Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Professor Milgram's Nov 4, 2013 Statement on Common Core Math Standards

Many parents across the country are currently expressing concerns over the content of their childrens' math lessons, many of which are said to be "common core" aligned.  The statement below is published with permission of Professor Milgram.  It may provide a little insight on math education issues brought to light recently due to the common core initiative. 

I believe that although the elementary math standards are an improvement over those of many states, unfortunately the focus on the "Standards for Mathematical Practice" - rather than math content - creates an avenue for unproductive folly. (yes, that's my opinion) The secondary content standards are too weak, a point that I've made many times before.

Best wishes to all parents, grandparents and teachers as they seek the truth on the best way forward in improving education for children.  Lisa Jones   

Statement of Jim Milgram, November 4, 2013
I don't endorse a blanket condemnation of the Common Core Math Standards since there are definite positives in the lower grade content standards.  They really are significantly better than the standards that were written by 90% of the states IN GRADES K-6 or K-7. But the problems with the overall math standards are huge, or even more than huge.

First, while some of the Mathematical Practices standards are ok, they provide a forum for the fuzzy math cranks and a path to re-approve most of the horrible math texts we found 15 or so years back and mostly got rid of then. They also provide a poor perspective on "what mathematics is" and should never have been at the beginning of the document where they give the superficial reader the impression that this is what mathematics is all about.  It isn't.

Second, the objectives of the 8 - 12 material are not what one might think they should be. The real intent appears to be a total focus on the "efficiency" aspect of Ed School dogma. Since most students will never "use" higher level math, it is mostly suppressed, except for the part that I more or less forced them to add covering Algebra II. But that material is horribly incomplete and only provides a pathway for most students that leads nowhere and prepares them for nothing but truly dead end jobs.

Third, the standards were put together too fast by McCallum and Zimba, with the obstructive tactics of Daro only designed to minimize content as far as I can tell. All three of them were amateurs at standards writing, and appear to have had little to no idea of what actually goes on in the curricula of the high achieving countries. As a result, there are too many errors and inconsistencies in the standards and exemplars themselves.

So, all in all, I judge that we would be better off if the standards would just go away.


In his first point, I believe that Professor Milgram is referring to the Open Letter to  U.S. Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, from 1999.  Check It Out Here

Thursday, October 31, 2013

An Interesting Common Core Exchange

From Fordham


Question: Garrett Fryer American Youth Policy Forum

Was there ever a discussion, when you all were designing it, to implement it on a kindergarten level and letting it grow with the students as they aged on through each grade, as oppossed to implementing it with the entire school system nation wide?

Answer: Jason Zimba

This is something that states have each approached differently.  Some states have done something more like that, some states have done something less like that.  I seem to remember at one point I saw a MA plan where the grade level wasn’t the key parameter, but they had a Venn diagram, what we do now the Common Core doesn’t do, what the Common Core does that we don’t, and then what sort of overlap, where we want to do it better. In year one, we’re gonna focus on the overlap and do it better. In year two, we’ll drop things… and then in year three, we’ll add…  I got the details of that wrong, but…  my only point is that different states all approached it differently, and we may find out that some states were much wiser than others in this way.

Singapore has a long standing, high functioning system in which they not only revise their syllabus ever so often, but they do it actually on the basis of how kids do, so think about that, a performance-based loop, a feedback loop. Which is something we are taking halting steps toward, but can only image.  And so roughly every six years or so, they’ll put out tweaks to the thing.  This year I noticed that they’ve rolled out a new thing in kindergarten.

I wonder... How in the world can one "image" OR take "halting steps toward" creating a "high functioning system" based on a "performance-based feedback loop" when we are STARTING with a top-down DESIGN by the name of Common Core?


A problem with Common Core Math Standards at the High School Level

I've explained my concern about the weak high school math in Common Core many times before, but here it goes again as I’ve had many questions lately.

In the Common Core Math Standards, Algebra I is not completed in 8th. That creates a problem for students interested in stem fields, and also for students that may have latent abilities in mathematics which may not develop in high school as a result.

CC high school math (years 1 to 3) is an amalgam similar to Alg1, Geo, Alg2(light) in my opinion.

