Monthly Archives: August 2012

Is the USOE lying about ACT results?

For many years the USOE has touted how great Utah is for standardized test scores.  This past year they ran a pilot program paying for most of Utah’s students to take the ACT as an assessment test. It appears that about 97% of students took the test, and as expected, our state’s scores dropped with all the people taking the exam who normally wouldn’t.

Judy Park, Associate Superintendent at the Utah State Office of Education was quoted as saying in a KSL article, “We’re thrilled and pleased that the decrease is as small as it is and compared to other states we’ve done very well,” she said.

The USOE then proceeds to tell how we’re ahead of almost all comparable states that have more than 95% of their students take the ACT.

What’s amazing is that for several years the USOE has been very well aware of a fact that they don’t report.  At least since February 2006 and a few big reminders since then, they have known that these aggregated scores don’t represent reality. Utah’s population is over 80% Caucasian. Minorities typically score less on standardized tests. When you take a weighted average score of 80% of the population outscoring the minorities, it’s going to tend to skew the figures toward a higher average. Comparing our weighted average to other states with sometimes significantly higher minority populations is an unfair comparison and puts us above national average, when the reality is that Utah is much lower than national average when just comparing each group demographically. The Deseret News blew the lid on this in 2007 where they told the truth that Utah was dead last in rankings.

The USOE’s recent report caused the media to report this concerning our overall scores:

“Utah’s scores ranked second behind Illinois and tied with North Dakota when compared to the 10 states where more than 95 percent of students took the test, according to the report.”

The truth is not quite so pretty. Dr. David Wright at BYU provided this table to me after he compared just math scores. Overall with math, Utah ranks 4th, but that doesn’t portray the sad picture that our minorities are falling way behind. Hispanics/Latinos in Utah scored at the bottom of the 10 states, and most other minority groups performed very poorly as well. Clearly Utah has work to do and we are not doing as well as the USOE likes to tout.

Math ACT AVERAGE CO IL LA KY MI MS ND TN UT WY Utah Rank
Black/African American 17.5 17.3 17.6 16.9 16.3 16.5 16.7 16.4 17.0 17.5 5
American Indian/Alaska Native 18.0 18.9 18.9 17.5 17.8 16.8 17.2 17.8 17.0 17.5 9
White 21.8 22.7 21.0 19.7 20.9 19.6 21.4 19.9 21.0 20.6 tied for 4th
Hispanic/Latino 17.9 18.9 20.0 18.4 18.4 18.7 18.4 18.1 17.8 18.2 10
Asian 22.8 25.5 23.5 23.5 24.7 22.7 21.6 23.2 22.4 24.0 9
Native Hawaiian/Other Pac. Isl. 19.8 21.3 18.9 18.3 19.4 18.2 19.8 19.2 17.7 17.6 9
Two or more races 20.8 21.3 19.8 19.2 19.3 18.4 20.3 19.4 20.0 20.0
Prefer not/No Response 19.8 19.9 20.1 18.7 19.5 18.7 20.2 18.5 19.4 19.5
All Students 20.5 21.0 19.9 19.4 20.1 18.3 21.0 19.1 20.3 20.2 4

Common Core math horror stories and higher-order thinking

Has your child started back to school yet? Noticed anything different about education under Common Core? Here are 3 parent’s troubling math stories about their experiences starting back into school.

1) One of my daughters decided to go back to the district junior high this year from a charter school and yesterday brought home her new Common Core math book for 7th grade. It’s the first half of the year textbook and as I flipped through it I realized she’d had a lot of this math already, some of it 2 years ago. For example, one problem at the back of this textbook was 45 minus 4.5. I went and spoke with the teacher and learned that she was going to be supplementing the class with her own more rigorous material. Our district (Alpine) did significant work selected a textbook but unfortunately because of the crisis created by the USOE’s statewide implementation so fast after Common Core was released, we had to get textbooks in place before many were available that met (or exceeded) these low standards.

2) A co-worker of mine has a 5th grader in Jordan school district who left a really solid charter school and returned to a district school. They carefully researched the teachers at the school and found the one that was supposed to be the most rigorous or accelerated that would help their son really learn math. On the first day of class, their son was devastated when the teacher announced that everyone should be excited because this year under Common Core they were going to learn their times tables, something he’d done in school 2 years earlier. The family is very concerned.

