Archives for category: Common Core

Watch the videos of children testifying against Common Core PARCC testing.

Here is one.

Here is another.

From the mouths of babes….wisdom.

Anthony Cody reports that Democratic leaders in Washington State passed a resolution condemning the Common Core standards.

“The Central Committee of the Washington State Democratic Party has passed a resolution that roundly condemns the Common Core standards. This is the first time a statewide Democratic Party committee has taken a public position against the Common Core, and it happened in the back yard of the Gates Foundation, which has provided the funding that made the national standards project possible. This could signal a sea-change for the beleaguered standards, because up until now, political opposition has been strongest in the Republican party.

“More than 200 delegates representing 49 legislative districts, from 29 counties, gathered at the Red Lion Inn in the state capital, Olympia on Saturday, Jan. 24, where there was a showdown between “new Democrats” and a scrappy coalition of education and labor activists. Activists mixed in with the delegates, and carried homemade signs expressing their opposition to the Common Core. They also arrived early and made sure there were flyers on each chair carrying their message.”

Tomorrow is the deadline to sign up to testify against testing or Common Core at public hearings in Néw Jersey.

See here and here.

Now is your chance to speak out.

Jennifer Rickert is an elementary school teacher in upstate Néw York. She loves teaching. She has taught for 22 years. She tried her best to implement the Common Core. She was enthusiastic about doing it right. But when she read the guidelines for the Spring 2015 tests, she concluded her students were being set up for failure. She can’t do it.

She explains why in this post.

She details each of her objections to the test, including the fact that some passages may be written at a level suitable for eleventh-graders (her students are age 11 and 12). And students will be asked to choose the “right answer” when some answers are “plausible” but not the right answer.

She summarizes why she will not give the test:

“In summary, we are going to ask 11-year-olds to read and comprehend passages that are taken from higher grades, some at 5 years above their level, with controversial and provocative language, based on abstract literature and historical documents that the students have not learned about yet, and choose an answer from several plausible choices? We are going to have our students spend nine hours of seat time, allowing extra time for our Special Education students, on these inappropriate tests? (Add another nine hours for math.)

“And after all is said and done, we will reduce each child to a number: 4, 3, 2, or 1, based on their performance, providing the teachers and parents with little to no information about what they can and cannot do?

“No. No, I cannot.”

Beth Dimino, an eighth grade science teacher in the Comsewogue district on Long Island in Néw York, will not administer the Common Core tests this spring. Her superintendent, Dr. Joseph Rella, supports her. For their act of courage, I name both to the honor roll.

The Long Island Press reports:

“More than 20,000 LI school children refused to take the state tests last April. No teacher, however, has gone so far as Dimino to publicly voice his/her intention to refuse to even proctor the exams. She tells the Press her unprecedented decision is simply a matter of conscience, and spelled out as much in a recent letter to Comsewogue Superintendent Dr. Joe Rella, who’s also gone on record as a staunch Common Core dissident.

“I find myself at a point in the progress of education reform in which clear acts of conscience will be necessary to preserve the integrity of public education,” she writes. “I can no longer implement policies that seek to transform the broad promises of public education into a narrow obsession with the ranking and sorting of children.

“I will not distort curriculum in order to encourage students to comply with bubble test thinking,” continues her letter. “I can no longer, in good conscience, push aside months of instruction to compete in a state-wide ritual of meaningless and academically bankrupt test preparation. I have seen clearly how these reforms undermine teachers’ love for their profession and undermine students’ intrinsic love of learning.”

Republican Governor Susana Martinez is a strong supporter of Common Core and PARCC. She is a follower of the Jeb Bush model of school reform, with ratings and grades for everyone.

 

Democratic State Senator Linda M. Lopez has introduced legislation to withdraw from Common Core and PARCC. It will be interesting to see if any Republicans are willing to buck the Governor or if any Democrats are willing to stand with the veteran Senator Lopez.

 

Governor Martinez selected Hanna Skandera as Commissioner of Education, but the Democratic-controlled State Senate has not confirmed her because she has no teaching experience as the law requires. Skandera previously worked for Jeb Bush, and before that for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Skandera is currently leader of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change and a strong supporter of Common Core, VAM, and high-stakes testing.

