Archives for category: Common Core

This Illinois blogger wondered why the failure rate was so high on the Common Core PARCC test. He probably didn’t know that the passing marks were set so high that mass failure was certain.

He asked a math teacher and this was her answer.

From his earliest days on the job, Arne Duncan has said the same thing over and over: somebody dummies down standards, and we have lying to our kids. They are not as bright as they think they are, or as their moms think they are. They are dumb! They are really really dumb!

Jersey Jazzman goes through an analysis of cut scores and bell curves here. Put on your thinking caps and read it.

Then ask yourself why Arne has such a low opinion of teachers and children. Why is he happy that the new tests have been rigged to produce high failure rates?

State Superintendent MaryEllen Elia said Néw York would stick with Common Core, no matter that public opinion does not support it.

A Siena College poll found that 64% of Néw York voters either oppose Common Core or thinks it has made no difference.

She also said, ““The United States used to lead the world educationally, but we’ve fallen to the middle of the pack. Our students are lagging behind, and the global economy is growing more competitive every day.”

Actually, that’s not true. The U.S. never led the world on test scores. When the first international tests were given in the 1960s, the U.S. students came in last. Yet over the next 50 years, our nation surpassed the other 11 nations that took the same test by every measure: economic productivity, technological innovation, military might, creativity, and democratic institutions. The test scores of 15-year-olds do not predict our future. The policies of our government, the decisions of corporations to outsource jobs, our treatment of our children and communities matter more.

When I met Commissioner Ekia, I have her a copy of “Reign of Error,” which explains this in greater detail. Obviously she hasn’t had time to read it.

Given the debacle of the Gates teacher evaluation in Hillsborough County, where Elia was superintendent until January, she should rethink her views.

The latest Siena poll reports that most Néw Yorkers like the idea of a $15 per hour minimum wage. But not many like Common Core.

“The Siena poll shows that 40 percent of voters say the implementation of Common Core worsened public education, and 24 percent said the implementation had no meaningful effect. Only 19 percent said the implementation improved education.
A plurality of voters (38 percent) also called the standards too demanding. Twenty percent said they aren’t good enough, and 23 percent said they’re just right.

“The regional divide here isn’t much of a surprise either: Those in the suburbs and upstate are more critical of the standards in this poll than those in New York City are. Recall that the highest percentages of state test opt-outs in April were from outside the five boroughs.”

Michael Grunwald, who usually writes about politics, not education, has posted a mostly admiring profile of Arne Duncan.

Bottom line: He really cares!

What he leaves out: Arne’s persistent support for privatization of public education.

He does touch on the opposition to high-stakes testing, but skirts the hot-button issue of teacher evaluation by test scores.

But he does feel bad about the instability that has occurred in Chicago since he left.

And Undersecretary of Education Ted Mitchell cries when he talks about Arne. Michael Grunwald probably doesn’t know that Ted gave up a $750,000 a year job as CEO of NewSchools Venture Fund, the leading privatization organization in education, to join Arne.

As Grunwald says, you can’t understand Arne if you don’t understand basketball. I know a lot about education, but I don’t understand basketball. So that’s my problem.


There he goes again!

Arne Duncan loves, loves, loves to say that schools and teachers have been lying to our kids. They are really very dumb, and yet they have been getting promoted, going to college, and they are not prepared for college! Their teachers lied to them! Their schools lied to them! Now, as we see the collapse of test scores on the Common Core tests, we know the truth: Our kids are dumb!

I seem to recall that when President-elect Barack Obama named Arne Duncan as Secretary of Education, he pointed to the dramatic improvement in test scores in Chicago. Those test score gains were not true. They actually were a lie. So Arne Duncan knows something about dummying down standards and telling lies to parents.

But let Mercedes Schneider and Peter Greene tell the story of what Arne said in Pittsburgh, where he seem positively exuberant about the atrocious scores on the Common Core tests in Pennsylvania. You would think that after more than six years of his being Secretary of Education, he might be accountable for the decline of test scores. When will he be held accountable? Readers of this blog know, because I have written about it many times, that the scores fell because the two testing consortia (PARCC and SBAC) aligned their cut score (passing mark) with NAEP proficient, which is out of reach of most students. Since NAEP began testing in states in 1992, only in Massachusetts have 50% of students ever reached NAEP proficient.