There are currently 4 years in high school. Common Core lays out 3 years but did not provide a stem alternative for acceleration during those 3 years, so this is what we have to work with:

1- CC hs math year 1
2- CC hs math year 2
3- CC hs math year 3 – doesn’t complete Alg 2 imo and would not prepare
students to take PreCalc/Trig at my school currently.
4 - Students have the following options for math during their senior year. None of these include AP Calculus. Remember, the College Board found that Common Core high school math does not “reconcile” with AP Calculus (and I agree!)

The students’ choices at this point are limited to three options:
A) AP Statistics B) PreCalc/Trig or C) try to complete both simultaneously

Option A) If they chose the AP Stats class senior year, to try to get some college credit while in high school, then they would really be two years behind in stem math progression on entry to college, and would have also had a entire school year between Algebra 2 (light) and PreCalc/CollegeAlg/Trig - (definitely not an ideal situation...)

BTW – This option is what a College Board Senior Vice President recommended to school superintendents! “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science”

Option B) They could take precalc/trig during senior year, but as some of you know, the ACT determines scholarship money for many, many students. Efforts on that test and applications for colleges and scholarship start late junior year and finish early senior year for most students. (Ask one!)

Option C) is not viable in my opinion. The slow pace of Common Core math from 7th though 11th grades leaves students woefully underprepared for trigonometry in particular and will create an unnecessarily steep learning curve if they choose this “option” during senior year.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Professor Milgram's Letter to Diane Ravitch

This is the letter from Diane Ravitch's Blog post
"James Milgram on the Common Core Math Standards"
September 11, 2013

Dear Diane,

In your own writings you mention that the biggest issue with Core Standards is the lack of evidence. This is largely true. But at least in math there is significant international evidence that major parts of the standards will not work. For example, the only area we could find that has had success with CCSS-M's method of treating geometry is in Flemish Belgium. But it was tried on a national scale in Russia a number of years back, and was rapidly dropped.

Likewise, the extremely limited high school level content is so weak that Jason Zimba, one of the three main writers described it as follows: First, he defined "college readiness" by stating: "We have agreement to the extent that it's a fuzzy definition, that the minimally college-ready student is a student who passed Algebra II." Perhaps this explains why the only math at the high school level, aside from a snippet on trigonometry, is material from Algebra I, Algebra II, and Geometry. Moreover, the Algebra II component does not describe a complete course. Zimba's definition is taken verbatim from his March 23, 2010 testimony before the MA State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. Later, in the question period, Sandy Stotsky asked for some clarification.

The following is a verbatim transcript:
Zimba stated "In my original remarks, I didn't make that point strongly enough or signal the agreement that we have on this - the definition of college readiness. I think it's a fair critique that it's a minimal definition of college readiness." Stotsky asked "For some colleges?" and Zimba responded by stating: "Well, for the colleges most kids go to, but not for the colleges most parents aspire to." Stotsky then asked "Not for STEM, not for international competitiveness?" and Zimba responded "Not only not for STEM, it’s also not for selective colleges. For example, for UC Berkeley,whether you are going to be an engineer or not, you'd better have precalculus to get into UC Berkeley."

Stotsky then pointed out: "Right, but we have to think of the engineering colleges and the scientific pathway." Zimba added "That's true, I think the third pathway goes a lot towards that. But your issue is broader than that." Stotsky agreed saying "I'm not just thinking about selective colleges. There's a much broader question here," to which Zimba added "That's right. It's both, I think, in the sense of being clear about what this college readiness does and doesn't get you, and that's the big subject."

Stotsky then summarized her objections to this minimalist definition by explaining that a set of standards labeled as making students college-ready when the readiness level applies only to a certain type of college and to a low level of mathematical expertise wouldn’t command much international respect in areas like technology, economics, and business. Zimba appeared to agree as he then said "OK. Thank you."

So these are the standards that Sybilla Beckmann recently described by stating that "No standards I know of are better than the CCSS-M." Well, if you believe that then perhaps I can interest you in large bridge in NYC. As to the "third pathway" that Zimba mentioned above, it never actually existed. The version of CCSS-M Zimba was talking about was the March 10 public draft. It had placemarkers for the key calculus standards, but aside from those placemarkers, this version contained about the same material -- only in Geometry, Algebra I, Algebra II and a trig snippet -- as appears in the final version.

