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Who’s Protecting Children from the Unintended Damages of Common Core?   54 comments

crying child cc

Guest Post by Stacie R. Tawbush: mother, math major, and common core opponent from Leeds, Alabama

I’m about to be controversial but it’s about damn time somebody be.

For more than a year now I’ve talked about the effect that Common Core is having on my family and on my life in general – and what it’s doing to the morale of my children. CC has now been fully implemented. And just as other parents are starting to wake up – I’ve absolutely had all I can take!

We had another 3-hours-of -homework-night tonight. The kind of night I’ve told you all about. The kind of night some have called me a liar about.

Tonight, though, instead of taking a picture of the ridiculous math my child is being forced to do, I decided to take a picture of my child doing it. Call me insensitive, but I don’t care what you think. What I care about is my children. I see this on a regular basis and it’s time for others to see it, too… Because this is what Common Core really looks like.

This is Savannah. This is a 3rd grader at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night literally crying over her homework. This is a child hungry for knowledge – a child who loves to learn. This is a child with a broken spirit. I didn’t have to take several pictures to capture one that happened to include a tear, because the tears were pouring down her face. This is a very smart kid in the midst of feeling like a failure.

So: To those of you who tell me Common Core is a good thing. To those of you who claim it’s no different than what children have always done. To those who speak against it but don’t act. To those without the spine to stand up against political pressure. To those in which CC has just become another political talking point. To those who think we need the money from the federal government to sustain AL education. And to those who had a chance to stop this and didn’t…

Tonight I’m mad at YOU.

Tonight you share blame in making a child feel stupid and her [single] mother feel like a disappointment.

And guess what? This happened all over the state tonight. Not just in my house. You had a hand in that, too.

Finally: To the warriors out there who’ve been fighting this as long (or longer) as I have. To the parents who just heard about CC yesterday. To the few politicians who refuse to back into the darkness. To the moms, dads, aunts, uncles, grandparents and friends who are seeing this everyday in your own home…

This is why we’re so passionate.

This is why we fight.

Fight On.

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Postscript from Stacie Tawbush:

“It is not that the teacher is assigning massive amounts of homework. It is that the Common Core way of solving math problems is irrational. I sit up with her as long as I need to to help her understand equations. I teach her every which way to solve an equation – even algorithms! If we didn’t do this, my daughter would still be struggling to add. I blame nothing on the teachers. The blame is on the curriculum. I am a math major and cannot wrap my brain around how these teachers are being forced to teach the kids math. It takes us 3 hours to work through 5 or 6 word problems. I’m not worried about her getting the assignment completed… I’m worried about her learning.” -Stacie R. Tawbush

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Postscript from Christel Swasey:

Child psychologists agree with what Stacie Tawbush is saying. Increasingly, clinical psychologists are speaking out about Common Core’s inappropriate standards and pressure, especially on the lower grades.

Here in Utah, Joan Landes and Gary Thompson have spoken out. Dr. Thompson calls Common Core and its testing program “cognitive child abuse.”

gary thompson

Dr. Thompson has written:

“There are kids/teens (as well as adults like myself) who will never master “symbolic processing” of numbers and math concepts…..just like I will never be able to hit a 90 mile per hour fastball 385 feet over the left field wall in Dodger Stadium.

Ever.

We have high functioning, genius IQ autistic/Aspergers kids who, despite demonstrated giftedness in math, will never be able to answer this question due to their brains’ inability to process anything symbolically….let alone stuck at a desk in front of a computer screen.

Tens of thousands of Utah public school children will never be able to process math in this manner over the course of their public school education.

This is cognitive child abuse.”

joan landes

Utah Child Psychologist Joan Landes explained in an email:

“I agree that CC standards are not only developmentally inappropriate for youngsters, they focus on a very limited range of learning modalities (neo-cortical left-brain areas) thus limiting future abilities to learn much more complex subjects. The CC developers entirely missed the point of early/young childhood education when they focus on either the acquisition of facts (losing the opportunity to develop other areas of the brain to enhance future learning capabilities) or by making demands for abstract reasoning before developmentally ready (which will create a myriad of behavioral, emotional and learning problems). In addition, because the standards and assessments are so hyper-focused and high pressured for rigid cognitive (left-brain) activities, the children who have learning disabilities and/or delays will find school even more destructive to self-confidence and flexible learning.

