Had to try an make this topic at least "look" a little more interesting. . .
Had to try an make this topic at least “look” a little more interesting. . .

If you are a teacher, you know what CCSS is, but for those of you who don’t let me give you a refresher from what I can recall off the top of my head. Forgive me if this is incomplete and feel free to fill in the blanks or correct me.

Some years ago

in a galaxy not so very far away

the NGA (National Governor’s Association)

with some funding from Bill Gates

and prodding by the US Department of Education

embarked on a journey

to develop a single set of “standards”

Standards that would be universal

across the 50 states

and miscellaneous territories.

This was intended to be grassroots,

educator lead process.

While the AFT (American Federation of Teachers)

lead by Randi Weingarten

has claimed to have been instrumental

in crafting these standards,

many AFT folks seem to disagree.

During the drafting process,

Corporate empires funded and usurped

much of the drafting of these standards

to institute a fierce regime

of high stakes testing

and to sell many new text books and tests

to unsuspecting districts

innocently adopting these standards

in the belief that they were doing so

for the good of “the children.”

Now that these standards have been created

and seem to be gaining Empirewide acceptance

Many groups across the political spectrum

would like to see the implementation of CCSS delayed,

in particular the attachment of high stakes testing and outcomes.

There seems to be some consensus

(although certainly not universal)

that this process was co-opted by Corporate interests,

that teachers nationwide are currently ill-prepared

to teach these standards,

and that introducing these standards midstream on students

may have discouraging or deleterious effects

(since they will not be phased in starting with lower grades

but introduced all at once,

regardless of whether students have been introduced

to much of the material they are expected to know in the higher grades.

It also seems to be widely accepted and anticipated

that there will be much testing involved

in verifying students are acquiring the skills

the CCSS lords dictate they learn.

This is where our story begins. . .

star-wars-poster_CCSS

The amount of testing may be subject to some debate, but the clear intent of developing a Common Core set of standards is for comparability of student achievement across the states.  It’s probably pretty hard to compare something, without measuring anything, so I’d say it’s a fairly reasonable guess that there will be much testing involved here.  If it is a significant amount it is pretty clear it will cut into instructional time and possibly have a negative impact on student achievement.  Testing companies are very excited about promoting these standards, because all this testing will mean big bucks for them.  Some of the problems I’ve seen mentioned about the tests developed to date (in a number of articles) are:  incorrect answers, multiple correct answers for non-multiple choice tests, and corporate product placement in exam questions such as: (if Tommy drinks an 8 oz. Coca Cola, and then eats 3 Doritos flavored Tacos from Taco Bell before cleaning his hands with some Johnson & Johnson wipes, how much will Pierson earn on the backend for including these products in their testing materials?)

Could the testing be limited to something reasonable and perhaps replace existing tests? Perhaps, but based on all the companies getting into the test prep and evaluation business and looking to market massive data intensive student and teacher evaluation tools like inBloom, Ed-Fi, Amplify, Wireless Generation, and others, the expectation of many vendors and investors is that this will be a enormous money making market going forward.

Non-public schools have adopted, or are planning to adopt CCSS too. Some non-pubs are resisting, but that may be a losing battle if these standards truly become widespread, and “standard” as any tests that might be used to compare their children to public children will eventually be geared towards verifying CCSS mastery, and without being taught this material at the right times. . .  well they probably won’t compare very favorably.

For the most part I have only heard negative comments and discourse about CCSS, but admittedly this may be related to the company I keep.  🙂  Some of the criticisms I’ve seen are that the math curriculum is light on the basic memorization of multiplication tables and practice, and heavy on the use of calculators and word problems. I’ve heard the math is very confusing and complex to children who are unprepared for learning this way, and that the math, particularly at the higher grade levels is typically less rigorous than most current math standards.  I’ve heard and read that the English curriculum is light on traditional literature, like your Beowulf, Hemingway, and Shakespeare and heavy on the non-fiction technical guides and historical non-fiction, particularly in the higher grades.  In Louisiana, many teachers have reported they are currently ill-prepared for CCSS, and that they and their students will be evaluated based on CCSS tests and teacher evaluations.  From what I’ve gathered preparation for teachers varies widely by school and school district and may be dependent on local resources and independent research done by teachers.