Moreover, the calculus placemarkers and any hint of a third pathway are gone in the final version. It is also worth noting that Clifford Adelman did an analysis of the odds of completing a college degree based on the highest level math course completed in high school. The odds for Geometry were 16.7%, for Algebra II they were 39.3%, but for Trigonometry they were 60%, 74.6% for Precalculus, and 83.3% for Calculus. So we can estimate that a "minimally college ready student" has a less than 40% chance of completing a college degree. Is this really what the National Governor's Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the Gates and Broad Foundations want for our youth?

Jim Milgram

Monday, August 26, 2013

School Performance

I absolutely love the Interactive Map on School Performance in last week's St. Louis Post Dispatch! These are the percentages of students proficient or advanced on Missouri's state assessments in the districts where I live and work.

This is the district where I work…

Francis Howell High
English: 82.4
Math: 68.2
Science: 92.6
Social Studies: 70.6

Francis Howell Central High
English: 76.5
Math: 53.5
Science: 91.5
Social Studies: 61.4

Francis Howel North High
English: 80.1
Math: 54.4
Science: 93.4
Social Studies: 62.2

This is the district that my taxes support…

Ft. Zumwalt North High
English: 75.8
Math: 53.1
Science: 92.8
Social Studies: 57.4

Ft. Zumwalt South High
English: 83.6
Math: 51.1
Science: 94.2
Social Studies: 58.3

Ft. Zumwalt West High
English: 78.6
Math: 40.6
Science: 92.6
Social Studies: 58.3

Ft. Zumwalt East High
English: 72.7
Math: 34.2
Science: 87.4
Social Studies: 59

Ft. Zumwalt's highest math score is lower that Francis Howell's lowest. Considering Zumwalt's dismal math performance, how can these two districts be so close on the MSIP5 score card?

Francis Howell: 96.4%
Ft. Zumwalt: 92.9%

In my opinion, academic performance should be the focus in scoring schools.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

No Algebra 1 in 8th Grade => No Opportunity to Take Calculus while in High School

Full Article Here => Boston Globe North, August 15

[Reading MA] has adopted a new sequence that leaves more than 80 percent of eighth-graders without a direct path to a high school calculus course. Only 18 percent will be enrolled in algebra 1, compared with 60 percent to 65 percent in previous years, according to Craig Martin, Reading’s assistant superintendent for learning and teaching.

[Parents] have expressed concern that the school system’s departure from the traditional math sequence, which required a majority of students to take algebra 1 in eighth grade, may leave little room for a high school calculus class, a requirement at many colleges for acceptance into a science or engineering undergraduate program.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Why restrict opportunities for students in an effort to reconcile with Common Core's Weak HS Math Content?

Let's look at the AP 9th Annual Report to the Nation

On page 15, figure 8 shows that the number of students that took a math and science AP exam inceased from 250,465 in 2002 to 497,924 in 2012, while the number of those students earning a score of 3 or higher (on a 5 point scale) increased from 154,450 in 2002 to 268,251 in 2012.

Figure 9 shows the breakdown of the number of exams taken by subject in 2012, and the score distributions.

Many of the calculus students at the school where I teach take APStats concurrently with the precalc study during their junior year, or they opt to take APStats concurrently with APCalc senior year. My point is that it has always been an option for students to take both AP Calc and AP Stats while in high school.

I've been hoping that our district would offer APCompSci for quite a while. I've had many Calc and Alg 2 students who have indicated an interest in computer science. I really think we would have enough student interest to offer the course. Even if our district needed the comp sci teacher to travel amoung our three high schools, it will still be worth it to give our students this opportunity.

I really don't understand why the College Board would consider "supplanting" AP Calculus and make a recommendation that restricts opportunities for students in an effort to reconcile Common Core's Weak HS Math Content?

Moreover, the College Board may offer an AP Algebra course (although no plans are definite), which may supplant AP Calculus, particularly in schools rigidly adhering to the Common Core standards.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Yeah, so what about fidelity to #STEM Fields? Info for #parents #teachers #legislators #edreform #CommonCore

I was so shocked by the information that the College Board was giving to school superintendents, that I decided to do a little more research.

Please feel free to share my findings.

My source for the information below is from the College Board's website "Chart an AP Course to Your Future"

I only looked at CalcAB, CalcBC, Statistics, and Computer Science A because those were the courses under consideration in my previous post.

