Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Center, New York, explains her concerns about the Common Core. She previously wrote a book about how to implement the standards and now wishes she could retract it.
She writes here:
I am coming to the same conclusion regarding the CCSS despite the fact that I have advocated college readiness for students during my entire professional career. The CCSS, as they are being implemented, are not about college readiness for all–they are about a testing system that will sort students into different pathways. When I first saw the standards, I thought that they were full of promise. I thought that they could be used to gently guide instruction in a supportive and equitable way, as described in the book that I co-authored–Opening the Common Core. I now wish that I could rip that title off the book. The CCSS have morphed into a punitive testing system that has a narrow definition of what a student should demonstrate on a test in order to claim they are college ready. But college readiness is not, nor has it ever been, about testing. It is about giving students rich, challenging learning experiences. See Adelman’s Answers in the Toolbox (1999) to see the research that supports what true readiness is.
There are five skills in the CC ELA standards–reading, writing, speaking, listening and collaboration. All are important for college and career readiness. Yet, only the first two will be tested, and tested at a level so rigorous that no teacher will have time to spend on the other three. This does not have to be. The IB, for example, assesses all five. The difference is that the IB trusts teachers to score their students’ performance during the year and so those skills can be assessed. The tests of the CCSS are inextricably linked to evaluating teachers by test scores so they cannot trust teachers to assess students’ speaking skills or collaborative skills. I do not think this is coincidence. I think the architects of this reform realized that the tests were going to be so difficult that unless they tied teacher job security to test results, they would not get the narrow curriculum and the drill that would be needed to get the desired scores. This does a terrible disservice to all of our students.
I have looked closely at the 8th grade math test sampler for NYS. The questions on topics are more difficult than the questions on the same topics on the Algebra Regents given in high school for the graduation standard. Last year only 73% of NY’s students passed that Regents. This disjointed, out of sync testing program that is based on the ideals of David Coleman and others, rather than on the reality of developmental learning for a diverse body of NY students is wrongheaded and destructive.
Mr Coleman earned considerable fees for his consultation to the New York State Education Department ( over 60K in a few months). Last year, he went to the College Board for a starting package of 750K. The College Board is now selling CCSS prep curriculum through Springboard, and former employees are Regents Fellows developing the tests. Clearly the Common Core has been quite profitable for Mr. Coleman and others. However, that profit is being made at the expense of our students.
It is all very tragic, and it did not need to be this way at all.