>>
June 24, 2011             CONFUSION OVER NATIONAL STANDARDS “If, as Bush and Klein argue, most states have woefully inadequate standards, isn’t it likely that the central bureaucracy you’re creating will gravitate to mediocrity rather than excellence? And isn’t that just what Common Core represents, given that its standards for what count as “college ready” are actually set below what you need to even apply to, much less succeed at, most colleges?” >>read more>>
June 2011             COMMON CORE SPARKS WAR “Despite all the financial inducements to cede state educational control to federal bureaucrats, counter-manifesto signatory Shelby Steele of Stanford University’s Hoover Institution urged Americans to consider the long-term consequences. ‘Decentralization has been the engine of educational innovation. We shouldn’t trade our federalist birthright for a national-curriculum mess of pottage,’ he said.” >>read more>>
June 2011             “COUNTER-MANIFESTO” CHALLENGES COMMON CORE STANDARDS “A coalition of more than 150 education reformers, state and federal policymakers past and present, teachers, and opinion leaders has released a manifesto opposing a state and federal government effort to establish a national curriculum and testing system.” >>read more>>
May 23, 2011             THE CORE BETWEEN THE STATES “ ‘Common Core’ is the name attached to 12 standards for mathematics and English Language Arts/Reading that 40-plus states have now adopted. These standards are to guide the development of common assessments and curricula for these states. A good many colleges and universities also use the name “common core” for the mandatory part of their curricula, but the capitalized Common Core is very much its own thing.” >>read more>>
May 9, 2011AGAINST A NATIONAL CURRICULUM “A national curriculum backed by national tests will stifle innovation, freeze the status quo into place, end state and local control of schooling and “impose a one-size-fits-all model on America’s students,” argues Closing the Door on Innovation, signed by 100 education and public policy leaders.” >>read more>>CLOSING THE DOOR ON INNOVATION: WHY ONE NATIONAL CURRICULUM IS BAD FOR AMERICA “A Critical Response to the Shanker Institute Manifesto and             the U.S. Department of Education’s Initiative             to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments             Based on National Standards” >>read more>>
April 6, 2011             STANDARDS OVERREACH, OR ACCORDING TO PLAN? “(J)ust by defining the goal you are driving curricula, stating what must be taught. Indeed, there would be no point to the standards if the intention weren’t in some way to affect curricula — what is actually taught in the schools.” >>read more>>
April 5, 2011 SCHOOL DISTRICT PETITIONS LEGISLATURE TO OPT OUT OF COMMON EDUCATION STANDARDS”A Massachusetts school committee has petitioned their legislature to opt out of Federal education standards which most states have adopted in attempt to get federal funding during lean budget times.” >>read more>>
September 27, 2010SCHOOL REFORM’S NEXT FRONTIERE. D. Hirsch says: Translate new standards into good curriculum that puts reading first >>read more>>
September 17, 2010             COMMON CORE STANDARDS FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS: A BAD IDEA “Children will never be adequately educated under a system run by bureaucrats handing out money and the teachers unions (the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers) spending the money in the classroom. The NEA and the AFT also have extraordinary millions of dollars extracted from their members to lobby for policies they want to have enacted by Congress, state legislatures and school boards and also to elect their favored political candidates.” >>read more<<
September 15, 2010             ARE WE READY FOR TESTING UNDER CCSS? “There’s a bumpy road ahead on the way to a successful Common Core State Standards (CCSS) movement. Already states and districts are examining the match between current standards, what they currently teach at various grade levels, and the CCSS. Of particular significance is that online tests will become the norm in the years ahead for many states.” >>read more<<
September 9, 2010             MARK YOUR CALENDARS “September 9 was the date that Checker Finn and the Fordham Institute began to turn against the national standards movement they so enthusiastically championed.” >>read more<<
September 9, 2010             SHAKY NEW STANDARDS FOR COLLEGE READINESS “It is not too early to ask what will happen when high school sophomores or juniors pass these high stakes tests and are declared to be “college-ready.” Will two or four year public colleges be required to place them in credit-bearing freshman courses if these students want to avoid meeting high school graduation requirements? Probably. It is also likely that college instructors will find themselves compelled, for the sake of survival, to adopt texts at the middle and high school level of difficulty in order to ensure that these “college-ready” students can read what is assigned, do the mathematics in them, and pass their college freshman courses.” >>read more<<
September 2010             THE DEBATE OVER COMMON CORE STANDARDS FOR K-12 IS HEATING UP “Although the idea of common standards at the state level has long been talked about by educators and policymakers, the movement received its most significant support last year. That was when the Common Core States Standards Initiative was announced, promoting the same set of standards for use in English-language arts and mathematics for grades K-12. The initiative won the backing of the National Governors Association as well as the Council of Chief State School Officers. Governors and chief state school officers from 48 states promised state-led efforts to develop core standards that will be based on research.” >>read more<<
August 25, 2010             THE NATIONAL STANDARDS COME WITH NO GUARANTEE “These standards and the upcoming assessments are a huge and long-shot gamble. That may be okay for a state and localities to do, when they are picking up 90 percent of the tab for K-12 education. It’s another thing when the feds pay a mere 10 percent of the cost of educating our kids and then insist that we be their guinea pig.” >>read more<<
