Category Archives: Pearson

A Quick Look at Common Core

 
 
When the Common Core was first introduced people (educators, mainly) were excited about it. It promised to provide schools with a set of national standards which would equalize quality across schools, which would make US students competitive in a global work environment, and which would help America surpass all those schools that, according to statistics, have outpaced American schools.

That was in 2009. Two groups – The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers “announced an effort to create voluntary national standards in Math and Reading, says an article in USA Today 30, usatoday.com. Only four states did not sign on:  Alaska, Nebraska, Texas, and Virginia. Obama tied “college and career-ready standards” (the article goes on to say) to billions in federal grants. The article states that in September of 2010 Obama “all but required adoption of the common core or similar standards approved by state higher ed. officials if states want to receive federal waivers from the 2002 No Child Left Behind law. (People in America really find mandated activities distasteful.)

Wikipedia tells us, “[t]he team who worked on developing the standards included David Coleman, Wm. McCallum, Phil Daro, and Student Achievement founder, Jason Zimba to write curriculum standards in the areas of mathematics and for literacy instruction.”

“The common standards are funded by the Governors and State School chiefs with additional support from the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation and the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation and others,” Wikipedia continues.

However, by 2013 much of the excitement about these standards seems to have worn off. In fact many educators and even more parents are up in arms. Kentucky, a state that seems eager to adopt any new programs that will help its people, is further along than many other states with implementing Common Core standards and has already seen some positive results. (also Wikipedia) Elsewhere we see varying levels of discord.

Here are some of the less than positive reactions that I have discovered in the literature (my notes and links will be included at the end of this post).

1.      Common Core standards are not curricula objectives. Objectives still have to be developed by states at each grade level to specify how the standards will be met.

2.      These standards were put in place by governors and others who were not necessarily educators in top-down fashion.

3.      Teachers and parents have not been asked for their input (although some educators were consulted when the standards were developed).

4.      Schools are spending a lot of money to buy the textbooks from Pearson (the publisher) and these monies benefit a private corporation.

5.      Pre-tests test students on things they haven’t learned yet which is frustrating (sometimes very frustrating) to students and therefore parents.

6.      Post tests are premature as these standards are not fully in place.

7.      These tests are expensive and also published by Pearson. They are designed to be administered on computers which many schools are not equipped to do.

8.      Since many teacher evaluations are based, in part, on student progress on tests that test common core outcomes that have barely or have not been implemented yet, scores on teacher evaluations are most likely lower than they should be. These scores were not supposed to be considered valid, but the results have been published and used in school staffing decisions.

9.      The standards set by the Common Core, especially at the elementary school levels, are not appropriate to the age of the learners unless children have experienced being schooled using these standards since kindergarten.

10. The language arts standards stress nonfiction reading over literature which teachers feel demands thinking of a different order than is stimulated by reading literature and they believe students will be shortchanged by not having a solid progression of fiction reading along with the nonfiction that the standards require.

11. Parents are not able to understand the homework assignments their children bring home, having the greatest difficulty with math homework which often involves only 2 or 3 problems which, once solved, must be explained by students. How did they solve the problem; why did they solve it that way?

12. These standards have barely been implemented and there is a great outcry against them.

13. Workshops, conferences, teacher trainings, parent meetings are all things that should have happened before Common Core standards were even implemented but because of the Race to the Top funding deadlines there was no time. If teachers created teaching objectives to accomplish the standards they would have felt more invested, they would have understood how the standards could be met, and school districts would not have felt it so necessary to buy the whole Pearson product line.

14. The Common Core tests should be suspended while some of the above activities are scheduled and until teachers are able to get an in-depth understanding of the standards and also until they have devised strategies to use them in their teaching.

15. Teachers, parents and children are all unhappy with the reliance on tests and test results that have been imposed from above.

16. This Common Core dictates a classroom format that encourages teachers to teach to the test and that robs classrooms of opportunities for creativity and for accommodating diverse learning styles.