In my opinion, a better approach to education in the primary grades would incorporate many of the tried and true activities from the first part of the 20th century to activate many disperate areas of their incredibly plastic brain (not to mention a child’s heart): Learning an instrument, Character values, Art, Sports, Games, Penmanship, Speaking, Singing, Reading and listening to narrative fiction and poetry and memorization (the kids even used to memorize poetry in foreign languages!). These activities (while not meeting a fact-acquisition or analytical benchmark) nevertheless activates critical areas of the brain which increases later connections exponentially.

Where’s the CC assessment for creativity? Or innovation? Integrity? Or emotional intelligence? It is a grave mistake to force youngsters to limit their brain activities to narrow interests, thus diminishing future originality and future ability to learn. It is a graver mistake to neglect educating the heart with character values, thus producing unfeeling, self-centered “clever devils” at graduation.”

Additionally, at a Notre Dame Conference this month, Dr. Megan Koschnick spoke out on the same topic.

Her remarkable speech at the University of Notre Dame was filmed and is posted here.

You are invited: Alisa, Renee and I are presenting tomorrow at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel   3 comments

Tomorrow at 2:00 at Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel ballroom, Alisa, Renee and I will be making a presentation about Common Core, courtesty of Freedom Works and Glenn Beck’s Man in the Moon Event.

Hope to see you there.

Professor William Mathis and NEPC: Common Core Unlikely to Improve Learning or Close Achievement Gap   Leave a comment

In case you don’t read the whole thing, I’m starting off with a bullet point list from a recent academic article from the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) by Dr. William Mathis, entitled “Research-based Options for Education Policymaking,” available here, which among other things, gives advice for educators and policymakers, including these facts:

The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by  the presence or absence of national standards.

Common Core standards and assessments are unlikely to  improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap.

• As testbased  penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested areas has decreased.

Policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in  instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS  requires as it is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these  costs.

For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the  CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum.

• Schools must take proactive steps to  protect vital purposes of education such as maximizing individual student talents 

 

Here is the rest of the article:

RESEARCH-BASED OPTIONS FOR EDUCATION POLICYMAKING
Common Core State Standards
William Mathis, University of Colorado Boulder
October 2012

The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have ardent supporters and strong critics.1 The actual effect of the CCSS, however, will depend much less on the standards themselves than on
how they are used. Two factors are particularly crucial. The first is whether states invest in the  necessary curricular and instructional resources and supports, and the second concerns the
nature and use of CCSS assessments developed by the two national testing consortia.

The movement toward nationwide curriculum standards began in 2009 and has been led  by the National Governors’ Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers,
accompanied by the Gates Foundation’s fiscal support. The CCSS goal is to assure a highlevel  “internationally competitive” set of standards, help teachers organize their lessons,
and assure educational continuity for mobile students.2 A claimed advantage is that an  economy of scale is created (particularly for corporations supplying professional  development, instructional materials, and standardized testing).3 Another claimed benefit  is the facilitation of comparisons among states, although such information is already  provided by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Since the CCSS has not been implemented, many questions cannot be definitively  answered. Yet, there are informative lessons from related research. There is, for example,   no evidence that states within the U.S. score higher or lower on the NAEP based on the  rigor of their state standards.4   Similarly, international test data show no pronounced testscore
advantage on the basis of the presence or absence of national standards.5 Further,  the wave of high-stakes testing associated with No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has resulted  in the “dumbing down” and narrowing of the curriculum.6  Owing to the historically limited educational role of the federal government, those behind  the CCSS have taken care to avoid having the effort characterized as “national standards”  or a “national curriculum.”7 Four states (Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia) have, as of  October of 2012, declined to participate, and Minnesota has agreed to adopt CCSS in only  one subject area. (Five currently participating states are considering legislation to slow  down implementation 8). But that refusal has come at a cost. For a state to be eligible for  federal Race to the Top or NCLB waivers, for example, it must adopt “college and career  ready standards.”9 Nevertheless, in many minds, curriculum and standards are a state
responsibility, and the CCSS represents federal over-reach.10  Since the 1994 passage of the Goals 2000 legislation, state standards have been  increasingly linked to large-scale assessments of those standards. With NCLB, high-stakes  consequences were attached to the test scores. As a predictable consequence, the  assessments have driven curriculum and instruction much more than the state standards  themselves. It is now again predictable that the nature and use of the CCSS assessments  will largely determine the impact of CCSS. Two national assessment consortia (the Smarter  Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for  College and Careers) are developing computer-based testing for a scheduled  implementation in 2014-15. 11