August 12, 2010             WHAT CAN PARENTS EXPECT TO SEE IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS CLASSROOMS AFTER COMMON CORE’S STANDARDS BEGIN TO BE IMPLEMENTED? “A Worst Case Scenario—But Probably Not Far from Reality Common Core’s ELA standards assume that if English teachers are compelled to assign a lot of informational texts, students will learn how to read them. They won’t if these teachers don’t teach close, analytical reading.” >>read more<<
August 10, 2010             THE QUIET REVOLUTION DESERVES LOUD OPPOSITION “This “quiet revolution” isn’t about better educational options for American children. It’s about control, pure and simple.” >>read more<<
August 5, 2010             THE ASCENT OF AMERICA’S CHOICE & THE CONTINUING DESCENT OF AMERICA’S HIGH SCHOOLS “With an additional $30,000,000 to come to Marc Tucker’s NCEE from the USED’s “competition” for assessment consortia grants, his hare-brained scheme for enticing high school sophomores or juniors deemed “college-ready” by the results of the Cambridge University-adapted “Board” exams that he plans to pilot in 10 states (including Massachusetts now) comes closer to reality.” >>read more<<
August 4, 2010             ACQUISITION NEWS IN THE WORLD OF STANDARDS, TESTS “Some players in the common-standards-and-assessments arena have announced a business deal.” >>read more<<
July 30, 2010-08-06             PROFESSOR JAMES MILGRAM’S REVIEW OF COMMON CORE MATH STANDARDS             Professor Milgram’s Full Review with Detailed Grade Level Comments >>read more<<
July 29, 2010             STOTSKY ON THE COMMON CORE VOTE IN MASSACHUSETTS “There needs to be more public attention to the quality of Common Core’s ELA (and mathematics) standards. There also needs to be public attention to the methodology of the reports of several national organizations all claiming to show that Common Core’s ELA standards are among the best in this country, all being used to sway the vote of our state boards of education.” >>read more<<
July 29, 2010 ‘HARD TRUTH’ ON EDUCATION NEW, HIGHER STANDARDS FOR PROFICIENCY ALTER VIEW OF YEARS OF PERCEIVED GAINS “Erasing years of academic progress, state education officials on Wednesday acknowledged that hundreds of thousands of children had been misled into believing they were proficient in English and math, when in fact they were not.” >>read more<<
June 2, 2010             NATIONAL GOVERNORS ASSOCIATION & STATE EDUCATION CHIEFS LAUNCH COMMON STATE ACADEMIC STANDARDS “Today, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) released a set of state-led education standards, the Common Core State Standards, at Peachtree Ridge High School in Suwanee, GA. The English-language arts and mathematics standards for grades K-12 were developed in collaboration with a variety of stakeholders including content experts, states, teachers, school administrators and parents. The standards establish clear and consistent goals for learning that will prepare America’s children for success in college and work.” >>read more>>Math standards English Language standards Opposing view:             *May 21, 2010             WHY NATIONAL STANDARDS WON’T FIX AMERICAN EDUCATION: MISALIGNMENT OF POWER AND INCENTIVES “Abstract: American education needs to be fixed, but national standards and testing are not the way to do it. The problems that need fixing are too deeply ingrained in the power and incentive structure of the public education system, and the renewed focus on national standards threatens to distract from the fundamental issues. Besides, federal control over education has been growing since the 1960s as both standards and achievement have deteriorated. Heritage Foundation education policy experts Lindsey Burke and Jennifer Marshall explain why centralized standard-setting will likely result in the standardization of mediocrity, not excellence.” >>read more>>
May 10, 2010             DO YOU BELIEVE US NOW? “Pearson will not only provide the curriculum and test materials but will also provide teacher training and community support. I cannot even imagine how much the entire Pearson package will cost a local school district, but it will undoubtedly be a small fortune.” >>read more<<
December 29, 2009             Red Flags, National PTA, and Common Core Standards “Some general and well written articles have been published recently with serious concerns about the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI), a federal push to nationalize mathematics and reading standards in American public schools.* Other, more specific, articles have focused on the National PTA’s involvement. These reports should send an alarming signal to parents, educators and legislators as that group ‘positions itself as a key player at the front line of education reform” with regards to the CCSSI’.” >>read more>>
December 11, 2009             Alternative Needed to Common Core Standards “The new consortium would endeavor to create better and more rigorous academic standards than those of the CCSSI. These alternative standards will be truly internationally benchmarked. With over twenty per cent of the American population, such a consortium of states would easily qualify as “significant” as well. Such states might even be joined by other states that do not want to embrace the intellectually impoverished and internationally uncompetitive Common Core standards.” >>read more>>
January 6, 2009Racing to National Tests”While everyone in educatorland obsesses over the $4 billion competition among the states for Race to the Top (RTT) funding, the Education Department (ED) is readying a separate competition for less than one-tenth as much money that may nonetheless prove far more consequential for American education over the long term. I am referring to the upcoming announcement of how $350 million will be meted out to “consortia of states” to develop “common assessments” that are aligned with ‘common standards.’ “>>read more>>