Here are some stories that have been sent to me:

Teacher of Calculus who helped to develop the math curriculum for the State of Louisiana has seen the Common Core math at the high school level and commented that they did not understand some of the changes made to the bullets.   Teacher will never teach the common core math and has decided to retire the year that it will be implemented in their grade level.

Teacher who is the head of the math department at their non-public Louisiana high school went to a common core math workshop two weeks ago.  Teacher found it to be not so different than the curriculum used at their school, but definitely inferior.

New teacher in Louisiana who just completed a masters education – taught first grade(Elementary) and quit after their first year of teaching.  They said the math consisted of questions and that there was no way that the kids were going to learn math this way – just talking about it.

Parent of student taught (common core math pilot in 4th and 5th grade in non-public school in Louisiana.)  It was presented all year long in the form of complicated word problems requiring many different skills.  The only problem was the kids were never taught the skills necessary to work the word problems.  Lattice multiplication and partial quotient methods were taught in lieu of traditional multiplication and division methods.  There is a video of M.J. McDermott illustrating these methods which was exact method student had .  One of the word problems they remember that child struggled with in 4th grade was  “If you borrowed $250,000,000 from the bank at 4 5/8 %  interest, what would be your payment the first month?  What would be your payment the 12th month?  The next leg of the problem included making a  minimum payment of $20,000 per month making it more complicated – I can’t remember exactly how it was worded. Why would they even want kids to think that it is o.k. to borrow large sums of money? It was just bad all the way around.

Similar story this past weekend in Florida – one mom of a 3rd grader said that she could not help her son with his math – in particular their problem was with partial quotients.  They believe “elite” private schools not adopting common core.

Now I’ve heard some people claim they actually like CCSS and have implemented it successfully.  The idea behind CCSS was developing a single set of rigorous standards that would be universally applied across the United States to make test scores and progress more comparable, to make textbooks more standardized, to retool the curriculum for something more 21st century appropriate, and to properly prepare students for college and career readiness.

How is this working out for you?

When providing an example or story please provide the following information:

  • Setting (Non-public/public)
  • State
  • how long you’ve employed or implemented stats
  • grade level taught
  • subject

You may choose to provide more information than this such as your name, school name, etc, but be aware that this is a public forum and there should b e no expectation of privacy.  If you have a superintendent and/or principal particularly gung-ho on CCSS, and you post something negative, there’s a good chance that will get back to them.

Feel free to post both positive or negative information, but please maintain a civil discourse.  I know this may seem like an absurd request coming from me, but every once in a while I like to moderate a civil discussion so people can feel free to express their feelings to investigate and understand a topic more thoroughly.  I am  not a teacher, nor are many of my readers, but many of us know teachers, parents or students so this should all be of some concern to some of us on some level.  I’d like to understand, and for my readers to understand, if there is a problem or problems, or if despite the dubious way this curriculum was conceived, it might turn out to be a net plus if properly resourced, applied and addressed.

May the Fourth be with you.

Happy Independence Day!

flag-fireworks

 

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12 thoughts on “Let’s talk about CCSS (Common Core State Standards) and the CCSS Wars

  1. I think it is working. I work in a smaller parish and we have strong support from our central office. The thing that is crazy is that we are rewriting our curriculum now but still don’t have a good idea of what PARCC will look like in 2 years. I am working on the 3rd grade math curriculum now, but feel like we will be doing this again next summer when we can get more info about PARCC.

    1. I looked this up, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, another new test in addition to any CCSS states end up giving. Can you tell us more of our state’s plans, implications, problems, etc?

  2. When psychology goes out the window, we end up with what I call a pop culture curriculum. However, unfortunately, I had to teach this curriculum to a variety of children. I knew when I started to teach the educational version of the South Beach Diet, many would fall off the wagon. I am a special education teacher of 35 years in a working/middle class neighborhood containing the children of many immigrants or what is called today English Language Learners.

    This last year, because of budget issues I had to cover a kindergarten class. I got out the standards, bought a CCSS Kindergarten workbook containing over 600 lessons and embarked upon lessons that a TFA mentor would love, but would leave Piaget speechless.