I did not foresee that we would be moving to such a test-based system. I did not see that we would turn teaching and learning into a simple matter of bookkeeping. I thought we would get kids up out of those desks and sally forth into the real world more often and do more field trips and more creative computer work along with that textbook work and do that skill practice that is needed to turn children into educated adults. I had thought we would make school more interesting, rather than more nerve-wracking. Teachers have done this; the best teachers have done this. If asked they could create a program that would incorporate much more interaction with the real world in the communities in which they live. I truly believe that we are on the wrong track here. We would be better off programming the whole business into a computer and letting students learn online at their own pace with oversight from their instructors. Each one of these educational models I have mentioned seems preferable to the Common Core and I bet there are educators out there in the ether with even better ideas. The one thing we could all probably agree on is that we wish we were the owners of the Pearson Company. Have they gone public? Maybe we should buy the stock.

I do have some credentials in education, a BA degree from SUNY Potsdam in Secondary English and a Med from the University of Arizona at Tucson as a Reading Specialist. I taught College Reading and Study Skills at a SUNY EOC for 24 years.

 

 

Here are my notes and links for those who are interested or for the doubters:

Suburban teacher, Syracuse parent on teacher ratings: “How is this helping our kids?”

Susan Fahey Glisson, a school librarian in the Jamesville-DeWitt School District and president of Parents for Public Schools of Syracuse, calls the state’s new teacher evaluation system wasteful and demoralizing.

By Paul Riede

Susan Fahey Glisson – School librarian at Tecumseh Elementary for 14 years – did something she never thought she would do with her students

She tested them – she didn’t want to – believes library should be a rufuge – she even tested them on things they were never taught, fully expecting them to do poorly.

How demoralizing is that? That’s what Susan said.

Teachers across NY, underwent a new state-mandated teacher evaluation last year. The state required part of the evaluation to be based on student improvement. Teachers had to develop their own student learning objectives. The program involved pre and post testing. The improvement was factored into teacher evaluations.

Fahey Glisson “was a waste of time and a disservice to my students” “These tests don’t tell me anything about the kids that I don’t already know. They’re only to evaluate me.”

She’s not complaining about her scores. She scored an 88. “she is furious at results showing 40 percent of Syracuse’s teachers scored below the effective range while, by all accounts, very few teachers in the suburbs suffered the same fate.”

“This is not an accurate reflection of teaching abilities,” she said. “It’s insane to thing that Syracuse city all these years is only hiring ineffective teachers and J-D hires only effective teachers. I think socioeconomics is the driving factor behind test scores, whether the test scores are being used to evaluate the student or evaluate the teacher.”

[Her] perspective is unique because she works in the suburbs and has a son who attends Syracuse City schools.

“City teachers are being evaluated on how unprepared the majority of their kids are to be successful in school,” she said. “Whereas I am being evaluated on how prepared the majority of our kids are when they walk into kindergarten.”

“the only part of the evaluation that makes sense is the 60 percent that is based on direct contact between administrators and teachers through classroom observations and reviews of the teachers’ work.

What does it mean to be a developing teacher?  (Commentary)

October 21, 2013

By George Theoharis and Douglas Biklen

The new teacher and principal evaluation system called Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), has resulted in 2% of teachers in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD) being rated as highly effective, 58 percent effective, 33 percent developing, and 7 percent ineffective.

First, what does developing mean?  This portion of the APPR score was based on percentage of students scoring at “the lowest performance category, decreasing from 2012 to 2013 by 10% and the number of students scoring at proficient or higher increasing by 5%. If these percentages are not achieved, all teachers in the school were rated as ineffective for that portion of the evaluation.