3) My senior daughter came home from her first day of A/P statistics and said the teacher told the class they weren’t going to do math till 2nd semester and would just focus on vocabulary for the 1st semester (can you say constructivism?). The class then took turns reading paragraphs out of the book. The teacher’s favorite part of each chapter is the “conversations” in the book and she assigns class members to role play them. The teacher actually did send home some math problems for these seniors, most of whom had A/P Calculus last year. The sheet was called statistics essentials. Here’s a problem from it. “If you have $15.73 and each pound of gummy bears costs $3.28 after taxes, how many pounds of gummy bears can you purchase?” I think our daughter did this level of work about 5-6 years ago. Unbelievable how dumbed down this is for our children.

You can thank the USOE for the statewide dumbing down that’s about to occur.

On Lone Peak high school’s website is an article from Principled Leadership magazine. Susan Gendron, a policy coordinator at SBAC is being interviewed by Mel Riddile about Common Core. Here’s one exchange which we hear all the time from state education officials.

Riddile: So the big picture is much higher rigor?

Gendron: Much higher. In the work I’m involved in with the SMARTER Balanced Assessment Consortium, we’re actually using a cognitive rigor matrix that was developed in 2009. It uses Bloom’s taxonomy and Norman Webb’s depth of knowledge to define what students need to be able to demonstrate to show that they’ve achieved proficiency.

I’m guessing a lot of parents are going to discover that “much higher rigor” doesn’t follow a traditional dictionary definition.

Most of us are probably familiar with Bloom’s taxonomy where people move from knowledge to comprehension to application to analysis to synthesis to evaluation to achieve what he terms higher-order thinking. Educators are infatuated with Bloom’s work in education. They spout higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills in practically every document they produce as what their goal is in education. Most of them have never taken the time to learn what Bloom’s goal was, moral relativism.

“…a student attains ‘higher order thinking’ when he no longer believes in right or wrong. A large part of what we call good teaching is a teacher´s ability to obtain affective objectives by challenging the student’s fixed beliefs. …a large part of what we call teaching is that the teacher should be able to use education to reorganize a child’s thoughts, attitudes, and feelings.”
-Benjamin Bloom, psychologist and educational theorist, “Major Categories in the Taxonomy of Educational Objectives,” pg. 185

That’s quite the statement to chew on. This is not to say that your children’s teachers are all doing this to your children, because most of them are wonderful people who genuinely want to help children learn to evaluate situations in life with the skills they are passing on. However, there are many teachers who share this prominent belief in moral relativism. When you hear the term critical thinking, to them it means thinking critically about all the morals, patriotism, and knowledge that have been passed on to you from the institutions of family and church. No institution of learning is safe from these types of philosophies, even BYU (link 1)(link 2), so you can imagine what’s happening at other universities.

It is the responsibility of parents to ensure their children are getting a well-rounded education which includes moral absolutes, otherwise the fabric of our American republic will waste away. Freedom based in law only works when people have a solid belief system in God-given moral absolutes so that honesty and integrity are valued above situational ethics which may not always dictate fair dealings with your fellow man. George Washington’s farewell address declared morality and religion as indispensable supports to our freedom, and prominent national educators have been tearing those down for many decades.

If you have never looked into a comparison of what prominent national educators have as a philosophy compared to religious leaders, here is one to consider.

http://www.utahsrepublic.org/prominent-educators-vs-religious-leaders/

Sandra Stotsky offers Utah the best ELA standards in the nation

Dr. Sandra Stotsky submitted this testimony to the Utah legislature’s education committee which includes an offer to develop with Utah teachers, the best ELA K-12 literature standards in the country. If you would like to see this happen, ask your state school board members to take her up on it.

Sandra Stotsky

University of Arkansas

August 15, 2012

Purpose: I thank State Senator Howard A. Stephenson and State Representative Francis D. Gibson, Co-Chairs, and other members of Utah’s 2012 Education Interim Committee for the opportunity to submit testimony on the deficiencies of Common Core’s standards.  I also suggest why the legislature is justified in negating the state’s adoption of Common Core’s English Language Arts Standards and how Utah could develop and assess first-class standards in the English language arts at a relatively low cost.

