If you really want to know what the New York City public schools are doing to make sure that five-year-olds are on track for college and/or careers, read Gary Rubinstein’s description about his daughter’s Common Core workbook for kindergarten.

State officials claim they don’t want to test children in k-2, but that is not what the workbook says.

Gary notes:

*Each page of the book features in large letters the words ‘TEST PREP’ so any administrator who claims that they don’t encourage test prep for kindergarteners is lying. Also notice that these kindergarteners are getting early practice in bubbling. *

He reproduces example after example of math questions that the students are supposed to answer.

These five-year-olds are expected to know how to add and subtract and to do problem-solving. There is even some algebra thrown in for good measure.

Gary thinks the $30 that this workbook cost would be better spent on field trips and activities.

One of his commenters said that the workbook is not itself Common Core but a publishing company’s effort to implement Common Core.

I expect we will see many publishers using their resources to make school as “hard” as possible so that five year old children are on track for college and careers.

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The cart is leading the horse.

Thank you Gary for bringing this to light. So many parents concerns are shut down by Tish, King, and Principal’s.

It would be nice if our schools heard our voices and stopped the non-stop test prep. My children are in the same school and the administration asks for test prep to start in September when students arrive.

This is child abuse on so many levels. Remember that standardized tests are norm referenced so they are produced so that half the students will fail and half will pass compared to other students.

I don’t want to compare my child to others. I want a school that teaches to the whole child. We need to Change the Stakes and opt out of all standardized tests. Please see sample letters to refuse your children taking the state tests:

https://changethestakes.wordpress.com/national-opt-out-movement/

Can’t think of anything more horrible than destroying the developmentally appropriate practices of early childhood.

http://www.naeyc.org/DAP

Defending the Early Years http://deyproject.org/ is actually a more consistent voice in support of DAP than NAEYC has been over the past decade or so. That’s due to rogue elements in the leadership who eliminated Piaget from the green bible and gave us “challenging but achievable” as a measure of DAP. (I’ve worked with many preschool teachers in private for-profit centers who’ve used that yard stick as justification for drilling young children in academics.)

With daily recess being pretty much nonexistent, I don’t see how they will be college and career ready. Recess is where the soft skills of conflict resolution, problem solving, team building, negotiation, communication skills, and personal effectiveness are practiced and refined. Since “play” has been replaced with rigor there isn’t ample opportunity to practice these skills.

Recess is also when what a child has just learned in class has a chance to move from short term memory to long term memory because the mind is given a break while the body is allowed to move, both essential for this to occur. They know this in Finland and plan their lessons with recess in between each one. This is already proven best practice. Common Core is just an experiment.

Yes, and the Finnish National Board of Education reviews and writes about current, relevant research in its own publications, like this one – Physical Activity and Learning – http://www.oph.fi/download/145366_Physical_activity_and_learning.pdf

I laughed…until I cried. What are we allowing to be done to our children? This was the most hilarious thing I have read for a while….until reality set in…go math indeed…out the window and flown the coup…

It is interesting that algebra is thrown into the book. Here are the CCSS for math in Kindergarten:

In Kindergarten, instructional time should focus on two critical areas: (1) representing and comparing whole numbers, initially with sets of objects; (2) describing shapes and space. More learning time in Kindergarten should be devoted to number than to other topics.

1. Students use numbers, including written numerals, to represent quantities and to solve quantitative problems, such as counting objects in a set; counting out a given number of objects; comparing sets or numerals; and modeling simple joining and separating situations with sets of objects, or eventually with equations such as 5 + 2 = 7 and 7 – 2 = 5. (Kindergarten students should see addition and subtraction equations, and student writing of equations in kindergarten is encouraged, but it is not required.) Students choose, combine, and apply effective strategies for answering quantitative questions, including quickly recognizing the cardinalities of small sets of objects, counting and producing sets of given sizes, counting the number of objects in combined sets, or counting the number of objects that remain in a set after some are taken away.

