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Monday, February 25, 2013

Un-Common Core Questions and Research Summary

Un-Common Core Questions and Research Summary

Mission Statement- http://www.corestandards.org/ (from the CC website)

The Common Core State Standards provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers. With American students fully prepared for the future, our communities will be best positioned to compete successfully in the global economy.

This information is arranged under five basic numbered questions.

1-Who made up the cc standards?:

2-What is the Quality of C.C. standards?

3-Is student mobility a reason for common standards?

4-What evidence is there that common standards will increase a nation’s global economic and academic ‘competitiveness’?

5- What is important fallout from C.C. standards?

Under each question is the title, author and url of a referenced article in bold and italicized. Under each of these are the selected quotes that I believe get to the heart of the matter.

1-Who made up the cc standards?:

Opposition to Common Core Grows Across the Political Spectrum-Anthony Cody on February 4, 2013 11:21 AM http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2013/02/opposition_to_common_core_coul.html

When Clinton created the Department of Education, he was forced to include language that forbade the creation of national standards - which is why we have this elaborate Common Core process under way now, supposedly led by the states.

School-Standards Pushback: Conservative Groups Oppose National 'Common Core' as an Intrusion on States-— Stephanie Banchero-Wall Street Journal May 09, 2012

Contrary to proponents’ claims, the Common Core Initiative is not 'stateled,' but rather the Common Core (CC) standards were created and funded by special interests. States had little to no input.

The federal government has coerced states into accepting the CC standards, by tying their adoption to Race to the Top funding, No Child Left Behind waivers, etc.

The voluntary academic standards, which specify what students should know in each grade, were heavily promoted by the Obama administration through its $4.35 billion Race to the Top education-grant competition. States that instituted changes such as common learning goals received bonus points in their applications.

The federal government is funding the creation of the tests that will be aligned with CC and what's on the tests will dictate what's taught in the classroom. The inevitable result will be a national curriculum controlled by the federal government.

A state must accept the CC standards word for word. It may add 15% content but may not subtract anything. Anything it adds will not be included on the national tests.

Common Core evolved from a drive by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers to delineate world-class skills students should possess. The standards, created with funding from, among others, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, set detailed goals, such as first graders should understand place values in math and eighth graders should know the Pythagorean Theorem.

Critics argue that the standards are weak and could, for example, de-emphasize literature in favor of informational texts, such as technical manuals.

A study released this year by a researcher at the Brookings Institution think tank projected Common Core will have no effect on student achievement. The study said states with high standards improved their national math and reading scores at the same rate as states with low standards from 2003 to 2009.

But Emmett McGroarty, executive director of American Principles in Action, a conservative lobbying group that wrote the ALEC resolution, said states were "herded" into adopting the standards with no time to deliberate on their worth. He called the standards "mediocre" and costly to implement.

Former Texas education commissioner,Robert Scott, blasts Common Core process — updateWashington Post Answer Sheet-February 13, 2012

My experience with the Common Core actually started when I was asked to sign on to them before they were written. . . . I was told I needed to sign a letter agreeing to the Common Core, and I asked if I might read them first, which is, I think, appropriate. I was told they hadn't been written, but they still wanted my signature on the letter. And I said, 'That's absurd; first of all, I don't have the legal authority to do that because our [Texas] law requires our elected state board of education to adopt curriculum standards with the direct input of Texas teachers, parents and business. So adopting something that was written behind closed doors in another state would not meet my state law.'. . . I said, 'Let me take a wait-and-see approach.' If something remarkable was in there that I found that we did not have in ours that I would work with our board . . . and try to incorporate into our state curriculum . . .

Then I was told, 'Oh no no, a state that adopts Common Core must adopt in its totality the Common Core and can only add 15 percent.' It was then that I realized that this initiative which had been constantly portrayed as state-led and voluntary was really about control. It was about control. Then it got co-opted by the Department of Education later. And it was about control totality from some education reform groups who candidly admit their real goal here is to create a national marketplace for education products and services.

Even more troubling to me was the lack of transparency. . . . These standards sere written behind closed doors. . . . We didn't know who the writers were until the project was complete.

Here is the central tenet he was to sign:

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) shall assume responsibility for coordinating the process that will lead to state adoption of a common core set of standards. These organizations represent governors and state commissioners of education who are charged with defining K-12 expectations at the state level. As such, these organizations will facilitate a state-led process to develop a set of common core standards in English language arts and math that are:

Dec 04, 2011 09:00 AM EST The Washington Post-By Valerie Strauss

This was written by Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools.

