Archives for category: Common Core

Arizona State Superintendent John Huppenthal was defeated by Diane Douglas, a very conservative former school board member who ran on a single issue: rolling back Common Core. Huppenthal embarrassed himself a few months ago when he admitted using a pseudonym to write disparaging comments about other people and groups on blogs.

Douglas is a big supporter of school choice.

“In the November election, Douglas will face David Garcia, an Arizona State University professor who defeated high school English teacher Sharon Thomas in the Democratic primary.”

This morning, Carol Burris had a post on Valerie Strauss’s Answer Sheet in which she tried to decipher the New Common Core test scores in New York. The first thing she noticed was that the state did not release the mean scores, which it usually does. So she calculated them herself for several key counties.

English language arts scores were flat, math scores were up. In several of the counties, ELA scores declined by three or four points. The only grade that held steady in ELA was grade 8. No gain.

“The only good news for ELA was that the achievement gap between white and black proficiency rates narrowed a bit. However, a narrower gap, achieved predominantly through lower scores of the higher performing group, is not the strategy of choice. The proficiency rate for white students dropped two points (38 percent), and the proficiency rate for black students went up one point (17 percent).”

Math scores were up, but the black-white gap may have grown.

“The lack of success of the state’s most vulnerable children on tests that are inappropriate measures of learning is breathtaking. The ELA proficiency rate for students with disabilities who are economically disadvantaged is only 4 percent. Seventy-six percent of such students remain in the lowest of the 4 score bands, 1. This is not a small group of students; they comprise 123,233 of New York’s public school children in Grades 3-8. The news was equally bad for the nearly 78,000 English Language learners whose ELA proficiency rate remained stuck at 3 percent.”

Given the inappropriate choice of “proficiency” as a passing mark, the majority of students “failed” both tests, despite increased familiarity with the standards, the curriculum, and the tests. As I have explained before, New York selected the NAEP definition of “proficient,” which is a very high mark, not grade level, and certainly not pass-fail. So long as the state insists on NAEP proficient as its passing mark, a majority of students will fail and students with disabilities and English learners will remain far, far behind. What plans does the state have for the many pupils who will not ever earn a high school diploma?

Crazy Crawfish (aka Jason France, who was a data analyst at the Louisiana Department of Education) offers a fascinating insight into the political machinations behind Governor Bobby Jindal’s effort to ditch the Common Core.

Jindal was an enthusiastic supporter of CC until last June, when he suddenly became an opponent. The state commissioner of education, John White, a steadfast ally of Jindal, announced that he would fight the governor. The state board of education joined White, including two of Jindal’s appointees.

In Louisiana, Jindal is known as a governor who does not tolerate disloyalty. He swiftly punishes dissidents in his ranks. Yet no one of Jindal’s former allies faced retribution for opposing him. Something smelled fishy.

Then came the trial of Jindal vs. White on the Common Core, and Jindal’s lawyer didn’t call any witnesses. Jason France thinks he threw the fight. He thinks the fix is in. Jindal doesn’t want to get rid of the Common Core, he wants to appear to be trying because Common Core is a liability among the conservative voters that Jindal needs for his presidential aspirations.

France concludes:

“The chaos we are experiencing was intentionally fomented by John White, Chas Roemer and Bobby Jindal to distract people and wear them out. This betrayal was planned.

“Sadly, this is just another ruse perpetrated by those in power to avoid listening to parents’ real problems, and another reason parents are right to fear and fight Common Core. I expect this distraction to last until Jindal leaves office. John White and Chas Roemer were correct when they stated Jindal’s opposition to Common Core was politically motivated. The irony is that they were quite likely complicit in the deception from the get-go; to increase all of their profiles. That ploy has worked. Now we get to decide if their profiles are ultimately positively or negatively impacted by this fiasco.”

Fred Smith, a testing expert who worked many years at the New York City Board of Education, has become a mentor to the opt-out movement in New York. In this article, which was published in the New York Daily News, Smith writes, “Do you solemnly swear to tell the half-truth, the partial truth and nothing like the truth? Apparently, that’s the vow press officers who work for the New York State Education Department take.”

