Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making.
This is a decision grasping for data… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence.
– Dr. Christopher Tienken, Seton Hall University, NJ
In the Education Administration Journal, the AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice (Winter 2011 / Volume 7, No. 4) there’s an article by Dr. Christopher Tienken of Seton Hall University that clearly explains the utter lack of empirical evidence for adopting Common Core. The full article, “Common Core: An Example of Data-less Decision Making,” is available online, and following are some highlights:
Although a majority of U.S. states and territories have “made the CCSS the legal law of their land in terms of the mathematics and language arts curricula,” and although “over 170 organizations, education-related and corporations alike, have pledged their support,” still “the evidence presented by its developers, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), seems lacking,” and research on the topic suggests “the CCSS and those who support them are misguided,” writes Dr. Tienken.
“The standards have not been validated empirically and no metric has been set to monitor the intended and unintended consequences they will have on the education system and children,” he writes.
Tienken and many other academics have said that Common Core adoption begs this question: “Surely there must be quality data available publically to support the use of the CCSS to transform, standardize, centralize and essentially de-localize America‘s public education system,” and “surely there must be more compelling and methodologically strong evidence available not yet shared with the general public or education researchers to support the standardization of one of the most intellectually diverse public education systems in the world. Or, maybe there is not?”
Tienken calls incorrect the notion that American education is lagging behind international competitors and does not believe the myth that academic tests can predict future economic competitiveness.
“Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons.”
He observes: “Tax, trade, health, labor, finance, monetary, housing, and natural resource policies, to name a few, drive our economy, not how students rank on the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS)” or other tests.
Most interestingly, Tienken observes that the U.S. has had a highly internationally competitive system up until now. “The U.S. already has one of the highest percentages of people with high school diplomas and college degrees compared to any other country and we had the greatest number of 15 year-old students in the world score at the highest levels on the 2006 PISA science test (OECD, 2008; OECD, 2009; United Nations, 2010). We produce more researchers and scientists and qualified engineers than our economy can employ, have even more in the pipeline, and we are one of the most economically competitive nations on the globe (Gereffi & Wadhwa, 2005; Lowell, et al., 2009; Council on Competitiveness, 2007; World Economic Forum, 2010).
Tienken calls Common Core “a decision in search of data” ultimately amounting to “nothing more than snake oil.” He is correct. The burden of proof is on the proponents to show that this system is a good one.
He writes: “Where is the evidence to support the rhetoric surrounding the CCSS? This is not data-driven decision making. This is a decision grasping for data… Yet this nation will base the future of its entire public education system, and its children, upon this lack of evidence. Many of America‘s education associations already pledged support for the idea and have made the CCSS major parts of their national conferences and the programs they sell to schools.
This seems like the ultimate in anti-intellectual behavior coming from what claim to be intellectual organizations now acting like charlatans by vending products to their members based on an untested idea and parroting false claims of standards efficacy.”
Further, Dr. Tienken reasons:
“Where is the evidence that national curriculum standards will cause American students to score at the top of international tests or make them more competitive? Some point to the fact that many of the countries that outrank the U.S. have national, standardized curricula. My reply is there are also nations like Canada, Australia, Germany, and Switzerland that have very strong economies, rank higher than the U.S. on international tests of mathematics and science consistently, and do not have a mandated, standardized set of national curriculum standards.”
Lastly, Dr. Tienken asks us to look at countries who have nationalized and standardized education, such as China and Singapore: “China, another behemoth of centralization, is trying desperately to crawl out from under the rock of standardization in terms of curriculum and testing (Zhao, 2009) and the effects of those practices on its workforce. Chinese officials recognize the negative impacts a standardized education system has had on intellectual creativity. Less than 10% of Chinese workers are able to function in multi-national corporations (Zhao, 2009).
I do not know of many Chinese winners of Nobel Prizes in the sciences or in other the intellectual fields. China does not hold many scientific patents and the patents they do hold are of dubious quality (Cyranoski, 2010).
The same holds true for Singapore. Authorities there have tried several times to move the system away from standardization toward creativity. Standardization and testing are so entrenched in Singapore that every attempt to diversify the system has failed, leaving Singapore a country that has high test scores but no creativity. The problem is so widespread that Singapore must import creative talent from other countries”.
According to Dr. Tienken, Common Core is a case of oversimplification. It is naiive to believe that all children would benefit from mastering the same set of skills, or that it would benefit the country in the long run, to mandate sameness. He observes that Common Core is “an Orwellian policy position that lacks a basic understanding of diversity and developmental psychology. It is a position that eschews science and at its core, believes it is appropriate to force children to fit the system instead of the system adjusting to the needs of the child.”
Oh, how we agree!
Since when do we trust bureaucracies more than we trust individuals to make correct decisions inside a classroom or a school district? Since when do we agree force children to fit a predetermined system, instead of having a locally controlled, flexible system that can adjust to the needs of a child?
What madness (or money?) has persuaded even our most American-as-apple-pie organizations — even the national PTA, the U.S. Army, the SAT, most textbook companies and many governors– to advocate for Common Core, when there never was a real shred of valid evidence upon which to base this country-changing decision?
Dr. David Wright at BYU has posted information on a website (http://utahmath.org) alleging what appears to be shocking events inside the Utah State Office of Education and reaching into multiple Utah universities.
In the 2012 legislative session, a Math Materials Access Improvement Grant was passed (SB 217) which required the State Board of Education to select a content developer to develop new math textbooks for 7th and 8th graders, and an adaptive assessment program. The state office wrote the Request for Proposal (RFP) differently than the grant directed. Two proposals were submitted, one from Dr. Jeffrey Humpherys and the BYU math department, and one from Dr. Hugo Rossi at the University of Utah.
