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Common Core Debate

California Schools Adopt New Standards
Santa Barbara Independent
Brandon Fastman
August 15, 2013

How it Works
Common Core is the culmination of work done by two nationwide groups, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, which were tasked with evaluating why American schoolkids were falling behind on global education benchmarks as well as college- and career-readiness. They found that teachers were racing through textbooks and checking off boxes without pausing to gauge the intellectual growth of their students, so Common Core aims to correct that by requiring fewer topics but allowing students to think more deeply. It also makes the teacher less of an authority figure in the classroom, forcing students to spend more time figuring things out themselves.

" . . . In English, students can expect to see a greater ratio of nonfiction to literary texts, said former San Marcos High School teacher and current UCSB professor Tim Dewar, but that doesn’t mean literature will go by the wayside. Literary texts may be read in conjunction with historical documents, for instance, and there will be more emphasis on students reading and writing in other subjects. “If the only place students are reading and writing is in English,” said Dewar, “then we are screwed.”

Why it Works
" A fancy way of saying “thinking about thinking,” metacognition is what happens when students are asked not just for the right answers but how they got to those answers. Vieja Valley teacher Allison Heiduk, also a Common Core fan, explained that currently, when instructors teach texts, they focus on comprehension. Previously, while teaching a book called Frindle, she might have asked her kids, “What did Nick do to transform the classroom into a tropical setting?” Under the new standards, she might instead ask, “What do you think Nick’s motives are? To cause trouble? Is there an educational reason? What is your evidence?” The goal is to always drive students back to the text and encourage them to formulate evidence-based reasoning ​— ​in short, a bit more “why” instead of just “what.”

The hope is for better communication skills in all subjects. “Students are going to have to think about multiple ways to solve a problem,” said Hollister of La Cumbre, “and think about how to explain how to solve a problem and think about somebody else’s point of view.” The process of finding an answer and defending that answer should be just as important as the answer itself.

Students who excel under the current system may be most frustrated with the Common Core, said several teachers, explaining that those who are good at following directions, finishing work quickly, and finding right answers will be forced to consider other answers and to articulate their thought process. But Common Core will encourage critical thinking, which is important to teachers like Ireland because currently, she said, “We are graduating kids who aren’t good problem solvers.”

 . . . Along with struggle and perseverance, Common Core adds rigor. For years, Ireland has taught a book called Yellow Star, about the Holocaust, to her 4th graders, reading the book out loud and leading her students through the plot. After being trained in an instructional method called Lemaster (after its inventor), she assigned her students articles about the Holocaust for context and asked them to take their own two-column notes. Now, to meet the Common Core expectations, she might have them choose their own research topics, find secondary research materials on their own, and then create PowerPoint slideshows to present to the class. Yes, for 4th graders.

Minding the Gap

Decried as a federal takeover of education by detractors who complain the standards weren’t fully vetted and worry that the transition is happening too quickly, Common Core is not heavily criticized on its merits. But there are some real concerns, one having to do specifically with the rigor of the new standards and who will struggle most with them.

Right now, poor minority children fare far worse in school than kids from white middle- and upper-class backgrounds. Class-based achievement gaps exist in most countries, but the U.S. is the most stratified. In fact, a recent Stanford study that analyzed the oft-cited international ranking of industrialized nations in which the U.S. came in 14th in reading and 25th in math found that the U.S. reported a higher percentage of poor and ill-educated children than its peer nations . . . 

Some worry that Common Core may actually increase this gap, reinforcing the advantages of the haves while exacerbating the challenges to the have-nots . . . Hollister thinks Common Core may actually help shrink the gap. “When we start racing through texts, that’s when parents hire tutors,” she said. “Then you have a socioeconomic gap opening up.”

. . . The new tests will be given on computers, which will use “adaptive technology” to increase or decrease the complexity of questions based on a student’s previous answer. The theory, also employed in the modern GRE taken by hopeful grad students, is that this method better tests what students know rather than what they don’t. (Try them for yourself atwww.smarterbalanced.org/pilot-test ​— ​they’re quite demanding!)  

Comments from readers . . . i.e. The Argument:

1) NYTimes article today 8/162013 by Motoko Rich... fact: in NY State, which started up Common Core curriculum standards last year, the recent test scores have only 33% [Utah students averaged 41% in English; PJHS 8th graders averaged 45%] of the students passing the math/English CC tests. You can interpret this variously: it is certainly a GOOD that the tests are more difficult, and NY firmly raises the bar on achievement. It's a blow, however, and terrifies some teachers and infuriates many parents. 