I went through their lists of careers for each of these four AP courses. An important thing to know if you're not that familiar with AP Calculus is that many colleges and universities consider AP Calc AB equivalent to their Calc I course and AP Calc BC equivalent to both Calc I and Calc II. So it's a little confusing if you see a career on the College Board's Calc BC list that is not on the Calc AB list and that is because that career would required both Calc I and Calc II.

So, with that in mind, I interpret the information they've provided to mean that:

If a student is NOT prepared for the study of calculus (at some point), they would NOT have an opportunity to pursue these fields.

Aerospace Engineering
Agricultural Engineering
Agriculture, General
Air Transportation
Applied Mathematics
Applied Physics
Architectural Engineering
Atmospheric Sciences and Meteorology
Biomedical Engineering
Business Administration and Management
Chemical Engineering
Civil Engineering
Communication Sciences and Disorders
Computer Engineering, General
Computer Graphics
Computer Networking and Telecommunications
Computer Science
Computer Software Engineering
Electrical Engineering
Engineering and Industrial Management
Engineering Technology
Entrepreneurial Studies
Environmental Engineering
Environmental Science
Environmental Studies
Exercise Science
Fishing and Fisheries
Human Resources Management
Industrial Engineering
Information Science
Information Technology
International Business
Management Information Systems
Management Science
Marine Biology
Materials Engineering
College Major
Mechanical Engineering
Molecular Biology
Natural Resouces Management and Policy
Nuclear Engineering
Nursing (RN)
Nutrition Sciences
Operations Management
Physical Education Teaching and Coaching
Real Estate

On the other hand, students who are NOT prepared to study Calculus COULD use their APStats and/or AP CompSciA credit by exam toward pursuing these fields:

(careers on the College Board's Stats or CompSci list which are not on either Calc list)

Computer Forensics
Criminal Justice
Database Management
Design and Visual Communications
Electronics Technology
Ethnic Studies, General
Foods, Nutrition, and Wellness Studies
Library and Information Science
Natural Resouces Management and Policy
Physician Assistance
Public Administration
Public Policy Analysis
Robotics Technology
Social Work
Studio Arts
Urban Studies
Web Development

I really hope that “Public Policy Analysis” isn’t supposed to be on this second list!

I also suspect that many professionals working in the fields on the second list actually did need calculus for their particular degree.

Friday, July 19, 2013

What about "fidelity" to #STEM fields? #HigherEd #APCalc #Math #EdReform

College Board: Reconciling AP Exams With Common Core

Despite these measures, there are still difficulties in reconciling many AP courses with the Common Core. In particular, AP Calculus is in conflict with the Common Core, Packer said, and it lies outside the sequence of the Common Core because of the fear that it may unnecessarily rush students into advanced math classes for which they are not prepared.

The College Board suggests a solution to the problem. of AP Calculus “If you’re worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core, we recommend AP Statistics and AP Computer Science,” he told conference attendees.

Moreover, the College Board may offer an AP Algebra course (although no plans are definite), which may supplant AP Calculus, particularly in schools rigidly adhering to the Common Core standards.

THESE STATEMENTS ARE DISTURBING...I'm very concerned that Common Core will limit opportunities for students in mathematics.

No, I'm not "worried about AP Calculus and fidelity to the Common Core" but this statement seems to show that proponents of Common Core should definitely reconsider the claims of "rigor" - regarding 7-12 math in particular.

My mission is preparing students for their future endeavors, being responsible to their parents, my school leaders, our community and our locally elected school board, and being honest about education "reforms" that haven't proven beneficial to anyone.

Right now, Common Core seems to be in conflict with my primary mission, especially as it relates to APCalc and PreAPCalc vertical alignment... i.e. Alg2, and PreCalc.

Lisa Jones

From Aug 2011 Weak Math

Sunday, May 12, 2013

#Education with #Representation #KeepEdLocal #StopCommonCore

I read an article in the paper last week about the Fort Zumwalt school board’s support for Common Core. Only one board member expressed opposition to Common Core. While addressing the board, a person in charge of curriculum for the district explained how bad it would be for district teachers who have been working to implement these standards if their board didn’t support them.

Does it seem strange to you that a purported feeling would be used as reason to continue supporting Common Core Standards?

Some educators don’t seem to understand that they are public servants. Local school board members are representatives of the people in their districts. Their positions to support or oppose something should come from their constituents. The problem with the Common Core Standards issue is that few board members and district patrons have had time to research this Initiative. Citizens are just now becoming informed and school boards must respond accordingly.