According to Dr. Wright’s documentation, there were irregularities in the U of U application including plagiarism of content and missing items that should have been included per the RFP. At least 4 USOE employees were aware of the plagiarism: Diana Suddreth, Brenda Hales, Sydnee Dickson, and Michael Rigby (who apparently found the plagiarism). Both Suddreth and Dickson were on the review committee to select a grant winner. Emails show Diana Suddreth dismissed this saying,
“It also appears that the U is unaware of the copyright violations since they pulled their materials from sources that were labeled as licensed under Creative Commons. Therefore, I do not think this invalidates their proposal.”
Two weeks later the USOE awarded the grant to the U of U and two days after awarding them the grant, Diana wrote Dr. Rossi stating,
“Before you dive in too quickly, we need to have a conversation on why the request for a response about plagiarism was required.”
Clearly people at the USOE knew plagiarism was a problem. In fact, in some circles, individuals would say this type of charge results in “academic death.”
Several other important factors also came up. During the review of the grants, Suddreth informed Rossi that he should add Dr. David Wiley in BYU’s education department to the grant. Suddreth was a co-principal investigator with Wiley on another sizeable grant.
During the RFP review, Rossi offered an honorarium to Suddreth on a project he was working on. In an email he states,
“All your expenses in connection with this project will be covered by the USHE, including an honorarium of $300/day for participation in the meetings, if you are able to accept such an honorarium given your professional role.”
This offer seems highly inappropriate given that Suddreth would evaluate the RFP’s and participate in awarding the grant.
Dr. James Cangelosi at Utah State was one of the 5 grant reviewers, and on the same day the grant was awarded to the U of U, Suddreth was able to secure another $70,000 for Cangelosi’s UMEP program at USU. That has a tainted smell to it.
Is it any surprise that on May 1st of this year, Tami Pyfer on the State Board of Education sent letters of Common Core support from Dr. Rossi and Dr. Cangelosi to state legislators? These two professors are in the back pocket of the USOE after having received hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants and apparent favoritism.
In Cangelosi’s letter to legislators, he concludes by emphasizing “Utah’s Mathematics Common Core is another in our string of efforts to supplant ‘schoolmath’ with research-based mathematical pedagogy.” He’s flat out wrong. He’s one of the top constructivists in the state and he’s misinterpreted the standards to be a call for pedagogical reform in the direction of constructivism.
Bill McCallum, one of the lead authors of Common Core math standards, was specifically asked about this misinterpretation of pedagogy some are espousing and stated,
“I don’t see the standards as dictating any particular teaching method, but rather setting goals for student understanding. Different people have different ideas about what is the best method for achieving that understanding. That said, I think it’s pretty clear that classrooms implementing the standards should have some way of fostering understanding and reasoning, and classrooms where students are just sitting and listening are unlikely to achieve that.”
Dr. Wright has links to all the documents on his website (http://utahmath.org/) and concludes with 6 questions that the public deserves answers to.
1. Were any of the reviewers of the grant proposal conflicted? Were all of them qualified to review mathematics?
2. Did the U of U proposal contain plagiarized material?
3. Did Diana Suddreth direct the U of U to pick a principal investigator who was a co-principal investigator on a grant with Suddreth?
4. Did the sample lesson for the U of U contain “any text” (i.e., content exposition for the students) which was a requirement of the RFP?
5. Did the U of U grant proposal address “adaptive assessment” from the standard public education definition?
6. Did Hugo Rossi offer an honorarium to Diana Suddreth during the review period?
Each of those questions is hyperlinked to the relevant documents on Dr. Wright’s website (http://utahmath.org).
We expect public servants to use our tax dollars wisely. In this case, at a minimum, it would appear that the USOE violated the original instructions from the legislature. At the other extreme, they engaged in unethical and immoral behavior. The public deserves a full and thorough investigation to address these questions, perhaps in the education subcommittee of the legislature where the legislature can call on the USOE to account for their actions in going against the will of the legislature in the original grant.
I strongly encourage you to email State Superintendent Dr. Martell Menlove, point him to Dr. Wright’s website, and ask him to conduct a full and thorough public investigation of these questions. If true, everyone aware of the situation should be fired from the USOE, and all related parties outside the USOE who were involved in this should be forever banned from further grants and involvement with the state educational system.
Dr. Menlove can be emailed at Martell.Menlove@schools.utah.gov.
Please also copy your state school board member and legislators on that email as well. You can locate who your board member is and legislators at these urls.
http://le.utah.gov/GIS/findDistrict.jsp (find your legislators by your address)
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Board-Members/Find-Your-Board-Member.aspx (find your state board district here)
http://www.schools.utah.gov/board/Board-Members.aspx (look up your board member here)
You can also copy the 2 board of regents representatives on the state board to ensure they investigate and take action at the university level.
Teresa Theurer (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Marlin Jensen (email@example.com)
I got an email late Friday night, before the State convention, asking if I’d have both a 1 and 2 minute speech prepared for the GOP resolution opposing Common Core. Of course I would! The hard part was trying to determine what I would say in 2 minutes or less. How do you narrow down a gigantic tangled web of monstrosity into a short concise message? I was also living on 3 hours of sleep as I’d been working on adding to Allyson’s rebuttal to the USOE’s flier and adding all the sources. I was tired and had to get up at 4:30 to make it to the convention in time. Ahhh!
All I could do at that point was write down a few bullet point of things I wanted to cover and then hope it all came together in the morning. I slept soundly and woke up early but pushed snooze until 5 AM and then was on my way. I saw my dear friend Christel when I got there and told her I needed to write my speech still so I’d brought my laptop. She said, “I wrote it for you on the way down the canyon.” She went over and put some final touches on her thoughts. I didn’t end up using Christel’s words but will post them below.
After spending 3 hours talking to person after person about Common Core, I finally made my way to the convention floor. It was a long day and I very much enjoyed being a part of the process and talking with so many people that I’ve come to know over the past year. Midway through the day my speech started to come to me. I wrote down a short version and a longer version.
The time was getting close. I was watching the mics closely to make sure I’d get a chance to speak. There were lots of people lining up for the other resolutions and I wondered if some were lined up already to speak about Common Core. I went up and asked and those standing in line were waiting to speak about immigration. Phew… A little more time.
