Monthly Archives: June 2014

Common Core Standards ‘Fracture’ as States Pull Support

As Americans become educated about the controversial Common Core standards, more states are finding ways to make U-turns to get their students, parents, and teachers out of the nationalized system of standards.

Once thought to be a champion for education initiatives, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) is now finding himself to be an outsider as more of his Republican colleagues are renouncing the Common Core standards. Bush and allies, like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and primary private funder of the standards Bill Gates, continue to support them despite their increasing unpopularity.

Full Article.

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Jindal order would make Louisiana latest state to pull out of Common Core

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal issued an executive order that would effectively make the Bayou State the fourth to withdraw from Common Core this year, but a top education official vowed to implement the national education standards anyway.

Jindal, used the order to defy state lawmakers who support the national education standard by requiring competitive bidding for tests tied to education standards. The move would likely block Common Core-tied testing program, known as PARCC for students in third through eighth grades. The tests administered by PARCC, an acronym for Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, have not been purchased yet, and Jindal noted they are among the most expensive available.

Although Jindal previously supported the Common Core State Standards Initiative, it has become a hot button political issue as it nears widespread implementation. Jindal, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, said he was concerned that the national standard takes control from states and parents.

“We’re very alarmed about choice and local control of curriculum being taken away from our parents and educators,” he said at a press conference. “If other states want to allow the federal government to dictate to them, they have every right to make that choice.”

Full article.

Common Core Just Got Destroyed In This Deep Blue State

Federal education standards known as Common Core, have been roundly criticized by individuals involved in the public school system across the nation. Parents, teachers, students and elected officials have worked tirelessly to roll back the program’s regulations in a number of states.

Complaints about the Common Core curriculum include evidence of leftist indoctrination, social engineering, and convoluted teaching methods.

Even in states with a long history of supporting leftist causes, this program is quickly losing support. The results of a recent Times Union/Siena College Upstate Education poll reveal a stunning level of disapproval among New Yorkers. A full 82 percent of respondents confirmed they want to see Common Core stopped in the state.

Dr. Don Levy conducted the poll and saw the results as a clear sign from residents that something needs to change in the state’s educational system.

“When you get over 80 percent of the people who say that,” he explained, “that’s what people believe.”

Despite claims that the program would result in a better environment for learning, New York has seen test scores drop since its implementation. That realization only exacerbated the existing concerns many of the state’s residents had about Common Core.

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Growing Rejection Of Common Core

The most controversial current issue in education today is clearly Common Core. It’s being more hotly debated than bullying, zero tolerance, sex ed, abortion, or even school lunches.Common Core is the title of a new set of standards that the Obama Administration has been trying to force the states to use.

Even before the standards were written, 45 states and the District of Columbia signed on, encouraged by inducements of federal funds. The principal outliers are Texas, Alaska, Nebraska, and Virginia.

Now that parents and teachers are finding out what is commanded by Common Core standards and what is being taught by “Common Core-aligned” materials, moms and teachers are raising a ruckus to try to get their states to repeal their state’s involvement. Many are demanding that their state withdraw altogether from Common Core, principally because they believe it is a takeover by the Obama Administration of all that kids are taught and not taught.

The backlash against Common Core has developed into a potent political force. About 100 bills have been introduced into various state legislatures to cancel, stop, or slow down Common Core requirements.

Read the article.

Enough testing and tech! We don’t need the PARCC, we need our schools back

I am disturbed by the lack of thoughtful pedagogy in the schools, by low standards, by an absence of curriculum that fosters inquiry and critical thinking and by the push to address a widening equity gap through the systemic use of data driven standardized tests such as the one for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career. I am seeing my child’s education as series of exercises that are to prepare her for standardized tests.

Children learn best when the learning is personal; when a child inhabits the lesson, the child will learn. That is how children develop and hone their inquiry and critical thinking skills. It is in the doing. All this time spent “catching up,” gathering data, taking tests and especially pulling struggling students out of their classes and away from their peers is doing real damage to the psyches of our smallest children. This is not how you close achievement gaps; this is called tracking, and when you start this kind of separation in kindergarten and first grade you are forever sending a message to students about who is capable and who is not.

Read article here.

Reasons for HWRSD School Committee to choose MCAS over PARCC

Given that:

  • there is no discernible educational benefit to children for moving from MCAS to PARCC
  • the concept of “inevitability” is not born out (evidenced by multiple states backing out of Common Core)
  • Massachusetts is already ahead of most of the country in terms of educational standards
  • Pearson who administers the PARCC test is now under investigation [1][2]
  • there are real questions about the sale of student data [3]
  • Mitchell Chester, head of DESE, is now under investigation for conflict of interest [4]
  • the Massachusetts legislature has designated a study about the cost of the “Cost-Benefit Analysis for PARCC” won’t be concluded until the end of the summer
  • multiple Massachusetts school districts have decided to delay implementation of PARCC for at least this year (Cambridge for example) [6]

I would recommend that the school committee vote to stay with MCAS.

[1] http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/06/05/judge-puts-hold-on-common-core-contract-to-pearson/
[2] http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/22/education/new-york-attorney-general-is-investigating-pearson-education.html?_r=0
[3] http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regionals/north/2014/05/07/some-growing-uneasy-over-release-student-data/gJTrtB2WNjqwD53e5Wc5hK/story.html
[4] http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2014/04/12/peabody-questions-education-commissioner-ties-parcc/O9GiKT9CbenTSdV9RT7TKL/story.html
[5] https://malegislature.gov/Bills/188/House/H4000/Amendment/House/16/OriginalText
[6] http://cambridge.wickedlocal.com/article/20140604/NEWS/140608758

Educators wary over test’s use of student data

Fueling growing unrest among some school officials regarding student privacy and a new assessment test, the state education department said it is not ready to release information on who has access to data collected on students.

The Massachusetts Association of School Committees last month asked the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education for a list of vendors who receive student data collected through testing and by school districts. But the DESE said this is the first such request the department has ever received and that the information is not readily available.

“What I see here is a legitimate issue, and frankly I’d like to know the answers to, one, who gets access to the info, and, two, why aren’t they giving the answers out?” said Glenn Koocher, executive director of MASC, who said he was contacted by at least a dozen school committee members from across the state asking him to make a formal request for the information.

“This is student data and I would hope that it’s not going to marketers who will be bombarding them,” said Mel Webster, a member of the North Reading School Committee.

Jackie Reis, DESE media relations coordinator, declined to answer questions from the Globe regarding who has access to student data collected through assessment testing; how many vendors are under contract to receive student data; how vendors are vetted; how data are shared; if student data are sold and if so, for how much; vendor contract lengths; and who is ultimately responsible at the DESE for data collection, sharing, and vetting vendors. Reis said answers to these questions would have to wait till mid-May.

Read the article.