#StopCommonCore Twitter Rally Part Deux

Parent Led Reform (@parentledreform) is graciously hosting our 2nd #StopCommonCore Twitter Rally.  Our follow-up rally is this Thursday, May 2nd at 9:00p (EDT)/8:00p (CDT). The #StopCommonCore Twitter Rally is a collaborative project in partnership with Truth In American Education (@TruthinAmEd), and designed to share the research diligently collected by parents and citizens concerned about the government’s push for national common standards in education.  This rally is an encore of the April 16th #StopCommonCore Twitter event, which reached 2,493,308 Twitter users.

“We are thrilled about the amazing turnout to share awareness of the concerns of Common Core Standards,” said Karin Piper, spokesperson for Parent Led Reform. “Parent Led Reform opposes a lock-step approach to education that takes the focus away from the student and decisions away from the parent and so pleased to work in collaboration with organizations, parents, educators and citizens across the country to share these concerns.”

“The last Twitter rally was amazing and we were thankful to be able to elevate the Common Core State Standards issue using this social media platform,” said Shane Vander Hart, a Truth in American Education advocate and blogger.  “It is important for parents and citizens to become informed about this under-the-radar revolution in education policy so they can make their voices heard with school boards, state legislatures and Congress.”

The #StopCommonCore Twitter Rally features a panel of experts who are planning on answering questions by the moderator, as well as taking live questions from Twitter users across the nation. The panelists are Shane Vander Hart (@shanevanderhart) of Truth in American Education, William Estrada (@will_estrada)  of Home School Legal Defense Association, Joy Pullmann (@joypullmann) of  Heartland Institute, Ben DeGrow (@BenDegrow) of the Independence Institute, and Emmett McGroarty (@approject) of American Principles Project .

This rally is also being supported by Pioneer Institute (@pioneerboston), Americans for Prosperity (@afphq), Heartland Institute (@heartlandinst), Independence Institute (@i2idotorg),  American Principles Project (@approject),  FreedomWorks (@FreedomWorks), and  Home School Legal Defense Association (@hslda).

You can participate in the Twitter Rally here or by just searching and using the hashtag #StopCommonCore.

Governor Deal Needs to Learn a Good Deal More About the Common Core

nathan-dealGovernor Nathan Deal (R-GA) is not sure why the Republican National Committee passed a resolution against the Common Core State Standards.  He believes they are a state-led effort and they make sense.

The Marietta Daily Journal reported Friday that Governor Deal was asked about the Common Core State Standards at a bill signing in Cobb County.  His remarks:

I think the misconception is that this was federally imposed on the state of Georgia and on the other states, and I think all but maybe one or two actually have subscribed to the Common Core…

The federal government did not mandate it, they did not control it, they did not dictate its content.  I think there is also a misunderstanding between the Common Core standards, which simply says these are the things that a student needs to know or be able to do at certain grade levels in their school progress, as opposed to a Common Core curriculum, whereby you dictate what is taught. That is not the case here, so I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about what the Common Core does.

And we have been somewhat the victim I think in the past of our textbooks, and our material has generally all been dictated by the three large states that had the most student population, the New York, and the Texas and the Californians, and each of those states had standards that were different than the state of Georgia.  So what we are currently doing with (Criterion Referenced Competency Tests) is testing them to a standard, and many times the material that has been available to the teachers and to the students is material that is written to the standards of another state. So this is an effort to try to get it all on the same track. I think that’s the effort that we should continue to follow.

Until somebody can show me a reason for deviating from it, and I think anytime you take major action like that, you have to have a good justification for it.

I think Governor Deal needs to learn a great deal more (pun intended) about the Common Core instead of the NGA talking points.  First off if Georgia wanted Race to the Top money or a NCLB waiver they did have to adopt them.  Secondly they were pushing the Common Core above any other standards as you can see below from this excerpt in the Race to the Top application:

Reviewer Guidance Specific to (B)(1)(i)(b) – Significant Number of States:
. “High” points for significant number of States are earned if the consortium includes a majority of the States in the country.