January 14, 2010             FIRST, DO NO HARM “We Americans have had an allergy to tackling the content problem at any level—ignoring the fact that somebody (mainly textbook makers) must always be dictating content in the schools, even if it is trivial, fragmented, skills-based content. If the crafters of our standards don’t encourage or require content coherence and cumulativeness (just to name two necessary elements), they will have failed the most basic requirement of this task: First, do no harm. And they will have done little to improve the unacceptable stasis in American education.”>>read more>> January 14, 2010             U.S. COMMON-STANDARDS PUSH BARES UNSETTLED ISSUES “Elected officials and educators have been talking about establishing national, or common, academic standards for at least a half-century…..Some regard nationwide standards as a threat to the United States’ federal system and the widely supported principle of state and local control over curriculum.”>>read more>> January 22, 2010             OBAMA IS BRIBING STATES TO ACCEPT NATIONAL CURRICULUM “School reformers have cheered the Obama administration for using RttT to pressure states to be more receptive to independently managed charter schools and use student test scores in evaluating teachers. But if the feds are calling the shots via standards-setting and enforcement, charter schools will be accountable not to local parents but to Washington power brokers, and teachers will teach to tests manipulated by national special interests and be held accountable for results having nothing to do with academic excellence.”>>read more>> January 31, 2010             EDUCATION’S ‘CORE’             “No one will object if Massachusetts adopts new standards as good as the ones it now has. But draft Common Core standards for English and mathematics released Jan. 13 are unacceptably inferior – not for any “dumbing down,” but because they are incoherent and unusable by real teachers.”>>read more>> February 6, 2010             CRITICS: STANDARDS PUSH THREATENS ED GAINS “Caught between wanting to participate in the process {of helping with national standards} while protecting the high benchmarks already set for Massachusetts students, education officials insist they will settle for nothing less than the rigorous curriculum already in place. Critics, however, worry that the state could find itself pressured by the lure of federal grants and other incentives to adopt the new standards and undermine nearly two decades of achievements that have lead to national and international accolades.”>>read more>>