Professional Background:  I hold a doctoral degree in reading research and instruction from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.  From 1999-2003, I was senior associate commissioner at the Massachusetts Department of Education where I was in charge of revising the state’s K-12 standards, professional development criteria, licensing regulations for all educators, and teacher tests in all major subjects.  I was appointed to serve on the National Assessment of Educational Progress committee to develop the reading framework for 2009 (2003-2004), the National Mathematics Advisory Committee (2006-2008), Common Core’s Validation Committee (2009-2010), and the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (2006-2010). At the local level, I served as Trustee of the Brookline Public Library (1984-1999) and Town Meeting Member (1984-1994), both elected offices.

I address the following points in my written testimony:

1.  That Common Core’s standards for the English language arts are neither research-based, nor internationally benchmarked.  Nor are the percentages for literary and informational reading in the English class supported by research or the NAEP reading frameworks.

2.  That Common Core’s college readiness standards were designed to lead to intellectually undemanding secondary mathematics curricula and tests to enable all students to enroll in college.   We don’t know yet what its readiness standards mean for the academic level of its ELA tests, although one can presume they will have similar goals.

3.  That state boards of education adopted Common Core’s standards under false premises as part of a truncated public comment process and unwittingly transferred control of the local curriculum to the federal level.   

4.   That Utah can develop and assess first-class standards in the English language arts at relatively low cost.

Background

The ostensible goal of the Common Core project is to prepare all students for higher education in this country, using common tests based on curricula aligned to Common Core’s standards that are developed by testing consortia funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The standards, the tests, and the curricula reflect the USDE’s belief that all students should be prepared for college and that the federal government should determine what students learn in English and mathematics to be prepared for college.

State boards of education in 2010/2011 apparently believed that federal officials could establish sounder educational policies for their state than they themselves could, despite lack of evidence that federal officials have ever established effective educational policies in K-12.  Board members who voted to adopt Common Core’s standards and to join one of the testing consortia developing curriculum and tests seemed willing to believe that implementing something called “college and career readiness standards,” giving tests based on them, and making all teachers take professional development in them will make all students ready for college.

(1) Common Core’s standards for English language arts are neither research-based nor internationally benchmarked.  Nor are the percentages for literary and informational reading in English classes supported by research or NAEP reading frameworks.

Common Core provides no comparison of its own sets of standards with any sets of international objectives in English or mathematics. I requested information on international benchmarking many times during my tenure on the Common Core Validation Committee, yet it was never provided.  To judge from my own research on the language and literature requirements for a high school diploma in Ireland, British Columbia, Canada, andAlberta, Canada, Common Core’s ELA standards fall far below what other English-speaking nations or regions require of college-intending high school graduates. In fact, that is the main reason that I and four other members of the Validation Committee declined to sign off on Common Core’s standards.

Nor is there research evidence to support the usefulness of the generic reading skills Common Core offers as “anchor” standards (and as grade-level standards). Common Core’s anchor standards are not authentic academic standards.  Only authentic academic standards can guide development of a coherent and progressively demanding literature/reading curriculum in K-12, and only such a curriculum can prepare students adequately for a high school diploma, never mind authentic college coursework.  Skills, processes, and strategies by themselves cannot propel intellectual development or serve as an intellectual framework for any K-12 curriculum.

Nor is there evidence to support the idea that having English teachers teach more informational reading (or literary nonfiction) and less literary reading will lead to greater college readiness. There is also no research to support Common Core’s division of reading into 10 informational and 9 literary standards at all educational levels.

Moreover, an approximate 50/50 division of informational and literary reading in the curriculum is not supported by NAEP’s reading frameworks. NAEP makes it clear that the percentages it proposes for types of reading passages are for its tests, not the English curriculum (it has never assessed drama), and that its percentages are intended to reflect the kind of reading students do outside as well as inside school. Common Core’s ELA architects have misguidedly applied the NAEP percentages, which are themselves not research-based, to the English curriculum and the ELA college-readiness test, misleading teachers, school administrators, and test developers alike.

(2) Common Core’s college readiness standards were designed to produce an intellectually undemanding secondary mathematics curriculum and test so that all students can be declared “college-ready.”  We don’t know yet precisely what its readiness standards mean in ELA, but we can assume that they were designed with similar intentions.