If there were other consortiums that fit the bill then Governor Deal would have a point, but that wasn’t the case.  Also I find it interesting that Governor Deal made no mention about the PARCC consortium that Georgia is a part of which is funded by the Feds.  They’ve also set up a review committee for the assessments.

That’s not federal control?  Yes we recognize that standards are not curriculum, but assessments and standards drive curriculum.  He complains about other states dictating to Georgia what text books are available.  The ironic thing is he is complicit in helping to create a text book monopoly which will make if difficult for states that do not implement the Common Core, private schools and even homeschoolers to find materials not aligned to the Common Core.

As far as having a good justification – what, the fact they were never field tested isn’t enough?  The fact it will cost Georgia an additional $30 million per year to implement the PARCC assessments isn’t justification enough?  Concern about the quality of the standards themselves isn’t enough?  Then there’s the simple fact his legislature was bypassed in the decision-making process or does he not believe in the constitutional system of checks and balances?

What will convince him?  A generation of students who graduate with a subpar education all in the name of “common standards”?

Photo credit: Richard Lacey via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Girl Scout Badges Align with the Common Core

girl-scouts-logoYes, you read that headline right.  From the Girl Scout website as reported by Answer Sheet:

The Web site says:

The Common Core Standards, developed and approved in 2010 by a bipartisan group of governors and educators, provide a shared framework for learning and teaching objectives specifically for English Language Arts and Mathematics for most US students. The 21st Century Skills standards focus on blending subject-skills with life and career skills; information, media, and technology skills; and other key skills necessary to develop multidimensional abilities to succeed in the new century. Financial Literacystandards correlate to national personal finance education.

If you select Girl Scout Badges, Brownies Level, and  Common Core Standards, the Web site gives this summary:

BROWNIE: Legacy Badges

Summary: As a Brownie, girls can earn seven Legacy badges: Painting, Fair Play, Celebrating Community, Snacks, Brownie First Aid, Brownie Girl Scout Way, and Bugs. The following Standards are applied when girls earn these badges:

Then it lists the standards that apply to the badges. For example:

STANDARD L.2.6. Use words and phrases acquired through conversations, reading and being read to, and responding to texts, including using adjectives and adverbs to describe (e.g., When other kids are happy that makes me happy).

Oy vey…

It’s Not Too Late for Kansans to Fight the Common Core

Kansas-State-Capitol

Kansans Against Common Core sent me an update over the weekend about efforts to revive HB 2289 that was shot down in the Kansas House Committee on Education back in March.

Senator Susan Wagle, President of the Senate has stated her opposition to Common Core at a presentation she gave on Friday.

This is good news! There is still a possibility of stopping CC in Kansas before the session ends in May, but it is very important that we are calling, writing, emailing and being present at BOE meetings, Town Halls, and other events – at both your local community level and the state level.

PLEASE contact Senator Wagle and the Senate Education Committee members. Ask them to pass HB2289 (even though it didn’t make it out of committee in March, it can be voted on to reconsider) and to defund CC in May.
Here is the contact information:

Senator Susan Wagle, President of the Senate
Phone (785)296-2419 Email susan.wagle@senate.ks.gov

*Aly Rodee, Communications Director
Phone (316)207-8972 Email aly.rodee@senate.ks.gov

*Aly has kindly agreed to compile a list of contacts and present the directly to Sen. Wagle.

Kansas Senate Education Committee Members

Sen. Abrams
Phone (785)296-7381
Email steve.abrams@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Arpke
Phone (785)296-7369
Email tom.arpke@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Hensley
Phone (785)296-3245
Email anthony.hensley@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Kerschen
Phone (785)296-7353
Email dan.kerschen@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Melcher
Phone (785)296-7301
Email jeff.melcher@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Ostmeyer
Phone (785)296-7399
Email ralph.ostmeyer@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Pettey
Phone (785)296-7375
Email pat.pettey@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Pyle
Phone (785)296-7379
Email dennis.pyle@senate.ks.gov

Sen. V. Schmidt
Phone (785)296-7374
Email vicki.schmidt@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Tyson
Phone (785)296-6838
Email caryn.tyson@senate.ks.gov

Sen. Wolf
Phone (785)296-7390
Email kay.wolf@senate.ks.gov

PLEASE contact the House Education Committee. The contact information is listed below, and the three Representatives that are the most important for contacting are marked *.

