Archives for category: Common Core

States continue to distance themselves from either the Common Core or the federally-funded Common Core tests. The following was reported by politico.com:

“DIVORCING ‘SMARTER BALANCED': Anti-Common Core activists in Missouri activists opposed to the Common Core are revving up their legal fight to pull the state out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Last month, they won a temporary restraining order barring the state from paying membership fees to SBAC. But that order has expired, so they’ve filed motions asking for another such order – or, better yet, for a summary judgment declaring the state’s affiliation with SBAC an illegal interstate compact. The activists know they can’t stop Missouri from administering SBAC this coming spring; state law requires it. But state committees made up of teachers, parents and administrators are writing new standards to replace the Common Core. In future years, the state will be free to pick a new test aligned with those standards. The lawsuit aims to ensure the state can start that process with a fresh slate rather than be tied to SBAC. In the meantime, the activists want to be sure that Missouri is free to set its own cut scores and control test administration without interference from the consortium. “We want local control, which means that we control the test,” plaintiff Anne Gassel told Morning Education.

- Missouri owes Smarter Balanced $4.2 million for the complete package of formative, interim and summative assessments for this school year. The state has already paid a portion of that fee and Sarah Potter, a spokeswoman for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, said it will have to find a way to pay the remainder no matter what happens in court, since the law requires that the SBAC test be used this school year. A renewed restraining order “could impact our membership in the consortium, but we don’t think it will affect our actually buying and administering the test,” Potter said. In the event that the Show Me State’s payments are affected, the consortium is developing a policy for dealing with deadbeat states. Among the issues being discussed: Whether to block states from using the assessments if they fail to pay their bills, Potter said.

- “We are committed to working with the state of Missouri to provide the best tools and assessments to teachers and students,” Smarter Balanced spokeswoman Jacqueline King told Morning Education. “Beyond that, I cannot comment.”

Mercedes Schneider describes the remarkable shrinkage of states enrolled to give Pearson’s Common Core PARCC test from 2011-2014.

In 2011, Pearson boasted that 31 million students in 25 states plus D.C. Would take PARCC. By 2014, the numbers are down to 10 states and D.C. with 5 million students.

Politico.com asks whether Jeb Bush will be politically wounded by his punitive, privatizing education reform.

It is not just Common Core, which is under fire by many Republican governors and education activists and is slipping in the polls. It is also Bush’s love of high-stakes testing, his simplistic and punitive A-F school-grading system, and his coziness with profit-seeking corporations.

If Jeb Bush should run for President, this article bears re-reading.

Bush spoke at a rightwing policy conference in Michigan, where he “trashed” public schools.

“MACKINAC ISLAND, Mich. — Jeb Bush praised charter schools and slammed traditional public schools and teachers unions in a speech here Wednesday, saying that public education “dumbs down standards to make adults look better,” a phrase often used by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

“We must expand [school] choice,” said Bush, delivering a keynote speech at the annual Mackinac Policy Conference in northern Michigan. “Our governance model includes over 13,000 government-run monopolies run by unions.”

“Since he left office, the former Florida governor has become an evangelist for a certain strand of education reform; through his $19 million Foundation for Excellence in Education, he advocates for online education, grading schools based on test scores and forcing students to repeat grades if they don’t pass standardized exams.”

Bush is also an ardent fan of vouchers.

In his speech, he praised Michigan’s charter sector. Not everyone agrees with his enthusiasm. The Detroit Free Press ran a series of articles in July 2014 concluding that the state of Michigan spends $1 billion every year on charters with no accountability.

Here are the newspaper’s findings:

“What the Free Press found:

A yearlong Free Press investigation of Michigan’s charter schools found wasteful spending, conflicts of interest, poor performing schools and a failure to close the worst of the worst. Among the findings:

Charter schools spend $1billion per year in state taxpayer money, often with little transparency.

Some charter schools are innovative and have excellent academic outcomes — but those that don’t are allowed to stay open year after year.

A majority of the worst-ranked charter schools in Michigan have been open 10 years or more.

Charter schools as a whole fare no better than traditional schools in educating students in poverty.

Michigan has substantially more for-profit companies running schools than any other state.

Some charter school board members were forced out after demanding financial details from management companies.

State law does not prevent insider dealing and self-enrichment by those who operate schools.”

Sarah Blaine, a lawyer and parent, writes a terrific blog about education. In this one, she describes how her 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth testified at a school board meeting in Montclair, New Jersey, about what’s wrong with the Common Core PARCC test.

Watch the video.

Elizabeth wrote her own remarks and delivered them with poise. She begins by saying, “I love to read, I love to write, I love to do math. But I don’t love the PARCC. It stinks.” When she finished, she received an ovation from the audience.

And a litttle child shall lead them.

Paul Karrer, who teaches in California, says it is time for accountability. Taxpayers need it. The public demands it. And they are right!

Unfortunately, the search for accountability is upside-down. True accountability rests with those who design and lead the big systems, not with the front-line workers trying to make muddled ideas work.

“Accountability needs to be placed on the shoulders of those who created the education programs foisted on the education system. It is the programs which ultimately have the greatest impact. It is not just or even hardly ever the soldiers themselves fighting street-to-street, city-to-city, state-to-state, who win or lose wars. It is the plan. The education plans need to be evaluated and field-tested before they are implemented.