2) Pronouncements of positive change do not equate to actual positive change.There is nothing new in the methodologies described here - strong teachers have always used these sorts of techniques and credential programs have always taught them. Used to be called "critical thinking" skills and "discovery learning."As for the Common Core approach, twenty-plus years ago it was all the vogue except it was called "interdisciplinary curriculum."
It's all good, and when employed by strong instructors with students who value education it is effective and engaging. But none of it is the magic elixir to revolutionize American education. The achievement gap between wealthy kids with highly educated parents and poor kids who don't speak English will not disappear. And the gap between test scores for schools in wealthy suburbs and those for inner city high crime areas will not go away. LIfe is not that simple... sometimes there are social and economic issues that transcend anything that teachers and schools can influence [need sources].

3) English language arts standards are fundamentally flawed: the reading standards are mediocre at best, the writing standards are an “intellectual impossibility” for the average middle grade student, there is less literature, inappropriate reading material, and no cursive (handwriting) at all. ) Incredible cost to implemen. Flawed process used to create Common Core (CC), combined with the fact that five of the 29 people on the validation committee would not sign off on the standards. Most states signed onto Common Core before seeing the final standards. The reasons federal funds, and No Child Left Behind waivers. Common Core has never been tested. Education experts oppose CC. Numerous problems with the high stakes testing. Five states did not adopt CC, of the 45 states that adopted CC there is considerable opposition in at least 20, There may be a political agendaCollection, storage, and sharing of student data like never before in the United States [need sources]

4) How much money has been funneled to this movement? Billions. What is being improved? Nothing. Teachers are leaving in droves and children are shutting down because they can’t learn this way.

5) There are positives and negatives to Common Core; it’s hardly a panacea for education in any state, and certainly not in California, where we already had high standards. I think the pressure to adopt them from the Department of Education has been inappropriate, and a lot of money is going into the transition that maybe could be spent better. I’ve said many times that we transition too often between standards and curricula and that the transitions themselves have an educational cost. That said, I recommend you take some time to familiarize yourself with what is different between your state’s previous standards and the new ones, so that you can make better arguments about what issues you have with them.

6) Teachers are just too busy trying to implement the Common Core and are exhausted from the change. They are exhausted because they were sold a bill of goods and the expectations are not realistic. They are frustrated because people with no classroom experience have decided what is best in the classroom. They are angry that there is no research base to justify a change in education paradigm. They are unable to implement Common Core because it is not realistic. 

7) The CCSS were driven by Gates funding (never a good thing), and developed under the auspices of the Governors and State Superintendents, but practically by publishing company employees and some university types and mostly lacking in much transparency. There was no direct input from actual classroom teachers. When the first “draft” was presented the two national teachers’ unions objected and teachers were invited to have “input.” I know people who were involved in the process and they suggest the “input” was included in the final draft “to some extent.”

8) "Common Core is designed to demand more of students and to make sure more of them leave high school ready for college." Is this really the goal of education? No. College has been watered down because of grade inflation, the costs have skyrocketed, and the jobs are disappearing. Whys set up our kids for failure? We should be teaching kids to create their own jobs. Every time a new test is given the scores drop. Then we get better at teaching to the test and the scores go up. The kids that went to school in the 60s, and 70s didn't have any problems getting into college and finding jobs. 

7 Common Core questions [excerpts]

By Leslie Crawford

Great Schools.org

No Date

1. How might the Common Core change my child’s homework?

Given that the creators of the Common Core Standards describe them as “rigorous,” and “aligned with college and work expectations,” it’s likely that the type of homework your child brings home will be more challenging, if not somewhat unfamiliar. This is not going to be true across the board, and in some cases you may miss certain kinds of lessons that you valued as essential but now aren't part of the standards. But in general, many of the expectations will be higher.

. . . For English language arts, students will likely be reading more nonfiction and possibly tackling more complex, challenging texts. This could mean your child will take a deeper dive analyzing what he’s reading. For writing homework, where in the past one term paper might have been assigned per semester, expect that he’ll be getting more frequent writing assignments — in every subject, even math and science. Teachers will also be asking students to cite lots of evidence. The main purpose of this is to prevent kids from slipping through by somehow getting the “right” answer but not being able to tell you why or where they learned what they did. So, does this mean more homework? Unfortunately, there’s no way to know and it depends on the teacher and the school.