Several days ago, I posted a commentary by Alan Singer that was critical of the National Council for the Social Studies. Singer was disturbed that NCSS was trying to align its content with the Common Core standards, and that it had modeled some lesson plans on a proposal by the Bill of Rights Institute, which is funded by the Koch brothers. I posted Singer’s piece because it was interesting; I did not echo his criticisms, as I have no independent knowledge of the specific issues he raised. It is good to air the issues, and I provide room to different perspectives.

 

The president of the NCSS responded to Singer as follows:
Dear Dr. Ravitch:

Alan Singer, professor of education at Hofstra University, has recently criticized the National Council of Social Studies (NCSS) and its work in advancing the study of civics, economics, geography, and history. In particular, Prof. Singer has tried to undercut NCSS’s work on the “C3 Framework” (College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards), by misrepresenting its intent and its content, and has challenged the organization’s integrity by alleging that NCSS is supporting the right-wing political agenda of the Koch brothers.
Your blog of January 5 cites some of Singer’s criticisms. People truly knowledgeable about NCSS, its mission, legacy, and membership will dismiss Singer’s attack—which was our first impulse as well. But his thesis appears to be gaining some traction, at least on the Internet, so we think it is necessary to add some facts to the conversation, in the hope of elevating the discussion to a level more appropriate to its importance.
Singer accuses NCSS and the C3 Framework of sacrificing social studies in favor of the marginalization of social studies content and conceptual learning promoted by the Common Core State Standards. The exact opposite is the case. NCSS and the C3 Framework strongly advocate that the study of social studies – civics, economics, geography, and history are just as important to our nation’s future as the study of Mathematics and English-Language Arts, which are the focus of the Common Core State Standards.

 

The C3 Framework provides clear and exacting distinctions by defining the conceptual knowledge and skills required for all students of social studies to be prepared for college, career, and an engaged civic life. Twenty-two states and fifteen national professional organizations representing civics, economics, geography, and history, collaborated in the creation of the C3 Framework. All agree that literacy skills are no substitute for the robust content knowledge, skills, and dispositions found in a rigorous social studies curriculum. All agree that a vigorous, inquiry-based social studies education is essential for the development of responsible, informed, and engaged citizens and provides a powerful context for the development of literacy skills for all students.

 

The C3 Framework is built around an Inquiry Arc…”a set of interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements” structured upon four dimensions:
Developing questions and planning inquiries.
Applying disciplinary concepts and tools.
Evaluating sources and using evidence; and
Communicating conclusions and taking informed action.
These are the pillars of the conceptual framework for the C3 Framework and speak to the heart of education for informed civic participation, the purpose of social studies. They offer a strong foundation for exactly the kind of “meaningful social studies education” and “education for democracy and citizenship” that Singer says is necessary.

The C3 Framework includes links to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts to assist states that have adopted the Common Core to identify the conceptual understandings and skills common to both. High quality social studies education enables students to build content knowledge, conduct research, evaluate multiple sources of information, collaborate with others to share knowledge and ideas, and communicate conclusions based on evidence through expository writing and formal presentations. All of these important skills, found in a rigorous social studies program, will prepare students to address compelling issues and problems in the 21st century as informed, engaged citizens.

 

Let us turn to the NCSS/Koch brothers connection. In a blog on January 5, Singer claimed:

 