The time came and some of the men from the previous resolution didn’t leave. I was nervous that they were all there to speak to the opposing argument but the case wasn’t so. They were there to speak for the resolution. I then knew I wouldn’t get a chance to speak but I am thrilled how things turned out. By the time the speeches were over I was surprised at the length of the lines. Did you have something to say that you didn’t get to say?
Here are the words to my longer version:
Common Core is NOT just standards. Common Core is just one aspect of a much larger education reform package the President calls his “cradle to career” reform. The push to strip local control in favor of centralizing or nationalizing education is not new, but the Obama administration has sought to “fundamentally shift the federal role in education” through coercive grants and waivers.
The Governor is right. Utah MUST lead so let’s NOT follow 45 other states down a path toward a centralized education system. We can’t lead by following.
This supposed state-led initiative is led by the National Governor’s Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers or the state’s superintendents. While those sound like official government organizations, they are NOT. These private organizations are funded by both private businesses and the Federal government. They are not held accountable to the people or held subject to open meeting laws.
Changing the name to Utah core doesn’t change who controls the standards. We DO NOT own the copyright.
As Governor Nikki Haley said, states “shouldn’t relinquish control to a consensus of states any more than the Federal Government.”
VOTE YES ON THE RESOLUTION AND STAND FOR LOCAL CONTROL!
My friend JaKell did make it up to the microphone and here are her words:
In September 2011, Senator Marco Rubio wrote a letter to the U.S. Department of Education stating that the Obama administration bypassed Congress to coerce states into adopting Common Core. He stated that they were violating 3 federal laws and our Constitutional structure by issuing waivers to states from No Child Left Behind IF we would adopt Common Core.In February 2012, I asked my father, a retired Utah Appellate Court judge to read the waiver Obama’s administration issued to Utah. He did. He said, “It reads like Medicaid. It could bankrupt us.”Mitt Romney said, “I don’t subscribe to the idea of the federal government trying to push a Common Core on States, and the reason is that there may be a time when the government has an agenda it wants to promote.”That time has arrived. Obama’s 2020 Vision Roadmap outlines the agenda:1. Control education2. Compel states into Resource Distribution3. “Direct Remedy” any failure to complyVote YES for this resolution and encourage our State leaders to restore our representation in education.
Is Not a Utah Standards Initiative:Teachers, administrators and parents governed by Common Core were given no voice in the creation or adoption of Common Core. Now that we’re governed by it, how many realize that there is no amendment process?Despite the term state-led, Common Core was not vetted by Utah legislators and teachers and parents were bypassed. Our State Board and Governor were not elected to give away our state authority, nor to represent us on a national stage.Inferior Standards:Common Core rests on untested, un-piloted, unproven theories such as the theory that replacing much of our classical literature with information texts will better prepare students for college, or that slowing down the time at which math algorithms are taught would somehow benefit students or create “international competitiveness.” (This is hogwash.)Unelected Boards and Consortia:The National Governor’s Association and Council of Chief State School Officers developed and copyrighted Common Core. Neither is a transparent organization and neither is accountable to voters. Utah’s current testing group AIR is partnered with Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortia, a federally funded Common Core testing consortia.Let me remind you that under the 10th Amendment and GEPA (General Education and Provisions Act) law, the Federal government has no business doing federal reviews of CC tests, or promoting common standards, nor writing waivers contingent on federal standards.
What would you have said? If you were in line on Saturday and had a story to tell, we want to hear it. Please share in the comments below.
At the Utah GOP convention today, delegates passed a resolution to oppose Common Core with what’s been reported as a 65.5% YEA vote! That’s a huge margin on a resolution that the state office of education worked hard to oppose.
A big thank you to all volunteers who spent time passing out information this morning to help educate delegates, and a big thank you to the delegates who made the right choice.
Resolution on Common Core State Standards and Assessments
WHEREAS, The Common Core State Standards Initiative (“Common Core”), also known as “Utah’s Core,”  is not a Utah state standards initiative, but rather a set of inferior nationally-based standards and tests developed through a collaboration between two NGO’s (non-governmental organizations) and unelected boards and consortia from outside the state of Utah; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core was financed with private foundation funds, replacing the influence of our votes with wealth and influence to bypass our state legislature and impose control over Utah’s education standards and tests; and,
WHEREAS, the General Educational Provisions Act  prohibits federal authority over curriculum and testing, yet the U.S. Department of Education’s “Cooperative Agreements” confirm Common Core’s test-building  and data collection is federally managed; and,
WHEREAS, “student behavior indicators” – which include testing for mental health, social and cultural (i.e. religious) habits and attitudes and family status – are now being used for Common Core tests and assessments; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core violates Utah state and federal privacy laws by requiring the storage and sharing of private student and family data without consent; using a pre- school through post-graduate (P-20) tracking system and a federally-funded State Longitudinal Database (SLDS), creating surveillance capability between states and federal agencies, in accordance with funding mandates; and,
WHEREAS, Common Core violates constitutional and statutory prohibitions by pressuring states to adopt the standards with financial incentives tied to President Obama’s Race to the Top, and if not adopted, penalties including loss of funds; and,
WHEREAS, the federal government is imposing yet another unfunded mandate on our State for unproven Common Core instruction, training and testing platforms, without any pledge of financial support from federal, state or local governments; and,
WHEREAS, unproven experiments on our children, lacking empirical data to support them, are removing traditional math, replacing classic literature with increased technical reading, and prohibiting teachers from reviewing the tests to know what they ought to be teaching; and,
WHEREAS, this top-down process and the principles behind Common Core undermine the teacher’s role and do not support American and Republican ideals of local control, parental choice in education, standards and testing; and,
WHEREAS, the Republican National Committee recently passed a resolution opposing Common Core State Standards;
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that we call on the Governor and the Utah State School Board to withdraw from, and we ask the Utah State Legislature to discontinue funding programs in association with, The Common Core State Standards Initiative/Utah’s Core and any other alliance that promotes and tests for un-American and inferior, curricula, standards and assessments; and,
THEREFORE, BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that a copy of this resolution shall be delivered to the Governor and the State legislature for executive and legislative action.