Among the unresolved issues are:

1) the amount and impact of testing time required for the new assessments;
2) whether the results have enough validity and precision to justify high-stakes applications currently being eyed by lawmakers (e.g., evaluation of principals and teachers);
3) the ability of the two consortia to sustain the effort given the current fiscal needs and  available resources;
4) whether the assessment systems will be ready on time; and
5) most important, whether the tests will create incentives for teaching a rich, engaging,  comprehensive curriculum.12

A paramount issue is whether, given the current status of federal and state budgets, there  will be the political will to provide schools and students the professional support and  learning resources necessary for the effort to be successful.  As the absence or presence of rigorous or national standards says nothing about equity,  educational quality, or the provision of adequate educational services, there is no reason to  expect CCSS or any other standards initiative to be an effective educational reform by  itself. 13

Key Research Points and Advice for Policymakers

• The adoption of a set of standards and assessments, by themselves, is unlikely to  improve learning, increase test scores, or close the achievement gap. 14
For schools and districts with weak or non-existent curriculum articulation, the  CCSS may adequately serve as a basic curriculum. 15
• The assessment consortia are currently focused on mathematics and  English/language arts. Schools, districts, and states must take proactive steps to  protect other vital purposes of education such as citizenship, the arts, and  maximizing individual talents – as well as the sciences and social sciences. As testbased  penalties have increased, the instructional attention given to non-tested  areas has decreased. 16
• Educators and policymakers need to be aware of the significant costs in  instructional materials, training and computerized testing platforms the CCSS  requires.17  It is unlikely the federal or state governments will adequately cover these  costs. For the CCSS to be meaningful depends directly on whether it is adequately  supported.
• The nation’s “international economic competitiveness” is unlikely to be affected by  the presence or absence of national standards.18
• Children learn when they are provided with high-quality and equitable educational  opportunities. Investing in ways that enhance these opportunities shows the greater  promise for addressing the nation’s education problems.

Notes and References

1 In support, see Finn, C.E. Jr. (2010, March 16). Back to basics. National Review Online. Retrieved October 2,  2012, from http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/229317/back-basics/chester-e-finn-jr/.
For a strongly critical voice, see Greene, J. P. (September 21, 2011). My testimony on national standards before  US House. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://jaypgreene.com/2011/09/21/my-testimony-on-nationalstandards-before-us-house/
Finn and Greene are both generally on the political “right” on educational issues. But similar division is found on  the “left.” In support, see Weingarten, R. (2010, June 3). Statement by Randi Weingarten, president, American  Federation of Teachers, on Common Core standards. Washington, DC: American Federation of Teachers.
Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://www.aft.org/newspubs/press/2010/060310.cfm/.
And in opposition, see Ravitch, D. (2012, July 9). My view of the Common Core standards (blog post). Diane  Ravitch’s Blog. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://dianeravitch.net/2012/07/09/my-view-of-the-commoncore-standards/.