Rep. Boldra
Phone (785)296-4683
Email sue.boldra@house.ks.gov

Rep. Bradford
Phone (785)296-7653
Email john.bradford@house.ks.gov

Rep. Bridges
Phone (785)296-7646
Email carolyn.bridges@house.ks.gov

*Rep. Cassidy
Phone (785)296-7616 or (785)332-2850
Email ward.cassidy@house.ks.gov or wardmcassidy@gmail.com

Rep. Dierks
Phone (785)296-7642
Email diana.dierks@house.ks.gov

Rep. Dove
Phone (785)296-7670
Email willie.dove@house.ks.gov

Rep. Ewy
Phone (785)296-7105
Email john.ewy@house.ks.gov

Rep. Gandhi
Phone (785)296-7672
Email shanti.gandhi@house.ks.gov

*Rep. Grosserode
Phone (785)296-7659 or (913)438-2870
Email amanda.grosserode@house.ks.gov or amanda@amanda4kansas.com

Rep. Hedke
Phone (785)296-7699
Email dennis.hedke@house.ks.gov

Rep. Highland
Phone (785)296-7310
Email ron.highland@house.ks.gov

Rep. Houston
Phone (785)296-7652
Email roderick.houston@house.ks.gov

Rep. Kelley
Phone (785)296-7671
Email kasha.kelley@house.ks.gov

Rep. Lunn
Phone (785)296-7675
Email jerry.lunn@house.ks.gov

Rep. Lusk
Phone (785)296-7651
Email nancy.lusk@house.ks.gov

*Rep. Meigs or (913)631-3723
Phone (785)296-7656
Email kelly.meigs@house.ks.gov or krmeigs@live.com

Rep. Rooker
Phone (785)296-7686
Email melissa.rooker@house.ks.gov

Rep. Trimmer
Phone (785)296-7686
Email ed.trimmer@house.ks.gov

Rep. Winn
Phone (785)296-7657
Email valdenia.winn@house.ks.gov

They are also having a rally on May 8th at 11:00a at the Kansas Capitol Building.

Photo credit: Holley St. Germain via Flickr (CC-By-NC-SA 2.0)

Common Core “Time Out” Bill Passes Indiana House, Governor Pence is Next

A quick update.  The Indiana House of Representatives voted to pass HB 1427 on a 53 to 42 vote.  This puts the implementation of the Common Core on hold until a fiscal impact study is done and the State Board of Education holds a public hearing in each Congressional District.

Now it goes to Governor Mike Pence.  We are watching Governor.

Indiana’s Common Core Pause Up for a Final Vote

indiana-state-capitol-domeGood news in Indiana the language halting further implementation of the Common Core State Standards has made it out of a conference committee and  will be up for a final vote in each chamber and then hopefully will land on Governor Mike Pence’s desk.

From State Impact Indiana:

After lawmakers resolved differences between the Indiana House’s and Senate’s respective versions of a lengthy piece of education legislation, language halting implementation of the Common Core academic standards in Indiana schools made it through conference committee Thursday.

While House Speaker Brian Bosma’s Wednesday announcement he supported the “pause” proposal makes this news somewhat less surprising, it essentially means opponents of the nationally-crafted standards have pulled off an improbable end-run around Common Core supporters (go Erin and Heather!).

As it emerged from conference, House Bill 1427 prevents schools from doing any further work to implement the standards in their classrooms pending public meetings on the Common Core, a legislative review and a study of the standards’ fiscal impact.

“Shining the light of day on [the standards] and opening it up for folks to have a lot of input, for teachers and parents to have input, for educators to have input — I think is a positive step,” Sen. Scott Schneider, R-Indianapolis, told IPBS statehouse reporter Brandon Smith.

This explains the shrill protesting we’ve heard from the Indiana Chamber of Commerce and DFER Indiana.