    About a month ago, following the curriculum, it was now time to teach Kindergarten students CCSS Standard L.K.6. It was time for these kids to use figurative language heard in stories to be used in everyday conversation. Here were twelve idioms that according to the expects every kindergarten student should know and be able to use in sentences:

    A dime a dozen
    A penny saved is a penny earned
    A piece of cake
    An arm and a leg
    Bite Your tongue
    Bend over backwards
    Break a leg
    Cross Your Fingers
    From Rags to Riches
    Go out a a limb
    A gut feeling
    Cry Wolf

    I spent ten minutes describing situations when you would Cry Wolf or have a gut feeling When I asked one student to use cry wolf in a sentence, his response was “I have cry wolf for a pet.” I had to go back to the drawing board–or in this case, a smart board. I ended up finding little animated stories illustrating these idioms as little, funny cartoons. Several students began to have a glimmering of understanding as to the meaning of this type of language. At least, I got them laughing–something that rarely happens in a class that once contained children playing, singing, and down right having fun. Yeah, in a period they did manage to somewhat understand three idioms–a little. However, to me, a little bit is still good enough for a bunch of ELL kindergarten students. By the way, as for my own kids, it never occurred to me to teach them such figurative language when they were five. But this lack of exposure somehow did not prevent them from graduating with honors from college.

    1. I noticed you work with special education students and ELL. I just saw this article (link below) regarding PARCC assessments and recommendations to focus more on students with disabilities & ELL students. Wondering what you thought?

      Thanks in advance!

      http://mobile.edweek.org/c.jsp?DISPATCHED=true&cid=25983841&item=http%3A%2F%2Fblogs.edweek.org%2Fedweek%2Flearning-the-language%2F2013%2F07%2Fells_need_more_attention_in_co.html%3Fcmp%3DSOC-SHR-TW

  3. Thank you for the forum! I do see many benefits of both LA Believes vision/plan and specifically CCSS! Although long, below is a link to examples on the culture encouraged in the LA Believes vision & how it has benefitted me in my work with students and educators; feedback from teachers & admin on benefits of CCSS; and how placing decisions through use of data and other information at local level (idea of removing regulations & increasing local autonomy) can have implications more differentiation of PD for educators and creation of school-created solutions to school-specific challenges.

    http://storify.com/rrm402/my-take-on-edreform.html

    Thanks again!!

    Rachel

  4. Education “reform” and Common Core are absolutely about corporate profits, not about the students. And “failing” schools are found only in failing communities of impoverished students. Your hopeful “it might turn out…..if resourced, applied and addressed” supposes that resources are being provided to implement CCSS. They are not.

    With Jindal LA public schools have seen a yearly decline in MFP funds while he has illegally channeled tax revenue into private and parochial schools, even to home-schooled students. The wingnut has pushed and signed laws which deliberately reduce state tax revenue such as one allowing a tax credit of $5000 for each student not in a public school. Even more damaging, HB969 allows individuals and corporations a (bottom line) tax credit on both federal and state levels in UNLIMITED AMOUNTS for “scholarship donations” to private and parochial schools–AND—requires the state to KICK BACK 90% of the “donations” to the donors.

    Devastating cuts require a reduction in teachers, support staff, paras, librarians and curriculum specialists. They reduce funds for buildings, maintenance and supplies. Cuts necessitate larger classes so students receive less individualized instruction. While subtracting millions in funds add new and unfair teacher assessments as we scramble to implement the latest corporate-driven experiment in education and you have a disaster.

    Qualified certified teachers are retiring in such numbers that the retirement system is back-logged for months. They are being replaced by TFA 5 week wonders who do not have the training, experience or (often) even a background in the subjects they teach. TFA teachers are cheap while the TFA corporate office is making millions as a hiring agency.

    Your article is about CCSS, the latest scam foisted on students and taxpayers. But CCSS is just a cog in the “education reform” wheel designed to produce maximum corporate profits in any area money can be made..book and test publishing, teacher placement, school administration, real estate……….

    1. Yes…right…my response was to original forum question re: how CCSS is working for educators. The article included parts related to culture shift at local level; CCSS and related trainings on CCSS; benefits of CCSS for teachers (e.g., flexibility, creativity) and for their students (e.g., engagement, excitement a/b learning).