Here is Mercedes. Mercedes points out that Arne has made a point of enrolling his own children in schools that don’t use the Common Core or its tests. So he will never ever know the truth about his own children.

Here is Peter.

Peter asks:

Could it be that the BS Tests do a lousy job of measuring a narrow slice of actual student achievement, and that the cut scores aren’t set in any way that would reflect meaningful educational information, and that none of this has anything to do with being ready for college or success, and that the whole process is so infected with politics (which is in turn infected with the moneyed interests of book publishers, test manufacturers, privatizers, and profiteers) that it has nothing to do with education at all.

Duncan thinks failing scores mean something because they support a conclusion he has already reached– that education is being ruined by terrible lying teachers, and that only his friends (who stand to make a mint from all this upheaval) can save the day. And Duncan isn’t smart enough to know the difference between a mountain of education excellence and a giant pile of bullshit.

Here is an interesting item from

OHIO FACING COMMON CORE CRITICISM: Critics say the Ohio State Board of Education is practicing some fuzzy math on the Common Core, having voted earlier this week to depart from general benchmarks on the PARCC exam. Students who are “nearing expectations” according to PARCC benchmarks will be given a promotion of sorts in Ohio, where they’ll be considered “proficient.” If Ohio stuck with PARCC’s benchmarks, about a third of students would be meeting standards, according to the early data, which includes only students who took the online tests. The board’s change roughly doubles the number of students meeting standards. “This discrepancy should give pause to parents, community leaders and policy makers who expect transparency in Ohio’s transition to higher standards and new tests,” Karen Nussle, executive director of the pro-Common Core group Collaborative for Student Success, wrote [] in a memo earlier this week. It “suggests that Ohio has set the proficiency bar too low and undermines the promise of ensuring kids are on track for college and career.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer has more on the change:

Now, if I understand the critics correctly, they truly wanted 2/3 of all students to fail. They are disappointed that the state board of education created a level called “nearing expectations” that raised the proportion of students who met standards.

The critics thought that Ohio had watered down the “rigorous” standards of the Common Core and PARCC. They want more kids to fail! No excuses!

Begin with the fact that no one knows whether the Common Core or the PARCC/SBAC tests measure “college and career readiness.” How could anyone know? No one has actually gone on to college or career after using these standards and tests.

Maybe the tests have set their passing mark so high that most kids will fail them every year. What will we do with the kids who never get promoted? And the kids who never graduate from high school? Will students be allowed to advance if they have not met the “proficient” level of PARCC? Proficient on PARCC is aligned with proficient on NAEP. In no state other than Massachusetts have 50% reached proficient. That’s over a 23-year time span, since NAEP started assessing the states in 1992. If the same pattern is reflected in the schools with PARCC and SBAC, only 1/3 of students will ever be promoted or graduate. Maybe it might rise to 40%.

Will this generation of students stay in the same grade in school until they drop out? New kids will keep coming into kindergarten. At some point, one of these deep thinkers should think through the logic of their demands. Why are they so insistent that 2/3 of students must fail? Have they ever looked at the research on how children are affected in their motivation to try when they fail and fail and fail?

Maybe the Common Core and the tests measure who will be ready for an elite Ivy League university. But what about the students who plan to go to a state university or a community college? How do the tests measure readiness to work as a nurse, a construction worker, a retail salesperson, a medical technician, or any of the other occupations that will create the most new jobs (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics) in the next decade?

David Gamberg is the superintendent of the Southold Public Schools and the Greenport Public Schools, two small contiguous districts on the North Fork of Long Island. I have visited the elementary school in Southold and was wowed by the student garden and by the musical groups. These are schools and communities that care about their children, not just their test scores. Large proportions of students in both districts opted out of state testing last spring.