**The full list of the members of the Common Core validation committee included:

  • Bryan Albrecht, President, Gateway Technical College, Kenosha, Wisconsin
  • Arthur Applebee, Distinguished Professor, Center on English Learning & Achievement, School of Education, University at Albany, SUNY
  • Sarah Baird, 2009 Arizona Teacher of the Year, K-5 Math Coach, Kyrene School District
  • Jere Confrey, Joseph D. Moore Distinguished University Professor, William and Ida Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, College of Education, North Carolina State University
  • David T. Conley, Professor, College of Education, University of Oregon CEO, Educational Policy Improvement Center (Co-Chair)
  • Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E. Ducommun Professor of Education, Stanford University
  • Alfinio Flores, Hollowell Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Delaware
  • Brian Gong, Executive Director, Center for Assessment (Co-Chair)
  • Kenji Hakuta, Lee L. Jacks Professor of Education, Stanford University
  • Kristin Buckstad Hamilton, Teacher, Battlefield Senior High School, NEA
  • Feng-Jui Hsieh, Associate Professor of the Mathematics Department, National Taiwan Normal University
  • Mary Ann Jordan, Teacher, New York City Dept of Education, AFT
  • Jeremy Kilpatrick, Regents Professor of Mathematics Education, University of Georgia
  • Dr. Jill Martin, Principal, Pine Creek High School
  • Barry McGaw, Professor and Director of Melbourne Education Research Institute, University of Melbourne; Director for Education, OECD
  • James Milgram, Professor Emeritus, Stanford University
  • David Pearson, Professor and Dean, Graduate School of Education, University of California, Berkeley
  • Steve Pophal, Principal, DC Everest Junior High
  • Stanley Rabinowitz, Senior Program Director, Assessment and Standards Development Services, WestEd
  • Lauren Resnick, Distinguished University Professor, Psychology and Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences and Education Policy, University of Pittsburgh
  • Andreas Schleicher, Head, Indicators and Analysis Division of the OECD Directorate for Education
  • William Schmidt, University Distinguished Professor, Michigan State University
  • Catherine Snow, Henry Lee Shattuck Professor of Education, Harvard Graduate School of Education
  • Christopher Steinhauser, Superintendent of Schools, Long Beach Unified School District
  • Sandra Stotsky, Professor of Education Reform, 21st Century Chair in Teacher Quality, University of Arkansas
  • Dorothy Strickland, Samuel DeWitt Proctor Professor of Ed., Emerita, Distinguished Research Fellow, National Institute for Early Education Research, Rutgers, The State University of NJ
  • Martha Thurlow, Director, National Center on Educational Outcomes, University of Minnesota
  • Norman Webb, Senior Research Scientist, Emeritus, Wisconsin Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin
  • Dylan William, Deputy Director, Institute of Education, University of London

I cannot find each member’s analysis of the common standards.  But I did find out that Linda Darling-Hammond is an Obama insider and that she approved of Common Core. http://gothamschools.org/2008/11/19/its-official-linda-darling-hammond-heading-obama-policy-team/   The search goes on.

The Bully Lessons   3 comments

On the first day of school, my fourth grader complained that they’d had “another dumb assembly on bullies.”

“Do you have bullies at your school?” I asked.

“Nope.”

Today, the first day of the second week of school, my fourth grader complained that they’d had “another dumb team meeting.”

“What’s a team meeting?” I asked.

“That’s when we sit in a circle and talk about walking in the hall better.”

Walking in the hall better?!”

“And a dumb, creepy lady comes in and says we can come and talk to her whenever we have problems with bullies, which nobody has,” he said.

Okay.