      Assuming you’re right… and this is all about corporations, business, etc. and CCSS is just “a cog in the ‘education reform’ wheel”…if the adoption of the standards are helping teachers improve their skills (as reported by teachers); and teachers see their students responding positively, how is that bad? And what resources do you need for CCSS (mentioned in your reply)?

  5. Rachel, I plucked a different thread than yours, that of the original article, not your post about LA Believes, a treatise of bogus talking points and false statistics. I’ve seen John White’s dog and pony show and heard his lies. Having destroyed public schools in the NE, White, a 5-week TFA wonder himself, is paid well to implement privatization. While all state agencies are on the ropes White has added positions and hired large salaried carpet baggers.

    The best example of White’s bogus agenda is in Jefferson Parish where hundreds of thousands flowed into the last board race. The JPSB was stacked 5/4 with Jindalmen. Last year 7 “failing” schools in low income areas were closed. At the same time White offered an extra $200,000 per year for 6 years for any charter JPSB opened. That’s $1,200,000 available per corporate-owned charter, not available to public schools. Ask yourself why so much out of state money poured into the state to secure a majority on BESE, JPSB and other boards.

    CCSS “training” like all unfunded state mandates been implimented by school boards across the state without any support or funding while they are making across the board cuts to stay afloat.

    But to your assertions: CCSS is very proscribed as in the example of the idioms all 5 year olds must know. What is “flexible” or “creative” about that? Rather than being “engaged” and learning, students have been made to feel stupid, a recipe for shut-down, not engagement.

    1. Thanks for the input, Alicia. Can we try to make it less about the behind the scenes manuevering and corporate subterfuge, which I believe I’ve been pretty vocal about and more about flaws in CCSS curriculum and/or flaws CCSS addresses, or does not address with the Louisiana curriculum it is replacing? I recognize many districts were not prepared for this, which I believe is valid concern. For this topic I am less interested about motivations as I am trying to determine if their are specific deficiencies we can address in implementation and content, or if this is simply a bad idea. I think motivations are harder to prove or to bring consensus to than specifics about curriculum deficiencies, teaching methods and student engagement.

      I could be wrong, but I figured it was worth a shot. 🙂

      good info for my own additional research for another post though.

      Thanks for coming by and I hope we can continue this engagement for those that are for and against to see each others challenges and viewpoints. (Whether we agree with them all or not)

      I feel external forces are trying to drive a wedge in the educator community and discourage open discussion, content that they have upper hand and a lack of consensus or constructive dialogue and technical discourse means victory for them regardless of whether underlying issues are properly addressed.

  6. The site was misbehaving so to complete comments I’d like to send links to sites where you can read the truth, rather than the bogus talking points in LA Believes.

    mikedeshot@aol.com

    geauxteacher.net

    bayouduo@bellsouth.net (join this email group for current truths about ed “reform” by a school board member)

    saveourschoolsmarch.org/

    1. Thank you for the sites. Will check them out. I am not saying feedback on either side of CCSS debate is wrong or invalid. On the contrary, I think both views are very real & true to those that hold their views.

      My assertions come in part from teacher feedback; teachers whose classroom experience ranges from 1 year to 25+ years. My curiosity & subsequent focus are more about why there is a difference. Why are some teachers reporting positive benefits from CCSS training; making the shift to CCSS in their classroom; and seeing benefits in terms of their own professional development and student response in terms of increased engagement, excitement; level of learning; and attainment of skills? Are there training differences; is it a difference in varying views about the general Ed reform movement? What are the factors that contribute to these differences?

      The reason I am interested in this is because every teacher will be making this shift this year. Every student will be exposed to that shift. From my perspective, regardless of differing views about the entire Ed reform movement–maximizing what is working and maximizing benefit to teachers and students is important no matter what curricula or set of standards are adopted.

      Do you think data I provided in my article is false or are you referring to other stats? As for talking points…I assume you mean the principles I listed from the LA Believes vision (if I’m wrong a/b that, please correct me). My article represents one account of how I have interpreted those principles; used them in my professional work with teachers, students, admin, & families; and the results of that.

      Thank you!

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