2 NGA, CCSSO, Achieve (2008).Benchmarking for Success: Ensuring U. S. Students Receive a world-Class  Education. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://www.corestandards.org/assets/0812BENCHMARKING.pdf
3Ash, K. (2012, February 29). Common core raises PD opportunities, questions. Teacher PD. Retrieved October 2,  2012, from http://www.edweek.org/tsb/articles/2012/03/01/02common.h05.html/.
4 Whitehurst, G, (2009, October 14). Don’t forget curriculum. Brown Center Letters on Education, #3, 6.  Washington, DC: Brown Center on Education Policy, Brookings Institution. Retrieved February 11, 2010, from  http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2009/1014_curriculum_whitehurst.aspx/.
Bandeira de Mello, V. D., Blankenship, C., & McLaughlin D. (2009, October). Mapping state proficiencies onto  NAEP scales: 2005-2007. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education  Statistics. Retrieved March 20, 2010, from http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/pubs/studies/2010456.asp/.
5 Kohn, A. (2010, January 14). Debunking the case for national standards: one size fits all mandates and their  dangers. Retrieved January 13, 2010, from  http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/edweek/national.htm/.
McCluskey, N. (2010, February 17). Behind the curtain: Assessing the case for national curriculum standards,  Policy analysis 66. Washington: CATO Institute. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from
http://www.cato.org/pub_display.php?pub_id=11217/.
6 Robelen, E. (December 8, 2011) Most teachers see the curriculum narrowing, survey finds (blog post).  EdWeekOnline. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2011/12/most_teachers_see_the_curricul.html/.
Wisconsin Center for Educational Research. (1999, Fall). Are state-level standards and assessments aligned?
WCER Highlights, 1–3. Madison, WI: Author.
Amrein, A. & Berliner, D. (2002). High-stakes testing, uncertainty, and student learning. Education Policy  Analysis Archives, 10(18). Retrieved October 4, 2012, from  http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v10n18.
Shepard, L. (2000). The role of assessment in a learning culture. Educational Researcher, 29(7), 4–14.  Phillip Harris, Bruce M. Smith,B. M. & Harris, J. (2011) The Myths of Standardized Tests: Why They Don’t Tell  You What You Think They Do. Rowman and Littlefield, 100-109.
7 Education Secretary Arne Duncan said, “The idea that the Common Core standards are nationally-imposed is a  conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy.”  Duncan, A. (2012, February 23). Statement by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, on a legislative proposal  in South Carolina to block implementation of the Common Core academic standards (press release). Washington,
DC: U.S. Departmentof Education. Retrieved October 4, 2012, from  http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/statement-us-secretary-education-arne-duncan-1/.
8 Klein, Alyson (2012, September 26). Rift seen among Republicans on Common Core. Education Week, 32 (5), 19.
9 Obama, B (2012, February 9). Remarks by the President on No Child Left Behind Flexibility. Washington, DC:  Office of the Press secretary. Retrieved October 2, 2012, from  http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/09/remarks-president-no-child-left-behind-flexibility/.
Note that these standards need not be the CCSS, although in all cases but one the CCSS has been used. Virginia was  granted a waiver based on college- and career-ready standard other than the CCSS.
Klein, A (2012, June 29). Five more states get NCLB waivers (blog post).Politics K-12/Education Week..  http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/campaign-k-12/2012/06/five_more_states_get_nclb_waiv.html)…

See Full List of Notes and References Here:  http://greatlakescenter.org/docs/Policy_Briefs/Research-Based-Options/02-Mathis_CommonCore.pdf

Don’t Mess With My Gold Rush: Or, Who’s Promoting Common Core and Why?   Leave a comment

I just did an Internet search using the term “common core implementation books” and got over eight million hits.

Corporations including Pearson, Microsoft and thousands of little mom and pop textbook writers you never heard of, seem to realize that Common Core implementation is the gold rush of this decade.

If the Common Core was honestly good for American education, maybe I could understand asking taxpayers to go more deeply into debt to pay and pay and pay…  for all the new teacher “professional development,” all the new software and hardware and endless consumables that implementation of national standards demands.

But taxpayers, parents and teachers, do you understand that Common Core is glutting corporate America while harming true literacy and numeracy?

But the truth is still the truth, no matter what story the spinners may spin about Common Core. All the shiny, colorful marketing for Common Core, all the repetitious uses of Common Core’s favorite phrases, “rigorous” and “benchmarked” and “state-led” and “college ready” cannot alter reality: common core is devastation to American education, privacy and autonomy.

With that introducation, please read Jenni White’s article in “American Thinker” on the subject:

     The Educational Tech Scam.  By Jenni White of ROPE (Restore Oklahoma Public Education)

What We Must Teach Our Children   Leave a comment

Parents are under command to bring up their children in light and truth (see D&C 93:40).  Parents cannot leave decision making about teaching up to school boards school teachers (or Sunday School teachers) alone; these other teachers are here to assist parents in an ultimate responsibility that rests primarily on parents.

It is not enough to educate children academically– reading, math, geography, languages, history, music– we must also make sure they know how to identify light and truth.

The following teachings were suggested by President Hinckley for parents to teach  their children: http://www.lds.org/pa/library/0,17905,7461-1,00.html

Teach them to develop good friendships.

Teach them the importance of education. Youth will be amply rewarded for their efforts to obtain an education. The Church will also be blessed by their increased capacities and skills.

Teach them self-respect. The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles encourage modest dress, and discourage tattoos and the piercing of the body other than the minimal piercing of the ears by women for one pair of earrings.

Teach them to stay away from drugs. Those who use illegal drugs or misuse legal drugs lose self-control.

Teach them the virtue of honesty.

Teach them to be virtuous. Sexual urges must be controlled with self-discipline and respect.

Teach them to look forward to the time when they may be married in the house of the Lord.

Teach them to pray. It is a miracle that we can approach God in prayer and be heard.

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