Photo credit: Jimmy Emerson via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Kills Anti-Common Core Bill

alabama-state-capitolThe Alabama Anti-Common Core bill dies, more accurately was killed by a State Senator who is confused.

EdWeek reports:

First, the legislative news. The Alabama Senate President Pro Tem, Del Marsh, a Republican, announced that he would not entertain any bills pertaining to the common core for a full Senate vote. That means Senate Bill 403, which passed the Senate Education Committee and would have required the state to drop the standards, has gone belly-up. Marsh’s announcement comes the day after a rally, reportedly consisting of about 300 people, at the capital, during which educators and others urged state lawmakers not to drop the standards.

For someone who killed a fellow Republican’s bill, Marsh had an interesting comment when discussing why he won’t give the bill any oxygen: “I truly have talked to educated people on both sides of this issue and I can’t tell who’s telling the truth … I have talked to people on both sides of this issue who make sense.”

Marsh said the issue could come up during next year’s legislative session. But GOP Sen. Scott Beason, who introduced Senate Bill 403, was fuming after Marsh’s decision, saying his “disappointment is unbelievable.” He added that Marsh initially told him that the bill would get a chance in front of the full Senate, only to see Marsh kill it. Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican, has previously voted at the state Board of Education to drop the common core, but state Superintendent Tommy Bice supports it.

So because you can’t tell “who is telling the truth” you don’t let your members decide?  That’s his reason?  Isn’t this why it goes through the committee process and why you have debate?  One person’s confusion, albeit the Senate President Pro Tem,  leads to a bill getting dropped?

He said it can be picked back up next year, but that may be too late.  No a wishy washy position is essentially a position for the Common Core and that is something voters in his district should remember.

Photo credit: Jim Bowen via Flickr (CC By 2.0)

CCSSO Releases C3 Framework for Social Studies State Standards

imageEarlier this month the Council of Chief State School Officers released the draft of the “College, Career and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards.  I just got my hands on a copy yesterday and skimmed through it.

It focuses on civics, economics, geography and history.  States involved in the project are: Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

It is unclear what state involvement in the creation of Social Studies standards means for future implementation.  I’m not certain whether these states signed an Memorandum of Understanding similar to what they did with the Common Core State Standards.  You can see that some of the same players are involved as associate members, such as, Pearson.  It is heavily tied into the Common Core ELA standards which was expected.

Having skimmed through this my primary concern is the encouragement of civic and political activism.  While on its face that isn’t a bad thing, but I have to wonder what is encouraged.  I saw where potential indoctrination could occur within the Civics section.  I have little hope from what I’ve seen from progressive elements within public education that this won’t be the case.  The task force of professional organizations related to this gives me little hope for ideological diversity and I  while I don’t know for certain looking at the writing team (pg. 8) I am doubtful it exists there as well.

I noticed that on pg. 29 it is mentioned we live in a constitutional democracy when in fact we live in a constitutional republic.  It is troubling that those writing this document couldn’t get something as basic as that right.

Pg. 18 points out their definition of an “active and responsible citizen” which appears to be what they hope the “product” of these standards will be:

Active and responsible citizens identify and analyze public problems; deliberate with other people about how to define and address issues; take constructive, collaborative action; reflect on their actions; create and sustain groups; and influence institutions both large and small. They vote, serve on juries, follow the news and current events, and participate in voluntary groups and efforts. Teaching students to act in these ways—as citizens—significantly enhances preparation for college and career. Many of the same skills that are needed for active and responsible citizenship—working effectively with other people, deliberating and reasoning quantitatively about issues, following the news, and forming and sustaining groups—are also crucial to success in the 21st century workplace and in college. Individual mastery of content often no longer suffices; students should also develop the capacity to work together to apply knowledge to real problems. Thus, a rich social studies education is an education for college, career, and civic life.

Discussion of “Applying Civic Virtues and Democratic Principles” (pgs. 31-32) also raise a red flag for me.  They define Democratic principles in their glossary on pg. 70 as “the fundamental ideas and ideals expressed in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and other early influential documents.”