But in looking through the names, titles and institutions of the fifty people who made up the ELA development team, I was able to identify only one current elementary teacher. All the rest, were college/university professors, state or school district administrators, or representatives of private educational companies.

Closing the Door on Innovation-Common Core Standards-Conservatives http://www.k12innovation.com/Manifesto/_V2_Home.html 5/6/11

First, there is no constitutional or statutory basis for national standards, national assessments, or national curricula. The two testing consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education have already expanded their activities beyond assessment, and are currently developing national curriculum guidelines, models, and frameworks in accordance with their proposals to the Department of Education (see the Appendix). Department of Education officials have so far not explained the constitutional basis for their procedures or forthcoming products.


Whoo-Hoo! Occupy the Schools-out with Common Core-By Susan Ohanian on February 19, 2013 9:29 pm /    http://www.dailycensored.com/woo-hoo/#commentspost

When the federal government made $4.35 billion in federal Race to the Top awards available—favoring applicants that agree to link teacher pay to test score gains, increase the number of charter schools, and adopt common curriculum standards—the Gates Foundation paid for consultants to prepare applications for 24 states, as well as the District of Columbia. One of two winners announced so far is Tennessee, which had help from Gates. The state will receive about $500 million from the Obama administration.

The Gates Foundation, which bankrolled development of the common curriculum standards, is also funding outside evaluations—by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute in Washington and the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education—of those same standards.

Here are the significant players in deforming school curriculum and testing and their Gates haul:

• Achieve, Inc.: $25,787,051
• The Council of Chief State School Officers: $71,302,833
• National Governors Association Center for Best Practices: $30,679,116

Although the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation paid for the CCSS, the new, super-duper assessments traveling with those standards are funded by you and me. The U. S. Department of Education gave $335 million to the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC)and the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium to develop computer-based tests for grades 3-12. They both plan a lot of testing, and costs of hardware and software requirements, of rewiring school buildings and buying computers that meet the specifications are on the backs of local taxpayers.

Won't Get Fooled Again? Reasons to Resist the Common Core-2/9/13 by Michael Paul Goldenberg- http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/2013/02/wont-get-fooled-again-reasons-to-resist.html

Much research indicates that such reforms are fated to fail badly because few at the ground level were given a real voice in the process. Despite the propaganda that this is a state-led reform effort, it is in fact a federal one, supported primarily by corporate interests who are playing this opportunity for all it's worth -- new textbooks, new assessments, and new professional development all lining the pockets of the publishers and testing companies.

2-What is the Quality of C.C. standards?

Choking on the Common Core Standards-Dec 04, 2011 09:00 AM EST-TheWashingtonPost


This was written by Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools.

Reading through the whole list of ELA standards several times, I marked 18 others in reading, writing, speaking or language that I consider inappropriate for elementary level students because of the emphasis on skills or knowledge that children have not yet developed.

Closing the Door on Innovation-Common Core Standards-Conservatives http://www.k12innovation.com/Manifesto/_V2_Home.html 5/6/11

Second, there is no consistent evidence that a national curriculum leads to high academic achievement. The Shanker Manifesto suggests that the only possible way to achieve high academic achievement is through a single national curriculum. Yet France and Denmark have centralized national curricula and do not show high average achievement on international tests or a diminishing gap between high- and low-achieving students. Meanwhile, Canada and Australia, both of which have many regional curricula, achieve better results than many affluent single-curriculum nations.

Third, the national standards on which the administration is planning to base a national curriculum are inadequate. If there are to be national academic-content standards, we do not agree that Common Core's standards are clear, adequate, or of sufficient quality to warrant being this country's national standards. Its definition of "college readiness" is below what is currently required to enter most four-year state colleges. Independent reviews have found its standards to be below those in the highest-performing countries and below those in states rated as having the best academic standards

Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core -6/17/12 by Yong Zhao http://zhaolearning.com/2012/06/17/common-sense-vs-common-core-how-to-minimize-the-damages-of-the-common-core/