2. Will my child’s test scores go down?

 . . . In New York, one of the states to recently implement the Common Core, many parents were alarmed by how far their children’s scores plummeted: English language arts scores dropped by 24.1 points; in math, scores went down 33.8 points. But there’s good news: as with previous standardized tests, these scores won’t be part of your child’s academic record. The bad news: if enough students in your child’s school do poorly, depending on the state, it could affect funding for your school and cost some teachers their jobs.

As for students’ in-class tests and grades, yes, they might be lower, again, depending on the state - and school. In states that are already quite rigorous, grades and in-class test scores may not change much at all. In states where the standards represent a raising of expectations (like Louisiana, for example), your child’s in-class test scores and grades might take a dive until, ideally, over time students and teachers adjust to the new standards, and for most - new material and a new way of teaching math, reading, and writing.

Common Core advocates argue that for once, assessments will mean something, since they have been designed to measure proficiency for college and career.

3. There’s been a lot of negative press. Does our school believe the Common Core is a good thing for our students or not?

One thing is certain: while the eventual goal is to align most U.S. public schools to the same set of higher academic standards, right now there’s a wide disparity from state to state on the Common Core learning curve. This in turn may greatly affect whether a school’s administration thinks it’s a positive change for their students. States and schools who are doing a lot to prepare for the Common Core and giving teachers a lot of support — through seminars and other hands-on training — may be far more excited to implement the new standards. Teachers who are given nothing more than a training manual may be more apprehensive about how to teach to the new standards, not to mention what they will mean for themselves and their students.

4. How much will implementing the Common Core cost our school?

. . . will depends on which state you live in. There is a huge disparity in what states are currently spending on their students.

5. Will it dumb down standards or raise them?

In a study by the Fordham Institute, researchers looked at two states that already have high standards — California and Massachusetts — and asked whether with the Common Core there would be a lowering of the standards. The answer is an encouraging, “No.” If the Common Core didn’t dumb down standards in these two exemplar states, it bodes well for the other 43 states in the process of implementing the standards.

The Fordham study looked at current standards across all 50 states and the District of Columbia and concluded that the Common Core standards "were clearer and more rigorous than ELA (English language arts) standards in 37 states and math standards in 39 states. (See how your state's current standards compare with the Common Core according to the Fordham Institute.) But not everyone believes the Common Core raises the bar. For example, an Educational Researcher content analysis concluded that Common Core math standards were sub par; also, a policy paper by two professors on the Common Core Validation Committee found the Common Core didn't go far enough to prepare students for a rigorous education in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math).

6. What resources will the school be offering to help students catch up if they are struggling?

By all means, ask your school about what resources will be available, although the majority of schools are racing to get up to speed with the Common Core.

7. What’s a reliable resource for more information?

The Council of Great City Schools offers a wealth of detail about the standards and what they might mean for your child’s school and, most importantly, for you and your child. Also helpful: the Common Core Standards website, where you can gain an in-depth understanding of its goals, its specific standards for ELA and math at each grade level, and its creators' take on the myths and facts about the Common Core. Although created for educators, Achieve the Core makes it easy for parents to see sample work by grade.The Hunt Institute produced this quick (admittedly pro-Common Core) video to explain the basics. Finally, GreatSchools will continue to bring you the latest on the Common Core, with a focus on what it will mean for your school, your child, and you.


Texas opts out of adopting California’s Common Core

By  October 14, 2013

In the past few years, you’ve probably seen some sort of documentation of how terrible American public schools are. From the documentary “Waiting for Superman” to the frequent 60 Minutes coverage, it’s easy to get the idea that American students aren’t learning anything and are all about to drop out.

I have a problem with this picture, though. I went to an American public school, and while my judgmental self could certainly see room for improvement, I think I was prepared to go to college, and with a graduating class of more than 2500, I don’t think too many people dropped out.

In this dichotomy between the picture of an American education and the actual education given to many students lies the problem with our education system. Yes, in certain areas in the U.S., public schools aren’t doing so well — I’m looking at you, Chicago — but a large number of schools are turning out graduates that are ready to either go to college or join the workforce. One possible solution to the disparity between states in American public schools is to create a national curriculum.