2. Students describe their physical world using geometric ideas (e.g., shape, orientation, spatial relations) and vocabulary. They identify, name, and describe basic two-dimensional shapes, such as squares, triangles, circles, rectangles, and hexagons, presented in a variety of ways (e.g., with different sizes and orientations), as well as three-dimensional shapes such as cubes, cones, cylinders, and spheres. They use basic shapes and spatial reasoning to model objects in their environment and to construct more complex shapes.

I do not see any algebra here.

You’re finding an unknown. Basically, that’s algebra in a nutshell, depending on how one defines it.

That said, is this REALLY what Kindergarteners should be spending the majority of their time doing?

Yeah, that’s a trick question. The answer is “no.”

Actually, the answer is, “HELL, no!”

It seems reasonable to have students count the number of objects in a set, count two objects taken away, and count the number of objects left in a set. It is algebra in a sense, but it relies on students ability to count objects. Is counting something Kindergartners should not spend some time doing?

Children in kindergarten should play. In Finland, schooling does not begin until age 7.

It is certainly true that there was no public kindergarten when I was the age to go, and no full day public kindergarten when my own children were of the age to go, so it is certainly not an insurmountable obstruction.

I am curious though about why counting can not be playing. The two seem very compatible to me.

97% of Finnish kids attend free half-day preschool, which does include goals like letter recognition and learning to count to 20. The small number of kids who do not have this background are quickly brought up to speed when formal schooling does begin, but I don’t think it’s accurate to imply that Finnish kids do not receive any formal non-play-based education until the age of 7.

Tim, What is the source of that information?

According to Eeva Penttila, head of international relations for Helsinki’s education department, ‘The focus for kindergarten students is to “learn how to learn.” Instead of formal instruction in reading and math, there are lessons on nature, animals and the “circle of life,” and a focus on materials-based learning.’ http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/early-educations-top-model-finland/article4212334/

Here is a link to the Core Curriculum for Pre-school Education in Finland. The document is dated 2000, but perhaps things have not changed much.

I don’t see anything in that document about children being required to learn letter recognition or how to count to 20. There is a lot about how It’s a play-based curriculum, where children are encouraged to learn beginning literacy and numeracy through exploration, experimentation and investigations. That is very different from being required to learn prescribed letters and numbers simply because bureaucrats say they must.

Under the mathematics heading there is this:

With the aid of classification, comparison and sorting, children will explore and analyse objects, organisms, bodies, figures, materials and phenomena on the basis of shapes,

quantities and other properties.

Classification and sorting by shape and classification and comparison by quantities does not sound all that different from the CCSS.

Here is an article about a Singaporean expat teaching in Finland that mentions the counting. I’ll look for something more formal later.

http://www.todayonline.com/commentary/pre-school-where-kids-are-left-be-kids

I don’t doubt that the curriculum is overwhelmingly play based and that the settings are nurturing and highly child-centered, but it’s clear the kids are getting at least a small taste of instruction before they enter “real” school.

There is a HUGE difference between skilled early childhood educators encouraging children to learn through play and didactic teaching with workbooks and two dimensional pictures, including flash cards. The former fosters a love of learning. The latter is drill and kill.

According to “The ECEC Curriculum Guidelines and its Implementation in Finland” by Päivi Lindberg, the Swedish definition of pedagogy, “…also describes the Finnish interpretation quite well: “[Pedagogy] combines a particular concept of learning (foregrounding relations, dialogue and construction of meaning rather than the transmission of predetermined knowledge) with a broad idea of care that goes well beyond physical caretaking to a concern for and engagement with all aspects of life (social, physical, aesthetic, ethical, cultural, etc.)” (Dahlberg and Moss, 2005: 33).”

From what I’ve read, except for teacher qualifications, child-teacher ratios and health and safety requirements, curriculum and standards are only guidelines. Finnish preschools can set their own goals, but the transmission of predetermined knowledge is not a primary focus, as constructivism is highly valued.