I have a problem with this on so many levels.  First of all, why are they having repeated, ad-nauseum lessons on bullying while they cannot do their multiplication tables or long division without 99% of the training coming from moms like me?  Secondly, why do they have  “team meetings” when they lack time to adequately cover science, history, art, writing, cursive, literature, poetry, languages and grammar?  Third, why is there a paid position for a “creepy lady” they are supposed to learn bullying lessons from and go and talk to about their problems, when we don’t have enough salaries to go around for art and other teachers?

Why are we being told by the State Office of Education and our local and state school boards that academic rigor is increasing because of Common Core, when it simply isn’t true?  Academic rigor is being minimized and marginalized:  cursive is dropped, math is being made fuzzy (“integrated math”) literature is being pushed aside in favor of info-texts by Common Core mandate, most dramatically at high school levels, and time is being made for touchy-feeling nonacademic time waster programs that promote Obama-style social justice thinking.

Is this school or some kind of social-justice church we are sending our kids to?

Teachers Against Common Core: local update   Leave a comment

  The following essays were written about Common Core by four teachers whose names are being protected.  See http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/teacher-comments-on-common-core/

 

Teacher 1

I just attended the Core Academy for math as an elementary teacher and was told for 4 straight days that the common core does NOT require math facts or the teaching of standard algorithms. I was taught how to teach solely using discovery learning or weird, unusable, at least with larger numbers, fuzzy math algorithms which actually make understanding place value unnecessary to solve problems requiring regrouping. What? I thought the core was supposed to help teachers REMEMBER to teach skills and standard algorithms … I am devastated and do not even know if I can teach in Utah if this is the direction we are going…aligning ourselves with Washington state which is all discovery and has some of the poorest performing math students in the country…where they still believe Terc Investigations is great Curriculum. May the saints preserve us all.

Teacher 2

I teach in the ________ district.  Our district is adopting the core and is very involved in training their teachers.  I will be attending meetings at my school to receive training.  What can I do, if anything to keep my job, but not be chained to teaching the core?  Last year, we implemented the writing portion of the core.  I followed the core.  My students did not accomplish as much with the core, as with the program I had been using.  This year, I am quietly going back to the writing program I used before.  This year we will be implementing the core math curriculum, I think I will quietly take ideas that I like, but keep teaching what I know works.  Any advice?

Teacher 3

Last Tuesday, Rep. Kraig Powell hosted a forum in Heber on Common Core. In attendance at this meeting were a number of teachers and administrators including Wasatch Superintendent Shoemaker. At lunch, a teacher who is involved with trying to get Utah off Common Core, was speaking with Sup. Shoemaker and another long time teacher’s name came up that this teacher had student-taught under. The Superintendent told this teacher how fortunate it was that she student-taught under her because she was a master teacher. She told the Superintendent that this long time teacher told her she wasn’t thrilled with Common Core and the Superintendent replied, “I’m not surprised, a teacher like her wouldn’t be.” The exact note this master teacher had sent her was “too bad districts aren’t questioning [common core] instead of parents. As a teacher, I am having common core shoved down my throat. We’re back to the 70’s. Way to go on your endeavors. ”

Teacher 4

I am a 3rd grade teacher at a Charter School in Utah. I am becoming very frustrated with Common Core, and I am starting to feel helpless, and feel that I am failing my students, which will one day affect me as they grow up and enter the workforce.

I attended the Math CORE Academy this summer and was told that Utah is not going to suggest a math book that will meet the new standards, instead I have to use whatever math book my school is using  to create work for the students. It is incredibly difficult to teach the Common Core using Tasks with the math book we have, and I imagine it is just as difficult with any math book. First of all, it takes 2-3 hours to create a Task using a math book, I had to help create 2 at Core Academy. Secondly, the instructors encouraged us to leave out key pieces of information so that the students could construct their own knowledge. I cannot imagine elementary students doing well in Algebra or Calculus after spending years learning that whatever number they come up with is correct. I am frustrated that students are required to make a guess to solve the problem, and of course, they are correct, because any number they choose would work. They would then see that their classmates all chose different numbers, and yet all of the answers are correct? How confusing for an elementary student! I have decided to send these Tasks home as extra credit so that the parents in my class can see what to expect in the next school year. I am sure I will get many complaints that the problems are unsolvable, because important information has been left out! I believe that math has right and wrong answers, and that teaching students that any answer can be correct is foolish.