Gamberg spoke out against the Common Core standards and testing to his local newspaper. When Governor Cuomo announced that the Common Core was “not working” and that he would appoint a commission to find out why, Gamberg agreed that the standards and tests are not working. He worried that the Governor’s commission might not be independent.

He said:

The group might not sufficiently represent educators’ beliefs, Mr. Gamberg cautioned, if Gov. Cuomo hand picks the members.

“We need a completely independent commission, not one that is constructed by the governor who has no right nor position to do so,” he said. “When we look to bring expertise into the equation, we should be the ones developing and finding those individuals.”

In this video on YouTube, Gamberg addresses the faculty and staff at the opening of school and poses a question: What is worth fighting for? The answer: public education. He discusses the philosophy of the districts he leads, which prioritize children and their needs and help them grow into responsible adults. He offers no bonuses or threats to his staff. He knows they are working as hard as they know how to meet common goals, focused on the students in their care.

David Gamberg is a stand-up superintendent and leader.

Tim Farley is a public school parent and advocate in upstate New York. In this post, he describes the way that the New York State Education Department has manipulated test scores to avoid providing needed academic interventions for students who fail.

With the Common Core tests producing a failure rate of 70%, who will give the students the remediation to which they are legally entitled?

Seth Sandronsky, a journalist in California, loves Mercedes Schneider’s new book, “Common Core Dilemma: “Who Owns Our Schools?”

In this review, he summarizes the main themes of the book.

He writes:

“Uncle Sam helped to spur the Common Core State Standards, the newest “big thing” in education reform that profits businesses. Mercedes K. Schneider names the actors and unveils their deeds and words in Common Core Dilemma: Who Owns Our Schools? (Teachers College Press, 2015).

“A laser-like focus on a politically-connected class of edupreneurs propels her empirical case against education privatization’s bid to establish national test-driven assessments and standards for K-12 public schools. There is a vital history here, away from public view for years.

“Schneider clarifies such deliberate obscurity. In an Introduction, 11 chapters, Conclusion, Glossary, Notes and an Index, she investigates the relevant CCSS methods and motives.

“Schneider begins with a look at the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965. It in part paved the path for the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 under GOP President George W. Bush that Sen. And Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders voted for, too.

“Central to the NCLB is high-stakes student testing. It fuels education privatization. Teachers’ livelihoods depend on their students’ test scores.

“Under this small carrot-and-big stick framework, the NCLB used state education standards to assess and punish disproportionately public schools in black and brown communities. Democratic Party politicians facilitated this process.

“Yet such a policy reliance upon state standards proved to limit the playing field of education reform. Such limits to capital accumulation generally require federal intervention, with Pres. Obama’s Race To The Top, the CCSS-friendly offspring of the NCLB, a case in point.

“The reformers nearly to a person are not teachers. That fact is striking, and runs a thread throughout Schneider’s book, outraging her and maybe readers, too.

“The CCSS solution to the limits of state standards propelled Achieve, Inc.’s grand plan to create a “common” set of K-12 standards in in English and math. Achieve is part of a triad that includes American College Testing and the College Board pushing the CCSS.

“Elected by nobody, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State Officers own the copyright for the CCSS. If that is not an attack on democracy, what is?

“And as Schneider shows, the plan for the CCSS slithered ahead in stealth for reasons, we read, of preparing US public schools for the intrusion of global monopoly corporations. Business knows best, according to wealthy interest such as Bill and Melinda Gates.

“For example, Schneider shines the light on Gates and luminaries such as IBM’s CEO Louis Gerstner, Jr. He drips arrogance in his ignorance of what classroom teachers and their pupils do on a daily basis, while positioning Achieve to suckle from the CCSS.

“Readers get to know the CCSS word salad of groups and terms. This language of edureform is a try to obfuscate the privatization of American public education.”

There is more, of course. The media writes about the Common Core by reading the press releases of its advocates. Schneider’s book might well be subtitled: The Secret History of the Common Core Standards.”.

A must for journalists, parents, and educators.


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