“Why was half of Thursday’s announcement of the 2014 test results devoted to testimonials, mainly from selected superintendents, on how educational gains are being made due to implementation of the Common Core?”

Smith writes that:

“The 2014 tests were given in April and scored in May, with the results and press release issued in August. Why the delay. The same pattern was followed in 2013.

“The delay is unexplained, and it feeds suspicions that the state is sitting on the results trying to figure out the most advantageous way to package them.”

Under pressure from parents, the state released half the test questions. Smith wonders, why not release them all? By the time teachers get the test results, the children are no longer in their class. Nor do teachers learn which questions their students got right or wrong. If teachers can’t learn anything about their students other than whether he or she was rated as a 1, 2, 3, o4, of what value is the test?

The state’s contract with Pearson stipulates that test questions may not be used again, so why not release to the public the entire test that the public paid for?

Peter Greene notes that the two polls released this week were preceded by a Rasmussen poll in June, which showed Common Core losing support. Parents of school children were polled.

“Once again, we can see the result of a year’s worth of direct exposure. In November of 2013, the Core was supported by an unimpressive 52% and specifically opposed by 32%. By the following June, the numbers had shifted. Among parents of school-age children, support dropped to 34%, while actual opposition to the Core (which the survey referred to as the Common Core national standards) had grown to 47%…..”

“This poll is not news, but back in June, we couldn’t see so clearly that it was the harbinger of a trend. This is the opposite of a grass roots movement, the reverse of going viral. This is like the movie that opens strong on Thursday and plays to empty theaters on Friday.”

Mercedes Schneider analyzes the recent polls on Common Core and spies an effort to rescue the CCSS from the wreckage.

The bottom-line, she says, is that the development of Common Core was top-down, not state-led.

“Here’s the reality: CCSS was conceived, organized, produced, monitored, and promoted by “the few,” the most obvious CCSS “top downers” being the two organizations that drafted the CCSS MOU (memorandum of understanding) and that hold the CCSS license: The National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). And these two groups were clear in their positioning an NGA-corporate-run nonprofit, Achieve, at the center of CCSS development, as well as two testing companies (ACT and College Board)– and in tapping the federal government for undeniable involvement in funding all but CCSS creation– with the feds forking over $350 million for the steering wheel of the CCSS venture– the CCSS consortium assessments. Moreover, even though it was drafted and signed by governors of 45 states, DC, and three territories prior to the formal launching of Obama and Duncan’s Race to the Top (RTTT), RTTT is mentioned in the CCSS MOU.

“So, for the public to have the perception that the federal government “initiated” CCSS (PDK/Gallup wording) or “requires all states to use CCSS” (EdNext wording) reflects not only the federal government’s notable role in the CCSS “venture,” but also the very public efforts of US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to 1) instruct the press on how to report on CCSS, 2) blame “white suburban moms” for CCSS resistance, and 3) threaten to revoke No Child Left Behind (NCLB) waivers when states choose to be “state led” away from CCSS.”

She predicts:

“CCSS will fall, and it will not be because a grass roots, ground-up education reform died from “political polarization.”

“CCSS will fail because no matter how much one fertilizes and waters AstroTurf, it cannot change it into real grass– with roots.”

A comment on the blog today:

“Common Core was imposed on teachers by non-educators. We were fed a lot of mistruths along the way, as well. However, there would be no backlash if the CC founders gave us an educationally sound reform package. We are rejecting CC primarily because the standards in ELA are un-teachable and un-testable, abstract and subjective thinking skills – essentially content free, the math standards are the SOS shifted around in developmentally inappropriate ways using unnecessarily confusing pedagogy, and the tests tied to teacher evaluations have become the epitome of educational malpractice. Furthermore, the notion of producing educational excellence with standards that cannot be changed, altered, deleted, or improved, is insult to our profession. And until the ESEA is dealt with by Congress, we are stuck inside a very deep hole, whether we support the CC or not.”