That’s fine, but then one of the goals is “describe democratic principles such as equality and fairness.”  Also what do they consider a “human right” that isn’t a “constitutional right”?

Anyway, my intent here is not to provide an in-depth review, but share a couple of thoughts after skimming through this document.  I’m sure many questions will be asked and the final product will look different.  Please take the time to read through the framework below and share your thoughts.

The College, Career, and Civic Life (C3) Framework for Social Studies State Standards

Common Core Standards for Mathematical Practice (Part I)

math-chalkboardThis is Part One of a three part article which provides the description of each of the Standards for Mathematical Practice as written in the Common Core math standards. It discusses aspects of each SMP that can be interpreted along conventional or traditional approaches to math teaching and contrasts this with how each one may be implemented under the math reform interpretation.

The Common Core Standards for math are a set of guidelines written for both math and English language arts under the auspices of National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Where they are adopted, the Common Core standards will replace state standards in these subject areas, establishing more common ground for schools nationwide.

The Standards of Mathematical Practice (SMP) are a part of the Common Core math standards.  On the surface, and to those unaware of underlying concerns and issues, the SMPs appear reasonable. They are process standards, which address the “habits of mind” of mathematics that are tied to the content standards.   The term “habits of mind” comes up repeatedly in discussions about education — and math education in particular. The idea that teaching the “habits of mind” that make up algebraic thinking in advance of learning algebra or other topics has attracted its share of followers.  Habits of mind make sense when the habits arise naturally out of the material being learned.

Thus, a habit such as “Say in your head what you are doing whenever you are doing mathwill have different forms depending on what is being taught. In elementary math it might be “One third of six is two”; in algebra “Combining like terms 3x and 4x gives me 7x”; in geometry “Linear pairs add to 180, therefore 2x + (x +30) = 180”.  Similarly, in fifth or sixth grade, students can learn to use the distributive property to multiply 57 x 3 as 3 x (50 + 7). In algebra, that habit expresses itself more formally: a(b + c) = ab + ac.  But developing “habits of mind” outside of the context of the material being learned is like the Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland. Such approach forces students to consider a grin well before they are presented with the cat associated with it.

And yet, this is how the SMP are being interpreted.  Based on statements made by school officials and others in education, it appears that the Common Core math standards in general, and the SMP in particular are following the tenets of the math reform ideology that has gained momentum over the last two decades.  In fact, a glance at the agendas of professional development seminars that are being given to teachers on implementing Common Core spend much if not the majority of time on the SMP rather than the content standards themselves.   In fact, the connection between the SMP and the content standards is made clear in the Common Core standards document itself:

The Standards for Mathematical Content are a balanced combination of procedure and understanding. Expectations that begin with the word “understand” are often especially good opportunities to connect the practices to the content. Students who lack understanding of a topic may rely on procedures too heavily.  (See  Connecting the Standards for Mathematical Practice to the Standards for Mathematical Content:http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice )

Such explanation plays into an ongoing interpretation of the Common Core standards that downplays the importance of procedures and algorithmic efficiency in the name of “understanding”. The unrelenting search for “understanding” in the teaching of mathematics has often trumps the procedural skills and problem solving techniques that lead to such understanding in the first place.  The tension between “understanding” and procedural fluency is one of several significant tensions between two philosophies in math teaching which for lack of better terminology, I will call the “traditional” mode and the “reform math” mode.  The tensions between the two groups who practice and advocate each type have come to be known as “the math wars”.

Among those in the reform math area, there has been a push to interpret the SMPs along reform math ideologies that push certain mathematical “habits of mind” outside of the context in which such habits are learned, as well as a predominate use of collaborative group work and inquiry-based learning.  This article provides the description of each SMP as written in the Common Core math standards. (http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Practice)   It discusses aspects of each SMP that can be interpreted along conventional or traditional approaches to math teaching and contrasts this with how each one may be implemented under the math reform interpretation.