I am so upset that cursive has been removed from the Core! I had such a successful year last year teaching cursive. When I ask students during the first week of school what they are excited to learn in 3rd grade, at least 10 students say learning to write in cursive! I already had 2nd graders telling me they were so excited to be in 3rd grade so they could learn cursive. I am then supposed to deny them something they want to learn!? That is absurd! Even before the actual cursive instruction began, I had many students trying cursive on their own and asking if they were doing it correctly. My students became better readers because they learned cursive last year, seeing italics or cursive in books did not confuse them any more. Most of my students handwriting improved considerably once they could write in cursive, especially the boys’ handwriting. If I can’t teach cursive, the students will miss out on developing those fine motor skills- many suggest typing, but my students will only get keyboarding once a week, and yet I have set aside 20 minutes each day for them to learn cursive. I think it is also a way of self expression. I write in cursive all of the time; my signature is part of who I am. So, this generation will not be able to create a signature for themselves? Nor will they be able to read any handwriting other than print. It is so much fun for me and my students when I write on the board in cursive and they can read it! How empowering for them! They are all able to write faster in cursive, and even in third grade they realize this. They are learning to concentrate, and focus their attention- which is very helpful for all other areas of learning. They are learning to slow down, and watch what they are doing. They are learning the you have to work hard to get good at something, and yet they improve quickly enough that they are motivated to stick with it, they can see week by week that they are getting better. They are learning that practicing something over and over will help you get better. These skills are, in my opinion, only found in handwriting. There is nothing else that I can teach them that they can see improvement day by day, and that they can see themselves getting better at. Writing, math, science, social studies- none of these can show the student progression, nor help in motivating a student to keep trying. I am hoping that I can change my administrator’s mind about letting me teach cursive, but if they don’t I will certainly make sure the parents of my students know that I feel it is an important skill and I suggest that they teach their students at home.

If it comes down to being on the principle’s good side or doing what’s best for my 28 students, I’m going to do what’s best for my students. If I get fired, then I’ll look for another job and hope I can find one.

Rigor or Dumbing Down? Common Core Sets Learning Speed Limit at 15   5 comments

    The fact is, Common Core limits learning.

There’s a defined speed limit on learning under Common Core.  Here’s the proof:

On the definitions page of the Race to the Top grant application (which hooked us to Common Core, even though we didn’t win the grant) it says this:

“Common set of K-12 standards means a set of content standards that define what students must know and be able to do and that are substantially identical across all States in a consortium.  A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for that content area.”

How does this hurt?

Well, it hurts everyone who adopted Common Core. Everyone but Texas and Virginia.

Here in Wasatch School District, where my kids go, it retarded our learning.  There is a “math bubble” of repetition for all 6th and 9th graders (ask the district; they’ll verify this; they made up the term!)  This meant that my child learned Alg. I in 8th grade prior to Common Core. Then she learned Alg. I in 9th grade, again, with Common Core.

The fact that Common Core proponents continue to call Common Core the answer to our educational problems, and the solution to so much college remediation being needed, is absurd.

We are forced by the 15% speed limit, as a district, and as a state, NOT to allow our 9th graders to learn more than 15% of what Common Core mandates for learning standards.

Am I angry?

Very.

But what can I do?  Anytime I try to get an answer from the district or the state school board they either completely ignore the question or write an official statement reiterating that this Common Core is creating college readiness and global competitiveness as never before.  They paint people like me with dismissive terms such as  “paranoid,” or “politically extreme,” or “a fringe group.”

When will anybody hold these people accountable for dumbing down our state’s educational system AND for selling out our freedom to ever change it?  YES, it’s true.  Common Core is not amendable. It’s under copyright. Here’s the link:  http://www.corestandards.org/public-license

The only way we can change this error is to WAKE PEOPLE UP and demand Governor Herbert gets us out of Common Core.

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