New Common Core assessments took effect this year – they were harder and not previously aligned to the curriculum. In the Syracuse City School District that meant that for part of the APPR based on local growth, all teachers in the school got the same rating based on lack of school-wide improvement in percentages of students increasing their proficiency from 2012 to 2013. This teacher at the lowest performing schools had little chance of rating anything higher than developing because of the way this part of the evaluation was scored given the changes in the state tests. [This] penalized teachers for working at low performing schools.

Public shaming of teachers, leader, schools is confused with real accountability. They are not the same thing.

Developing- educators referred to those early in their career as novices, presuming that the goal is to become expert. And anyone who teaches knows that we can get better with time, with interaction with great teachers, by being observed and critiqued, by seeing how our students respond to different approaches, and in professional reflection. This is what developing should mean.

Second: Shaming does not lead to improvement

Blaming teachers misses the impact poverty and the role leaders and policy play. Blaming state and federal policy ignores the essential role of teachers and families and the impacts of poverty. Blaming leaders overlooks the power of good teaching and the role of poverty and policy. Blaming families fails to acknowledge the profound impact of teachers, leaders, systems, poverty and racial prejudice.

Real improvement happens through collective responsibility, and collective accountability. And any discussion of teacher quality demands attention to the broader context.

Third: Improvements are needed

We also know that decades of research have shown that dense concentrations (segregation) of students based on race, economics, home language, and disability makes school improvement difficult.

Predictably, the process of supporting teachers to get better at their craft will work if it is pursued systematically over several years, until it becomes a normal part of school culture.

Fourth: This will take time

Principal: “I was naïve about Common Core” from The Washington Post

By Valerie Strauss, 3/4/2013

How an award-winning principal went from being a Common Core supporter to an opponent. This was written by Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in New York, named 2010 Outstanding Educator by the School Administrators Association of New York State and she is one of the co-authors of the principal’s letter against evaluating teachers by student test scores signed by 1,535 New York principals.

By Carol Burris

“When I first read about Common Core State Standards, I cheered.

I even co-authored a book, “Opening the Common Core” on how to help schools meet that goal. It is a book about rich curriculum and equitable teaching practices, not about testing and sanctions. We wrote is because we thought that the Common Core would be a student-centered reform based on principles of equity.

I should have known…that the standards themselves would quickly become operationalized by tests.

Testing coupled with the evaluation of teachers by scores is driving its implementation. The promise of the Common Core is dying and teaching and learning are being distorted. The well that should sustain the Core has been poisoned.

(Here’s a question from a test for 7-year-olds)

Kings and queens COMMISSIONED Mozart to write symphonies for celebrations and ceremonies. What does COMMISSION mean?

1.       To force someone to do work against his or her will

2.       To divide a piece of music into different movements

3.       To perform a long song accompanied by an orchestra

4.       To pay someone to create artwork or a piece of music

Whether or not learning the word ‘commission’ is appropriate for second graders could be debated – I personally think it is a bit over the top. What is of deeper concern, however, is that during a time when 7 year olds should be listening to and making music, they are instead taking a vocabulary quiz.

The Common Core places an extraordinary emphasis on vocabulary development.

(Every teacher) and every child in the class feels that pressure and trepidation as well

I am troubled that a company that has a multi-million dollar contract to create tests for the state should also profit from producing test prep materials.

“An English teacher in my building came to me with a ‘reading test’ that her third grader took. Her daughter did poorly on the test. As both a mother and an English teacher she knew that the difficulty of the passage and the questions were way over grade level. Her daughter, who is an excellent reader, was crushed. She and I looked on the side of the copy of the quiz and found the word “Pearson.” The school, responding to pressure from NYS, had purchased test prep materials from the company that makes the exam for the state.”

I am even more deeply troubled that this wonderful little girl, whom I have known since she was born, is being subject to this distortion of what her primary education should be.

When state education officials chide, “Don’t drill for the test, it does not work”, teachers laugh. Of course test prep works.

Test scores are a rough proxy for learning.

Real learning occurs in the mind of the learner when she makes connections with prior learning, makes meaning, and retains that knowledge in order to create additional meaning from new information.