I’m writing this to urge citizens to research the Common Core Standards Initiative. Don’t play into the hegemony created by the education “experts” to silence your voice, remind local school board members that they represent you, demand that state legislature’s reign in all state entities that knowingly signed away state rights in joining the Common Core Standards Initiative.

Pioneer Institute: The Road to a National Curriculum

I’m a teacher whose respect for individual liberty far outweighs my desire to go along and get along. . .

Support MO SB210 and HB616

Monday, April 15, 2013

Contact YOUR US House Representative to sign onto this letter #stopcommoncore #tcot #tlot #liberty

Dear Secretary Duncan,

As you know, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) allows Congress to authorize and allocate funding for public K-12 education and, most importantly, is the primary vehicle in which we implement education policy reform. Most recently reauthorized through the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the ESEA’s authorization expired on September 30, 2008, and has yet to be reauthorized. Since the ESEA’s expiration, the Department of Education (Department) has moved forward with education policy reform without Congressional input. Such action is, at best, in contravention with precedent.

In addition to expressing our concern with the Department’s circumvention of Congress to reform education policy, we are writing you to express our concerns with the implementation of Common Core standards and changes to federal data collection and disbursement policies.

In 2009, forty-six governors signed a memorandum of understanding with the National Governor’s Association committing their states to the development and adoption of new education standards within three years. As we understand it, states then had the option of adopting Common Core standards or creating their own equivalent standards. At the time, Common Core standards were simply an idea where states would collaborate to create uniformed education standards. Details about Common Core were not only unknown to the states, they did not exist. From there, your department offered Race To The Top
(RTTT) grants and NCLB waivers to states under the condition that each state would implement “college and career ready” standards. At the time, the only “college and career ready” standards with the Department’s approval were Common Core.

In addition to serious concerns we have regarding the Department’s aforementioned coercion of states to opt-in to Common Core standards, many of which were and continue to have serious budgetary issues and specific issues with existing education policies, we have become increasingly concerned over the development of the Common Core standards themselves. Though initially promoted as state-based education standards, Common Core standards, as they have been developed over the last few years, are nothing of the sort. In just one very troubling instance, Common Core standards will replace state-based
standardized testing with nationally-based standardized testing, the creation and initial implementation of which will be funded in full by the federal government. The long-term, annual administering of the exams, the cost of which has not been specified by the Department, is to be funded by the states.

As representatives from states across the nation, we understand the diverse cultures and state-specific education needs that exist in America. We believe that state-driven education policy is vital to the success of our children and that Members of Congress can best demonstrate the specific needs of their constituents. As with most one-size-fits-all policies, Common Core standards fail to address these needs.

As you know, because states opted-in to Common Core standards, there is little Congress can do to provide any relief from these burdensome and misguided standards. Instead, the ability to opt-out of these standards lies with the state. With that in mind, we will be working with our respective state legislatures and governors to provide relief to our education systems. In the meantime, we urge you to work with Members of Congress to reauthorize the ESEA in a manner that allows state-specific education needs to be addressed.

Separate from reauthorization, we are extremely concerned over recent changes your department has made to the manner in which the federal government collects and distributes student data.

As you know, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was signed into law in 1974, guaranteeing parental access to student education records and limiting their disclosure to third parties. FERPA was intended to address parents’ growing privacy concerns and grant parental access to the information schools use to make decisions that impact their children.

Once again circumventing Congress, in 2011 your agency took regulatory action to alter definitions within FERPA. With the technological advances that have occurred in recent years, changes to FERPA deserve the full scrutiny of the legislative process more so than ever before.

In addition, we understand that as a condition of applying for RTTT grant funding, states obligated themselves to implement a State Longitudinal Database System (SLDS) used to track students by obtaining personally identifiable information.

Regarding these two very concerning changes to the manner in which government collects and distributes student data, we formally request a detailed description of each change to student privacy policy that has been made under your leadership, including the need and intended purpose for such changes. We also request that you submit to us the authority under which the Department has implemented Common Core,FERPA and SLDS.

It is our sincere hope that the Department works with the Legislative Branch to implement any changes to education standards and student privacy policy. We look forward to your response and welcome the opportunity to address these issues in the future.

Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (MO-03)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

SB210 Wording Has Changed ~ Support HB616 #stopcommoncore #MOLeg #MOSen #tctot #tcot #tlot

SB 210 (January 24, 2013)
This act prohibits the State Board of Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education from implementing the Common Core State Standards for public schools developed by the Common Core Standards Initiative or any other statewide education standards without the approval of the General Assembly.

SCS/SB 210 (March 27, 2013) (SCS Voted Do Pass S Education Committee)
This act requires the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to conduct at least one public hearing in each Missouri congressional district prior to the full implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Department must notify school districts and parents of public school students of the hearings at least two weeks in advance.

At least two weeks prior to the first of the public hearings, the Department must perform a fiscal analysis of the projected cost to the state and school districts of the implementation of the Common Core State Standards. The Department must also prepare, at least two weeks prior to the first of the public hearings, a report identifying any data that will be collected as a result of the Common Core State Standards and any governmental or quasi-governmental entities or consortium that collects or receives any data. These reports must be published on the Department's website and must be provided to the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the Joint Committee on Education.

All public hearings must be completed by December 31, 2013. This act contains an emergency clause.

HB616 Information HERE Sign Petition to StopCommonCore implementation in Missouri!

Sunday, March 17, 2013


When I graduated from high school in the 80s, I remember commenting to the local newspaper in an interview that the curriculum was lacking and that I could have learned more.  I greatly appreciate my small town upbringing now, there were many aspects other than the curriculum that were beneficial, but I knew I wasn't prepared for college.  I had a very steep hill to climb.
I struggled throughout college, academically and financially; balancing family time, studies and many hours of work was tough.  My math professors were demanding and encouraging...my husband was my cheerleader... they all saw me through...
I worked as a research assistant for 18 months, when I couldn't find a teaching job, it was a God-send that opened my eyes in so many ways.  I took dictation for a beautifully brilliant female math professor for part of the day.  We corresponded with mathematicians from all over the world.  I imagined how empowering that technology could be in teaching children to realize their individual potential.  We also corresponded with many influential people that were concerned about mathematics education in the U.S.  We often took breaks for tea and discussed the issues at hand that day.  I grew to love tea time... 
In her writing, she coined a phrase that "school mathematics should be a pump, not a filter" this is a concept that has stayed close to my heart for many years.  Students with "latent abilities" in mathematics must be supported in a learning environment that keeps opportunities open to them.
Let's fast forward to the present... Rather than developing and utilizing technology to support individuals in realizing their cognitive potential, we have the Common Core Standards Initiative.  We are expected to passively embrace a centralized initiative that will limit the content taught in schools, undermine individual liberty of students, parents, teachers and administrators, limit the power of our locally elected school boards, and limit choice of educational materials available in the market place because of the huge rush to implement Common Core.  The whole "initiative" is antithetical to true freedom. 
Twenty or so years ago, when I first began teaching, I honestly expected to see the day when technology would break open great opportunities for students and teachers.  I'm not talking about technology for technology's sake, I mean huge strides in cognitive development.  Here are some questions that I had hoped would be answered by now...
Why do students still carry books and notebooks when we claim to spend thousands a year per pupil?
Why are school districts still investing tax dollars in copy machines and paper, teacher time in standing at the copier and grading paper and pencil assessments, rather than designing content specific learning opportunities?
Why don't we use technology to teach students how to create their own individual concept maps in a secure environment?
I have to say...these seem like issues that Bill Gates has the power and resources to address, if he really cared about individuals reaching their fullest potential.  Instead he has invested heavily in creating a system of centralization, uniformity, and a captive market... yes, he's a very smart business man... but is it right?
Please don't respond to this in the comment section...I don't check them often enough...
You can reach me @proudmomom on twitter. 
Thank you,  Lisa