Passing a college readiness test in mathematics will not mean that Utah’s students are capable of competing in a global economy. It will mean only that they are qualified to enroll in a non-selective community or state college, as Jason Zimba, lead writer of Common Core’s mathematics standards, admitted at a March 2010 meeting of the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education.

We don’t know what passing a college readiness test in English will mean because we don’t yet know how many reading passages will be above a grade 8 readability level and where the cut score will be.  The testing consortia have not indicated what readability level “college readiness” means.  Does the Utah Department of Education know if the cut score will reflect a readability level of grade 10, 11, or 12 with respect to vocabulary and syntactic difficulty?

(3) State boards adopted Common Core’s standards under false premises as part of a truncated public comment process and inadvertently transferred control of the curriculum away from local school boards.

Common Core claims that its standards are research-based and internationally benchmarked. But state boards of education were never given clear information on the research base or international benchmarks before or after a vote to adopt them. Moreover, the Utah State Board of Education did not provide full public discussion before it voted to move control of the curriculum from local school boards to a distant federal bureaucracy.

The USBE tentatively approved the standards two days after they were published (June 4, 2010) to meet a U.S. Department of Education deadline of August 2 and then approved them on August 6, 2010. Despite this short timeline, the Utah State Office of Education website claimed through April 2012 that “They were vetted thoroughly by the Utah State Board of Education and by parents who attended public meetings held across the state prior to the State Board’s unanimous vote to adopt them in 2010.” After recent complaints to the USOE about how hearings could have happened in such a short period of time and when no one was aware of them, the claim was removed from the website. Because the USOE website prevents such statements from being archived, the fact that this claim was once made depends on the testimony of those who read it.

Because the USBE did not follow procedures that would have facilitated full public awareness of the deficiencies in Common Core’s English language arts standards, and because Common Core’s English language arts standards are not internationally benchmarked or supported by substantial evidence, it would be reasonable to pass a law negating the Board’s adoption of Common Core’s English Language Arts Standards.

(4)  Utah can develop and assess first-class ELA standards at relatively low cost.

If Utah negates its adoption of Common Core’s English language arts standards, I volunteer to help Utah develop a first class set of ELA standards.  All I would want paid for are travel expenses.   It would not be difficult for experienced and well-read English teachers in Utah to develop a coherent set of literature standards for K-12.  Moreover, most of the new standards could be assessed by the first-rate test items developed by English teachers in Massachusetts for its own state assessments and released annually for public scrutiny.

Education Committee Hearing on Common Core

Yesterday’s education committee hearing featured Jim Stergios from the Pioneer Institute, and Ted Rebarber CEO of AccountabilityWorks, testifying on issues with Common Core. We are so grateful they were able to come and engage and their testimony was well received. Audio of their testimony can be heard here and their comments last just 20 minutes. The full Common Core discussion was about an hour.

http://le.utah.gov/asp/audio/Player.asp?mtgid=9469&fn=1&start=6671

Senator Howard Stephenson commented during the meeting, “If I were the king of Utah, I would do precisely what you recommended.”

Also of tremendous note was Dr. Sandra Stotsky’s generous offer to write for free, ELA standards for Utah that would be the best in the nation. She has credibility too because she did this for Massachusetts and they became the top scoring state in the country.

The Deseret News and SL Tribune both carried articles and both reference this pathetic attempt by the state office of education to show legislators and the public that they actually want feedback on Common Core standards. How’s this for a feedback mechanism on the standards? One long massive page where each grade has a block just like this. Dear USOE, you’re a couple years late.

USOE CC survey

 

Here is a copy of the packet that was given to legislators at the meeting.

Packet for August 2012 Interim Meeting (PDF)

Here is a standalone copy of the awesome infographic made by JaKell Sullivan

How Common Core Doubles-Down on No Child Left Behind

 

 

Why Cursive?

Common Core state standards have removed (among other things) the teaching of cursive to students. There are many reasons this is a bad idea. First and foremost is that cursive has been shown to be an important developmental skill as this anonymous teacher’s testimony notes.