With tests we see traces of learning, not learning itself.

The Common Core wants student to grow in five skill areas of the English Language Arts 1. Reading, 2. Writing, 3. Speaking, 4. Listening, 5. Collaboration

Common Core tests measure only reading and writing.

What gets measured gets done

For the corporate reformers, test data constitute the bottom-line profits that they watch.

Michael Fullan – there is no one more knowledgeable about school change and systematic reform. He is the renowned international authority on school reform. Here is what he said at a conference the author attended:

The present reforms are led by the wrong drivers of change—individual accountability of teachers, linked to test scores and punishment, cannot be successful in transforming schools. He said that the Common Core standards will fall of their own weight. The right driver of school change is capacity building. Data should be used as a strategy for improvement, not accountability purposes. The Common Core is a powerful tool, but it is being implemented using the wrong drivers.

Fullan helped to successfully lead the transformation of schools in Ontario, Canada.

“A fool with a tool is still a fool. A fool with a powerful tool is a dangerous fool.” Says Fullan

A few educators say the new standards, supported by the U.S. Department of Education, are untested, and one Republican governor wants to block the measure, saying it’s a federal intrusion into local decisions.

2009, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers announced an effort to create voluntary national standards in math and reading. All but four states…quickly signed on to the standards, known as the Common Core, agreeing to help create then implement them by 2014.

…decision was helped partly by President Obama, who has tied “college and career-ready standards” to billions in federal grants. Last September, he all but required adoption of the Common Core or similar standards approved by state higher education officials if states want to receive federal waivers from the 2002 No Child Left Behind law.

Virginia, applied for a waiver without adopting Common Core and is in negotiations with the administration over its plan.

That angered conservatives, who point out that even though adopting the Common Core is voluntary, Obama’s moves make it all but obligatory. In February, Republican South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley said she’d support a state legislative effort to block Common Core implementation — her predecessor had adopted the standards in 2010.

“Just as we should not relinquish control of education to the Federal government,” she wrote in a letter to a state lawmaker, “neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan shot back with unusual candor, saying in a statement that Haley’s fear of losing control is “a conspiracy theory in search of a conspiracy.”

in February, Brookings Institution scholar Tom Loveless issued research calling into question whether the Common Core would have much of an effect. He noted that state standards have done little to equalize academic achievement within states. The reaction, he says, was “like putting my hand in a hornet’s nest — people do have a strong reaction

New York Universityeducation historian Diane Ravitch, a vocal Duncan critic, blasted the standards, writing in The New York Review of Books that they’ve never been field-tested. “No one knows whether these standards are good or bad, whether they will improve academic achievement or widen the achievement gap,” she said. to the Common Core.”

Obama’s insistence on tying the Common Core to No Child waivers and billions in federal grants shows that “it is not the least bit paranoid” to say the federal government wants a national curriculum.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called those fears “ridiculous.” Guidelines around core subjects don’t constitute a national curriculum, she said, but are a simple way to boost skills. “We do our kids a disservice when we do not teach (them) to compete in a global economy,” she said.

 Weingarten said many teachers approve of the new standards, which “offer students the ability to think and persuade and communicate” rather than just fill in blanks on standardized tests. She and others point to recent surveys that show nearly two-thirds of teachers say it’s better for states to have common math and English standards. But she frets that teachers won’t get adequate training — and that they’ll be judged harshly if their students don’t measure up at first. “It has to be implemented with integrity so teachers can get their arms around it,” she said.

David Coleman, one of the standards’ authors, admits admits that they’ll be “a major shift,” requiring more history, arts and science in English and reading classes, for instance, and less fiction. But he says it’s needed to correct a decade of watered-down lessons. The biggest problem with No Child’s requirement that schools raise test scores each year was that it was “content-free,” he said. The law “was merely saying, ‘Test whatever you got.’ “

Chester Finn, a former Reagan administration education official who now leads the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a Washington education think tank, said Common Core “sets a worthy destination for kids and teachers, which most states have failed to do on their own for many years.”