If I can quote from the Finish National Standards

From 19/12/2000 until further notice

The National Board of Education has confirmed the Core Curriculum for Pre- school Education 2000 to be observed as from 19th December 2000 until further notice. The Core Curriculum has been prepared in compliance with Section 14 of the Basic Education Act in co-operation with the National Research and Development Centre for Welfare and Health, Stakes.

The education provider shall prepare and approve a curriculum for education in compliance with the provisions of this Core Curriculum. The curriculum shall specify and complement the objectives and core contents set out in the Core Curriculum. Curricula conforming to this core curriculum may be adopted as from 1st August 2001 and shall be adopted no later than 1st August 2002.

The education provider may not fail to comply with the Core Curriculum and may not deviate from it.

Uses of phrases like “may not fail to comply”, “shall prepare and approve”, “may not deviate”,and “shall specify and complement” suggest to me that the Finish National Board of Education does not view these as guidelines.

Is it just a guideline if you must not deviate from it?

Read it closely. It is not a list of knowledge and skills that must be taught. Just core subjects are listed. It’s emergent curriculum: “Learning in pre-school education shall be an active and goal oriented process, which is based on previous knowledge structures and will often involve solving problems. Knowledge cannot thus be directly transferred to children through teaching, but children themselves will generate new ideas on the basis of previously adopted ideas and new information.”

When I read

“With the aid of classification, comparison and sorting, children will explore and analyse objects, organisms, bodies, figures, materials and phenomena on the basis of shapes, quantities and other properties.”

I think that students might classify and sort based on shape using circles, squares, triangles. Classifying and comparing based on quantities suggests concepts of equality, greater than, and less than.

You think that classification, comparison, and sorting using shapes and quantities are not skills?

BTW, TE, what Finland described in their “CORE CURRICULUM

FOR PRE-SCHOOL EDUCATION IN FINLAND 2000” is what has long been considered to be best practices in Early Childhood Education in America as well. Many states have similar requirements in their regulations for licensed child care programs. They describe what is developmentally appropriate. They do not mandate that children learn specific knowledge and skills. The curriculum emerges from the strengths, needs and interests of the children, as well as the professional expertise of their teachers.

Of course children are learning through play and developing habits of mind. That’s the point. There are plenty of toys that have kids sort and classify circles, squares and triangles, however, the example you provided is actually one that someone who is not skilled in Early Childhood Education is most likely to give.

Competent Early Childhood Educators would focus on using real world objects that would be meaningful to children. For example, they might read about and discuss the cornucopia at Thanksgiving time and ask children to bring in items to fill a Class Cornucopia basket. Then they would have the children compare, contrast, analyze, graph and count the different fruits, nuts, etc., as well as represent their investigations in some medium, such as a painting.

You completely overlooked the importance of the approach, which is the primary focus:

“Children shall be guided to pay attention to mathematical phenomena that can be seen in natural everyday situations. Children shall have an active role in learning situations. Natural ways to expand children’s understanding of mathematics include inducement mainly by means of play, stories, songs, physical exercise, small tasks, discussions and games and ample use of illustrative examples. Children’s positive attitude towards mathematics shall be supported. They should perceive learning mathematics to be an interesting and challenging activity, which is significant and meaningful.”

Just so I can understand where the conversation has now taken us, can you agree that 1) the national state curriculem of Finland for pre-school , when it says that

“The education provider shall prepare and approve a curriculum for education in compliance with the provisions of this Core Curriculum. The curriculum shall specify and complement the objectives and core contents set out in the Core Curriculum.”

and

“The education provider may not fail to comply with the Core Curriculum and may not deviate from it.”

does not mean that the national curriculum is simply a set of guidelines and

2) that classifying and sorting by shape and quantity as specified by the national curriculum of Finland inherently requires a knowledge of shape and an ability to count on the part of the student that is commonly understood as a set of skills.

If we are in agreement on these point we can productively move on to a discussion of the CCSS requirements concerning the approaches to teaching these mathmatical concepts.

No. There are no lists of what kids must learn in each content area. Those are requirements for implementing developmentally appropriate practices that promote learning in a natural environment and through play. Teachers must comply with HOW to teach but they have a lot of autonomy in determining WHAT to teach.