SMP 1:  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

Mathematically proficient students start by explaining to themselves the meaning of a problem and looking for entry points to its solution. They analyze givens, constraints, relationships, and goals. They make conjectures about the form and meaning of the solution and plan a solution pathway rather than simply jumping into a solution attempt. They consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution. They monitor and evaluate their progress and change course if necessary. Older students might, depending on the context of the problem, transform algebraic expressions or change the viewing window on their graphing calculator to get the information they need. Mathematically proficient students can explain correspondences between equations, verbal descriptions, tables, and graphs or draw diagrams of important features and relationships, graph data, and search for regularity or trends. Younger students might rely on using concrete objects or pictures to help conceptualize and solve a problem. Mathematically proficient students check their answers to problems using a different method, and they continually ask themselves, “Does this make sense?” They can understand the approaches of others to solving complex problems and identify correspondences between different approaches.

The SMP writeup describes a problem solving mind-set as well as a variety of problem solving strategies that students should have. It is important to realize that the goal of this SMP comes about after years of experience and practice.  The ability to solve problems and think mathematically develops over time.  Problem solving cannot be taught directly; rather, it is based on mastery of many basic skills.  (See (http://www.ams.org/notices/201010/rtx101001303p.pdf )

Requisite for learning how to solve problems is an explanation of how specific types of problems are solved using worked examples and practice with routine problems.  A set of problems can then escalate in difficulty through careful scaffolding: i.e., by changing aspects of the problem so that students must apply their knowledge of the basic procedure to new forms of the problem.  In this way homework is not just a set of repetitive “exercises”.  Students progress from simple routine problems to those which increase in complexity and are non-routine.   The non-routine problems can then be extended into even more challenging problems.  Such challenging problems should definitely be given but students must be able to use prior knowledge of skills and procedures in solving them.  The goal of math teaching is to provide sufficient opportunities to apply skills and knowledge so that students know how to turn “problems” into routine exercises.

While the approach described above is a sensible and effective interpretation of this SMP, the reform math ideology that is dominating Common Core implementation is likely to reject it.  That philosophy is to regard math as some sort of magical thinking process.  It holds that “understanding” the problem and seeing the big picture is math, while the mechanics of problem solving are just a rote afterthought.  Worked examples and routine problems are generally disparaged as “non-thinking” and “routine achievement”. The reform approach usually manifests itself as giving students a steady diet of “challenging problems” in an effort to build up a problem solving habit of mind that is sometimes referred to as “sense-making”.  Such approach does not accomplish this, however.  Instead, the constant pursuit of “challenging problems” stands in the way of developing fluency with certain classes of problems and building on what one already knows.

The description of this SMP also states that students “consider analogous problems, and try special cases and simpler forms of the original problem in order to gain insight into its solution.”  Such strategy comes from Polya’s classic advice on problem solving.  Students are told Polya’s rules for problem solving at early ages before such rules even make sense.  Polya intended his approach for upper level high school, and college students.  For lower grade students, Polya’s advice is not self-executing and has about the same effect as providing advice on safe bicycle riding by telling a child to “be careful”. For younger students to find simpler problems, they must receive explicit guidance from a teacher–i.e., the teacher often must provide the simpler problem for the student to then use as a template for solving the more difficult one.

SMP 2:  Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

Mathematically proficient students make sense of quantities and their relationships in problem situations. They bring two complementary abilities to bear on problems involving quantitative relationships: the ability to decontextualize—to abstract a given situation and represent it symbolically and manipulate the representing symbols as if they have a life of their own, without necessarily attending to their referents—and the ability to contextualize, to pause as needed during the manipulation process in order to probe into the referents for the symbols involved. Quantitative reasoning entails habits of creating a coherent representation of the problem at hand; considering the units involved; attending to the meaning of quantities, not just how to compute them; and knowing and flexibly using different properties of operations and objects.

Like most of the SMPs, this one is a habit of mind.  The SMP promotes developing habits of mind used in abstract and quantitative reasoning.  It is not directly teachable, however.  Rather, it arises from the practice and mastery of specific mathematical skills and procedures.  Thus, one way to interpret this SMP is to provide students with sufficient instruction and practice in complex, multi-step problems that are appropriate to the class in which they are given.

