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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