“Desperate for Koch dollars to subsidize its convention and publications, the NCSS actually had agents for the seemingly anti-Common Core Koch brothers design one of the fifteen Common Core aligned lessons [published in an NCSS Bulletin].”
This line of attack, which Singer expanded upon in segments just preceding and following the quote above, is a classic example of asserting guilt-by-association, innuendo and misrepresentation. Yes, it is true that the Bill of Rights Foundation was and has long been an exhibitor at the annual NCSS convention. In that capacity it is one of over 200 exhibitors, organizations that represent every conceivable ideological stripe on the spectrum. Other exhibitors have included Peace Corps, Fords Theater Society, Mikva Challenge, and the Zinn Education Project among others.
As for selling out to right-wing zealots, featured speakers at this year’s convention included immigration reform advocate Jose Antonio Vargas, filmmaker Ken Burns, columnist Nicholas Kristof, Anthony Chavez, grandson of the late civil rights icon Cesar Chavez, and many others, who might be surprised at being so labeled. In 2013, the keynote speakers were Taylor Branch, John Lewis, Stephen Paine, and Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. You yourself were a keynote speaker in 2011. William Bennett and Howard Zinn were both keynote speakers at our conference in 2008. Through our exhibitors and our speakers, NCSS provides a dynamic forum for ideas that social studies teachers can measure and evaluate as they see fit.
Yes, it is also true that the Bill of Rights Institute was one of 15 organizations that provided a lesson plan to an NCSS publication (Bulletin 114) on how to use the C3 Framework; the wide range of other contributors included National Geographic, National History Day, Facing History and Ourselves, the Newseum, Mikva Challenge, National Museum of the American Indian, Library of Congress, the National Archives and others. NCSS Bulletins are funded by member dues, and have never received funding from the Koch brothers, as implied by Singer (or from any other of the “right-wing groups” that he speculates are influencing NCSS). NCSS publications are open to a wide range of viewpoints. Although Singer criticizes the latest NCSS Bulletin for excessive alignment with the Common Core, the lesson plans in the Bulletin are, in fact, directly aligned with the four dimensions of the C3 Framework, not with the Common Core State Standards.
A copy of the Bill of Rights lesson plan published by NCSS that Singer denounced is attached. We do not believe that any reasonable reading of the lesson plan will support Singer’s view that it is a result of a conspiracy in which NCSS “had agents for the seemingly anti-Common Core Koch brothers” write the lesson plan with the aim of achieving objectives like opposing “a national health insurance plan and the regulation of companies like Koch Industries that destroy the environment in the name of profit.”

 

We believe that any representative review of NCSS books and journals, which have published several contributions by Singer himself, will show that they are richly diverse and anything but a “sell-out of all principles.”
The C3 Framework asks students to analyze and evaluate evidence prior to communicating conclusions or taking action. We suggest that all of us follow that sound instruction.

Sincerely yours,

Michelle M. Herczog, Ed.D.
President, National Council for the Social Studies

Karen Yi reports in Florida’s Sun-Sentinel that the new Common Core tests will be harder and longer than the FCAT, and online. Expect the failure rate to increase. This is Jeb Bush’s hope, so parents will turn against public schools and seek charters or vouchers.

State’s new student tests will be longer, tougher

By Karen Yi Sun Sentinel

Florida students will take a new standardized state test this spring that’ll be more rigorous, slightly longer and mostly online.

These high-stakes exams, tied to tougher Common Core education standards, will replace the math, reading and writing portions of the FCAT. Schools are preparing now but say it is a big question mark how their students will perform — especially since the state has not come up with grading standards.

Here are some answers to commonly-asked questions about these new tests, which eventually will help determine school grades, teacher evaluations and pay.

Why did we get new standardized tests?

The tests, like the new K-12 education standards, focus on a deeper understanding of how things work and critical thinking skills. State officials say they are raising the bar so students are college and career ready.

What will be tested?

The Florida Standards Assessment will test students in grades 3-11 on math and language arts starting in March. The series of tests will also include a writing portion and end-of-course exams in Algebra I, Algebra II and Geometry.

How is the test different from the FCAT?

The Florida Standards Assessment will test more students and require more computer-based exams.

Eleventh-graders will now have to take the reading portion of the test that includes a writing component. Before, only students up to the 10th grade were tested…

Those in grades 5-11 will take the tests on computers. Third- and fourth- graders and students taking the writing portion in grades 5-7 will stick to traditional paper and pencil tests.

The tests will be longer. The writing component will last 90 minutes, 30 minutes longer than FCAT. The reading and math portions will also be 20-40 minutes longer, depending on the grade level.

How will the questions be different?

Since most of the tests will be online, many of the questions will be interactive. That means fewer traditional multiple choice questions. The reading section includes a portion where students will listen to podcasts and answer questions. In math, students will be required to solve problems using basic computer skills such as dragging and dropping or sorting answers.

The writing component will no longer ask students to simply respond to a specific prompt. Students will read passages and be asked to compare and contrast, draw inferences and answer questions based on the text.

When will the tests start?

The writing portion will begin the first week of March. Testing will run through mid-May, with schools given about a three-week window to complete testing in each subject. The math, reading and writing portions take five days to complete….