I am so upset that cursive has been removed from the Core! I had such a successful year last year teaching cursive. When I ask students during the first week of school what they are excited to learn in 3rd grade, at least 10 students say learning to write in cursive! I already had 2nd graders telling me they were so excited to be in 3rd grade so they could learn cursive. I am then supposed to deny them something they want to learn!? That is absurd! Even before the actual cursive instruction began, I had many students trying cursive on their own and asking if they were doing it correctly. My students became better readers because they learned cursive last year, seeing italics or cursive in books did not confuse them any more. Most of my students handwriting improved considerably once they could write in cursive, especially the boys’ handwriting. If I can’t teach cursive, the students will miss out on developing those fine motor skills- many suggest typing, but my students will only get keyboarding once a week, and yet I have set aside 20 minutes each day for them to learn cursive. I think it is also a way of self expression. I write in cursive all of the time; my signature is part of who I am. So, this generation will not be able to create a signature for themselves? Nor will they be able to read any handwriting other than print. It is so much fun for me and my students when I write on the board in cursive and they can read it! How empowering for them! They are all able to write faster in cursive, and even in third grade they realize this. They are learning to concentrate, and focus their attention- which is very helpful for all other areas of learning. They are learning to slow down, and watch what they are doing. They are learning the you have to work hard to get good at something, and yet they improve quickly enough that they are motivated to stick with it, they can see week by week that they are getting better. They are learning that practicing something over and over will help you get better. These skills are, in my opinion, only found in handwriting. There is nothing else that I can teach them that they can see improvement day by day, and that they can see themselves getting better at. Writing, math, science, social studies- none of these can show the student progression, nor help in motivating a student to keep trying. I am hoping that I can change my administrator’s mind about letting me teach cursive, but if they don’t I will certainly make sure the parents of my students know that I feel it is an important skill and I suggest that they teach their students at home.

Secondarily, almost every historical document from the founding of America, as well as many genealogical records are written in cursive. Without this skill these documents become unreadable. We should not favor keyboarding while removing cursive in spite of what special interest groups want.

Here are some resources on why cursive is so important.

For starters, 73% of parents said not to remove cursive in this KSL poll

Someone else sent me this list of resources.

There was an educational summit on this issue in January 2012, “Handwriting in the 21st Century?” hosted by Zaner-Bloser and the American Association of School Administrators.

http://www.hw21summit.com

You can get the whitepaper here:

http://www.hw21summit.com/media/zb/hw21/H2948_HW_Summit_White_Paper_eVersion.pdf

Other Articles:

“How Replacing Cursive Instruction with Keyboarding Fluency in Elementary Schools Hampers Brain Development.”

“Intelligence and the Lost Art of Cursive Writing”

“How Cursive Writing Affects Brain Development”

A summary page statement from Zaner-Bloser

Teacher Comments on Common Core

To all the teachers out there who see Common Core for what it is, thank you for paying attention and valuing freedom and a strong education for our children. Please resist Common Core in whatever way you can. Here are a few comments from or about other teachers which may be of benefit to you.

If you are unaware of just how deficient the new standards are, please read these comments by nationally recognized experts Dr. Sandra Stotsky (helped put Massachusetts at the top of the nation’s performance AND just volunteered to give Utah the best ELA standards in the nation for FREE), and Dr. Jim Milgram, international math standards expert who testified to the legislature to help us get our 2007 math standards. You can see what they say about Common Core here:

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/sandra-stotsky-on-the-ela-common-core-standards/

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/jim-milgram-on-the-common-core-math-standards/

http://www.utahnsagainstcommoncore.com/milgram-on-cc-vs-in-math-standards/

 

Teacher 1

I just attended the Core Academy for math as an elementary teacher and was told for 4 straight days that the common core does NOT require math facts or the teaching of standard algorithms. I was taught how to teach solely using discovery learning or weird, unusable, at least with larger numbers, fuzzy math algorithms which actually make understanding place value unnecessary to solve problems requiring regrouping. What? I thought the core was supposed to help teachers REMEMBER to teach skills and standard algorithms … I am devastated and do not even know if I can teach in Utah if this is the direction we are going…aligning ourselves with Washington state which is all discovery and has some of the poorest performing math students in the country…where they still believe Terc Investigations is great Curriculum. May the saints preserve us all.

