Archives for category: Common Core

Alan Singer calls out Common Core for the poor showing of US students on PISA. 

Remember all the promises about how Common Core would raise all test scores and close gaps? Nada.

Of course, the deeper issue is that decades of test-and-punish reforms failed, not just Common Core.

it those who pushed these failed policies will not abandon them. They will say—they are saying—that we must double down on failure.

The consensus among governors and policy elites that followed “A Nation at Risk” in 1983 was that common standards, tests, and accountability would lead to high levels of performance (ie, test scores).

They didn’t. They haven’t. They won’t.

Almost four decades later, we can safely say that this theory of reform has failed. Billions of dollars wasted!

Politico Morning Education reports:

 

U.S. SCORES IN READING, MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE LITERACY REMAINED ESSENTIALLY FLAT FROM 2015 in the latest Program for International Student Assessment results, but U.S. rankings improved because other education systems worsened.

— The 2018 PISA results showed U.S. average scores in reading and science literacy were higher than the average of about three dozen mostly industrialized countries making up the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which develops and coordinates the assessment. But U.S. average math scores were lower than the OECD average.

— PISA, an international assessment administered every three years, measures 15-year-old students’ literacy in the three disciplines and is designed to provide a global view of U.S. students’ performance compared to their peers in nearly 80 education systems.

— “If I communicated nothing, I hope I communicated that we are struggling in math in comparison to our competitors around the world,” Peggy G. Carr, the associate commissioner of assessments for the National Center for Education Statistics, told reporters in a call before the results were released. Nicole Gaudiano has more.

 

The PISA results were released, and they put the test-and-punish reforms of the past two decades in a harsh light. Billions have been spent on testing and spurious teacher evaluations.

Dana Goldstein writes in the New York Times:

The performance of American teenagers in reading and math has been stagnant since 2000, according to the latest results of a rigorous international exam, despite a decades-long effort to raise standards and help students compete with peers across the globe.

And the achievement gap in reading between high and low performers is widening. Although the top quarter of American students have improved their performance on the exam since 2012, the bottom 10th percentile lost ground, according to an analysis by the National Center for Education Statistics, a federal agency.

If you recall, the Disrupters claimed that their method would both “Race to the Top” and “close achievement gaps.”

Their strategies did neither. Time for a change.

The National Superintendents Roundtable has a message for the public: be fair when judging our public schools. Schools today are far better than they were 40 or 50 years ago, by all conventional measures. what they might have added was that schools made steady progress until about 2007 or so, when No Child Left Behind took hold, then things were made worse by Race to the Top and Common Core. The proliferation of choice has flattened the progress made from 1970 to 2007.

Mercedes Schneider reviews the Gates Foundation’s long and costly list of failed interventions into K-12 schools and points out, quoting the words of the Foundation, that it has never admitted any failure and never apologized.

Gates paid for the interventions but the real cost was borne by teachers and public schools.

He tried breaking up big schools into small schools, convinced as he was that big schools are ineffective, but when the small schools didn’t produce higher test scores, he abandoned that idea.

He prodded Arne Duncan to include the untested of evaluating teachers by the test scores of their students, and he launched his own experiments in seven districts and charter chains. That too was a flop.

He poured uncounted millions into boosting the charter industry, despite the fact that charters do not get different results from public schools when they enroll the same students.

He spent millions promoting a charter law in his home state of Washington, which passed on the fourth state referendum only after he overwhelmed the opposition by spending 16 times as much as they did; the charters he fought so hard for have struggled to get enough enrollment to stay open (four of the original dozen have already folded), and a CREDO evaluation concluded that they don’t get different results than public schools in the state.

Gates provided almost all the funding necessary for the Common Core State Standards, which required districts and states to spend billions of dollars on new tests, new textbooks, new software, new teacher training, new everything.

When the backlash grew against the Common Core, Gates simply didn’t understand it, since he compares education to an electric plug with standard current into which all possible appliances can be plugged in and get power.

This year, the Gates Foundation awarded 476 grants, but only seven went to K-12, mostly to promote charter schools, a passion he shares with the rightwing Walton Foundation and Betsy DeVos and her foundations.

Read the Gates Foundation’s statement that Mercedes includes in her post. You will see that the foundation acknowledges no failures, no errors, no miscalculations. It doesn’t even own its almost total responsibility for CC, nor for its disastrous reception by teachers and the public.

The legacy of Bill Gates: Teachers and principals who were fired based on a phony measure of their “effectiveness.” Schools in black and brown communities closed because of their test scores. A demoralization of teachers, and a dramatic decline in the number of people entering the profession. A national teacher shortage. The elevation of standardized testing as both the means and the ends of all education (tests that were never used in the schools he and his own children attended).

