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Common Core State [sic] Standards

 

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    Won't Get Fooled Again? Reasons to Resist the Common Core
    Ohanian Comment: Outstanding, short summary of what's wrong with the experimental, risky, and destructive Common Core.


    The problem isn't the given content standards per se, but the very idea of such standards. [emphasis added] The lie that this will ensure that kids in a mobile society will not suffer from moving from district to district and state to state is so transparent that I'm shocked anyone serves it up seriously.


    by Michael Paul Goldenberg

    "Meet the new boss, Same as the old boss."


    This morning, Jean Schutt McTavish posted this on several education groups I follow on Facebook:

    "OK Facebook Friends. I have been asked to brief a mayoral candidate in NYC on the Common Core. I have some serious criticism, but I am interested in yours. My question of the morning is, "What are your top 3 (or more if you can't hold back) criticisms of the Common Core?"

    My response:


    1. It's a rigid, one-size fits all system that presumes to know now, for everyone, everywhere, what EVERY child "must" know in order to be successful in a rapidly-changing world in which the rate of change increases all the time. Such an approach is guaranteed to always be dramatically lagging behind the demands of reality, stifling creativity at every level imaginable, punishing those who dare to try to escape the centralization and conformity such an approach to anything inevitably brings.

    2. It is another doomed attempt to bring about meaningful change through a top-down, punitive system that will be badly misunderstood by many -- even if everything in it were good, which is far from the case -- and resented by those who for good reasons or bad view it as a wrong-headed path. Much research indicates that such reforms are fated to fail badly because few at the ground level were given a real voice in the process. Despite the propaganda that this is a state-led reform effort, it is in fact a federal one, supported primarily by corporate interests who are playing this opportunity for all it's worth -- new textbooks, new assessments, and new professional development all lining the pockets of the publishers and testing companies. And whether it succeeds or fails matters not -- they will profit greatly on this and will be ready to profit further when the next wave of change comes, innocently declaring that not they, but "the states" were the ones who brought this about.

    3. Regardless of the hype, at the ground level, teachers, administrators, and other key stake-holders believe that this is all about test scores. As long as that is the case (and it in fact IS the case in fact if not in theory), this reform effort will simply comprise another decade of game-playing in which kids, teachers, and learning will be sacrificed at the altar of high-stakes tests. Moreover, the computer-adaptive tests and the propaganda surrounding them are clearly NOT to the advantage of learners: they take away control of the testing process from the test-taker and completely put it into the hands of a computer. How can that possibly advantage the students? They can't go back to problems previously answered to revise answers that they gain insight about from questions asked later. They can't skip questions that baffle them initially and return to them when they choose, for whatever reason. The technology is designed to minimize the time for testing, reducing cost, appealing to students whose main desire is to be done with the process as quickly as they can, but at the price of losing their full opportunity to maximize their performance. As they are unlikely to understand this cost (just as parents, teachers, and administrators are unlikely to see it unless they have given a great deal of thought to how to excel on standardized tests), they will sell themselves out in the name of relief, little realizing (and for most, little caring) that the price they pay is so steep.

    Meanwhile, actual curricula will be force-fit into a rigid mold that makes no more sense than the molds that preceded it. The key difference, however, is that this mold is national, not state-by-state or local. So we put all our educational eggs into one basket instead of, potentially at least, thousands, and hope that we haven't picked an enormous loser. The odds that we have not are enormously against us.

    I could add much more, along with specific criticism of both the math and literacy standards, but that is almost beside the point. The problem isn't the given content standards per se, but the very idea of such standards. [emphasis added] The lie that this will ensure that kids in a mobile society will not suffer from moving from district to district and state to state is so transparent that I'm shocked anyone serves it up seriously. No matter what, there will be dramatic variations among classrooms in a given school, schools within a given district, and so forth. Teachers will still be making individual choices about how to teach and how fast to teach it. Departments will still choose what books to use (or not) and how to use them. Unless we're prepared to take the truly big step of nationally [requiring] actual curricular materials and pacing (a la Japan), the trivial variations locally are guaranteed to be dramatic ones for kids who move. Nothing short of nationalization of texts and pacing can prevent that. And any child can see that, if asked. Why are many highly-educated adults pretending otherwise?

    Any system that is fueled by so much transparent baloney is trying to hide something (most likely MANY things). The biggest is that this isn't something the public demanded or that states truly wanted. The public had no clue this was coming, and states signed on because from a financial perspective they had little choice. Money was dangled in ways that I doubt are constitutional, and those at the top in each state could see the implications. Of course the vast majority of states took the bait, fully-knowing that they were being hooked against their long-term interests. While a few resisted and a few more are now showing serious signs of buyers' remorse, the system is marching onward towards 2014-15, when the real hammer-blows of assessment will start to fall.

    The key to understanding what's going on, other than the obvious one of "follow the money," is to look at the actual way the assessments for 2014-15 are comprised. The highly-touted performance tasks that have the potential to make mathematics teachers really struggle with their classroom practice constitute a very small (and expensive to grade) percentage of these exams. Multiple-choice and short-answer items will still dominate, and so the process standards that precede the silly content standards will for the most part be ignored by generations of teachers who haven't the first clue about how to prepare students for such performance tasks nor the slightest inclination towards doing so.

    Out in the real world of high-needs communities and schools where I live, hardly any teachers have the time, the temperament, or the experience as learners to make the sorts of changes to mathematics teaching that those process standards call for. And unless the bulk of the assessments truly demand thoughtful understanding by students, classroom instruction will stay teacher-centered and computation-focused. And 10 years from 2014-15, we will hear the same complaints about our performance on international tests, the same call for tearing down public schools and handing them to market-driven companies, more "choice, and, of course, vouchers.. Little or nothing will change for the better, though much will have changed for the worse.

    We'll be fighting in the streets
    With our children at our feet
    And the morals that they worship will be gone
    And the men who spurred us on
    Sit in judgment of all wrong
    They decide and the shotgun sings the song

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    And I'll get on my knees and pray
    We don't get fooled again
    Don't get fooled again

    Change it had to come
    We knew it all along
    We were liberated from the fall that's all
    But the world looks just the same
    And history ain't changed
    'Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    And I'll get on my knees and pray
    We don't get fooled again
    No, no!

    I'll move myself and my family aside
    If we happen to be left half alive
    I'll get all my papers and smile at the sky
    For I know that the hypnotized never lie

    Do ya?


    There's nothing in the street
    Looks any different to me
    And the slogans are replaced, by-the-bye
    And the parting on the left
    Is now the parting on the right
    And the beards have all grown longer overnight

    I'll tip my hat to the new constitution
    Take a bow for the new revolution
    Smile and grin at the change all around me
    Pick up my guitar and play
    Just like yesterday
    Then I'll get on my knees and pray
    We don't get fooled again
    Don't get fooled again
    No, no!

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

    Meet the new boss
    Same as the old boss


    — Michael Paul Goldenberg
    Rational Math Ed blogspot
    February 09, 2013
    http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com/2013/02/wont-get-fooled-again-reasons-to-resist.html


    Index of Common Core [sic] Standards

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