The latest scheme from the corporate reformers is that every state needs to adopt the Common Core standards.
Common Core is another idea manufactured by a powerful group of wealthy individuals in this country whose mission is making public education a profitable private enterprise while controlling which students go to which schools. In making their pleas, proponents state that adopting the high learning standards in the Common Core will increase student achievement and make our children globally competitive. Their well-financed and crafted campaign gives the public the impression that our public schools have inadequate learning standards or no learning standards at all.
As usual they have camouflaged their real motives under the guise of reforming our public schools. In telling their story, they are leading the public to believe that the Common Core standards are nothing more than standards.
The reality is that the Common Core is more than a set of standards. It is a curriculum and more senseless standardized testing that the corporate reformers want every public school to adopt and follow religiously. And there are also many serious concerns regarding these standards that are too lengthy to discuss in this article. Kindly consider those listed here, which I believe are the major flaws with the Common Core Standards.
I. The Common Core continues a reliance on standardized testing
Once again standardized testing is being held up as the magic bullet that will make our children smarter and teach them how to read. However the reality is that every major national and international professional research and education association opposes the way we use standardize testing in America especially Louisiana.
Jay Heubert professor at Columbia University stated that “One test does not improve learning any more than a thermometer cures a fever…we should be using these tests to get schools to teach more of what we want students to learn, not as a way to punish them.’’
For more than 20 years, we have used standardized testing. In fact, Louisiana tests more than any state in the country. Despite all of the money and time we have spent basically teaching the test to the children in Louisiana, our students continue to score poorly compared to other states and countries that don’t use standardized tests or use them in a limited fashion.
Now Common Core, the new standardized test, will test students in elementary school for seven hours to determine if they are proficient in reading and math. That is a long time when you consider that the seat time for the GRE (a test which students take to determine their readiness for graduate school) and the SAT testing for college admission are each three hours and 45 minutes.
II. The Common Core Standards are not grade appropriate.
Last school term, New York was one the few cities to begin the implementation of the Common Core. Principal Elizabeth Phillips of Public School 321 noted that Common Core tended “to push difficult academic skills to lower grades.”
She continued: “The Common Core Standards will require younger students to learn more at a quicker pace than they ever have before. With the increased rigor and higher level thinking skills, early childhood programs will become more rigid. Children as young as 8 were asked several questions that required rereading four different paragraphs and then deciding which one of those paragraphs best connected to a fifth paragraph. There was a strong emphasis on questions addressing the structure rather than the meaning of the texts. There were strikingly few passages that included urban settings. Most importantly, those of us who are professional educators cannot figure out why we need to test for three days to determine how well a child reads and writes.”
Problems with the grade appropriateness of the Common Core was also cited by Brookings Institution Scholar Tom Loveless, a national expert on this topic in a recent a research paper: “Predicting the Effect of Common Core Standards on Student Achievement.” In this paper, Loveless reviewed the research and assessed the chances of the Common Core Standards to make a difference. Loveless concluded that the Common Core is another big disappointment that we should have figured out a long time ago.
III. The Common Core Standards were not developed according to national and international standards.
There is a recognized protocol for writing standards, and the Common Core standards failed to comply with that protocol. In the United States, the principles of standards setting have been clearly spelled out by the American National Standards Institute. The Common Core Standards were hurriedly forced on states over a two-year period by an aggressive corporate-funded campaign; and for many states, it was a stipulation in their application for the federal Race to the Top grant. Some states, including Louisiana, adopted the Common Core sight unseen before they were written.
IV. Common Core Standards were written by and large by education profiteers.
The Common Core standards were not developed in a transparent manner. The standard-setting and writing of the standards included a significant number of people from the testing industry, but did not include a significant number of experienced teachers, subject-matter experts, and other educators from the outset, nor did it engage other informed and concerned interests, such as early childhood educators and educators of children with disabilities. There was no consensus process.
In a Washington Post article published on January 29, 2013 educators Marion Brady and John T. Spencer stated that the process for creating the new K-12 standards involved too little research, public dialogue or input from educators. They went on to state that nowhere is that more true than in the case of the early childhood standards.
The National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve, a private consulting firm, were all architects of the Common Core Standards. The Gates Foundation funded most of the development for the Common Core Standards to the tune of $160 million.
The standards were drafted largely behind closed doors by academics and assessment “experts,” many with ties to testing companies. Education Week blogger and science teacher Anthony Cody found that of the 25 individuals in the working groups charged with drafting the standards, six were associated with the test makers from the College Board, five with the test publishers of the ACT, and four with Achieve. Zero teachers were in the working groups. The feedback groups had 35 participants, almost all of who were university professors. Cody found one classroom teacher involved in the entire process.
According to noted teacher educator, Nancy Carlsson-Paige: “In all, there were 135 people on the review panels for the Common Core. Not a single one of them was a K–3 classroom teacher or early childhood professional.” Parents were missing entirely. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.”
V. The Common Core Standards have never been field tested.
The Common Core Standards were not piloted in any school or school district. In essence, proponents of the Common Core are asking every school district in the country to adopt the Common Core Standards without any proof or evidence that they will work.
Common Core is more of the same failed strategy that we have been following in America for more than 20 years. These Common Core Standards were written to benefit the education industry, not improve student learning. Even though the implementation the Common Core Standards won’t start till next school year we are already seeing signs of the profits that the education industry will make as a result of states adopting the Common Core. Pearson Inc., the largest education publisher in the world and also a group actively involved in writing the Common Core Standards, along with it’s non-profit sister company, Pearson Charitable Foundation, has agreed to pay a $7.7 million settlement to New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman after he determined that the foundation had created Common Core products to generate “tens of millions of dollars” for its corporate sister. After financing the creation of the Common Core Standards, the Gates Foundation has entered into a partnership with Pearson to produce a full set of K–12 courses aligned with the Common Core that will be marketed to schools across the country. Nearly every educational product now comes wrapped in the Common Core brand name.
The reality is that once again we are heading in the wrong direction by following a terrible plan to improve public education. Despite what the proponents say about how the Common Core will dramatically improve student achievement and will make our students globally competitive…….…DON’T BELIEVE IT!!