Here are a few things that Bill Gates NEVER funded or fought for: class size reduction; higher salaries for teachers; a nurse and social worker and librarian in every school; higher taxes to support public schools.

Mercedes concludes:

It may be too much to expect Bill Gates to completely exit K12 education. After all, we have been his hobby for years.

But the fewer Gates dollars, the smaller the petri dish.

Unfortunately the lingering effects of his failed experiments continue to ruin schools, such as the value-added measurement of teachers by test scores, still written into law in many states; the Common Core persists, often under a different name to disguise it; and of course charter schools continue to drain students and resources from underfunded public schools.

 

 

Nancy Bailey writes here about the long-term damage that corporate reformers (the Disruption movement) have inflicted on two generations of students.

If only students could sue them for ruining their schools! If only teachers could sue them for ruining their profession! If only the public could sue them to disruption their schools and communities!

She begins:

Frustrated by public schools? Look no further than the corporate education reformers and what they have done to public education.

Education Secretary DeVos and her corporate billionaire friends have been chipping away at the fabric of democratic public schools for over thirty years!

The problems we see in public schools today are largely a result of what they did to schools, the high-stakes testing and school closures, intentional defunding, ugly treatment of teachers, lack of support staff, segregated charter schools, vouchers that benefit the wealthy, Common Core State Standards, intrusive online data collection, and diminishing special education services.

Big business waged a battle on teachers and their schools years ago. The drive was to create a business model to profit from tax dollars. Now they want to blame teachers for their corporate-misguided blunders! It’s part of their plan to make schools so unpleasant, parents will have no choice but to leave.

The 2019 ACT scores, which are supposed to measure “college readiness,” dropped to a record low. 

This follows nine years after the release of the Common Core State Standards, which were supposed to promote “college and career readiness.”

Nick Anderson of the Washington Post writes:

ACT scores for the high school Class of 2019 show that rates of college readiness in English and math have sunk to record lows, testing officials reported Wednesday.

Among nearly 1.8 million in the class who took the college admission test at least once, ACT — the nonprofit group that administers it — reported that 59 percent reached a score indicating readiness in English and 39 percent did so in math. Those results continued a several-year slide. The English readiness rate was the lowest since the readiness measure debuted in 2002, and the math readiness rate equaled a record low set in 2002.

ACT defines its readiness benchmark as a score indicating a student has at least a 50 percent chance of getting a B or higher in a corresponding first-year college course. For English, the ACT benchmark is 18 out of a maximum 36. For math, it is 22.

When students took a strong course load through high school, ACT found, they fared better.

“Our findings once again indicate that taking core courses in high school dramatically increases a student’s likelihood for success after graduation,” ACT chief executive Marten Roorda said in a statement. “That’s why we need to ensure that all students of all backgrounds have access to rigorous courses and that we are supporting them not only academically, but socially and emotionally as well.”

The ACT — one of two major admission tests — assesses students in English, reading, math and science with multiple-choice questions that take nearly three hours to complete, not counting an optional essay-writing exam. More than a dozen states pay for all high school students to take the ACT during school hours, and others fund the testing on an optional basis….

Among 15 states where officials said nearly all graduates took the test, only four posted an average composite score of 20 or higher: Nebraska, Ohio, Utah and Wisconsin.

********

Education activist Leonie Haimson, executive director of Class Size Matters, commented:

This ACT report along with stagnant or dropping NAEP scores provides a devastating indictment of the Gates/Coleman/Duncan Common Core reform agenda – which was supposed to have provided the opposite result.  And yet Duncan doesn’t acknowledge this in the WaPost (big surprise).
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/what-we-can-learn-from-the-state-of-our-nations-education/2019/10/31/0e365c64-fbfa-11e9-8906-ab6b60de9124_story.html
http://www.act.org/content/dam/act/unsecured/documents/cccr-2019/National-CCCR-2019.pdf
College Readiness levels in English, reading, math, and science have all decreased since 2015, with English and math seeing the largest decline.
States and districts have spent billions of dollars to adopt the Common Core standards–on new textbooks, new tests, new professional development, new technology, all aligned to the Common  Core.
The same amount might have been devoted to reducing class sizes, putting a nurse in every school, increasing teachers’ salaries.
The definition of a corporate reformer is someone who never admits he or she was wrong. They apparently live by the John Wayne credo of “never apologize, mister, it’s a sign of weakness.”
In this case, however, it might be a good sign to let educators adapt to the students in front of them rather than follow a script written in D.C. that is not working.