“For example — it was the plan to invade Iraq which was faulty and resulted in the war being lost. It was not the poor patriotic, highly motivated, well-equipped, well-trained folks who kicked in doors, ate desert dust for years, and lost life, limb, and mental health.

“And so it is with education. Teachers are the front-liners. They are in the trenches. They are fighting house-to-house, street-to-street, city-to-city.

“But the plan, well, the plan keeps on changing. First it was No Child Left Behind, like the invasion of Iraq, based on false information. In Iraq it was weapons of mass destruction, with NCLB it was fraudulent data manipulation in the bogus inception of its success in Texas. (High graduation rates actually were a product of massive numbers of low performing kids quitting school in ninth and 10th grade. Then the remaining higher-performing kids who stayed were pointed to as successful due to NCLB).

“Then President Barack Obama inflicted his Race To The Top on the foot soldiers in the teaching trenches. The plan: Evaluate teachers according to tests. Reward good ones based on testing. Hammer schools which couldn’t do this. Privatize, charterize, dissect the now-failing schools. Problem is, teachers don’t take the tests, kids with a zillion influences take the tests.

“Currently, teachers are fighting the war with a brand-new shiny plan. It is called Common Core. This plan requires massive computer use, new standards, and of course more testing of teachers, standardization and lots of untested optimistic bravado.”

In wartime, battles are lost by the planners, not the men and women in the trenches following the plan.

If you want to know what’s wrong with No Child left Behind, Race to the Top, and Common Core, do some serious evaluation, not just political preening. When big educational ideas fail, don’t blame the teachers, blame the politicians and honchos who imposed their plans on the schools without full investigation of their feasibility.

Jeff Bryant explains why test scores plummet when Common Cores tests are given. It is not because our students got dumber, and not because the standards are rigorous, but because the passing marks on the tests were set artificially high. Our kids are not stupid. The tests are.

Paul Thomas here reviews the persistent efforts to persuade the public that American public education is a failure, starting with the Reagan-era report “A Nation at Risk.” Never mind that none of its dire predictions about our economy came true (except for the outsourcing of jobs–not to countries with higher test scores but to countries with lower wages).

 

The Common Core is the latest iteration of the Nation-at-Risk narrative that our country needs higher standards and harder tests or we are doomed.

 

He writes that “Common Core is the problem, not the solution, because it is the source of a powerful drain on public resources in education that are not now invested in conditions related to racial and class inequity in our public schools.”

 

Where I disagree with Thomas is that he thinks it is a distraction to fight against Common Core and a waste of time. No, it is not a waste of time. Common Core and the tests connected to it will artificially cause test scores to collapse. It will label children as “failures” who are not failures at all. Most students, whatever their color, will be stigmatized by tests aligned with an absurd standard of proficiency (aligned with NAEP proficiency, which is equivalent to an A, in my view). Common Core, as Thomas notes, will bring about the transfer of billions of dollars to testing corporations and additional billions to technology companies and consultants. These billions will be drained from the budgets of public schools, meaning less money for essential and necessary educational opportunities.

 

The fight over Common Core brings to a head the confrontation between the accountability policies unleashed by Nation at Risk and policies that are based on the needs of children and concepts of education untainted by standardized testing.

 

 

 

 

Lee Barrios is a retired Nationally Board Certified Teacher in Louisiana.

Open letter to BESE –

Occasionally, albeit rarely, I receive confirmation that I am not only NOT crazy but that I am correct. Because I always base my actions on evidence and am always open to correction, it doesn’t really surprise me and I sleep well at night.

This BESE, on the other hand, ( 8 of you to be exact) have proven that you have personal agendas and are determined to support the lies of Supt. White and his well known cadre of business and political promoters. You are all very intelligent individuals and have ample opportunity to seek out and understand the truth. I give you no benefit of the doubt.

As I have said repeatedly, you are complicit as proven by your actions. However it is never too late to redeem a modicum of respect and honor by standing up and admitting you have been duped. It appears that now is an appropriate time to do that.

You all and John White have created chaos, pain, suffering, loss of excellent teachers, embarrassment for our state, and REAL damage to the education and lives of our children. You must understand that there can be NO test this spring and that the whole high stakes testing accountability must be overhauled and transformed from a purely punitive weapon to some kind of constructive process. Get rid of all the TFA junkies in LDE and replace them with education experts so that can be accomplished! Begin with Supt. White!

Lee P. Barrios, M.Ed., NBCT
Secondary English, Journalism, Gifted
178 Abita Oaks Loop
Abita Springs, Louisiana 70420
http://www.geauxteacher.net

“If a child struggles to clear the high bar at five feet, she will not become a “world class” jumper because someone raised the bar to six feet and yelled “jump higher,” or if her “poor” performance is used to punish her coach.” – – CommonSense

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/The-Myth-of-Average-Todd-Rose-a

“I believe in standardizing automobiles. I do not believe in standardizing human beings. Standardization is a great peril which threatens American culture.”—— Albert Einstein

Most states have adopted Common Core. A few states have backed out. A few have dropped the federally funded tests. Here is a 50-state overview.

The website RealClearEducation posted a different view of the 50 states, showing the states where the standards are at risk of being repealed.

If you have any updates from your state, let me know.

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