Teacher 2

I teach in the ________ district.  Our district is adopting the core and is very involved in training their teachers.  I will be attending meetings at my school to receive training.  What can I do, if anything to keep my job, but not be chained to teaching the core?  Last year, we implemented the writing portion of the core.  I followed the core.  My students did not accomplish as much with the core, as with the program I had been using.  This year, I am quietly going back to the writing program I used before.  This year we will be implementing the core math curriculum, I think I will quietly take ideas that I like, but keep teaching what I know works.  Any advice?

Teacher 3

Last Tuesday, Rep. Kraig Powell hosted a forum in Heber on Common Core. In attendance at this meeting were a number of teachers and administrators including Wasatch Superintendent Shoemaker. At lunch, a teacher who is involved with trying to get Utah off Common Core, was speaking with Sup. Shoemaker and another long time teacher’s name came up that this teacher had student-taught under. The Superintendent told this teacher how fortunate it was that she student-taught under her because she was a master teacher. She told the Superintendent that this long time teacher told her she wasn’t thrilled with Common Core and the Superintendent replied, “I’m not surprised, a teacher like her wouldn’t be.” The exact note this master teacher had sent her was “too bad districts aren’t questioning [common core] instead of parents. As a teacher, I am having common core shoved down my throat. We’re back to the 70’s. Way to go on your endeavors. :)”

Teacher 4

I am a 3rd grade teacher at a Charter School in Utah. I am becoming very frustrated with Common Core, and I am starting to feel helpless, and feel that I am failing my students, which will one day affect me as they grow up and enter the workforce.

I attended the Math CORE Academy this summer and was told that Utah is not going to suggest a math book that will meet the new standards, instead I have to use whatever math book my school is using  to create work for the students. It is incredibly difficult to teach the Common Core using Tasks with the math book we have, and I imagine it is just as difficult with any math book. First of all, it takes 2-3 hours to create a Task using a math book, I had to help create 2 at Core Academy. Secondly, the instructors encouraged us to leave out key pieces of information so that the students could construct their own knowledge. I cannot imagine elementary students doing well in Algebra or Calculus after spending years learning that whatever number they come up with is correct. I am frustrated that students are required to make a guess to solve the problem, and of course, they are correct, because any number they choose would work. They would then see that their classmates all chose different numbers, and yet all of the answers are correct? How confusing for an elementary student! I have decided to send these Tasks home as extra credit so that the parents in my class can see what to expect in the next school year. I am sure I will get many complaints that the problems are unsolvable, because important information has been left out! I believe that math has right and wrong answers, and that teaching students that any answer can be correct is foolish.

I am so upset that cursive has been removed from the Core! I had such a successful year last year teaching cursive. When I ask students during the first week of school what they are excited to learn in 3rd grade, at least 10 students say learning to write in cursive! I already had 2nd graders telling me they were so excited to be in 3rd grade so they could learn cursive. I am then supposed to deny them something they want to learn!? That is absurd! Even before the actual cursive instruction began, I had many students trying cursive on their own and asking if they were doing it correctly. My students became better readers because they learned cursive last year, seeing italics or cursive in books did not confuse them any more. Most of my students handwriting improved considerably once they could write in cursive, especially the boys’ handwriting. If I can’t teach cursive, the students will miss out on developing those fine motor skills- many suggest typing, but my students will only get keyboarding once a week, and yet I have set aside 20 minutes each day for them to learn cursive. I think it is also a way of self expression. I write in cursive all of the time; my signature is part of who I am. So, this generation will not be able to create a signature for themselves? Nor will they be able to read any handwriting other than print. It is so much fun for me and my students when I write on the board in cursive and they can read it! How empowering for them! They are all able to write faster in cursive, and even in third grade they realize this. They are learning to concentrate, and focus their attention- which is very helpful for all other areas of learning. They are learning to slow down, and watch what they are doing. They are learning the you have to work hard to get good at something, and yet they improve quickly enough that they are motivated to stick with it, they can see week by week that they are getting better. They are learning that practicing something over and over will help you get better. These skills are, in my opinion, only found in handwriting. There is nothing else that I can teach them that they can see improvement day by day, and that they can see themselves getting better at. Writing, math, science, social studies- none of these can show the student progression, nor help in motivating a student to keep trying. I am hoping that I can change my administrator’s mind about letting me teach cursive, but if they don’t I will certainly make sure the parents of my students know that I feel it is an important skill and I suggest that they teach their students at home.