Submitted by State Delegate Cherilyn Eagar, Salt Lake County
State Delegate Co-Sponsors: Wasatch – Alisa Ellis, Norman Durtschi, Anissa Wardell, Patricia Deden, Suzanne Pollard Juab – Stella Lightfoot Washington – Mary Burkett Box Elder Jeff Hardy Weber – Lance Adams, Dan Deuel, Bea Cardwell, Clark Roberts, Laura Warburton, Gregory Martin, Becky Gerritsen Iron – Blake Cozzens Davis – Rod Arquette, Mark Arrington, Dale Hulse, Stephanie Terry, Kris Kimball, Phill Wright, Mark Cook, Christopher Snell, Bruce Bolingbroke, Barbara Derricott, Stephen P. Cloward, James Oldham, Elizabeth Mumford Summit – Jacqueline Smith Salt Lake – JaKell Sullivan, Jennifer Jensen, Maryann Christensen, Laureen Simper, Larry Jensen, Lisa Cummins, John M. Knab, Scott Miller, Rhonda Hair, Phoenix Roberts, Eric Fowler, Tana Allen, Chelsea Woodruff, Jennifer Jensen, Janalee Tobias, Kendall Springer, Kathryn Gritton, Brian Gallagher, Brent Maxwell, Rebecca Akester, Kurt Jaussi, Joseph Darger Utah – Gayle Ruzicka, Kristen Chevrier; Rod Mann, Larry Cerenzie, Clark Parker, Nancy Jex, Marie Nuccitelli, Amelia Powers, Brandon Watters, Barbara H. Ward, William C. Lee, Heather Williamson, Darren Rollins, Peter Morkel, Lisa Baldwin, Don Carlos Davies, Todd Seager, Rhonda Wilkinson, Alyson Williams, Sherilyn Colby, Diana Ballard, Delvon Bouwhuis, Mike Bready, Richard Jaussi, Tamara Atkin, Jamie Towse, Julie Blaney, Kent Besaw, Kevin Braddy
School Board-Legislative Endorsers: Congressman Jason Chaffetz; State Representatives Jake Anderegg, Brian Greene, Keith Grover, Mike Kennedy, David Lifferth, Curt Oda, Marc Roberts; State Senators Margaret Dayton, Mark Madsen, Stuart Reid; Curt Bramble School Board Members Joyce Sudweeks, (Piute), Peter Cannon (Davis), Brian Halladay, Wendy Hart, Paula Hill (Alpine)
 A State may supplement the common standards with additional standards, provided that the additional standards do not exceed 15 percent of the State’s total standards for that content area – http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf
 “No provision of any applicable program shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution, school, or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other printed or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system…” – General Educational Provisions Act
The USOE (Utah State Office of Education) mailed out a flier (on our dime) to all GOP delegates making unsubstantiated statements to try and persuade them to vote against the anti-Common Core resolution on Saturday.
USOE’s QuickFacts in quotes, responses below:
1. In Utah, the term “Common Core” is limited to only the state level standards for mathematics and English language arts. In our state, those standards are not connected to data sharing, federal funding or mandates, or loss of local control of education.
Adopting Common Core standards, the only standards that fit the definition of “career and college ready standards,” was a condition of the federal Race to the Top RttT grant application that also included requirements for data collection. The USOE committed to the standards in our application before the standards were complete. Utah did not receive RttT money in the end, but by the time we knew this, the reforms were in place.
These are not just standards. Common core is just one piece of a much larger education reform agenda. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Race to the Top grant, Race to the Top for Assessments, and No Child Left Behind Waiver all share the same 4 reform tenents. Namely, standards and assessment reforms, accountability a.k.a teacher/principal evaluations-school grading, data systems, and school turn around reforms.
2. The Common Core State Standards were created by the states, for the states. Utah adopted these standards in 2010, thus making them part of the Utah Core Standards.
“States” did not lead this effort. The National Governor’s Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) who led this process are non-governmental trade organizations who receive their funding from the federal government and private companies . Proponents of Common Core claim that President Obama is now trying to take credit for what the states started. While it is true that there has been a movement toward centralized/nationalized education for a long time, President Obama catapulted his vision of education reform on the states with enticements of Stimulus money and threats of losing Title I money. As noted in several states’ board meeting minutes and audio from spring of 2009, the States had been invited to develop national standards   by the US Dept. of Ed. Further, the NGA and CCSSO are not elected representative bodies and their meetings are not open to the public . This process is not compatible with those laid forth by our state or federal constitutions. According to the Utah Constitution, the only people who set standards that the Governor has the authority to help pick are the ones that go on the ballot for State School Board elections… not those who made up the privately-hired standards writing committee. State School Board members are elected to represent the will of the people of this state, not to represent the will of the NGA/CCSSO to the people of this state.
3. Utah and the nation’s economic strength depend on how well we educate our children to compete in a global economy. Utah teamed with other states to adopt evidence-based standards standards that will improve our economic standing in the world, both as a country and as a state.
A correlation between high student test scores (which is how states and countries are compared and ranked in education policy setting) and economic prosperity has never been empirically established: “Unfortunately for proponents of this empirically vapid argument it is well established that a rank on an international test of academic skills and knowledge does not have the power to predict future economic competitiveness and is otherwise meaningless for a host of reasons (Baker, 2007; Bracey, 2009; Tienken, 2008).”
4. The Common Core standards are internationally benchmarked to keep Utah students competitive in math and English language arts, not just with other students in the United States, but with students from around the world.
Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram, the only content experts who sat on the Common Core validation committee refused to sign off on the standards in part because no proof of international benchmarking was ever given. They asked for specific countries used and none were supplied. Their own comparisons with other nations led them to conclude that students following the CCSS would be two years behind their peers in countries with high test performance.