Barbara Dzwonek, an elementary school English coach in Daly City, Calif., said the standards are “a step in the right direction because they are state-driven and based on the highest-quality research the field of education has to offer.”

David Riesenfeld, a history teacher who has been using the standards since 2010, said they’ve “pretty significantly pushed me to think about how much I cover” each school year. Because they require more depth in just a few areas, he said, they’ve forced him to focus more on teaching students to read and write about a handful of “significant topics” in world history.

Riesenfeld, who teaches 10th-grade world history at Robert F. Wagner Jr. Secondary School for Art and Technology in Long Island City, N.Y., said he often relies on shorter passages and pushes students to read more closely and analytically — occasionally a class will spend an entire period breaking down a single paragraph. “In effect, they’re learning how to use materials rather than just answer question a, b, c and d,” he said.

As a result, Riesenfeld said, his history students often look and sound as if they’re in an English class.

 

(My notes take in just about the entire text of this article, but these reactions are looking much more negative a year later.)

Two Moms vs. Common Core

How an eight-year-olds homework assignment led to a political upheaval

May 12, 2012

By Maggie Gallagher

Indiana has become the first state to retreat from the Common Core standards, as Governor Mike Pence has just signed a bill suspending their implementation.

Common Core is a set of math and English standards developed largely with Gates Foundation money and pushed by the Obama administration and the National Governors Association. The standards define what every schoolchild should learn each year, from first grade through twelfth, and the package includes teacher evaluations tied to federally funded tests designed to ensure that schools teach to Common Core.

Here is my prediction: Indiana is the start of something big.

Just a year ago Common Core was untouchable in Indiana, as in most other places. Common Core had been promoted by conservative governor Mitch Daniels, and the state superintendent of public schools, Tony Bennett, was a rising GOP education star.

How did the bipartisan Common Core “consensus” collapse?

It collapsed because some parents saw that Common Core was actually lowering standards in their children’s schools. And because advocates for Common Core could not answer the questions these parents raised.

In Indiana, the story starts with two Indianapolis moms, Heather Crossin and her friend Erin Tuttle.

In September 2011, Heather suddenly noticed a sharp decline in the math homework her eight-year-old daughter was bringing home from Catholic school.

“Instead of many arithmetic problems, the homework would contain only three or four questions, and two of those would be ‘explain your answer,’

She found she could not help her daughter answer the latter question: The “right” answer involved heavy quotation from Common Core language. A program designed to encourage thought had ended up encouraging rote memorization not of math but of scripts about math.

…some of the same things that caused Stanford mathematics professor R. James Milgram to withhold his approval from the Common Core math standards.

Professor Milgram was the only math content expert on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards, and he concluded that the Common Core standards are, as he told the Texas state legislature, “in large measure a political document that . . . is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high-achieving countries give dramatically better results.”

In fact, according to a scholarly 2011 content analysis published in Education Researcherby Andrew Porter and colleagues, the Common Core math standards bear little resemblance to the national curriculum standards in countries with high-achieving math students: “Top-achieving countries for which we had content standards,” these scholars note, “put a greater emphasis on [the category] ‘perform procedures’ than do the U.S. Common Core standards.”

So many parents at the school complained that the principal convened a meeting. He brought in the saleswoman from the Pearson textbook company to sell the parents. “She told us we were all so very, very lucky, because our children were using one of the very first Common Core–aligned textbooks in the country,” says Heather.

But the parents weren’t buying what the Pearson lady was selling.

“Eventually,” Heather recalled, “our principal just threw his hands up in the air and said, ‘I know parents don’t like this type of math but we have to teach it that way, because the new state assessment tests are going to use these standards.’”