The Common Core has not been tested. If anything, standards and testing in the U.S. have not amounted much in curing the ills of inequality and inefficiency. "On the basis of past experience with standards, the most reasonable prediction is that the common core will have little to no effect on student achievement," Tom Loveless of the Brookings Institute predicts based on his analysis of America's past experiences with standards. (The quality of standards has not mattered. From 2003 to 2009, states with terrific standards raised their National Assessment of Educational Progress scores by roughly the same margin as states with awful ones….I don't know anyone who believes something as silly as the power of standards to effect change from the shelf. The people who raise this point are really asserting something about implementation: that past standards-setters in education didn't appreciate the importance of implementation, that they employed the wrong implementation strategies, or that they did not possess today's new, more powerful strategies…..I don't know of a single state that adopted standards, patted itself on the back, and considered the job done. Not one. States have tried numerous ways to better their schools through standards. And yet, good and bad standards and all of those in between, along with all of the implementation tools currently known to policymakers, have produced outcomes that indicate one thing: Standards do not matter very much….But states with bad standards have succeeded in making NAEP gains that are statistically indistinguishable from those of states with good standards. How can that be if good standards are necessary?...)

Common Core’s Standards Still Don’t Make the Grade -7/10

by Sandra Stotsky and Ze’ev Wurman


Our analysis of Common Core’s mathematics andELA standards, and the evidence we provide, do not support the conclusion drawn by many other reviewers that Common Core’s standards provide a stronger and more challenging framework for the mathematics and English language arts curriculum than (or an equally as challenging framework as) California’s and Massachusetts’ standards have provided. Common Core’s standards will not prepare more high school students for authentic college-level work than standards in these states

have prepared. To the contrary, they may lead to fewer high school students prepared for authentic college-level work. We offer these recommendations to states that are adopting Common Core’s standards.


Dangerous Blind Spots in the Common-Core Standards By William G. Wraga http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/08/18/01wraga.h30.html

The final version of the common-core standards for math and English/language arts, released in June by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, contain two educational blind spots that, if ignored, can undermine not only the quality of public education, but also the strength of our democracy. The standards devote insufficient attention to the need for an interdisciplinary curriculum, and represent a contracted view of the “common core” that disregards the role of schools in preparing students for citizenship.

Both blind spots stem from the disciplinary myopia that characterizes the standards. They were developed with a technical emphasis on disciplinary research and practice—at the neglect of a broad view of the entire curriculum and of the function of education in a democracy.

What evidence is there that national standards will improve student achievement on domestic and international tests? http://larrycuban.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/evidence-vs-research-the-case-of-the-common-core-standards/ - Larry Cuban,September 27, 2012

Answer: None. Zip. Nada.

The lack of a systematic relationship is illustrated when reviewing the data for the “high” standards and the “low” standards states. Massachusetts, for instance, has high standards according to both the Fordham Foundation and the AFT and high NAEP scores. However, New Jersey has low quality content standards on both the Fordham Foundation and on the AFT scales, but scores comparably to Massachusetts on NAEP. Likewise, for gains in NAEP scores from 2000 to 2007, there is no systematic relationship between the “high” standards and the “low” standards states. California is given the highest Fordham Foundation rank and has high gains in NAEP scores. Arkansas, which receives a very low Fordham Foundation rank, has almost identical gains to California on NAEP from 2000 to 2007.

3-Is student mobility a reason for common standards?

Closing the Door on Innovation-Common Core Standards-Conservatives http://www.k12innovation.com/Manifesto/_V2_Home.html 5/6/11

The Census Bureau reports a total annual mobility rate of 12.5% in 2008-9,6 but only 1.6% of the total rate consists of inter-state moves that a national curriculum may influence. Other data indicate that inter-state mobility among school-age children is even lower, at 0.3%.



4-What evidence is there that common standards will increase a nation’s global economic and academic ‘competitiveness’?

The "Common Core" Standards Initiative: An Effective Reform Tool?, by William Mathis's report, http://epicpolicy.org/publication/common-core-standards

Answer: None. Zip. Nada.

Standards advocates argue that common standards are necessary for keeping the nation competitive in a global economy. But Mathis points out that research does not support this oft-expressed rationale. No studies support a true causal relationship between national standards and economic competitiveness, and at the most superficial level we know that nations with centralized standards generally tend to perform no better (or worse) on international tests than those without. Further, research shows that national economic competitiveness is influenced far more by economic decisions than by test scores.

Mathis also raises questions about the rapid development of the common-core standards, the lack of field testing, and the overarching need for any high-stakes consequences to be "valid," pursuant to established professional guidelines. Given these concerns, he says that the prospect of positive effects on educational quality or equality "seems improbable."

Common Core State Standards: An Example of Data-less Decision Making-by Christopher Tienken2/1/11 http://www.aasa.org/uploadedfiles/publications/newsletters/jsp_winter2011.final.pdf

Some countries that rank higher on international tests have national standards and some do not. For example, Canada does not use common national standards, but scored well on the 2006 Progressin International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) of reading achievement (Mullis et al. 2006). Canadian students also scored well on the PISA 2003 and 2007 tests.


