Tag Archives: Common Core

The Common Core Costs Billions and Hurts Students

By DIANE RAVITCH, New York Times, JULY 23, 2016

FOR 15 years, since the passage of George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind act, education reformers have promoted standardized testing, school choice, competition and accountability (meaning punishment of teachers and schools) as the primary means of improving education. For many years, I agreed with them. I was an assistant secretary of education in George H. W. Bush’s administration and a member of three conservative think tanks.

But as I watched the harmful effects of No Child Left Behind, I began to have doubts. The law required that all schools reach 100 percent proficiency as measured by state tests or face harsh punishments. This was an impossible goal. Standardized tests became the be-all and end-all of education, and states spent billions on them. Social scientists have long known that the best predictor of test scores is family income. Yet policy makers encouraged the firing of thousands of teachers and the closing of thousands of low-scoring public schools, mostly in poor black and Hispanic neighborhoods.

As the damage escalated, I renounced my support for high-stakes testing and charter schools. Nonetheless, I clung to the hope that we might agree on national standards and a national curriculum. Surely, I thought, they would promote equity since all children would study the same things and take the same tests. But now I realize that I was wrong about that, too.

Six years after the release of our first national standards, the Common Core, and the new federal tests that accompanied them, it seems clear that the pursuit of a national curriculum is yet another excuse to avoid making serious efforts to reduce the main causes of low student achievement: poverty and racial segregation.

The people who wrote the Common Core standards sold them as a way to improve achievement and reduce the gaps between rich and poor, and black and white. But the promises haven’t come true. …

continue reading at New York Times

Leave a comment

Filed under 2016 election, Education and schools

My First Days With Full-blown Common Core

by Mercedes Schneider, deutsch29, August 8, 2013

In this post I write about my experience as a traditional public school teacher facing Common Core (CCSS). Before I do so, there are a few statements I must offer.

First, let me be clear that I am writing about my own experiences on my own blog using my own computer and sitting in my own home on my own time.

Second, I teach in a wonderful school for an administration that cares about their students. The atmosphere at my school is one of undeniable support. Our school is a strong community, one that is always seeking to grow. My district has a solid, established reputation statewide.

Third, if I am going to endeavor to teach my students to think critically and to act with conviction, I must first model as much myself.

And now, for my experience with CCSS.

In 2010, I attended my first department meeting in which I was told our district would be phasing out our curriculum and phasing in something called the Common Core. I was told that it would be simpler for having fewer objectives. We were to phase in slowly, with the transition being complete for the 2014-15 school year. I was also told that there would be assessments but that these were not written yet.

This was two years prior to passage of legislation that my job would depend upon student test scores, so that issue was not part of the discussion.

In other meetings, I was told that CCSS required that I teach differently; the example given then was about some new way to do math. I am not sure why this was presented in an English department meeting, but it was.

Last year was our first (and, it turns out, only) transitional year. The curriculum reminded me of moving from one house into a temporary residence on the way to Who Knows Where. Our curriculum specialist tried to help us choose materials for this curriculum in transition. We used what books we had available. This was also the first year that teachers were evaluated using student test scores. I was very aware that I had little control over how my students fared on the End of Course (EOC) test. My goal was to teach; this I kept as my focus.

I learned upon returning to school this week that we were no longer “transitioning.” We were now completely CCSS. This year my students will take EOC; my job this year will be contingent upon EOC; PARCC will begin next year.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has been on a crusade for states’ not dropping out of CCSS. Thus, it makes sense to me why John White dropped us in full-blown CCSS a year early: foot in the door. White figures that CCSS is less likely to be dropped in Louisiana if it is already instituted. Wait until the legislature feels the weight of that PARCC price tag. I think we might be following Georgia’s lead.

CCSS is a top-down adoption. Notice how many times the word “told” occurs in this post. Obama and Duncan told states that they must adopt CCSS to be eligible for Race to the Top (RTTT) funding. At the state level, the “collaboration” came after CCSS was established; the word is that CCSS was adopted “with overwhelming support from the public and from educators.” Our district told us what the new material was that I would use for teaching, and they told us that veering from the approved literature would require principal/district approval….

continue reading, with links, at deutsch29

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools, Uncategorized

Lesson for Our Leaders: The Best Defense is a Good Offense

By Anthony Cody, Education Week Teacher, June 3, 2013

Educators and our representatives have been on the defensive for so long, many of us have forgotten one of the lessons of the great strategist Sun Tzu – the best defense is a good offense.

No Child Left Behind was a frontal assault on the teaching profession. We were accused of “the soft bigotry of low expectations.” One Bush era secretary of education even called a teacher union a “terrorist organization.”

The phony accountability regime that NCLB brought us was collapsing in 2008. The biggest applause lines at both Clinton and Obama campaign rallies came when they pointed out how NCLB was pushing us to teach to the test, and promised to get rid of it. Of course we all know what happened after Obama was elected.

The Common Core could be called a “High Tech Rehabilitation of High Stakes Tests.” The major goal of the project has been to overcome objections to data-driven school reform, by offering standards and tests that are so new and different that we will not mind having our schools driven by them. They are heavily supported by a coalition of corporate entities that stand to make billions from the privatization of education. If we cannot mount a coherent counterproposal, we will be stuck objecting piecemeal to the worst elements of this regime, just as we did with NCLB. This may give us some small victories, but the entire project will remain intact.

Our union leadership has, for the most part, been timid about confronting the basic tenets of corporate reform, especially in regards to “accountability.” There is a reason for this. The corporate offense has led with the charge that unions are vehicles by which teachers avoid accountability for poor performance. Union leaders have responded by rushing to assure everyone that “Oh no, we do embrace accountability.” We even have NEA President Dennis Van Roekel co-signing an op-ed on teacher preparation with TFA founder Wendy Kopp, calling for the use of data in teacher preparation. And AFT President Randi Weingarten co-signing one on teacher evaluation with the Gates Foundations’ Vicki Phillips.

We are operating on defense, and we are steadily losing ground. Those who wish to wipe out or completely disempower our unions, replace public schools with private and charter schools supported by vouchers, and put schools of education out of the field of teacher preparation, are setting the terms of the debate….

continue reading, follow links at Education Week Teacher

Leave a comment

Filed under Education and schools