Archives for category: Common Core

A poll commissioned by “Education Next,” a conservative journal, finds that the public supports the idea of common standards but the support drops sharply when asked about Common Core. See the Edweek account here.

The biggest declines from 2013 to 2014 were among teachers and Republicans. Support among Democrats remained steady at about 63-64%. The proportion of Republicans supporting Common Core dropped from 57% to 43%. Certain prominent Republicans continue to promote Common Core, including Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, and Other Republican governors.

The biggest decline in support was among teachers. Support dropped from 76% to 46%. This sharp decline is notable not only for its size but for two other reasons: first, both national teachers’ unions have endorsed Common Core and reiterated their support for Common Core at their national conventions just weeks ago. Second, of the various groups questioned, teachers are the most knowledgable about the Common Core since almost every state is training teachers to Implement the new standards.

Peter Greene explains the decline of support among teachers with this phrase: “Familiarity breeds contempt.” He says, “I’m hoping leadership in both unions takes a good hard look at this result. Again– a group that is committed to promoting CCSS, that has a vested interest is being able to say that people and teachers love the Core, has determined that teachers do not love the Core much at all. Please pay attention, union leaders.”

The editors of “Education Next” are known for their hostility to teachers’ unions and teacher tenure and their advocacy for school choice, including charters and vouchers.

The first results of Utah’s Common Core tests are in, and they follow the pattern of other states: a sharp drop in the proportion of students who are “proficient.”

“The percentage of Utah students who scored proficient or better in science ranged from 37 percent to 45 percent, depending on grade level. In math, anywhere from 29 percent to 47 percent of kids scored proficient. And in language arts, proficiency ranged from 38 percent to 44 percent.

“Proficiency was defined as performing at or above standards for grade level.”

“Proficiency levels were much higher on CRTs last year. In science last year on CRTs, proficiency levels ranged from 58 percent to 76 percent, depending on grade level; in math, from 39 percent to 85 percent; and in language arts, from 77 percent to 90 percent.”

State officials, having bought into the Common Core, are not at all disturbed.

Parents and teachers should be outraged. Common Core tests are aligned with NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) “proficiency” levels, which are NOT grade level. NAEP proficiency represents “solid academic achievement.” I served on the NAEP governing board for seven years. Most students will not reach NAEP proficient because it is NOT grade level. I think of it as a high level of achievement.

May I remind you that we are one of the most powerful and most creative and most productive nations in the world. We didn’t get that way with a stupid population.

The Common Core tests are developmentally inappropriate. The achievement levels are out of reach of most students. You cannot reasonably expect a fifth-grader to answer questions on a seventh-grade level? Does Utah have plans for the 50-55% of their students who will not be able to graduate high school because of Common Core’s absurd definition of “proficient”?

It is hard to remember who is suing whom in Louisiana. Fortunately we have Mercedes Schneider to keep us updated on the three different lawsuits, each of which is pursuing a different issue related to the Common Core and the PARCC tests.

Try to remember this: as a high school teacher, Schneider is no fan of Common Core and PARCC. She is also no fan of Jindal or White. Jindal used to be a fan of Common Core a and White, but a few months ago, he decided to withdraw Louisiana from the Common Core. State Commissioner John White and the state board–most of whom were Jindal allies–are loyal to the Common Core and the tests.

Now with all that context, read the post.

Carol Burris and Biana Tanis take a close look at New York’s Common Core tests and find them deeply flawed. Burris is a high school principal on Long Island and Tanis is a public school parent and special education teacher in the Hudson Valley.

State officials celebrated paltry results: the passing rates on the reading test were flat and increased in math by 4.6%. But nearly 2/3 of the state’s children did not reach the state’s unreasonably high proficiency level. Testing experts and state officials knew in advance what the results would be. Why do they stubbornly cling to the outworn cliche that raising the bar improves achievement? We thought that idea was discredited by the abject failure of NCLB. If a run er can’t clear a four-foot bar, how will he clear a six-foot bar?