The U.S. has ranked either first or second out of 139 nations on the World Economic Forum‘s (2010) Global Competitiveness Index (GCI) eight out of the last 10 years and never ranked below sixth place during that period, regardless of results on international assessments and without adopting national curriculum standards.


No other country has ranked better consistently on the GCI. The U.S. workforce is one of the most productive in the world and best educated. Over 70% of recent high school graduates were enrolled in colleges and universities in 2009 (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). Approximately 30% of U.S. adults between ages 25-34 years-old have at least a bachelor‘s degree. Only six other industrialized nations have a higher percentage of their population holding at least a bachelor‘s degree (OECD, 2009) but their economies pale in comparison to the U.S.


It would seem to follow that those states with a 'better' set of common standards would be more financially competitive than any other state. If you look at the top ten 'competitive' states http://www.siteselection.com/issues/2011/may/comp-awards.cfm and examine the criteria on which their 'competitiveness' is based (bottom of page), you will not see even a reference to any educational attainments by their students, k-12 nor university!


Why would we then think that if the USA had a common set of standards, i.e. ‘common core’, across all of our states that this would be the hallmark which would raise our status in comparison with other countries in our passion to be ‘globally competitive’? As far as global competitiveness is concerned, having a set of national standards does not make one country any more successful than any other.


McCluskey (2010) reported that for the 27 nations with complete data sets that outranked the U.S. on the 2006 PISA science test, 10 of those nations did not have national standards whereas 12 of the 28 nations that ranked lower than the U.S. had national standards. The same pattern of mixed results held true for the 2007 Grade 8 TIMSS mathematics results. Although the eight countries that outranked the U.S. on that test had national standards so did 33 of the 39 countries that ranked lower (McCluskey, 2010). The students from the majority of nations with national standards ranked lower than the U.S. students. The same pattern held true for the TIMSS science assessment. More countries with national standards underperformed the U.S. than did countries without national standards.


Jack Hassard: Test-Based Reform: Where is the Common Core Leading Us?http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2012/02/jack_hassard_test-based_reform.html

This model (CC standards) is rooted in the myth that the United States is not competitive in the global market place because our students don't perform at high enough levels on guess what: achievement tests. The truth is that the U.S. is very competitive, and has been for decades. With basing their thinking on test scores, politicians and think tank types have convinced the public that American schools are a failure, and the one kind of reform that will help us "race to the top" is driven by just one fact: we must raise test scores, and they must be raised every year. Get a grip.

Competitiveness of U.S. Citizens. The United States is economically competitive as reported in the World Economic Forum's 2010-2011 Global-Competitiveness report, and as reported by Iris Rotberg in her book Balancing Change and Tradition in Global Education Reform. According to the World Economic Forum report, the U.S. is one of only 35 countries in the world that are at the highest stage of development--the innovation-driven economy.

The United States now ranks fifth in the world in global competitiveness. This ranking has fallen one position, from a higher 4th to a lower 5th in the last year. At this time, the U.S. economy is the largest in the world. However, the World Economic Forum researchers have concluded that the U.S. economic competitiveness has weaknesses. The report reads that the weaknesses include the business communities' criticism of the public and private institutions, that there is a great lack of trust in politicians, and a lack of a strong relationships between government and business. And the U.S. debt continues to grow. (World Economic Forum Report, 2011 - 2012.

According to the World Economic Forum, student test scores on international tests in reading, mathematics and science were not related to the weakening of the U.S.'s ability to compete. Period.


5- What is important fallout from C.C. standards?

Choking on the Common Core Standards- The Washington Post- Dec 04, 2011 09:00 AM EST

This was written by Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools.

.. commercial publishers are racing to produce materials aligned with them, school districts are re-writing their curricula, testing companies are creating new tests to measure students competence, and teacher training specialists are offering standards workshops. Even some of the teachers who have lived through No Child Left Behind are resigned to this new swing of the pendulum and changing their classroom practices.

Common Sense Vs. Common Core: How to Minimize the Damages of the Common Core by Yong Zhao June 17, 2012

The Common Core will not make your children ready for college or a career. The future needs passionate, creative, collaborative innovators and entrepreneurs, not compliant, uniform test takers. The Common Core will not help the disadvantaged children do better either because the real problem is poverty, not standards in the classrooms.