Now, before people start accusing me of being communist, let me get some statistics out there. According to the Center for Public Education, before California instated the Common Core Educational Standards this fall, the furthest students had to progress in math in order to graduate was Algebra 1. With success in college being strongly correlated to taking Algebra 2, California’s graduation requirements were certainly lacking. Compare that to the four years of math required to graduate under Texas’ recommended graduation plan, with Algebra 2 being one of the required courses.

Furthermore, according to the Center on International Education Benchmarking, every single one of the countries with the highest-performing education systems have a national curriculum. While correlation doesn’t imply causation, maybe copying a few of the strategies used by high-performing education systems is not such a bad idea.

There are steps being taken to move toward the educational systems exemplified by top education countries like the Netherlands and South Korea. This fall, 45 states instated the Common Core, which is a set of standards that students must meet before moving on to the next grade. To all those who demean the Common Core for being “Big Government”, keep in mind that the Core is a state-led effort and was devised by the Board of Governors.

Texas is one of the states that didn’t adopt the Common Core, and it isn’t very likely that it will. Barbara Cargill, chairwoman of Texas’ State Board of Education, says there is a “0 percent chance” that Texas will adopt the Common Core.

Yes, the Common Core has problems, but the longer it’s used, the more it will adapt to fit the needs of American public schools. By choosing not to implement the Common Core, Texas alienates itself from the rest of America. This kind of behavior does nothing to improve the state of public education in America.

In order to become one of the world’s top education systems, the U.S. must emulate the world’s top education systems. The states must be united in the effort to improve America’s schools. Until all of the states are committed to working together to improve education in America on a public level, the U.S. will continue to lag behind the education systems of other industrialized countries.

Opinion columnist Emily Johnson is an English literature freshman and may be reached at opinion@thedailycougar.com



Letter to Commissioner King and the New York State Education Department:

I have played your game for the past two years.  As an educator, I have created my teaching portfolio with enough evidence so I can prove that I am doing my job over the course of the school year. I am testing my students on material that they haven’t yet learned in September, and then re-testing them midway through the year, and then again at the end of the year to track and show their growth. Between those tests, I am giving formative assessments. I am taking pictures of myself at community events within my district to prove that I support my school district and the community. I am teaching using the state-generated modules that you have created and assumed would work on all students, despite learning style, learning ability, or native language.   I am effectively proving that I am worthy of keeping my job and that my bachelors and masters degrees weren’t for naught.  I have adapted, just as all teachers across the state have, because that’s what we do. We might not agree, we might shake our head at the amount of time creative instruction has turned into testing instruction, but we play the game. 

Today, things got really personal.  Today I saw just how this Common Core business is affecting kids.  Not my kids in my classroom; I know how it’s affecting them and I am doing the best that I can to make this as painless as possible on them. Today, my third grade son came home an angry, discouraged kid because of school. On the contrary, my oldest son is doing pretty well with the Common Core. He’s had some difficulties, but for the most part he’s just rolling with it and we’re doing OK.  But my younger son is not my older son; which just proves that this one-size-fits-all curriculum that you are throwing at these elementary kids is bull.

That’s right, NYS, I call bull. When my eight year old boy, who loves to read to his little sister and is excited to go to back to school come July of every summer, calls himself dumb because he is bringing home failing test grades, then this has turned personal.  My son isn’t dumb, Commissioner King. He works hard to learn, he writes stories and songs, builds entire football stadiums out of Legos in record time, and he can explain how to divide in his own words.  He. Is. Not. Dumb. But when he gets consistently failing grades on the module assessments, what message do you think he’s getting?  These module assessments, sir, that have words like ‘boughten’ on them and the children have to infer what ‘boughten’ means. Did you know that boughten is no longer used as a form of the verb to buy?  According to the grammarist.com website, boughten is as foreign to modern language as the word thou. 

“Boughten is an archaic participial inflection of the verb to buy. It was once a fairly common colloquial form—it was used to describe something bought instead of homemade—and it still appears occasionally, but it is widely seen as incorrect and might be considered out of place in formal writing”

So, when my son is faced with answering questions on outdated language, on topics such as a ‘sorrel mare’ and the reading passages take place in foreign war-torn lands, when these children haven’t even mastered the basics of their own country yet, what do expect him to feel like? Do you expect him to feel like he’s just on the road to become college and career ready, which is the basis of the common core, and these challenges will only make him stronger?  