Burris and Tanis show that certain groups, such as students with disabilities and English language learners, did very poorly. The content was far beyond their capacity. Fifty percent of the questions were released, and the authors show that many were age-inappropriate. What is the logic of giving 7th grade content to a 5th grader?

Here is an example:

“In addition to passage difficulty, the questions themselves required skills out of the reach for many young children. Consider this fourth-grade question on the test based on a passage from Pecos Bill Captures the Pacing White Mustang by Leigh Peck.

Why is Pecos Bill’s conversation with the cowboys important to the story?

A) It predicts the action in paragraph 4

B) It predicts the action in paragraph 5

C) It predicts the choice in paragraph 10

D) It predicts the choice in paragraph 11

Visualize the steps required to answer this question. First, 9-year-olds must flip back to the conversation and re-read it. Next, they must go back to the question and then flip back to paragraph 4. Complete this step 3 more times, each time remembering the original question. In addition to remembering the content of each paragraph, they must also be mindful that choices A and B refer to the action in the related paragraph, while choices C and D refer to a choice. Similar questions were on the third-grade test. Questions such as these are better suited to assess one’s ability to put together a chair from Ikea than they are to assess student’s understanding of what they read.”

Is it any wonder that parent anger towards the Common Core is growing in New York? This is a blue state; these parents are outraged by a state policy that labels their children as failures based on tests that are developmentally inappropriate. Why does the state want 2/3 of its children to be branded as failures? If this is what Common Core means, it will have a short life indeed. It may be fine for the kids bound for the Ivy League, but most kids are not. We need common sense more than Common Core.

Remember when promoters of Common Core tried to present it as a done deal and said it was too late to stop it? Remember when they demonized the critics of Common Core as extremists who should be ridiculed or ignored?

Peter Green writes that the age of realism is beginning to change the conservative tune. CATO never swallowed the belief that national standards were needed. Fordham, which ran from state to state making the case for Common Core, now thinks they have to find a way to make an emotional pitch (sounds like advice from a PR firm). Andy Smarick is rethinking the whole idea of imposing grand plans on the nation.

Of course, the loudest complaints have come from red states, where voters are up in arms about losing local and state control. But even conservatives like Jeb Bush, Michelle Rhee, and John Kasich, governor of Ohio, are still fighting for the Common Core.

As many of us have predicted, Common Core is slowly dying as “national standards.” It may survive in half the states. If those states pull out of the federal tests, it won’t survive long. The PARCC Pearson tests get strong negative reviews. We will see what happens with Smarter Balanced. If it uses the same passing marks as PARCC, it will disappear too. The purpose of education is not to rank children, but to develop them to be good human beings. If we design tests to fail half our students, it will be a malignant system.

In Louisiana, a judge turned back the appeal of 17 legislators who wanted to stop the implementation of Common Core and CC testing. The legislators claimed that the state had adopted this set of standards and tests without going through the proper procedures, including hearings. State Commissioner John White said that implementation would proceed. There are more legal challenges in the offing.

Reader Art Seagal comments on the latest, most destructive fads in American education–destructive because they are mandatory and do not permit teacher judgment or professionalism.

Seagal writes:

I just read a telling article in an alumni magazine all about one man’s (Clayton Christensen) business concept – “disruptive innovation”. Sadly, our nation’s children and teachers have become pawns in a corporate-centric world being constantly moved over the chessboard so that opponent’s kings can be check-mated. “Edupreneurs” .. you pick from a string of them – the latest being David Coleman – are trying to play Christensen’s concept (which really is a statement of the obvious put through marketing and given a “brand”) to become the KING – the last man standing – the American Idol – the Survivor – the Bachelorette – you name it and the corporate world is going to find that “ONE PROFIT MAKING IDEAL that is going to be ON TOP (henceforth profitable) rendering everything before it useless. This may work for products??? Think cell phone and landline. But it certainly is not working for the basics of humanity – our quest to learn. Just the mere attempt to try to be the “disruptive innovator” is destroying public education (well there is a lot more contributing to this destruction too like poverty and a failing democratic process on a national level).