That’s the first time Heather had heard that Indiana had replaced its well-regarded state tests, ISTEP (Indiana Statewide Testing for Educational Progress–Plus) in favor of a brand-new federally funded set of assessments keyed to Common Core. “I thought I was a fairly informed person, and I was shocked that a big shift in control had happened and I hadn’t the slightest idea,” she says.

These standards are designed not to produce well-educated citizens but to prepare students to enter community colleges and lower-level jobs. All students, not just non-college-material students, are going to be taught to this lower standard.

Heather could find literally no press coverage of the key moment when Indiana’s Board of Education abandoned its fine state standards and well-regarded state tests in favor of Common Core.

“They brought in David Coleman, the architect of the standards, to give a presentation, they asked a few questions, there was no debate, no cost analysis, just a sales job, and everybody rubber-stamped it,” Heather said.

But as my colleague at the American Principles Project (APP) Emmett McGroarty pointed out to me, nationalizing curriculum standards quietly knifes the school-choice movement in the back. As McGroarty puts it, “What difference does it make if you fund different schools if they all teach the same basic curriculum the same basic way?”

The 2012 white paper, co-sponsored by the American Principles Project and the Pioneer Institute, that urged the American Legislative Exchange Council to oppose Common Core became Heather and Erin’s bible. “That white paper is the most important summary; we gave copies to people and said, ‘Read this. If you can’t read the whole thing, read the executive summary.’ Because it covered all the bases, from the quality of the standards to the illegitimate federal data collection to the federal government’s involvement in promoting Common Core,” Heather told me.

In Indiana, as elsewhere, Common Core proponents have responded to public criticism by accusing the parents of being stupid and uninformed or possibly lying. Common Core, they say, is not a curriculum; it is not being driven by the federal government; it will not interfere with local control of schools.

On April 20, Representative Blaine Luetkemeyer (R., Mo.) sent a letter — co-signed by 33 other congressmen — to Education Secretary Arne Duncan, asking for a detailed accounting of changes in student-privacy policies associated with the new national database the Obama administration is building as part of its Common Core support. The letter pointed out that the Education Department had already made regulatory changes — without consulting Congress — that appear to circumvent the 1974 law that limits the disclosure to third parties of any data collected on students.

One major objection to the Common Core standards is that they are not evidence-based. Their effect on academic achievement is simply unknown, because they have not been field-tested anywhere in the world.

But moms have a more elemental objection: The whole operation is a federal power grab over their children’s education. Once a state adopts Common Core, its curriculum goals and assessments are effectively nationalized. And the national standards are effectively privatized, because they are written, owned, and copyrighted by two private trade organizations.

“Legislators are incredulous when they learn the standards and assessments are written by two private trade organizations — the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. This creates concern why public education is now controlled by two private organizations,” says Gretchen Logue, a Missouri education activist and one of the co-founders of Truth in American Education, a network of activists and organizations opposing Common Core. “They also don’t like that the standards and assessments are copyrighted and cannot be changed or modified by the states.”

a) They are not internationally benchmarked. In fact, for math in particular, they are exactly contrary to the kind of national standards used in high-performing countries.

b) The two major experts on content who were on the Validation Committee reviewing the standards backed out and repudiated them when they saw what the standards actually are.

c) State legislatures and parents were cut out of the loop in evaluating the standards themselves or the cost of implementing them.

d) The Common Core standards are owned by private trade organizations, which parents cannot influence.

Ravitch went on: “The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of the nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.”

(Lots of politics in this article. These teachers were Conservatives and they were involved with the Tea Party and several Conservative organizations. But some Conservatives back the standards and some Democrats do not. This issue crosses party lines.)

A report titled, “Ready or Not: Creating a High School Diploma that Counts,” from 2004

“current high-school exit expectations fall well short of [employer and college] demands”

“the major problem currently facing the American school system is that high school graduates were not provided with the skills and knowledge they needed to succeed.