Posted via email from concernedabouteducation's posterous

Saturday, March 2, 2013

#HB631 #HB616 #SB210 #MOLeg #MOSen #edreform #liberty #statesovereignty

The school district where I teach has always dismissed ineffective teachers.  Our administrators are very thorough and follow through on the procedures required to document unprofessional behavior and ineffective teaching practices.  Additional legislation may be needed to assist some districts and school boards in achieving this task, but I maintain that the procedures have always been in place, even under our current tenure rules.
I'm a little concerned about the Value-Added-Model being employed in HB 631 because honestly, my evaluators haven't always been knowledgeable in my subject matter.  It's impossible for administrators/evaluators to know all of the upper level content courses in our schools.  To use VAM in the future, they will be reliant on individual student assessments from current and previous years. 
I teach upper-level math to classes of 20-30 students who naturally have widely varying ability levels - yes, even in calculus.  Students at the upper end of the spectrum unfortunately don't progress as far as students at the lower end, over the course of the year, because instructional techniques must remediate for struggling students in order for the entire class to move forward.  I haven't seen a VAM that accommodates for that fact, but it the model exists, we don't have assessments to address this mathematics, and if we did, our state does not have the technological infrastructure to administer the model fairly and accurately across disciplines. 
My concern is that the VAM "ideology" precedes the reality of implementation - which is often the case... and the assessments utilized will soon to be associated with mediocre Common Core standards, unless our legislators pass HB616 and SB 210.
The Common Core standards movement has gained ground only on ideology from the onset.  When the idea was first discussed four or five years ago, I was like most conservatives in thinking it could be good to have "common" baseline standards for public schools.  Two things changed my mind almost from the onset:  1) they really weren't "baseline" standards because they introduced the 85% cap in the first draft and it remained in the final draft, and 2) there is no virtuous reason that these standards need a copyright, in this day of open source educational materials available from reputable colleges and universities everywhere, unless there was alterior motive.  
Those were the things that induced my personal questioning of the CCSS "initiative", but since that time, much substantive research has been conducted by questioning minds through the US.  Although I can't attend the upcoming hearing on SB210, I urge Missouri's legislators to represent their constituents by thoroughly researching the memorandum of agreement that signed away our state's sovereignty in education.
MO SB 210 has a hearing scheduled for March 6, 2012 in the Senate Education Committee
MO HB 616 has been referred to the Downsizing State Government Committee
[Shouldn't that be Downsizing the FEDERAL Government?] 


Posted via email from concernedabouteducation's posterous

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Active Links for #MidRiversNewsmagazine LTE on #CCSS

I didn't know this would be published, but since it was...here are the active links.
When I read the cover title “Changing Curriculum for better or worse” I thought this would be a balanced article, but nothing could be further from the truth. 


The Common Core Standards Initiative was NOT “State-Led”


The Heritage Foundation and The Pioneer Institute have chronicled the progression of Common Core over the last few years.  It was not state-led as they claim because our locally elected officials were not involved in signing off on the adoptions and public hearings were not held.  Our Governor and State Board of Education signed away our state sovereignty in education and ceded local control of our elected school boards.


Please read: 

States Must Reject National Education Standards While There Is Still Time



The Road to a National Curriculum:  The Legal Aspects of the Common Core Standards, Race to the Top, and Conditional Waivers



Common Core Standards are not rigorous or internationally bench-marked


Sandra Stotsky in “Common Core Standards’ Devastating Impact on Literary Study and Analytical Thinking” http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2012/12/questionable-quality-of-the-common-core-english-language-arts-standards


Common Core’s standards not only present a serious threat to state and local education authority, but also put academic quality at risk. Pushing fatally flawed education standards into America’s schools is not the way to improve education for America’s students.


Math Professor Jim Milgram served on the Validation Committee for Common Core and did not sign-off on them. His testimony to the Indiana Senate Education Panel for Hearing on Senate Bill 373 is available here:  http://hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com/math/mathematics-professor-james-milgrams-testimony/

Important information from Utahn’s Against Common Core



Stotsky served on the official Common Core Validation Committee and was among those who refused to sign off that the Common Core standards were, in fact, adequate.

Commenting on “A Complete Resource Guide On Utah’s Core Standards,”


Stotsky states, “lies and unsupported claims” abound in the document.  She also writes:

“the writers didn’t even get the committee I was on right. I was appointed to the Validation Committee, not the Standards Development Committee, and along with the one mathematician on the Validation Committee (and 3 others) eclined to sign off on the final version of Common Core’s standards.


The writers keep repeating ad nauseam that Common Core was a state-led effort. Everyone knows most of the effort was financed by the Gates Foundation and that Gates chose the standards writers who had no qualifications for writing K-12 standards in either ELA or math (David Coleman and Jason Zimba).


… I frankly can’t spend time on people who can’t document with citations their claims. What country was used for international benchmarking? Where’s the evidence?