Additionally, in a March 2010 Massachusetts State Board Meeting Jason Zimba, one of the writers of the standards admitted that the standards were written to prepare students for a non-selective two-year college not a four year university.
In April James Milgram wrote a letter to a UT citizen for the State School Board and this is what he had to say about international benchmarking – “I can tell you that my main objection to the Core Standards, and the reason I didn’t sign off on them was that they did not match up to international expectations. They were at least 2 years behind the practices in the high achieving countries by the 7th grade, and, as a number of people have observed, only require partial understanding of what would be the content of normal, solid, course in Algebra I or Geometry. … They will not help our children match up to the students in the top foreign countries when it comes to being hired to top level jobs.”
5. The Utah State Board of Education controls the core for Utah and answers to no one but Utah voters on the issue.
The Utah State Board of Education answered to no one, especially not voters, in adopting the Common Core standards without publicity or public hearings. Just recently in the audio from the May 2nd board meeting where a resolution supporting Common Core was passed the comment was made, “This is just the beginning of really communicating the way we need to with the general public” and “we need to take our political messaging more seriously and consider it carefully”. We elect the board to listen and represent the people not the other way around.
In this same meeting when discussing the NCLB (No Child Left Behind) waiver standards options, their legal counsel told the board, “Option B clearly says that you need the approval and certification of those institutions of higher education. In my opinion that is delegating authority, which may be scrutinized. Cases with regard to delegation of constitutional authority that’s been constitutionally delegated is very fact specific.” Yet, this is exactly what happened with the Common Core when the State Board delegated their authority to the NGA who certified the standards as “rigorous and internationally benchmarked”.
A step as significant as nationally aligned standards, affecting almost every student in the country should have involved a thorough public vetting process.
6. Utah can utilize any standards it chooses at any time with no penalty or repercussions. States created the standards and any state can withdraw at any time without penalty.
Great news! Let’s get out!
We’ve never said we can’t get out but that we want out. The longer we go down the implementation road the more money we spend on these reforms and the harder it will be to get out.
Withdrawal would likely affect our ESEA flexibility waiver. We should demand true Congressional relief from No Child Left Behind.
7. The Utah Core Standards are minimum standards of expectations of what students should be learning at each grade level and states are free to add to these standards. In fact, the Utah State Board of Educationis already developing additional standards in cursive and handwriting to add to the English language arts core.
The Utah State Board of Education voted in August 2010 to adopt the copyrighted standards as written, in their entirety. States can add a small amount to the standards, up to 15%.
8. Nothing in Utah’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards promotes data mining of student’s personal information or other inappropriate use of student data. The Utah State Board of Education is committed to student and teacher privacy and will not share personally identifiable data.
Common standards has been the holy grail of researchers and data mining proponents for years as it greatly enhances the comparable sample size and the ability to compare data across states. One private education data mining company called the CC standards the “glue that ties everything together.” A state longitudinal student data system SLDS was another requirement of both the RttT grant program and the ESEA flexibility waiver. National, “student-level” longitudinal data (de-identified with a student number) instead of aggregate data, is the desired outcome of combining the SLDS with common standards. Making sure data is not “personally identifiable” is only one small safety measure and in no way addresses the many other privacy and policy concerns.
As stated under “fact #1″ Common Core is just one piece of a much larger education reform agenda. The State Fiscal Stabilization Fund, Race to the Top grant, Race to the Top for Assessments, and No Child Left Behind Waiver all share the same 4 reform tenents. Namely, standards and assessment reforms, accountability a.k.a teacher/principal evaluations-school grading, data systems, and school turn around reforms.
9. The Common Core is not a program, assessment system, data collection system, a curriculum, nor a federalization of state education programs. The Common Core is a set of standards – nothing more nor less than the Utah State Board of Education’s expectations for grade-level appropriate knowledge in core subjects. The determination on how to teach these standards rests solely with local schools.
The term “Common Core” specifically refers the standards that are an essential and most visible piece of a broader reform package that has no official name. As a result, the term is also often used (whether the Board condones it or not) to refer to the full package of reforms that were included in the federal incentives of RttT and the ESEA waiver, i.e. Common Core reforms, or Common Core agenda. Policy that affects our children should not be made without consideration to how each small piece interacts with all other factors. When those in the highest positions of authority over education don’t acknowlege the impact of nationally aligned standards in the overall context of other reforms such as data collection, unreviewable assessments, teacher accountability and school grading laws it is highly concerning and fosters a loss of confidence.
10. The standards are not one-size-fits all. Common Core standards for English and math are the same for states that adopt them, but local school districts, charters, principals, teachers and parents decide how these rigorous standards will be met. Standards do not mandate how teachers should teach of how students should learn–Utah will continue to innovate and share its successes with other states.
Standards generally determine what will be taught and in what order. Aligned tests, to which teacher pay is tied, have a more specific influence on curriculum. Practice standards, included in the CCSS, have been interpreted consistently to favor certain methods of teaching. The small sliver of local control over a narrowed selection of materials within the confines of the standards and assessments leaves little room for innovation.
Listen to what Bill Gates who has poured millions into the creation and promotion of CCSS has to say about the standards, assessments and aligned curriculum.
 http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf - due date page 2
 http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2010/06/02/33common.h29.html - Release date June 2
 http://www2.ed.gov/programs/racetothetop/executive-summary.pdf - page 2 UT applied for Phase 1 &2
After seeing the disturbing video of what the Utah State Office of Education has recommended for use in ELA 1st grade classrooms, Joan Landes, a masters level Clinical Mental Health Therapist licensed in the state of Utah, contacted us with some concerns. In this video she shares them with us. The people displayed at the bottom of the video are from left to right, Alisa Ellis, Christel Swasey, Joan Landes, and Renee Braddy.
First, a teacher comment we received this week:
“It just seems like a lose-lose all the way around.
It may interest you to know that all of us math teachers got an e-mail from Diana Suddreth (state math curriculum rep) about the attack that cc has come under in our state government. The e-mail was saying how concerned she was that the state reps are starting to listen to the parents and was asking for teachers state-wide to start speaking up for the core and defend it to our reps to let them know how great it is.