As Stephanie Simon of politico.com put it, it’s been a bad week for the Common Core. Yesterday, The conservative journal Education Next showed a precipitous drop in support by teachers in only one year–from 76% to 46%. It seems that the more they learn about the standards, the less they like them.

Then today the annual poll by the Gallup organization and Phi Delta Kappa revealed growing public opposition to the Common Core. Last year, most people were not sure what they were; now, as they know more, support is diminishing. The most important reason for opposition: people say the Common Core standards limit the flexibility of teachers to do what they think is best. While 60% of the public oppose the Common Core, 62% of public school parents oppose them.

Some other important findings in the Gallup/PDK poll:

Local public schools get high marks from public school parents at the same time that American public education gets low marks. This seeming paradox shows the success of the privatizers’ relentless attacks on public education over the past decade. For years, the public has heard Arne Duncan, Bill Gates, Michelle Rhee, Jeb Bush, and other supporters of privatization decry American public education as “broken,” “obsolete,” “failing.” Their message has gotten through. Only 17% of the public gives American education an A or a B.

At the same time, however, 67% of public school parents give an A or B to the public school their oldest child attends.

Public school parents do not like standardized tests. 68% say they are not helpful. 54% of the public agrees.

Approval of President Obama’s “performance in support of public schools” has plummeted since 2011, when it was 41%. In 2014, approval of the President was down to 27%.

The public is confused about what charter schools are, but 70% favor them. About half think they are public schools and that they are free to teach religion. 57% think they charge tuition, and 68% think they select students based on their ability. My guess: as the public learns more about the misuse of public funds by some charter schools, about frauds, nepotism, and conflicts of interest, these numbers will decline.

Only 37% of the public and public school parents support vouchers.

Here is the Washington Post summary of the poll.

Here is coverage of the Gallup poll from Edsource in California.

The conservative journal “Education Next” reported a poll showing that support for Common Core plummeted among teachers from 76% to 46%. Conservative supporters of Common Core think that teachers are afraid of accountability but that doesn’t explain why 76% thought it was a good idea last year.

Peter Greene explains the teachers’ change of mind, which he is well-qualified to do since he is a teacher.

Here are a few of the reasons:

First, writes Greene, was the lying.

“Remember how supporters of the Core used to tell us all the time that these standards were written by teachers? All. The. Time. Do you know why they’ve stopped saying that? Because it’s a lie, and at this point, most everybody knows it’s a lie. The “significant” teacher input, the basis in solid research– all lies. When someone is trying to sell you medicine and they tell you that it was developed by top doctors and researchers and you find out it wasn’t and they have to switch to, “Well, it was developed by some guys who are really interested in mediciney stuff who once were in a doctor’s office”– it just reduces your faith in the product.”

Second was when we discovered that we were not allowed to change anything to make it better suited to the needs of our students.

Third was when they started training us and kept telling us to shut up and do what they wanted. Our experience counted for nothing.

Fourth was when they slandered opponents as extremists. Either do what they said or find that Arne Duncan labeled you as misguided and misinformed.

Fifth was when we learned how much the Common Core would cost, how many consultants would be hired, how it would suck up all the new money in the budget.

Then there was the child abuse: “Many of us just finished our first year of Core-aligned curriculum, and in many cases it was awful. We were required to force students to operate at or beyond frustration level day after day. We watched school stamp out the spirit of the smallest students, whose defining characteristic is that they love everything, including school. While CCSS boosters were off sipping lattes in nice offices, we were there at ground zero watching 180 days of exactly how this reform affected real, live students.”

And there is more. Those who believe in Common Core should read what Peter Greene experienced. It explains why teacher support fell like a heavy stone.

A Louisiana judge ruled against Governor Jindal in his efforts to dump Common Core and PARCC.

Mercedes Schneider read the court decision and concludes that Jindal lost in court against proponents of Common Core because his lawyer didn’t make a good case. She says he better get a better legal team or be prepared to lose again.

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