So you don’t find this to be a description about what to teach?

With the aid of classification, comparison and sorting, children will explore and analyse objects, organisms, bodies, figures, materials and phenomena on the basis of shapes, quantities and other properties.”

Can students classify, compare, or sort based on shape without being knowing the basic shapes of squares, circles or triangles? Can they classify, compare or sort based on quantity without being able to count?

This is an example of state standards for Preschool. Unlike Finland’s, they are very specific about WHAT must be taught in each area: http://www.isbe.state.il.us/earlychi/pdf/early_learning_standards.pdf

You have linked to one state standard. I had thought we were discussing the CCSS, which for kindergarten math can be found here: http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/K/introduction

Yes- Kindergarten children should be learning about three dimensional shapes, spatial relationships, size, balance through playing with wood blocks. That is DAP.

You provided a link to Finland’s Preschool Standards so I provided a link to an example of a state’s detailed standards for Preschool –which most definitely ARE aligned with the Common Core, as clearly indicated on most pages. That state won the Race to the Top Early Learning Challenge so they were required to develop and implement Common Core aligned standards in Preschool. The Common Core standards for Kindergarten are detailed as well. Finland’s standards are not at all detailed.

You inferred that children must be taught to count, but the Finnish standards don’t say that. Our standards explicitly state that kids must learn to count, in a variety of ways and how high.

I wrote about this Teach for Us article yesterday on the Carol Burris post. Was excoriated by a frequent commenter here who seems only to be right brained and does not understand the damage being done particularly to very young children with this imposed testing for profit. It occurs to me that there are many who lack empathy and although they may be adequate in their fields of study, certainly appear more Aspergian in their lack of insight.

Woof (aka Ellen Lubic),

If you read comments on blogs (not so much this one, but certainly on major media blogs, you would get the impression that there are many adults in this country who hate children and despise teachers.

Although I try to read every comment on this blog, I usually ignore them when posted on newspaper websites or HuffPost because of the bile directed towards children and teachers.

Thanks Diane…good advice. As you know, too often I succumb to their distractions. Hard to fathom these folks who have such disdain for children, teachers, and even parents.

Above, of course I meant these who comment are only controlled by brain action that leads to black and white, without any mitigating understanding of humans, small and large.

Left brained.

Ellen (so glad you are once again fully active…stay well.)

Egads, kinders should be blowing bubbles rather than filling in testing bubbles. This is NUTS?

@TE. Counting can only be playing if the kids initiate it themselves and the activity is open-ended. Dividing 20 gemstones amongst 4 girls can be playing (especially if they get to cook “soup” with their portion afterwards).

There is nothing more beautiful and inspiring than watching young children problem solve with attention toward social inclusion. Our world would be a much better place if our kids got more practice with that. Instead, we give them worksheets that take the thing they care about most—their budding little friendships—out of the equation.

I saw nothing about worksheets in the CCSS.

I saw counting horses, blocks, and each other. I do think a teacher might want to start it off, however. I counted many things while reading to my children, many ingredients while cooking. Even small equations by kindergarten. It was always play.

Due to restrictions on the federal Department of Education, Duncan has to be able to claim the CC is not curriculum so the standards are not likely to mention workbooks. However, mandated standards and high-stakes testing drive curriculum.

NYC adopted a textbook that is effectively a workbook that includes “test prep” for Kindergarten on up. On the Houghton-Mifflin website, the package includes a practice book along with the textbook, but it says that, in all grades, students can “write-in” the textbook “so students record their strategies, explanations, solutions, practice and test prep right in their books.” http://www.hmhco.com/shop/k12/Go-Math/9780547444215

The book Gary pictured looks like the textbook, not the practice book. So much for the district saving money by reusing those textbooks with students in successive years –and good news for Houghton-Mifflin for selling a textbook that is consumable and has to be purchased anew each year.

Right. The worksheets aren’t mandated but because the standards are looking for results, results, results it is probably faster to use direct instruction rather than play. Play takes longer but it has the side benefit of building other capacities alongside number sense.