“the diploma itself lost its value because graduates could not compete successfully beyond high school, and the solution to this problem is a common set of rigorous standards”

In 2009 the National Governor’s Association convened a group of educators to work on developing the standards. This team included David Coleman, William McCallum, Phil Daro and Student Achievement founder, Jason Zimba [5] to write curriculum standards in the area of mathematics and for literacy instruction (more information needed).[  stated purpose is to “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.”[7] Additionally, “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,” which will place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.[7]

The standards are copyrighted by NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) [8] The copyright ensures that the standards will be the same throughout the nation. The standards also carry a generous public license [9] which waives the copyright notice for State Departments of Education to use the standards; however, two conditions apply. First, the use of the standards must be “in support” of the standards and the waiver only applies if the state has adopted the standards “in whole.”

Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts on June 2, 2010, with a majority of states adopting the standards in the subsequent months. (See below for current status.) States were given an incentive to adopt the Common Core Standards through the possibility of competitive federal Race to the Top grants. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the Race to the Top competitive grants on July 24, 2009, as a motivator for education reform.[12] To be eligible, states had to adopt “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place.”[13] This meant that in order for a state to be eligible for these grants, the states had to adopt the Common Core State Standards or a similar career and college readiness curriculum. The competition for these grants provided a major push for states to adopt the standards.

The common standards are funded by the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Pearson Publishing Company, the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, and others.[16] States are planning to implement this initiative by 2015[17] by basing at least 85% of their state curricula on the Standards.

If you click through to the Wikipedia article there is a quick summay of objectives for each grade level in both areas (English Language Arts and Math and there are sample questions in some of the areas.

Assessment

With the implementation of new standards, states are also required to adopt new assessment benchmarks to measure student achievement. According to the Common Core State Standards Initiative website, formal assessment is expected to take place in the 2014–2015 school year, which coincides with the projected implementation year for most states.[15] The assessment has yet to be created, but two consortiums were generated with two different approaches as to how to assess the standards.[

Response

The Common Core initiative only specifies what students should know at each grade level and describes the skills that they must aquire in order to achieve college or career readiness. Individual school districts are responsible for choosing curricula based on the standards.[31]

In response to the Common Core standards the Brookings Institute calls into question whether the standards will have any effect, and “have done little to equalize academic achievement within states.” The libertarian Cato Institute responded to the standards as “it is not the least bit paranoid” to say the federal government wants a national curriculum.[32]Conservatives, have assailed the program as a federal “top-down” takeover of state and local education systems.[33][34] South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley said her state should not “relinquish control of education to the federal government, neither should we cede it to the consensus of other states.”[33]

(a few other responses are discussed by various groups, just click through to read them.

Some commentators feel the Common Core drains initiative from teachers and enforces a “one-size-fits-all” curriculum that ignores cultural differences among classrooms and students.[41][42] Diane Ravitch, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Education, states in her book Reign of Error the Common Core standards have never been field-tested and that no one knows whether they will improve education.[43] Other critics have said that the standards emphasize rote learning and uniformity over creativity, and fail to recognize differences in learning styles.[44]

According to some analysts, the goal of increased exposure to informational texts and lterary nonfiction in Common Core is to have students read challenging texts that will build their vocabulary and background knowledge. The standards require certain critical content for all students, including: classic myths and stories from around the world, America’s Founding Documents, foundational American literature, and Shakespeare.[45] Additionally educational advocate Sandra Stotsky has argued the standards will lead to students reading more nonfiction texts, rather than being exposed to challenging literature.

(This article also includes a chart showing where each state stands in relation to the Common Core.)

(from comments I have heard locally, kindergarten teachers are mystified by and quite unhappy with the Common Core Standards for Kindergarten.)

(If you have the time and patience to read through all of the Common Core standards at all grade levels this is the site for you.)