Does the Common Core Matter? By Tom Lovelesshttp: www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2012/04/18/28loveless_ep.h31.html          

I have studied education reform and its implementation since I left the classroom in 1988. I don't know of a single state that adopted standards, patted itself on the back, and considered the job done. Not one. States have tried numerous ways to better their schools through standards. And yet, good and bad standards and all of those in between, along with all of the implementation tools currently known to policymakers, have produced outcomes that indicate one thing: Standards do not matter very much…."[G]ood and bad standards, … along with all of the implementation tools currently known to policymakers, have produced outcomes that indicate one thing: Standards do not matter very much."

Teacher: One (maddening) day working with the Common Core-Washington Post Answer Sheet-March 23, 2012 http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/post/teacher-one-maddening-day-working-with-the-common-core/2012/03/15/gIQA8J4WUS_blog.html

An exemplar is a prepackaged lesson which is supposed to align with the standards of the Common Core…. Each teacher read individually through the exemplar lesson on Lincoln’s speech. When we began discussing it, we all expressed the same conclusion: Most of it was too scripted. It spelled out what types of questions to ask, what types of questions not to ask, and essentially narrowed any discussion to obvious facts and ideas from the speech…. The exemplar, in fact, forbids teachers from asking students if they have ever been to a funeral because such questions rely “on individual experience and opinion,” and answering them “will not move students closer to understanding the Gettysburg Address.”… And when it came time to create our own lessons around the exemplar, three colleagues and I found ourselves using techniques that we know have worked to engage students — not what the exemplar puts forth.

The bottom line: The Common Core exemplar we worked with was intellectually limiting, shallow in scope, and uninteresting. I don’t want my lessons to be any of those things.

Whoo-Hoo! Occupy the Schools-out with Common Core-By Susan Ohanian on February 19, 2013 9:29 pm /    http://www.dailycensored.com/woo-hoo/#commentspost

This latest corporate reform plan, the Common Core State (sic) Standards (CCSS), eliminates community-based planning, destroys personal response to literature, and, instead of fostering education for individual need and the common good, puts children on a treadmill to becoming scared, obedient workers for the global economy.

Won't Get Fooled Again? Reasons to Resist the Common Core-2/9/13 by Michael Paul Goldenberg- http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/2013/02/wont-get-fooled-again-reasons-to-resist.html

They can't go back to problems previously answered to revise answers that they gain insight about from questions asked later. They can't skip questions that baffle them initially and return to them when they choose, for whatever reason. The technology is designed to minimize the time for testing, reducing cost, appealing to students whose main desire is to be done with the process as quickly as they can, but at the price of losing their full opportunity to maximize their performance.

The highly-touted performance tasks that have the potential to make mathematics teachers really struggle with their classroom practice constitute a very small (and expensive to grade) percentage of these exams. Multiple-choice and short-answer items will still dominate, and so the process standards that precede the silly content standards will for the most part be ignored by generations of teachers who haven't the first clue about how to prepare students for such performance tasks nor the slightest inclination towards doing so.


Testing done at the end of the school year will be expanded to include all subjects that can be tested and more grade levels….This means about a 20-fold increase over NCLB.

More grade levels to be tested: PARCC document:
http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/PARCC%20MCF%20Response%20to%20Public%20Feedback_%20Fall%202011%20Release.pdf; Race to the top for tots: http://www.ed.gov/early-learning/elc-draft-summary.

Interim tests: Duncan, A. September 9, 2010. Beyond the Bubble Tests: The Next Generation of Assessments -- Secretary Arne Duncan's Remarks to State Leaders at Achieve's American Diploma Project Leadership Team Meeting:
http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/beyond-bubble-tests-next-generation-assessments-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-state-l. The Blueprint, (op. cit.) p. 11. “U.S. Asks Educators to Reinvent Student Tests, and How They Are Given,” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/education/03testing.html?_r=1

Zero evidence it will work: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1).
http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. Additional evidence in Krashen, S. NUT: No Unnecessary Testing. http://sdkrashen.com/index.php?cat=4  

Standards-driven education removes decisions from teachers and students and renders classrooms lifeless and functional, devoid of the pleasure and personal value of learning, discovering, and coming to be….. A call for "higher standards" speaks to our human quest for improvement, but that call conflates "standard" with "expectation," and the two terms are not synonymous in the way we need for improving education. Yes, we should have high expectations for teachers and students, but those expectations can never be and will never be any more "standard" than one human to the next. To standardize and prescribe expectations is, in fact, to lower them.