The document simply repeats the false claims made by CCSSO from the beginning.”
This was in the email correspondence, but left out of the printed comment:

More Expert Testimony available at What Is Common Core?  Education without Representation



Michelle Malking has recently written about Common Core Standards here:

Rotten to the Core (Part 1): Obama’s War on Academic Standards



Rotten to the Core (Part 2): Readin’, Writin’ and Deconstructionism



Rotten to the Core: Reader feedback from the frontlines


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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Chamber of Commerce is Wrong about #CommonCore

There is absolutely NO WAY that IN's previous "highly-rated standards were adopted through the same process as was conducted when Indiana adopted the Common Core" because NEVER BEFORE, in US history have state's relinquished control of their educational standards to the Fed DOE.  How could it possibly have been the "same process" - that's clearly FALSE.

State legislature's typically approve the standards developed within their states by appointed state officials. In this case the legislature MUST step-in and stop the agreement signed by those appointed officials because they had NO authority under state constitutions or the US constitution to do so in the first place.

State standards are usually considered minimum competency levels (at least they are in my district).  One has to wonder WHY would Common Core insist on making up 85% of all the standards. Did officials not understand what they were signing?  If so, how could they agree?

Remember - COMMON CORE has a copywrite.  It WILL be 85% of your entire state curriculum (Read the agreement)
Chamber of Commerce leaders need to conduct some independent research, rather than relying on soundbites provided by their state's ed establishment. 
Legislators - Constituents are depending on YOU to restore local control of education. 
Education WITH Representation!!

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Monday, January 21, 2013

Opposition to #CommonCore Is NOT About Avoiding #Accountability

Why I Call Common Core Standards "National" Standards:

Proponents claim they were state-led, but with just a little digging, you can easily find out that they were never vetted publicly and didn't go through any sort of legislative process.  Your state's governor and board of education signed-on to the document which requires local districts to use Common Core Standards because state assessment will be on these standards, with only 15% additional content permissible.  This is one reason I oppose the Common Core Standards "Initiative."

There is nothing wrong with having standards.  It would be great if there were more consistent standards among the states and districts in my opinion, but that does not justify the coercive nature of the Common Core Standards Initiative.  If a set of standards had been developed and vetted publicly, proven to be effective in improving student achievement and cost-effective for districts to adopt, there isn't a district in the country that wouldn't adopt them - with overwhelming support of their patrons.      

Why I Oppose the Common Core Standards Initiative:

In my 21+ career as a high school math teacher, I've read a whoe lot of standards and worked on many curriculum development teams.  My district has always used our state standards as the basis of our work.  Our curriculum teams and PLCs (Professional Learning Communities) improve upon those dramatically, in many areas, to better prepare our students for posts-secondary study and work.  Our intended curriculum is much better than just meeting the level of our state's standards.  Patrons know it and appreciate it, and consistently elect school board members who focus on improving instruction and achievement in our schools.

There are some good math standards in the Common Core.  For example, these are a few that I like:  CCSS.Math.Content.8.G.B.8  CCSS.Math.Content.HSF-IF.B.4  CCSS.Math.Content.HSG-GPE.A.1 

I'm sure that if a set of math standards had been developed and vetted publicly, these would have made that list.  But that isn't how the Common Core Math Standards were developed or adopted.  As it is now, local teachers are faced with the task of "implementing" Common Core as an imperative from their Governor and State Board of Education, while doing so may be in direct conflict with what they believe is best for students.  In order to improve Missouri's math standards, the state should expand on the work of the Curriculum Alignment Iniative which involved K-12 educators, as well as university and college math faculty.  (but that document never saw the light of day)

All About Accountability:

Some legislators seem to think that Common Core Standards will provide the vehicle needed for greater accountability in education.  My district has used common assessments for a long time.  In my opinion, reviewing that assessment data has been a very useful tool for PLC discussions of specific teaching techniques in the content area.  My experience has been that teachers welcome constructive dialogue, even when its critical, if it pertains directly to improving instruction and student achievement. 

On a state-wide basis, we have had district report cards for quite a while now.  If that hasn't improved student achievement, it does not follow that participating in Common Core assessments through the Smarter Balanced Consortium will do so now.  If legislators are simply looking for punitive measures that will make it easier for districts to dismiss ineffective teachers, then I'd suggest there are much less expensive means they could consider - if it were in their purview at all.  I think local districts should develop their own ways to address that problem and that the legislature's role is to free districts to do so.


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