If it comes down to being on the principle’s good side or doing what’s best for my 28 students, I’m going to do what’s best for my students. If I get fired, then I’ll look for another job and hope I can find one.

Indiana Superintendent: Obama used CC to Nationalize Education

From the Heritage Foundation, Rachel Sheffield writes:

At a Tea Party gathering last month, Indiana Schools Superintendent Tony Bennett expressed his concern with the growing federal overreach of Common Core education standards. “This administration has an insatiable appetite for federal overreach,” he said. “The federal government’s involvement in these standards is wrong.”

The Indianapolis Star adds:

“Bennett pointed out that the Common Core’s standards originated with the National Governors Association, and were intended for voluntary adoption by states. Then, according to Bennett, Obama nationalized the standards and has tried to use federal clout to force the Common Core on the states.”

Get the rest of the story here…

Christel Swasey also wrote a great piece on freedom in education which I encourage everyone to read. In it she quotes South Carolina Senator Mike Fair as saying this:

“…If the federal government didn’t create Common Core, how is this a federal takeover?  Simple– the Department of Education is funding the development of the national tests aligned with Common Core.  Even Common Core proponents admit that whoever controls the test will, for all practical purposes, control what must be taught in the classroom.  And once Common Core is implemented, no one in this state will have the power to change any standard…  The Legislature never had a chance to review Common Core because the feds timed their deadlines for adopting them to fall when the Legislature wasn’t in session. So, to qualify for a shot at Race to the Top money in 2010, the (previous) state superintendent and the (previous) governor had to agree to adopt Common Core– standards that had not even been published yet… By the way, South Carolina wasn’t awarded Race to the Top money, so we sold our education birthright without even getting the mess of pottage.”

The Hollow SBAC Victory

Many of you have probably seen the news that yesterday the state board voted to exit their affiliation with the SBAC (Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium). This action by the state board vote of 12-3 is wonderful news and a victory for our cause when just a few months ago the board voted 4-10 to NOT leave the SBAC. Thank you Utah State School Board.

http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865560088/Utah-withdraws-from-Common-Core-consortium.html

Now we just have to follow several steps including getting permission from the federal government to leave this consortium and it’s a done deal. Glad the feds aren’t try to control the states or anything…

http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/sbac/breaking-news-utah-state-board-of-education-votes-to-pull-out-of-sbac/

After the board vote, mathematician Ze’ev Wurman wrote:

“Congratulations to Utah!!! The first domino to fall from the Common Core bandwagon! Not only will Utah be able to offer extra 15%, but it can shift content across grades. It can even — perish the thought — offer authentic algebra in eighth grade!”

I believe Ze’ev is correct and we could reform and raise the standards to our own desire if there was the desire within the state to actually adopt the very best in standards. This has always been our goal.

However, not all is well with this decision. It turns out that the Utah State Office of Education signaled board members that it was OK for them to leave SBAC because their work with SBAC is essentially done. They are now writing a very narrow RFP (request for proposal to get bids) that only an SBAC affiliated vendor would be able to fully satisfy. This information comes from within the USOE where someone has informed us that the move to drop SBAC was just a ruse to settle things down. USOE has no desire to work with other vendors since they had a hand in the SBAC work. There is no purpose in other vendors submitting a proposal under these circumstances because USOE will award it to the SBAC vendor. If you know of other assessment vendors, please let them know they should protest to the USOE that it is patently unfair to stack the deck in favor of the SBAC. This is not the first time USOE has played favorites with vendors or grants.

Arne Duncan Exposes the Real Purpose of Common Core

Arne Duncan on Common Core

Think the feds aren’t using Common Core to take over education and database tracking of our children? Here’s the proof from the horse’s mouth.

Speech 1

Speech given by Sec. Duncan in regards to data collection

http://www2.ed.gov/news/speeches/2009/06/06082009.html

Seems pretty clear that the goal is to have the data collected by the federal government. Here’s 3 disturbing quotes.