We here at ____________ got that e-mail and laughed out loud because it would seem a little funny to defend it when we’re on the side of the parents…
We have a storage room full of old Alg, Alg2, and Geometry textbooks that sit no longer in use because of cc.”
I want to be very clear about something right from the start. The anti-Common Core movement is not just about the standards. It’s about the entire nationalization/globalization agenda that goes along with it. However, this article serves to show the weakness of the Common Core math standards themselves and what it means for Utah students.
In 2007, Utah adopted new standards which were rated an A- by the Fordham Foundation. This was a big improvement over our prior standards which Fordham rated a D. They later rated the Common Core math standards an A- after receiving several hundred thousand dollars from the Gates Foundation to do a review. Money talks. The Gates Foundation is very interested in getting everyone on these standards, and so is the federal government. If you don’t know the connections, watch this video. In their analysis comparing Utah’s math standards and Common Core, they stated:
The Bottom Line
With some minor differences, Common Core and Utah both cover the essential content for a rigorous, K-12 mathematics program. Utah’s standards are briefly stated and usually clear, making them easier to read and follow than Common Core. In addition, the high school content is organized so that standards addressing specific topics, such as quadratic functions, are grouped together in a mathematically coherent way. The organization of the Common Core is more difficult to navigate, in part because standards dealing with related topics sometimes appear separately rather than together.
The chief weakness in Utah’s standards stems from the lack of specific content expectations in the development of arithmetic, and in the failure to make arithmetic a focus in the appropriate grades. Common Core provides admirable focus and explicitly requires standard methods and procedures, enhancements that would benefit Utah’s standards.
In other words, our 2007 standards were pretty good and could have used a little tweaking to make them stronger. If the USOE had actually implemented the external reviewer’s suggestions, we would probably have had some of the very best standards in America. Dr. Hung-Hsi Wu, math professor at Berkeley and Utah’s external reviewer of the 2007 standards, was shocked months after reviewing the final draft of our standards, that the USOE had failed to implement any of his recommendations. Commenting to the USOE he wrote:
“Nicole [Paulson at the USOE], Thank you for your courteous note. I can understand your consternation upon reading the quote in Jim Milgam’s letter of my reaction to the revised standards (incidentally, he quoted me correctly), but if you realize that I had taken for granted that most of what I recommended would be implemented, then you would also understand why I was so shocked when I was reluctantly made to read the revision.”
What followed was a list of several critical items that should have been included but the USOE left out. Why did they leave them out? It’s unknown for certain, but it is known that they hated the fact that we succeeded in making them raise Utah’s then D-rated standards. Standards are not a priority for the USOE, getting federal money was the driving incentive for applying for Race to the Top money where we agreed to adopt new untested Common Core standards, sight-unseen.
Dr. David Wright in the math department at BYU, was one of the few mathematicians that worked on the Utah 2007 math standards. I recently corresponded with him comparing where Utah was at with those standards, and where we are now with Common Core.
Under the 2007 standards, most students would take the following schedule of classes:
7th grade: pre-algebra
8th grade: algebra 1
9th grade: geometry
10th grade: algebra 2
11th grade: pre-calculus
12th grade: calculus
Some students who are well prepared could take algebra in 7th grade allowing them to accelerate. Some students, myself included when I was younger, double up and take geometry and algebra 2 together in order to accelerate. That option is no longer possible under the new integrated approach to Common Core.
Under the new Common Core standards, students get an integrated approach to math meaning there are no longer discrete years of math, but a blend of subject matter.
Math 7 (7th grade): contains some pre-algebra/algebra
Math 8 (8th grade): contains some algebra
Secondary Math 1 (9th grade): Finish some of algebra 1 and some geometry
Secondary Math 2 (10th grade): Finish algebra 1 and some Geometry and some algebra 2
Secondary Math 3 (11th grade): Finish algebra 2, geometry and some Pre-Calculus
AP Calculus: It is the hope of the USOE that students will be prepared for AP calculus without a year of pre-calculus. In reality, many students will struggle without precalculus.
According to Dr. Wright: “If you are not in honors Math 1 by ninth grade, the USOE does not see you prepared for calculus. Many students who take the honors Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3 would still be better off in pre-calculus instead of calculus because their algebra skills will not be good enough.”
Some students will be able to take Math 1 in 8th grade, if they accelerated early, but for most students they will either have to skip pre-calculus to take calculus in 12th grade, or take pre-calculus in 12th grade and wait till college for an authentic calculus course. Honors students get a little more content depth but no real acceleration to advance faster.
The problems of Common Core math in Utah are two-fold.
1) In spite of the Gates influenced Fordham grade of A-, Common Core sets the United States back from where we should be. The Common Core proponents used to tout how the standards were internationally benchmarked. That’s been proven false and those statements removed. Dr. Jim Milgram, Stanford math professor and the only professional mathematician on the validation committee, has written standards and worked with international standards for many years. Here are a couple of comments from him:
“The Common Core standards claim to be ‘benchmarked against the international standards’ but this phrase is meaningless. They are actually two or more years behind international expectations by eighth grade, and only fall further behind as they talk about grades 8-12. Indeed, they don’t even fully cover the material in a solid geometry course, or in the second year algebra course.”
“While the difference between these standards and those of the top states at the end of eighth grade is perhaps somewhat more than one year, the difference is more like two years when compared to the expectations of the high-achieving countries — particularly most of the nations of East Asia.”
2) The USOE is constructivist oriented. They told Utahns that we would have portability of students with other states as a feature of Common Core, but then adopted a different schedule of learning which will not allow for it. They did this to implement constructivist math across the state. Trainings by the USOE for teachers have included the nonsense that students don’t need to learn their times tables. Good teachers will ignore that, but the fact is, the USOE actively looks to promote this philosophy in their teacher training.
USOE constructivist curriculum on video: which do you want for your child?