Gary Rubinstein, math teacher at Stuyvesant High School, is a skilled myth buster. He frequently unmasks “miracle” stories.

In this post, he demolishes the claim that Louisiana has improved faster in 8th grade math than other states.

This is the last gasp of the Disruption movement, which has controlled federal and state policy for 20 years but has little to show for it.

As Rubinstein shows, Arne Duncan and John White are leading the effort to find the “bright side” of the latest NAEP results, which were stagnant In 2019 and have been stagnant for a decade.

Duncan says the nation should look to Louisiana for inspiration. Louisiana ranked among the bottom  states on NAEP, 44th to 49th, depending on the grade and the subject. But how creative to point to one of the lowest performing states as a national model! Do what Louisiana did and your state too can rank among the bottom five states in the nation!

Gary points out that Louisiana has indeed improved, but its 2019 scores on 8th grade math were actually a point lower than its scores were in 2007! In other words, Louisiana hasn’t gained at all for the past dozen years!.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if the leaders of the Disruption movement admitted that their 20-year-long policy of test-and-punish is both stale and failed?

Wouldn’t it be great if they said, “Whoa! We’re on the wrong track. We’ve inflicted nonstop testing on the nation’s children since 2002. We have spent billions on testing and test-prep. Scores went up for a few years but leveled off in 2007. Enough! Our answers are wrong. Time for fresh thinking.”

 

 

Mike Petrilli, president of the rightwing Thomas B. Fordham Institute, published a report about the “dramatic achievement gains” of the 1990s and 2000s. 

Surprisingly, he attributes most of these gains to improving economic conditions for poor families of color, not to standards, testing, and accountability, a cause that TBF has championed for years. But, not to worry, TBF has not changed its stripes, dropped out of ALEC, and joined forces with those who say that poverty is the main cause of low test scores.

So, I give Mike credit for acknowledging that improved economic conditions and increased spending had a very important effect on student academic performance. But he can’t bring himself to say that the accountability policies of NCLB and Race to the Top were poisonous and harmful, and that Common Core was a complete bust. He seems to be straining to find examples of states where he thinks high-stakes testing and school choice really were positive.

My first thought as I reviewed his data on rising achievement was that all these graphs looked very familiar.  Yes, they were in most cases the graphs (updated to 2017) appeared in my book Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and the Danger to America’s Public Schools (2013). I used these graphs to debunk the Corporate Reformers’ phony claim that America’s public schools were failing.  I cited NAEP data to show the dramatic test score gains for African-American and Hispanic students. I argued in 2013 that test scores had risen dramatically, that graduation rates were at a historic high, that dropout rates were at an all-time low.

The data, I said, demonstrate the hoax of the Reformers’ narrative. Despite underfunding, despite an increased number of students who were English learners, despite numerous obstacles, the public schools were succeeding. Most of the gains occurred prior to enactment and implementation of No Child Left Behind.

Now, to my delight, I find that Petrilli seems to agree. He even admits that the decade from 2007-2017 was a “lost decade,” when scores on NAEP went flat and in some cases declined. Yet, despite his own evidence, he is unwilling to abandon high-stakes testing, charter schools, vouchers, and Common Core. How could he? TBF has been a chief advocate for such policies. I don’t expect that Mike Petrilli will join the Network for Public Education. I don’t expect him to endorse new measures to address outrageous income inequality and wealth inequality, though I think he should, based on his own evidence. And I doubt very much that TBF will withdraw as a member of the fringe-right, DeVos-and-Koch-funded ALEC.

Mercedes Schneider has a sharp analysis of Petrilli’s almost “mea culpa.”

She does not forgive him for serving as a loud cheerleader for Common Core, testifying to its merit even in states that had standards that were far superior to those of CCSS.

The title of her post sums up her distaste for his newfound insight that “poverty matters.”

“Common Core Salesman Michael Petrilli: *Economics Affect NAEP, But Stay the Ed-Reform Course.”

She does not forget nor forgive TBF’s ardent advocacy for the ineffectual Common Core Standards. She refers to TBF as “Common Core Opportunists.”

Schneider accuses Petrilli of cherry-picking the data so that he can eke out some credit for standards-testing-accountability by overlooking the irrelevance of CCSS and the big gains before the era of Corporate Reform:

Moreover, for as much as Petrilli pushed CCSS in its 2010 – 2013 heyday, he is notably silent on the CCSS lack of connection in his October 2019 NAEP score analysis. Petrilli only mentions CCSS one time, and there is certainly no encouragement to further examine any connection between his Gates-purchased CCSS push and NAEP subgroup scores.