I mentioned before.. this era of “guru-ization”. Ravitch totally nails it in this recent article with the revolving door of “next best” and “this way or the highway” style public education that has taken professional control from teachers totally away and put it into the hands of what I will say are wanna be “disruptive innovators”. I am thankful for her existence on a daily basis!!!

We need to bring back teacher control. Yes, teachers who constantly keep updated and read about various education ideas and actually pick and choose those components they professionally feel will merit use in their particular classrooms. When you get a program like Balanced Literacy developed by someone with a lot of ed experience but it suddenly becomes THE ONE PROGRAM in NYC… it serves not to benefit but to disenfranchise because it is expected (no demanded by authorities) to be implemented in a one-size-fits all kind of way. The business model has perpetuated “guruization” by dangling the potential for enormous profit off of “that one idea” that goes forcefully viral. Let’s keep these ideas but not let the corporate world co-opt them!

Coleman’s theories need a good looking at by people who actually have education (not testing experience). Teachers are perfectly capable of looking at his ideas and tossing out everything that does not work. But this is not how it works. They must follow ALL OF IT despite their experience telling them otherwise. Dare I say this but if teachers were allowed to choose from their readings what and how to implement various components of various education ideas… success might be a lot more prevalent. And yes, most teachers I work with WANT TO GO TO PD’s that are not PR brainwashing events but one’s of their choosing that actually help them in the classroom. One fabulous teacher I know, paid on her own dime (as we usually do when we want REAL PD’s) and could not talk enough about a “brain and the young child” conference she attended (led by a neurologist). Instead we are forced to attend conferences where non educators are trained specifically to teach educators and their bosses are getting heaps of money to inflict nonsense on these teachers. These trainers never can answer the nitty gritty real questions that teachers ask because they have not had the requisite classroom experience. And quite often they are charged with selling their company’s “brand”. The superintendents meanwhile get to “check off” that their county’s teachers have been provided “essential training” from their superintendent’s “check-list” that satisfies likely a govt entity that provides funding to their county! Junk food PD’s.

I feel sorry for our “down under” friends… their govt.’s willingness to follow the US public education model truly will put their nation’s most valuable (their young) “down and under”.

This is hilarious! The Onion reports that Johnson & Johnson will produce a new baby shampoo called “Nothing But Tears,” guaranteed to make babies cry. This will toughen them up. In Valerie Strauss’s blog, “Nothing But Tears” is Common Core infused and endorsed by Emperor Bill Gates. “Because it’s never too early to grow the hell up! Guaranteed kindergarten ready! Extra grit!”

The long arm of the Gates Foundation reaches out to create a rating system for Common Core-aligned materials. Not content to have paid for the writing of the CCSS. the evaluation of the CCSS, the implementation of the CCSS, and the promotion of and advocacy for the CCSS, the foundation wants to take the next step to make sure no one uses anything less than stellar CCSS.


In today:



A ‘CONSUMER REPORTS’ FOR THE COMMON CORE: A new nonprofit funded with $3 million from the Gates Foundation and the Helmsley Charitable Trust launches today with plans to review textbooks and other instructional material for fidelity to the Common Core. will start by bringing in teams of classroom teachers to evaluate K-8 math materials. The curricula will be judged by how well it matches the Common Core and assesses student learning and by whether it offers teachers guidance in reaching children at all levels.The group will post its ratings online and invite response from the publishers. Up first: Pearson’s enVision Math, McGraw-Hill’s Everyday Math, Houghton Mifflin’s Go Math and more than a dozen other widely used curricula. EdReports will turn to high-school math and language arts in future years.


Yesterday, state officials were celebrating the latest test scores. English was flat; math was up a few points.


But stop the party!


It turns out that the passing mark was lowered.




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