No, sir, I’ll tell you what it does.  It beats him down. It discourages him.  It exhausts him.  It makes him dread going to school and then lash out in anger at the nightly homework that is associated with these common core modules. It is turning him off of school and if this trend continues, he will be far from college and career ready because he will want nothing to do with college. 

I understand that we want to compete globally in the area of education. High school and college students should absolutely be challenged and learn to become a valuable, contributing member to their chosen career. Attributes such as creativeness, leadership, self-directedness, and being a team player are all skills that our next generation need to possess. But let’s work backwards: our high school teachers signed up for this.  We can get our kids college and career ready; and if we don’t, shame on us. Our goal as high school teachers is send productive citizens into the world. Some years are better than others. Some kids have the advantage of supportive homes, while many do not. But we know where they need to be, and if our colleges and universities are unhappy with the product they are receiving then the communication between the the high schools and post-secondary schools needs to improve. We don’t need to throw it on the elementary teachers and students. No, those teachers need to  instill a love of school so when children get to our middle and high schools they are not burnt out.  They are encouraged, excited, confident, and motivated.

Creating modules that are a scripted nightmare for both the teacher and student is not the answer. You are ruining children. You are killing their spirit. You are making them believe they are dumb because they can’t multiply and divide on the exact day that the module says they should be multiplying and dividing. You are creating a generation of disengaged children who now feel insufficient. 

This mom is angry. This educator is pessimistic. This state is in trouble. 


Mrs. Momblog



In Common Core Transition New York Looks to Kentucky

By Jessica Bakeman

October 8, 2014

ALBANY—State education commissioner John King expects student performance on Common Core-aligned exams to improve over time, as it has in Kentucky, the only state that has moved faster than New York in implementing the more rigorous test standards.

Kentucky reported significant gains during the third year of Common Core-aligned state exams, the results of which were released last Friday. Students across grade levels improved in most subjects. Graduation and college-readiness rates improved as well and typically underperforming groups of students, such as those living in poverty or with disabilities, also showed improvements.

“We are optimistic that we will see continued growth as we head into the third year of Common Core assessments,” King said. “Like Kentucky, we can expect that the progress over time will confirm the strength of the work of teachers and principals on implementing the Common Core.”

Since beginning Common Core, New York has looked to Kentucky to see how the transition would go. Student proficiency there plummeted in 2011-12, the first year of Common Core-testing. The next year, New York saw the same results on its first Common Core exams—a roughly 30-percent drop in math and English proficiency.


Similarly, both states showed modest progress in the second year of testing.

The results of Kentucky’s third year of testing provides more encouraging data for Common Core advocates.

For example, Kentucky's college-readiness rate is now 62 percent, up from 54 percent last year and 47 percent in 2012. The four-year graduation rate is also up slightly, to 87 percent.

“This is just further evidence for the notion that over time, as teachers and students gain familiarity with the standards, we will see progress,” King said.

Next year, most other states will begin testing students based on the Common Core. King said he expects those states to look to Kentucky and New York, which have “made it to the other side” of testing difficulties.

King was often at the center of controversy in New York over the Common Core, particularly the state exams based on the standards. Teachers and parents argued they were rolled out too quickly, before students had time to prepare.

“I think there is no question that transitions to higher standards come with challenges, and the change process is difficult, whether it’s Kentucky or New York,” King said. “We have in a sense made it to the other side of that process earlier than other states. But as people go through Common Core assessments for the first time, they will face challenges and, as we have, spend time explaining why proficiency rates are lower and what that means about raising standards.”

One takeaway King noted from Kentucky’s most recent results is that elementary and middle-school students are making larger gains than high-school students. That’s partially explained by the structure of the Common Core standards, which build on each other so older students who didn’t have Common Core instruction in earlier grades would struggle more in the transition.

That’s why the New York State Board of Regents decided the class of 2022 should be the first expected to pass high-school exams at proficiency levels that demonstrate college- and career-readiness in order to graduate, King said.

But schools must focus on helping students who are in the upper grades now transition to the standards. That’s especially important because college-entrance exams are being reworked to align to the Common Core.

