I don't have a lot of followers, and probably will offend those who read this, but I am just so fed up with the recent hullabaloo around Common Core Standards. I don't know all there is to know, but I do know enough and probably more than many who are simply listening to one perspective from a talk show host or radio personality. I also do not profess to know all state regs for how standards are determined or for that matter all there is to know about Common Core State Standards, but I wish the general public and legislators would use some common sense and learn before assuming and attacking. Whether implementing Common Core standards or state standards there are some basics to them all.
First, states rewrite standards on a fairly regular basis and get this....just like Common Core, the state developed standards are NOT assessed and tested prior to implementation.
Second,could someone please tell me why it is acceptable for all states to create their own standards and their own assessments, but then as a nation compare each state against each other. In this comparison, there are states with tough standards who are ranked high for those, but then they show up as a low ranking state when comparing test scores or vice versa...low ranking standards and able to claim many students meet the expectations of demonstrating proficiency. We are a transient nation. Are we doing a service to students by having drastically different standards in each state? I get that kids learn differently and that kids have different needs.....that is a classroom issue to be addressed. See below about the difference between curriculum and standards.
Third, has anyone who is complaining about the two assessments really looked at the available samples? I promise they are not a huge secret like some claim...GOOGLE it along with the standards. And while you pull them, how about take the time to read your current state standards and COMPARE the two for yourself. You just might be surprised.
Fourth, there is a lot of talk about the push for more informational text. Again, read the standards and appendices. YES there is more informational text, but the classics are also ADDED back in for those states who no longer emphasize them. Moving on to writing, let us think about real life. How often do you use creative writing in your job? Hence the need to make sure we have creative as well as informative and persuasive writing. To top it off common core focuses on getting students to be able to justify their thinking with evidence. Doesn't this sound more like what you do in life....you need to be able to justify choices you make. You can't live your entire life placing enny meeny miney moe between choice A, B, C, and D.
Another thing I have read deals with cost to implement. Guess what....states have a textbook adoption cycle every few years for each subject. For example your state may adopt reading text this year, math text next year, science text the following, then social studies, etc. Then the cycle starts over again. Small states...with our current reality, are forced to adopt whatever the large states like because the publishing companies selected by the large states are able to keep the cost lower for the small states to afford. With 50 different sets of standards for each subject that leaves a high risk for states to already have materials that do not meet the current state standards. If states have the same basic standards, then it levels the publishing company playing field and in the long run is most likely more cost effective because states and school districts are not having to purchase additional supplemental materials. For example, adopting a science textbook that gathers dust on a shelf because the only material that meets the state standards is the supplemental book. And the argument about training teachers costing....HELLO training takes place with each new textbook adoption and with each new standards adoption regardless of whether it is state or common core.
Sadly the common core is getting linked to being a federal thing because a few politicians have decided to link it to federal initiatives....stimulus money anyone?. Just wondering, where was all these complaints about federal involvement when it came to No Child Left Behind or before that the Elementary and Secondary Education Act 1965 from which No Child Left Behind morphed out of? Do you really think it is reasonable to expect 100 % of students at any given grade to perform at proficient and higher by 2014, especially when states get to determine what proficiency looks like. State A lowers their standards and proficiency levels to appease the government, state B keeps their proficiency level high because they truly care about not giving a false picture about a child's ability. The higher level of standard state will continue to get punished even though their kids would probably out perform the students from the other state because of the rigor in place. Granted the original ESEA 65 states the support for state rights in making educational decisions and forbids a national curriculum, you have to understand we cannot continue to compare apples to oranges to bananas. AND you must understand that curriculum is NOT the same as standards. The standards are simply the destination we must reach, the curriculum is how we will get there. No different than a few people agreeing that they will make it the beach for vacation and one decides to drive fast on the highway, the other takes the scenic route, and still another decides to take a plane. Or better yet, where are the complaints about the state's who sought and received the ESEA waiver (No Child Left Behind is no longer....it is back to ESEA)? Again, something federal....part of which involves states agreeing to develop a plan that the FEDERAL government agrees with to: evaluate teachers, rates schools by letter grades vs. whether they met or did not meet adequate yearly progress, and has stirred up the pot around the idea of performance pay. These same people crying No No No...common standards are wrong, they are indoctrinating our children, etc., I just wonder are they also crying No No No....it's wrong to have performance pay, we can't judge all teachers because of their scores since some teach in poorer schools or have a higher special education population, etc.. I doubt it. So please drop the whole federal vs. state thing unless you are going to bring in ALL the factors to consider. As for indoctrination and determining a child's career early in life....WAKE UP...middle schools and high schools around here started having parents and students determine a "major" at least 7 years ago, if not longer....CCSS first draft was shared in Sept. 2009 (only 4 years ago). Before that, like when I was in school, students were tracked for either tech. prep or college prep. Students fates were being decided then too....based on PRIOR ACADEMIC PERFORMANCE as well.
Also, the 100% proficiency is not possible as long as we have kids with a learning disability. Yes, they can learn, but some student's have a disability and they are performing the absolute best they can cognitively and even can show dramatic growth on other types of assessments, but still not meet proficiency of the state exam. Also, the assessments currently in use remain designed to produce a bell curve. I am sorry, but everyone cannot be average and above. No matter where the proficiency level is there will continue to be those students at the bottom, those in the middle, and those at the top.
In addition, states have the choice to add more of their own state written standards to the Common Core standards to make them their own. I have yet to see anyone arguing against the CCSS to bring out that point.
Getting off my soap box for now, but before I do let me say: Do you really know the current reality of the students around you? Our nation has become one that focuses on avoiding the truth, spoon feeding, sugar coating, and dumbing down. Now that there is a push to start holding students accountable for a higher level of learning, the critics are pouring out of the wood-works to try to put a stop. I hate to tell you this, but WAKE up! Common Core didn't just arrive on doorsteps yesterday, they have been in the works for years, with feedback being sought for years. A similar process that states use when creating the standards they currently have.
A Republican Educator Who Wants What's Best for Kids
LET US TEACH! Stop with all the mandates that have us drowning in paperwork!