Commissioner Kings Opts Out (New York)

By Diane Ravitch (she is leading the opposition to the Common Core and she has a blog, Diane Ravitch’s blog

In this article Diane Ravitch makes sure state educators and parents know that John King walked out of the first of 12 forums held to discuss the Common Core Standards and other education reforms (non of which are planned for NYC). The first event was held in Poughkeepsie and the parents were angry about having little time to as their questions or make their comments. The schedule for the next 11 forums is included in this article.

Mother of 2nd Grader: Does This Make Sense? (Diane Ravitch October 22, 2013)

(A mother shows one of the questions on the second grade test which she does not consider age appropriate which includes the word “tapenade”, not your everyday 2nd grade word – and it’s a math problem.)

Wendy Lecker: Common Core Uses Our Children As Guinea Pigs (Diane Ravitch October 22, 2013)

Children are being tested on materials they have never been taught.

Wendy lists her problems with the Common Core:

States do not have a curriculum that aligns with the Common Core standards.

The federally-funded tests are being developed independent of the curriculum, which does not exist.

Teachers are not prepared.

Students are not prepared.

Yet the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, Arne Duncan, and other corporate thought-leaders say: Full speed ahead! We cannot delay! Now! Now! Now!

Wendy Lecker concludes:

The Common Core requires massive investments in textbooks, tests, training, and technology. Money is spent on the Common Core experiment at the expense of strategies with a long track record of success, such as high-quality preschool, small class size, wraparound services and extra help for at-risk children.

The benefits of the Common Core are speculative at best. A New York comparison of the 2013 Common Core tests, the previous standards and college completion rates, revealed that the previous standards were better predictors of college readiness. Moreover, the evidence is clear that neither tests nor standards raise achievement. Countries with national standards fare no better than those without, and states with higher standards do no better than states with lower ones. In states with consistent standards, achievement varies widely. The difference in achievement lies in those resources that states are now foregoing to pay for the Common Core.

As for justice, schools serving our most vulnerable students suffer most from a narrow test-based curriculum. A new report in New York reveals that poor children and children of color are least likely to be in schools with libraries, art and music rooms, science, and AP classes. Expanded Common Core testing will disproportionately harm our neediest children.

It is time to ask policy-makers why they made our children guinea pigs in the rush to impose the not-ready-for-prime-time Common Core.

(There are many articles about the Common Core on Diane Ravitch’s website and she publishes new ones everyday.)

http://www.rethinkingschools.org/archive/27_04/edit274.shtml

Common Core has become part of the corporate reform project now stalking our schools. Unless we dismantle and defeat this larger effort, Common Core implementation will become another stage in the demise of public education. As schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, our communities, and ourselves by telling the truth about the Common Core. This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face.

 

Rethinking Schools has always been skeptical of standards imposed from above. Too many standards projects have been efforts to move decisions about teaching and learning away from classrooms, educators, and school communities, only to put them in the hands of distant bureaucracies. Standards have often codified sanitized versions of history, politics, and culture that reinforce official myths while leaving out the voices, concerns, and realities of our students and communities. Whatever positive role standards might play in truly collaborative conversations about what our schools should teach and children should learn has been repeatedly undermined by bad process, suspect political agendas, and commercial interests.

 

Unfortunately there’s been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one. 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/common-core

(this gives a list of links to articles about the Common Core that have appeared in the Huffington Post)

http://www.slate.com/articles/double_x/doublex/2013/09/common_core_either_you_re_against_this_new_push_for_academic_standards_and.html

Common What?

What is Common Core and why is everyone –right, left—so mad about it?

By Alexander Russo

September 25, 2013

http://www.thenewamerican.com/culture/education/item/16762-education-expert-common-core-education-is-social-engineering

Education Expert: Common Core Education is Social Engineering

By Alex Newman

October 18, 2013

http://helenair.com/news/opinion/readers_alley/common-core-standards-not-good-for-our-students/article_445b5e08-36bb-11e3-9cb7-001a4bcf887a.html

Common Core Standards not good for our Students

By Tonya Shellnutt

October 17, 2013