Petrilli had yet another opportunity to do so in his 2017 “Lost Decade” piece about NAEP scores from 2007 to 2017, which Petrilli links to in his October 2019 report. No mention of CCSS at all.

It is noteworthy that Petrilli’s “lost decade” begins with 2007, the year that NCLB was supposed to be reauthorized, but lawmakers could not seem to make that happen; the bipartisan honeymoon that produced NCLB had apparently ended.

NAEP scores soared prior to NCLB and continued to do so for several years after NCLB authorization in 2001, but then came a leveling off, and for all of TBF’s selling of a CCSS, the NAEP “lost decade” continued.

Petrilli does not bother to consider whether the standards-and assessments push has negatively impacted NAEP scores. Instead, he assumes that pre-NCLB IASA was the beginning of “the real revolution.”

No word why that standards-and-testing “revolution” has not continued to raise NAEP scores even though standards-and assessments continue to be the end-all, be-all of American K12 education.

However, in convoluted and contradictory fashion, Petrilli does include standards and assessments in the NAEP-subgroup-score-raising “secret sauce,” even though he has already spent the bulk of his argument justifying the mid-1990-to-2010 NAEP subgroup-score rise as related to improved economic conditions for school children.

So, NAEP subgroup score rises appear to be correlated with socioeconomics, but a slice of credit must also go to the standards-and-assessments push, but not beginning with NCLB, sooner than that– 1994– but let’s ignore rising NAEP scores of Black students in the 1970s and 1980s.

Schneider contrasts Petrilli’s newfound appreciation for the importance of economic conditions with his deeply ingrained commitment to the Bush-Obama “test-and-punish” regime, in an article published just a few weeks ago:

Here’s Petrilli again, this time from September 23, 2019, Phi Delta Kappan, in a piece entitled, “Stay the Course on Standards and Accountability”:

So what kind of changes do we now hope to see in practice?

Here’s how we might put it: By raising standards and making the state assessments tougher, we hope that teachers will raise their expectations for their students. That means pitching their instruction at a higher level, giving assignments that ask children to stretch, and lengthening the school day or year for kids who need more time to reach the higher standards.

Gotta love the “we.” Must be the royal “we” because it sure is not “we” as in “we who work directly with children.”

For all of his promotion of “accountability,” Petrilli is accountable to no one– a hypocrisy with which he is apparently comfortable enough to “stay the course.”

 

 

 

 

A Corporate Reform group in Tennessee released its own poll claiming that most voters in the state approve of annual testing.

The group called SCORE was created in 2009 by former Republican Senator Bill Frist to promote the Common Core State Standards. Being fast to accept CCSS before they were finished or even released put Tennessee in an advantageous spot for Race to the Top funding. The state won $500 million from Arne Duncan’s competition. $100 Million was set aside for the Achievement School District, which gathered the state’s lowest performing schools, located mostly in Memphis and Nashville, and handed them over to charter operators. The ASD promised to raise the state’s lowest-performing schools into the top 20%. The ASD was a complete failure. It did not raise any low-performing schools into the top 20%. Most made no progress at all.

Tennesse’s SCORE is a member of the rightwing network called PIE (Policy Innovators in Education), created by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute to connect groups that were disrupting and privatizing public education. Like other members of PIE, SCORE favors charter schools.

The board of SCORE is loaded with millionaires and billionaires who should be supporting the state’s public schools, which enroll nearly 90% of the state’s children, but prefer to disrupt and privatize them.

Five years ago, a public school parent blogger called out SCORE for making money off Common Core products. Open this link to see some eye-popping financial transactions, where RTTT money goes into the coffers of corporations owned by board members, who in turn make campaign contributions to Republican Governor BillHaslam. (Former Governor Haslam is now on the board of Teach for America.) The Gates Foundation helped to fund SCORE.

In addition to the oligarchs identified in the preceding post, the SCORE boards includes these super-wealthy Tennesseans:

Pitt Hyde of the Memphis Hyde Family Foundation. Owns AutoZone and the Memphis Grizzlies. The Hyde Family Foundation is the largest funder of the Tennessee Charter School Center.
 
Janet Ayers of the Ayers Foundation, also a funder of Common Core. 
 
Dee Haslam, married to the former governor’s brother. They own Pilot gas stations and the Cleveland Browns. Worth $1.8 billion, according to Wikipedia.
 
Orrin Ingram of the local billionaire family that has pushed charter schools.

Apparently the only plan that SCORE has for Tennessee’s public school students is to inflict Common Core and standardized testing.

SCORE has lots of money, but no imagination and no sense of the public good.

It is committed to charter schools, privatization, and accountability (but only for public schools).