Gee. While they are at it why not throw in questions on black holes, quantum theory, string theory? They are headed in that direction.

Looks like form filling out indoctrination to me. BORING.

Do not subject your child to this abuse. Tell the teacher you refuse to allow your child to be abused. Children need to have imaginative play and developmentally appropriate social emotional activities. And did I say PLAY? Stand up for you child and say NO!

We use the Go Math series in the Archdiocese that I teach in. I don’t know about the higher grades but we do LOTS of supplementing with our own activities in K, 1 & 2. Fortunately, my Principal taught in the early childhood grades for awhile, so she understands our need to supplement and allows it. Pearson’s Scott Foresman Common Core Reading Street series also contains TONS of test prep. When training 1st & 2nd grade teachers back in August on how to use the new series, the Pearson Rep. actually had the nerve to tell us that if we didn’t use the materials the way that she was telling us to, our students wouldn’t score well on the PARCC when they took it in 3rd grade. We haven’t even committed to using the PARCC! As of now, we’re still using the IOWA Test of Basic Skills and have not made a decision about testing past this year!

Check out articles on Common Core in the online Crisis magazine.

Tell your daughter’s teacher to box up the new curriculum they’re getting and send them back. They apparently mislabled the grade level.

So what are they going to do with students who don’t pass before they get the 10th grade, beside crossing their fingers? It won’t matter who their teachers are, because the test results will reveal that more students will need to be retained. May be being retained for 2 yrs. might be a good idea. They would be older and have better chances of understanding what the standards are asking them to know and do.

Better yet…let’s wait to send our kindergarteners to school until they are 7 years old. I’m sure there are ways to beat reformers. Game on…

Just a bit of sarcasm. I couldn’t help it. CCS is too ridiculous and enough to make one cynical.

Great idea, Jon! More and more parents have been redshirting their kids, holding them back at the beginning of their formal schooling because they think their children aren’t ready for academics and need more time to mature. I think that’s a particularly good idea today, due to the developmentally inappropriate Common Core in Early Childhood, which represents a pushed down academic curriculum, as well as high stakes testing.

The impact of age in grade can be dramatic. See this report from The Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/9843971/Summer-born-children-at-bottom-of-the-class-warn-experts-and-parents.html

Yes, I saw this a lot as a Kindergarten teacher. As a summer born baby myself. I also experienced it personally, when I was growing up. I was always one of the youngest in my class and I often felt like I was behind my peers who were born six months to almost a year ahead of me.

In my district, there used to be two different entry times based on birthdates, the beginning of September and February, as well as two promotion/graduation dates, end of January and June, so peers were no more than six months apart in age in each class. The groups had their own separate classrooms and teachers. I’ve often thought that was a good idea and I’m not sure why but they decided to phase it out shortly after I started school. They would not take anymore mid year kids but they let those already in the program finish it out.

The phase out was awkward, because since the mid year groups had no new students, they were smaller, so teachers were given combined classes of effectively two grade levels that were six months apart to teach. The kids sat in separate areas of the classroom and did different work. The two groups were not allowed to interact with each other –and they didn’t. The teachers often looked stressed and really had her hands full.

I am a 20 year kindergarten teacher who teaches in a Connecticut school. What is happening in my district is totally shocking yet the younger teachers who work with me are so concerned about the new teacher evaluation plan they will not speak up. alone I have no power to make a difference? just an example when we go back to school after Thanksgiving we have 4 assessments in a weeks time, A spelling test, a post unit assessment on a math unit, a writing prompt for the new writing program (which is a 45 minute independent writing prompt), and a pretext for a mini smart goal on a common core standard. These assessments will take 4 hours of our teaching time. I estimate we spend 30 percent of our time testing in some way, It is heartbreaking and the toll on the children is obvious to any experienced teacher. There are so many repercussions of the new common core and SRBI and the teacher evaluation plan and I am watching it grow more and more as we become micromanaged by administrators who have no experience with young learners.