1) Oxymoron alert:

“This is one of the significant problems of NCLB. It let every state set its own bar and we now have 50 states, 50 different states all measuring success differently, and that’s starting to change. We want to flip that. We want to set a high bar for the entire country against states’ and districts’ ability to create and hit that higher bar, give them the chance to innovate and hold them accountable for results.”

2) “Hopefully, some day, we can track children from preschool to high school and from high school to college and college to career. We must track high growth children in classrooms to their great teachers and great teachers to their schools of education.” (this was Marc Tucker’s plan in the early 90′s to nationalize education with a cradle to grave database)

3) Hopefully, one day we can look a child in the eye at the age of eight or nine or 10 and say, “You are on track to be accepted and to succeed in a competitive university and, if you keep working hard, you will absolutely get there.” (What are they going to say to the other kids? “Sorry you’re not cutting it”?)

Speech 2

Sec. Duncan’s address to UNESCO on 4 Nov. 2010 regarding education reform including implementation of CC in America.
http://unesco.usmission.gov/duncan-remarks.html

As I read through this speech, there were a few things in particular that I have reservations with, besides the fact that our Sec. of Ed praises UNESCO and wants to work directly with them in our education efforts in America. In our meeting with the governor last month, Lt. Gov. Bell stated, “if Common Core has Obama’s name on it, we want to run the other way.”   Well, it seems that it has Obama’s name all over it.

I want to highlight a few excerpts from his speech that were of particular interest to me as a citizen, teacher, and parent.

Our goal for the coming year will be to work closely with global partners, including UNESCO, to promote qualitative improvements and system strengthening.”  (don’t forget the Gates Foundation signed a contract with UNESCO in 2004 to create a global education system with them and has since plunged over $100 million into Common Core development and promotion)

The President’s aims are far more ambitious. He wants to improve teacher evaluation in order to dramatically elevate the status of the teaching profession itself;”  (Sounds like the President thinks it’s part of his executive role to be involved in the evaluation process for teachers.   Is this even constitutional?  This is offensive to me as a teacher and a parent.  What business does the federal government have evaluating teachers, unless of course they are employed by them.  Is that the direction we are heading?  Doesn’t sound like local control and we don’t have to study history too much to know the danger in having centralized control and the power of decisions resting in the hands of a few.)

The North Star guiding the alignment of our cradle-to-career education agenda is President Obama’s goal that America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. (This is the Outcome Based Education nonsense that has been done in the past. Common Core is the center piece of bringing this together)

Traditionally, the federal government in the U.S. has had a limited role in education policy.  The Obama administration has sought to fundamentally shift the federal role, so that the Department is doing much more to support reform and innovation in states, districts, and local communities.  (Sounds like a federal take-over of education in America!)

In March of 2009, President Obama called on the nation’s governors and state school chiefs to “develop standards and assessments that don’t simply measure whether students can fill in a bubble on a test, but whether they possess 21st century skills like problem-solving and critical thinking and entrepreneurship and creativity. (So, was this really state-led or was the President involved in orchestrating the meeting in Apr. 2009 in Chicago?  Would that mean that the federal government did play a role in the development of the standards?)

“Virtually everyone thought the President was dreaming.

But today, 37 states and the District of Columbia have already chosen to adopt the new state-crafted Common Core standards in math and English. Not studying it, not thinking about it, not issuing white paper, they have actually done it. (Why is it that people keep denying the feds are using Common Core to take over education? It’s all out in plain sight.)

Over three-fourths of all U.S. public school students now reside in states that have voluntarily adopted higher, common college-ready standards that are internationally benchmarked. That is an absolute game-changer in a system which until now set 50 different goalposts for success.” (FYI, Common Core standards were never internationally benchmarked.)

The second game-changer is that states have banded together in large consortia to develop a new generation of assessments aligned with the states’ Common Core standards.

In September I announced the results of the department’s $350 million [dollar] Race to the Top assessment completion to design this next generation of assessments. (So Mr. Duncan admits the feds are funding the assessments but in the prior sentence says the states banded together to develop them. 100% false. They were federally funded.)

Two state consortiums, which together cover 44 states and the District of Columbia, won awards. These new assessments will have much in common with the first-rate assessments now used in many high-performing countries outside the U.S.”

 

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