“Certainly in our high schools, we should be focused on ensuring that students are writing a lot, that there are reading challenging fiction and nonfiction texts, that they are strengthening their literacy skills not just in language arts but in history and science as well, and that they are acquiring the problem-solving skills emphasized in the Common Core around math,” King said.

Terry Holliday, Kentucky's education commissioner, noted the differences in academic growth that are apparent between lower and upper grades. He said it’s going to take time for older students to “catch up,” and it’s important states stay the course.

“If I had any advice for other states, it would be: Let’s give [the Common Core standards] three to five years to get fully implemented and support our teachers,” Holliday said in an interview with Capital.

Holliday said he has fielded calls from other states and national educational organizations looking to learn from his state’s experience.

“When you jump out early—we bled a little bit here and there, so everybody else could kind of see what mistakes we made and maybe what we did well,” he said.

Holliday said the biggest mistake Kentucky officials made was not supporting school districts and teachers with adequate financial resources during the transition. Other states could learn from that as they move forward, he said.

But one thing Kentucky did well, he said, was public outreach. The state began an advertising campaign a year before beginning Common Core testing, warning parents test scores would fall.

In New York, King and Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch have acknowledged public outreach has lagged, especially after a string of tense public forums on Common Core implementation last year. The officials argued it was a priority going forward.

A statewide group that represents superintendents also lauded Kentucky’s results from the third year and argued those results bode well for New York’s chances of success.

“We have every reason to believe New York’s experience will be similar to Kentucky’s and that there will be greater gains with one more year of experience with the new assessments,” Bob Lowry, deputy director of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, said.

New York State United Teachers, a union that has led the statewide fight against linking “high stakes” for students and teachers to the Common Core-aligned exams, declined to comment.

Although Common Core advocates want to credit the standards for Kentucky’s gains, Holliday said that argument is oversimplified.

“Just like you can’t blame Common Core for everything that goes wrong, you can’t give Common Core credit for everything that goes right,” Holliday said. “Education is very complex.

“Anybody that says, ‘Well, it’s all Common Core in Kentucky,’—no, it’s not,” he said. “But anybody who says Common Core is a problem in New York—it’s not. It’s not either-or. I wish it were black and white, but it’s not.”

Here’s a detailed look at Kentucky’s results: http://1.usa.gov/1rSUezl


Utah Common Core test scores prompt Florida worries

By Leslie Postal and Dan Sweeney,,Sun Sentinel

Utah's low Common Core test scores may not bode well for Florida

October 3, 2014

Utah students took their state's new Common Core tests this spring, and they struggled so badly that a majority of Utah schools could end up graded D or F.

Despite the more than 2,000 miles that separate the two states, what happened in Utah could resonate in Florida. This spring, Sunshine State students also will be taking Common Core standardized tests filled with questions from Utah's exams.

Plenty of Florida educators and parents are already concerned Florida hasn't given schools enough time to prepare students for tough new tests, which will replace most of the FCAT — the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. The Utah results only add to those worries.

"All parents want high standards for their kids, they want the best education possible, but they object to too many tests and the way the tests are used, such as assigning letter grades to school," said Latha Krishnaiyer, past president of both the Broward County PTA and the Florida PTA.

Krishnaiyer and others concede the new letter grades will have no consequences the first year, but they want to go a step further.

"We're asking they not even issue school grades [this year]," Krishnaiyer said. "And also, we're a little concerned about the fact that this is a new exam, so they should use it for a few years to get some baseline data before using it for school grades and teacher evalutations."

In Utah, the percentage of students scoring well on the new tests plummeted compared with previous years when the state gave a different exam. Only 41 percent of fourth graders, for example, were proficient in language arts this year compared with 78 percent in 2013.

Fearful about scores in Florida, the state's superintendents recently urged the state to give its new Florida Standards Assessment this spring but to hold off on using the marks for high-stakes decisions for three years.

Now, Florida plans to give the new language arts and math exams in 2015 and use the data to help make student promotion decisions, evaluate teachers and grade public schools from A-to-F. However, the letter grades will not result in loss of funding or other real-world consequences for the first year.

State educators say schools have had four years to carry out Common Core — new benchmarks for what students should learn in language arts and math. If they are teaching those standards, students should be prepared for the new tests, officials say.

Common Core is designed to demand more of students and to make sure more of them leave high school ready for college. Education Commissioner Pam Stewart has called the new tests part of a "truly historic effort to help your children succeed."