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Experts in early childhood education are calling for the abandonment of Common Core standards in kindergarten and their replacement by developmentally appropriate, research-based practice.

Defending the Early Years (DEY), in conjunction with the Alliance for Childhood, released a new report “Reading Instruction in Kindergarten: Little to Gain and Much to Lose.”

Early childhood experts could find no solid research showing long-term educational gains for children who are taught to read in kindergarten, yet this is what the Common Core Standards require. The pressure of implementing the CC reading standard is leading many kindergarten teachers to resort to inappropriate drilling on specific skills and excessive testing. Teacher-led direct instruction in kindergarten has almost entirely replaced the active, play-based experiential learning that we know children need.

Defending the Early Years and Alliance for Childhood are calling for the withdrawal of the kindergarten standards from the Common Core so they can be rethought along developmental lines. You can read the full report and watch a video, along with calls to action on the DEY website:

Find the full report at: http://www.DEYproject.org .

The video: http://youtu.be/DVVln1WMz0g

If you want to tweet your support, use this hashtag:

#2much2soon

Here are some suggested tweets:
#EarlyEd experts @dey_project @4childhood conclude #CCSS Kinder reading requirement is #2much2soon http://youtu.be/DVVln1WMz0g

and

Why @dey_project @4childhood call for withdrawal of kinder standards from #CCSS http://youtu.be/DVVln1WMz0g

Civil rights groups issued a statement expressing their support for annual testing. The statement makes assumptions about the supposed benefits of testing that are surprising. After 13 years of federally mandated annual testing, how could anyone still believe that testing will improve instruction and close achievement gaps? Tests measure achievement gaps, they don’t close them. Standardized tests are normed on a bell curve. A bell curve has a top half and bottom half. It never closes. Standardized tests accurately measure family income. One need only look at the correlation between SAT scores and family income to see how closely the scores are tied to wealth and poverty. For reasons incomprehensible to me, these worthy organizations believe that children have a right to take standardized tests, even though such tests disproportionately benefit the privileged, not children who are poor or children with disabilities or children whose families have been discriminated against because of race or ethnicity. How can one look at the results of Common Core testing in Néw York—where 97% of English learners, 95% of children with disabilities, and more than 80% of black and Hispanic students failed to meet the standard of “proficiency”—and conclude that these children are well-served by standardized testing?

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
January 11, 2015
Contact: Jeff Miller, 202-466-4281, miller@civilrights.org

Nearly 20 Civil Rights Groups and Education Advocates Release Principles for ESEA Reauthorization:
“The Federal Role Must Be Honored and Maintained”

Washington – Today, nearly 20 civil rights groups and education advocates released shared civil rights principles for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA).

In the principles, the groups highlight the important and historic role the federal government has played during the 50 years since the ESEA was originally passed in promoting educational opportunity and protecting the rights and interests of students disadvantaged by discrimination, poverty, and other conditions that may limit their educational attainment. The groups say that this role must be maintained in any bill to reauthorize the ESEA, along with ensuring that each state adopts college and career-ready state standards, aligned statewide annual assessments, and a state accountability system to improve instruction and learning for students in low-performing schools.

The full text of the principles is below.

###

Shared Civil Rights Principles for the Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act

January 2015

The United States has played a historic and critical role in promoting educational opportunity and protecting the rights and interests of students disadvantaged by discrimination, poverty, and other conditions that may limit their educational attainment. For more than five decades, Congress has consistently recognized and acted on the need to promote fair and equal access to public schools for: children of color; children living in poverty; children with disabilities; homeless, foster and migrant children; children in detention; children still learning English; Native children; and girls as well as boys. Much progress has been made, but educational inequality continues to quash dreams, erode our democracy, and hinder economic growth. This federal role must be honored and maintained in a reauthorized Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), which must ensure the following:

I. Each state adopts college and career-ready state standards and provides:

All students a fair and equal opportunity to meet these standards, including:

Access to early childhood education for economically disadvantaged children and those with disabilities (ages birth to 5 years).

Equal access to qualified and effective teachers and core college-prep courses.

Equal access to technology including hardware, software, and the Internet.
Safe and healthy school climate with inclusionary discipline best practices.
Supports and services needed by English learners and students with disabilities.