The bottom line is, Common Core math is not internationally benchmarked, not going to prepare as many children for an authentic calculus class by the end of high school as our 2007 standards would, not allow for portability of students with other states because only Vermont adopted the integrated method with Utah, and the push for constructivism will further damage our children’s math skills and thinking. The best thing Utah could do is immediately go back to our 2007 standards, and implement the changes suggested by Dr. Wu, the external reviewer. Readopting those standards would be superior to Common Core and they would be honest Utah math standards.
If you have not been able to attend one of the Common Core presentations put on by our group, we taped Saturday night’s presentation by Renee Braddy, Alisa Ellis, and Christel Swasey. It’s just under 1 hour in length and gives a fantastic overview of the true Common Core agenda. Watch full screen for HD resolution.
Previously posted to this site is an article talking about the indoctrination coming to Common Core. Here’s the article for you to read if you missed it.
This post is going to demonstrate how the Utah State Office of Education is allowing social justice curriculum to move forward in schools. This is not only inappropriate, but immoral as well. It’s not good for education, family relationships, public discourse, or preserving our nations liberty.
Here are two videos.
The first demonstrates Common Core USOE recommended materials from Zaner-Bloser (if your children are using this, I would complain and get them off it now even if you need to homeschool). The second demonstrates some informational texts. Please share this post with your legislators and ask them to get us out of Common Core.
See below the videos for the USOE review of “Voices”. I didn’t post these this morning or I might have noticed the video has an error. On the video, it says the Voices books are Recommended Primary (meaning you can use it and nothing else to fulfill the Common Core Standards). Actually, they are Recommended Limited, for the reason below that the books aren’t broad enough to cover all the ELA standards so additional materials would be needed to supplement this.
From the state RIMS database:
Search Option: ISBN
Enter ISBN #: 9780736798808 (“Voices” Literature & Writing)
Voices Literature and Writing focuses on oral language and writing through teacher read-alouds. The entire year builds on a central theme divided into six units. Each unit has an essential question and ends in a culminating writing project with a built-in presentation component that lends itself to the oral language strand of the Common Core.
Teacher read-alouds are the base of this program. The discussions and questioning provided engage the students in the higher level thinking required for the Common Core. Vocabulary instruction and ELL support are included. A rubric is provided to assess discussions. Although the discussion piece is a strength, most of the resources were fiction where the Common Core requires a stronger nonfiction emphasis.
The writing instruction component includes a model, mini-lessons organized around the six traits, and grammar usage. A variety of writing types reinforce the expectations of the Common Core.
The assessment component consists of read-aloud tests, writing tests, and end of theme tests. The re-teaching provided is explicit, helpful and provides practice worksheets to reinforce the learning. The test generator provided allows you to build your own test, but the multiple choice questions are low level thinking and would not prepare students for the rigor of the Common Core testing. The essay questions are more effective but few in numbers.
The technology piece in this program is weak. It includes audio CDs for teacher read-alouds, teaching master CDs and the digital test generator.
Teacher materials are organized into readily accessible, durable boxes. There are no student materials.
This is recommended limited because it covers the speaking/listening and writing standards of the Common Core.
Enter ISBN #: 9780736799362 (“Voices” Leveled Library)
USOE Evaluation: Recommended Student Resource
Voices Leveled Library is set up to match the Voices Literature and Writing program but does not always correlate with the unit themes very well. The leveling is appropriate and accurate, but not always rigorous or engaging. Within each unit there were four paired leveled readers with a strong non-fiction emphasis. Most of the readers are well organized, with colorful graphics, maps and tables. The non-fiction is organized with a table of contents, a glossary and an index. Where there are a few comprehension questions, they are limited in scope and do not pertain to a particular comprehension strategy.
This library deals with a large collection of subjects in a variety of categories. It includes biographical and historical texts, folktales, historical accounts, and world events. It should be emphasized that readings in this collection are provided as examples to help students learn to read a variety of texts and to understand an author’s point of view or bias in both literary and informational readings. Teachers should take the time to become well-acquainted with each text in the collection and to help students understand the context for each. Some of the texts may deal with issues that may be thought to be controversial and reflect the political climate or stance of the author. It would be advisable to incorporate many of the readings within the context of social studies instruction, so that students will be able to perceive and analyze the historical significance of the text, discuss the concept of bias, and develop the ability to be critical consumers of information.
Several years ago I was involved in what has been called “The Math Wars”. Alpine School District had quit teaching the times tables, long division, and some other basic math skills, to children under the promise that a constructivist (ie. children need to construct their own knowledge) approach to math would deepen their skills. This was an abominable failure. Even at BYU where 2 math education professors got permission (by someone over the math department’s dead body) to teach a class of honors calculus to freshmen with this method. The result was a disaster. Honors calculus students measuring Dixie Cups with rulers while regular students were learning how to integrate. Predictably to everyone but those 2 professors teaching the constructivist class, their students scored below all 17 sections of non-honors calculus on the final exam. Their final defeat? Blame it on the test writer who had been creating the same test from the same objectives for years.
Unfortunately, with adoption of Common Core, the state of Utah took a bad idea that parents in Alpine School District hated, and decided to spread the love around the state. As parents slowly wake up to the horrors of constructivist math and wonder what happened to their child’s love of math, there will begin a new revolt that will bring tens of thousands of angry parents raining down on the heads of the state leadership.
Don’t believe me? Consider how upset a parent is when their child goes off to college with straight A’s in math and winds up in remedial math. At last look, UVU has a 70% remediation rate for incoming freshmen in math. In fact, it’s so bad, they don’t just have remedial math classes at UVU, they have a remedial math DEPARTMENT. SLCC has roughly the same percentage of remediation. That’s a pathetic waste of taxpayer dollars that when tens of thousands of students arrive they can’t do high school math and need remediation, and before someone suggests it’s because young people are arriving after serving LDS missions and have simply forgotten how to do math, that’s been examined and it’s a trivial reduction in the percentage.