  • "Common Core is designed to demand more of students and to make sure more of them leave high school ready for college." Is this really the goal of education? No. College has been watered down because of grade inflation, the costs have skyrocketed, and the jobs are disappearing. Whys...
    AT 12:42 PM OCTOBER 04, 2014

The new tests will be different from FCAT, which was mostly a multiple-choice exam given with paper and pencil. They have more involved questions – analyzing texts and showing how to work out math problems, for example — and will be mostly given online, requiring keyboard skills some students do not yet have.

Florida is paying Utah more than $5 million for test questions to help it meet a challenging timeline to get Common Core tests ready by March. The plan was possible because both states were using the same testing contractor, though Utah was a year ahead of Florida in the process.

Florida will set its own scoring system, based on Florida data, not Utah's, officials said..

Utah gave students its new tests in this past spring. The Utah State Board of Education last month approved its scoring system, setting its "proficient" marks in part to match how Utah high school students did on the ACT. Educators said that provided a national benchmark for "college ready."

But it also meant the percentage of students doing well fell by about 30 percentage points. Kentucky and New York, which introduced Common Core tests in 2012 and 2013, also witnessed such score drops.

Utah board member Barbara Corry said her first reaction was a desire to change the "terrible" results, but she concluded they were "honest scores" that would lead to educational improvements. She said Utah superintendents largely supported them.

But board members struggled with news that a majority of Utah schools could be graded D or F and decided to ask Utah legislators how they want to proceed, a discussion that likely will happen later this month.

Krishnaiyer said if Florida ends up with equally low scores, it may be a wake-up call to those who haven't yet been bothered by testing policies.

"Parents are seeing too many tests. Every time they turn around, there's a test," she said. "They'd like some of that stress off their students. … We've always favored the portfolio method, to assess a child's schoolwork throughout the year. At the very least, they shouldn't do the testing until its properly field tested. It has not been field tested in Florida."




Dr. James Milgram, the Stanford emeritus professor of mathematics who served on the Common Core validation committee and who refused to sign off on the standards, said:

I can tell you that my main objection to Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of a normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. Moreover, they cover very little of the content of Algebra II, and none of any higher level course… They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries…”

Likewise, Professor Sandra Stotsky, who served on the same committee, who also refused to sign off on the Common Core standards because they were academically inferior,  has written:

“…we are regularly told that Common Core’s standards are internationally benchmarked. Joel Klein, former head of the New York City schools, most recently repeated this myth in an interview with Paul Gigot, the Wall Street Journal editor, during the first week in June. Not mentioned at all in the interview or the op-ed he co-authored in the WSJ a week later is Klein’s current position in a company that does a lot of business with Common Core. An Exxon ad, repeated multiple times during a recently televised national tennis match, also suggested that Common Core’s standards were internationally benchmarked. We don’t know who influenced Exxon’s education director. Gigot never asked Klein what countries we were supposedly benchmarked to. Nor did the Exxon ad name a country to which these standards were supposedly benchmarked. Klein wouldn’t have been able to answer, nor could Exxon have named a country because Common Core’s standards are not internationally benchmarked. Neither the methodologically flawed study by William Schmidt of Michigan State University, nor the post-Common Core studies by David Conley of the University of Oregon, all funded by the Gates Foundation, have shown that Common Core’s content is close to, never mind equal to, the level of the academic content of the mathematics and English standards in high-achieving countries.”

Even  vocabulary words are changing to less literary, more technical/industrial words, words that are being called “more relevant” than the rich vocabulary offered in the literary classics.   And, while small passages of founding documents and classic literature are to be taught and tested, they are not to be placed in context nor read in whole.   This, to me, looks like dumbing down.  

Professor Thomas Newkirk of the University of New Hampshire explains:  “The central message in their guidelines is that the focus should be on “the text itself”… The text should be understood in “its own terms.” While the personal connections and judgments of the readers may enter in later, they should do so only after students demonstrate “a clear understanding of what they read.” So the model of reading seems to have two stages—first a close reading in which the reader withholds judgment or comparison with other texts, focusing solely on what is happening within “the four corners of the text.” And only then are prior knowledge, personal association, and appraisal allowed in.  This seems to me an inhuman, even impossible, and certainly unwise prescription.”  -