Protections for the most vulnerable children, e.g., those in juvenile or criminal justice systems, those in child welfare systems, pregnant/parenting students, and foster, homeless, and migrant youth.

Annual, statewide assessments for all students (in grades 3-8 and at least once in high school) that are aligned with, and measure each student’s progress toward meeting, the state’s college and career-ready standards, and

Are valid and reliable measures of student progress and meet other requirements now in Sec. 1111(b)(3) of Title I.[i]

Provide appropriate accommodations for English learners, who should be exempt only for their first year attending school in the United States.

Provide appropriate accommodations for students with disabilities.

Limit alternate assessments based on alternate achievement standards only to students with the most significant cognitive disabilities, up to 1 percent of all students; terminate assessments based on modified achievement standards; and prohibit the use of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) to measure academic achievement under ESEA.

Allow, during a transition period, alternatives to computer-based assessment for students in schools that have not yet provided them with sufficient access to, and experience with, the required technology.

II. Federal dollars are targeted to historically underserved students and schools.

Title I is used to provide extra (supplemental) resources needed by high-poverty schools to close achievement gaps and improve student outcomes.

States, districts and schools serving the highest-need student populations receive more funding than others.
Targeted funding is provided to meet the needs of the most vulnerable children including youth in juvenile and criminal justice systems; Native American children; English learners; and foster, homeless, and migrant students.

III. State accountability systems expect and support all students to make enough progress every year so that they graduate from high school ready for college and career.

States set annual district and school targets for grade-level achievement, high school graduation, and closing achievement gaps, for all students, including accelerated progress for subgroups (each major racial and ethnic group, students with disabilities, English language learners, and students from low-income families), and rate schools and districts on how well they meet the targets.

Effective remedies to improve instruction, learning and school climate (including, e.g., decreases in bullying and harassment, use of exclusionary discipline practices, use of police in schools, and student referrals to law enforcement) for students enrolled are implemented in any school where the school as a whole, or any subgroup of students, has not met the annual achievement and graduation targets or where achievement gaps persist. The remedies must be effective both in improving subgroup achievement and high school graduation rates and in closing achievement gaps.

IV. States and districts ensure that all Title I schools encourage and promote meaningful engagement and input of all parents/guardians –regardless of their participation or influence in school board elections – including those who are not proficient in English, or who have disabilities or limited education/literacy – in their children’s education and in school activities and decision-making. Schools communicate and provide information and data in ways that are accessible to all parents (e.g., written, oral, translated).

V. States and LEAs improve data collection and reporting to parents and the public on student achievement and gap-closing, course-completion, graduation rates, school climate indicators (including decreases in use of exclusionary discipline practices, use of police in schools, and student referrals to law enforcement), opportunity measures (including pre-K and technology), and per-pupil expenditures. Data are disaggregated by categories in Sec. 1111(b)(3)(C)(xiii) of Title I,[ii] and cross-tabulated by gender.

VI. States implement and enforce the law. The Secretary of Education approves plans, ensures state implementation through oversight and enforcement, and takes action when states fail to meet their obligations to close achievement gaps and provide equal educational opportunity for all students.

Submitted by:

The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights

American Association of University Women

American Civil Liberties Union

Children’s Defense Fund

Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates

Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund

Easter Seals

The Education Trust

League of United Latin American Citizens

Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund

NAACP

NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund

National Center for Learning Disabilities

National Council of La Raza

National Urban League

National Women’s Law Center

Partners for Each and Every Child

Southeast Asia Resource Action Center

United Negro College Fund

[i] This section includes requirements to ensure the quality, fairness and usefulness of the statewide assessments. For example, they must assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding; provide for the inclusion of all students (including students with disabilities and English language learners); be consistent with professional and technical standards; objectively measure academic achievement, knowledge and skills; and provide information to parents, teachers, principals, and administrators so that they can address the specific academic needs of students.

[ii] This section requires assessment results “to be disaggregated within each State, local educational agency, and school by gender, by each major racial and ethnic group, by English proficiency status, by migrant status, by students with disabilities as compared to nondisabled students, and by economically disadvantaged students as compared to students who are not economically disadvantaged.”

Contact information: Scott Simpson, The Leadership Conference, 1629 K St NW Ste 1000, Washington, DC 200061639

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