Let me illustrate with a video. I recently sat down with an anonymous but very involved person in the Utah education arena, and reviewed a few books. Interactive math, Saxon math, and the Utah State Office of Education’s (USOE) own home grown math book. Watch the horror show demonstrating these textbooks and then read below.
Here’s what the state shows on their RIMS database for schools and districts to pick textbooks from. I’ll start with Saxon.
“Evaluation: Textbook review for Saxon Algebra I. Overall, the program matches the Utah Core Standards for Algebra 57.75%. The following is a breakdown of the evaluation by individual Utah Core Standards for Algebra I: …(removed specific line items for space…read it on the site) This program does not develop concepts for deep understanding. It provides few examples and the flow of the program is missing, very disjointed.“
If you didn’t watch the video, you’re missing out. Saxon is full of examples while the other programs have NONE.
This isn’t the first time I’ve witnessed a hit job on Saxon math (link 2). Saxon was developed by an Air Force Engineer turned educator and a few years ago when I evaluated the top 10 scoring schools in Utah for math on standardized exams, 7 of the 10 schools were using Saxon. It’s a great program that builds skills and depth of understanding. It’s the type of math most of us grew up on and that we can look in the textbook and remember how to do a problem and help our children. In short, it shows how to do a problem, explains the concept, and gives students an opportunity to practice what they learned so they can obtain mastery over the knowledge.
This non-traditional text approaches the study of mathematics through student-centered exploration and meaningful tasks. Teachers would begin the lesson by presenting the task for the day, and students and teachers would work on the tasks together as they develop their mathematical understanding of the topics. The format of this text encourages active learning of mathematics. Each unit in this text has a central problem or theme and focuses on several branches of mathematics including algebra, geometry, probability, graphing, statistics, and trigonometry using an integrated approach.
This text covers more than 80% of the 2012 Utah State Core Standards for Secondary I or Secondary I Honors.
Lessons consist of single-page individual or group tasks without traditional mathematical instruction or explanations. Mathematics is learned through the culture and practice that is developed within the classroom as students work on the various tasks.
Although topics are not easily~recognized by lesson titles, this text includes an index of mathematical ideas which makes it easier to find particular ideas. Problem sets are minimal but build depth of understanding. A nice glossary is included at the end of the text.”
There is no line-by-line evaluation of the shortcomings of Interactive Math as there is with Saxon. It’s pathetically obvious from looking through the book that it’s devoid of content and yet the reviewer, obviously a disciple of religious constructivism, announces this text will produce “depth of understanding” from minimal problem sets. This comic is worth 1,000 words.
Finally we come to the third book, the USOE’s own creation which is similar to Interactive Math and it’s constructivist approach.
This “textbook,” and I use that term very loosely since there is no instruction or examples, was also given a rating of “Recommended Primary” by the USOE. Convenient that you can rate your own product… It was developed by 5 school teachers, who as far as I know have no prior experience in writing textbooks, at least 3 of which are known constructivists, 2 from Alpine School District.
“Evaluation: The OER Secondary I textbook is designed to be an online textbook that may or may not be printed. The textboook will allow for future updates and improvements as well as teacher customization. The first edition of this online text addresses the first third of the 2012 Utah Core Standards for Secondary I Mathematics. The content of the text is accurate and represents the current research in mathematics. Each lesson begins with a task to help students develop an understanding of the core concepts to be learned. Teachers may need professional development to teach using tasks. There are extensive instructions and teacher notes to guide the teacher to teach each task. Some of the tasks have a lot of reading which may be challenging for ESL students. ~ The homework has three sections. The Ready section has problems that will help the student for upcoming concepts. The Set section contains practice problems for what is being developed in the current lesson. The Go section has problems that help students review concepts learned previously. The homework sets are not long and tedious so students can focus on what is being taught. ~ The Getting Ready Unit reviews ideas from previous courses that begin to connect the content that will be taught in Secondary I. This section may help during the transition to the~new core. ~ Each lesson begins with a task to help students develop an understanding of the core concepts to be learned. Teachers may need professional development to teach using tasks. There are extensive instructions to guide the teacher to teach each task. Many of the tasks have a lot of reading which may be challenging for ESL students. There are no materials at this time to address special educaiton students and ESL students. ~ There is an extensive section for parents that includes online resources such as the Kahn Academy videos and worked out examples of procedural problems. ~ ~ This book would require that teachers allow time for students to think and have a lot of discussion in the classroom.“
Wait a minute…this book relies on the Kahn Academy videos to teach procedures? That’s convenient. Lets write a textbook and say, “we just want depth of learning, you go somewhere else to learn HOW to do math.”
Require teachers to allow time for a lot of discussion? What if those students actually want to learn math and not have their peers discussing what they ate for lunch?
Now the big lie. Current research says there are NO studies that support constructivism. Dr. Jim Milgram, Stanford math professor who has been and may still currently be the only educator invited to serve on NASA’s advisory board, noted that if constructivist math were a success, NASA would be looking for students that went through that pedagogy. The fact is, BYU’s math education professors’ failure is typical of constructivist programs.
There is only one conclusion. Following the USOE’s math recommendations will kill STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) initiatives. All you business leaders and technology oriented professionals supporting Common Core are going to be in for a rude awakening as this machine destroys love of math, destroys math skills, and destroys any edge Utah has for technology…unless…
Utah must drop Common Core and restore local control. The USOE is hell-bent on constructivism and unless there is a major personnel change at the USOE, it’s going to rest on the shoulders of parents to take their children’s education into their own hands (literally), and leave those who can’t get the support at home to drown in fuzzy math.
In 2006 or so, Brett Moulding, state curriculum director at the USOE invited me to his office to ask a simple question. “Oak, you’re a parent who is very involved in your children’s education. How can we replicate that to other parents?”
“Easy,” I replied. “Just implement Investigations math statewide and you’ll have all the parental involvement you can handle.”
True story. I just had no idea they were going to take my suggestion literally. Parents, you may seriously want to consider The Great Escape…Homeschooling.