How Common Core’s Lack of Transparency Affects Utah Teachers and Kids   Leave a comment

How Common Core’s Lack of Transparency Affects Utah Teachers and Kids

Utah educators have been given half truths and catch-phrases instead of documented realities about the impacts and repercussions of the Common Core Initiative.  Here are a few of my favorites:

  • CC Proponents say that states should belong to the Common Core Initiative because it ensures “high standards”, “college readiness”, “global competitiveness” and easy school transfers for kids that move from state to state. http://www.corestandards.org/  (Official Common Core website)

COLLEGE READINESS?  AS DETERMINED BY WHOM?

College readiness and global competitiveness are not at all guaranteed by Common Core.  As Stanford Professor Michael Kirst realized:

My concern is the assertion in the draft that the standards for college and career readiness are essentially the same. This implies the answer is yes to the question of whether the same standards are appropriate for 4 year universities, 2 year colleges, and technical colleges. The burden of proof for this assertion rests with CCSSO/NGA, and the case is not proven from the evidence presented in the draft.

The ELA standards hedge this issue by saying “the evidence strongly suggests that similar reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills are necessary for success in both the college and workplace.” There is no similar wording preceding the math standards. I have reviewed the sources included in the draft, and cannot follow how the panel deduced that college and career readiness standards are the same.

As Mathematician Ze’ev Wurman realized:

The Common Core standards are mediocre: They are clearly better than those of about 30 states, as good as those of 15 about states, and clearly worse than those of three states, California among them. Despite claims to the contrary, Common Core is not on par with international high achievers, nor will meeting Common Core qualify students for entry to either CSU or UC. In fact, California had to significantly supplement the standards just to close the gap between the Common Core and our current standards, which incidentally are based on those of high-achieving countries and will qualify students for CSU.

As Common Core Validation Committee member, Dr. Sandra Stotsky refused to sign off on the standards because they were far from adequate. Dr. Stotsky stated:

“The wisest move all states could make to ensure that students learn to read, understand, and use the English language appropriately before they graduate from high school is first to abandon Common Core’s “standards” and ask the National Governors Association to ask a national organization devoted to authentic literary study (ALSCW, e.g.,) to develop a set of high school literature standards that could serve as the backbone of a coherent literature curriculum from grade 6-12, with successively more diffcult texts required from grade to grade.”

Dr. Stotsky also testified:

“Beyond the lack of clarity from the outset about what college readiness was intended to mean and for whom, Common Core has yet to provide a solid evidentiary base for its minimalist conceptualization of college readiness–and for equating college readiness with career readiness. Moreover… it had no evidence on both issues.”

  • CC Proponents say that  Common Core is a state-led, not a federal initiative

CC Proponents claim the initiative is “state-led” and “is “not a federal initiative.” This claim has even been made by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in public letters on multiple occasions.

Technically, this is true:  the NGA (a group of governors) and the CCSSO (Council of Chief State School Officers) initiated Common Core and Achieve, Inc., developed the federal standards.  But who paid for it?  The Feds.  There were huge grants given to the NGA, the CCSSO, and Achieve,Inc.

And who gives out federal grants (bribes) to manipulate states to adopt Common Core?  The Feds.  And who mandates that tests and data collection must be shared “across consortia” and overseen and coordinated by the Feds?  The Feds.

And whose set of standards will the test developers use to base test questions upon–any state’s, such as  the Utah Common Core Standards, or the Common Core State Standards/federal standards?   The Fed’s set, of course.

  • CC Proponents say that Utah still has local control of education because Utah’s School Board can change the Utah Common Core Standards any time by a majority vote.

Being able to change Utah’s Common Core is meaningless.  The federal standards (CCSS) are the basis for the tests.  Why would a teacher, after 2014-1015 when the testing has begun, choose to teach Utah’s Common Core when it differs from the CCSS federal core?  We would want our students to achieve high scores.  We would be unmotivated to teach to the Utah Common Core.

  • CC Proponents focus on the strands of the initiative that they feel benefits schools and kids.

Whether it’s computer adaptive testing, added vocabulary and grammar, or fewer math concepts, some teachers list good things they approve about the new Common Core.  However, as stated earlier, these strands of standards can and should be adopted within Utah’s sovereign state standards, after we sever ties with Common Core Initiative, the accompanying testing arm, SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium) and all its accompanying privacy intrusions, outrageous costs, and federal mandates. Once Utah is fully aligned with the Common Core Initiative, withdrawing will be cost prohibitive.

Worst of all, the freedom to argue at district and school levels about things like whether Saxon math or Investigations math should be adopted, will end.  Nationalizing standards, testing and curriculum ends local autonomy and innovation.

  • CC Proponents say that “Common core is like a building code; teachers build innovatively within that code.”

The question is, what if we want a taller building than the code permits?  What if we want to build something better than the code-mandators envisioned?  Common core’s code  stunts schools’ abilities to soar beyond it.

Posted April 9, 2012 by Christel Swasey in Uncategorized

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