While abstract and quantitative reasoning are important goals of algebraic thinking, the SMP opens itself up to the prevalent belief in the reform math camp that students can be taught various algebraic habits of mind outside of an actual algebra course.   An example of this type of thinking can be seen in a certain type of problem presented to students in early grades.  For example, the students are shown pictorial problems like black and white beads in a numbered series of growing sequential patterns.  The problem shows the first three patterns and asks students to predict the number of white beads in pattern 5, say.  Students in fifth grade have not yet learned how to represent equations using algebra.  Also, the problem is more of an IQ test than an exercise in math ability. Furthermore, such problems ignore the deductive nature of mathematics. An unintended habit of mind from such problem is to encourage inductive type reasoning.  Students then learn the habit of jumping to conclusions once they identify a pattern, thinking nothing further needs to be done.

Presenting problems outside of a pre-algebra or algebra course which require algebra to solve will likely result in clumsy attempts at solutions that may or may not lead to algebraic thinking. Algebraic thinking is not inherent at such a stage. But there is a big transition that students of these methods will have to make when moving to high school math which is still mostly taught traditionally. Students who use the inductive grade school understandings for the simple part simply can’t make the leap to complex. They see no need to learn actual “algebra” for easy problems because the old understanding works and they can do the problems in their heads.  They cannot, however, solve 2/3(6x + 24) = -3(x – 1) in their heads.  Many such students give up in frustration.

Read part II and part III.

Originally published in Education News (republished with permission of the author)

Photo credit: Alice Daer via Flickr (CC-By-NC 2.0)

Is the Common Core in Trouble?

That is a question asked by Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog.  She writes:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently met with Chamber of Commerce leaders and urged them to be more vocal and forceful in defending the Common Core State Standards. Why?

Duncan made the appeal, which was reported by Education Week, because the initiative — a set of common standards adopted by 45 states and the District of Columbia designed to raise student achievement — has come under such withering attack in recent months that what once seemed like a major policy success for the Obama administration now looks troubled.

A handful of states (including Indiana, Alabama, South Dakota and Georgia) are either pulling back or considering it, and core supporters fear more states will too.  A growing number of educators are complaining that states have done a poor job implementing the standards and are pushing core-aligned tests on students too early. And parents have started a campaign to “opt” their children out of the Common Core-aligned high-stakes standardized tests.

She then mentions the RNC resolution  which helped resurrect an Alabama bill,  See also mentioned Senator Grassley’s move to defund the Common Core and that it has bipartisan opposition.

Just today the Michigan House just voted to defund the Common Core.  The Indiana Senate passed a measure to slow down the implementation (twice actually!).  The Indiana House and Governor Mike Pence are under pressure to act.

All of this must have lead the Indiana Chamber of Commerce to act with this smear campaign for a blog post.

Two moms from Indianapolis, a handful of their friends and a couple dozen small but vocal Tea Party groups. That’s the entire Indiana movement that is advocating for a halt to the Common Core State Standards. No educational backgrounds. No track record of supporting education reforms or any other past education issues. And worst of all: A demonstrated willingness to say just about anything, no matter how unsubstantiated or blatantly false, to advocate their cause.

Meanwhile, the policy that they are attacking was implemented by former Gov. Mitch Daniels, then State Superintendent Tony Bennett, the Indiana Education Roundtable and the State Board of Education. To date, 45 other states have also adopted it. Common Core has been supported by superintendents, school boards, Indiana’s Catholic and other private schools, principals, teachers unions, the Indiana PTA, various education reform groups, higher education and more. The business community is actively engaged, including strong support from the Indiana Chamber, Eli Lilly, Cummins, Dow AgroSciences, IU Health and many others.

Can you say elitist snob?  Perhaps many educators are not speaking out because they are encouraged told not to.  They also fail to mention the person who unseated Tony Bennett – Glenda Ritz – has stated opposition to the Common Core.

Also I’d love to know exactly what they claim to be blatantly false?  See we are pretty good at referencing our claims about the Common Core.  Those who advocate for it, not so much.

Also while we are on the subject of truth then the Indiana Chamber of Commerce should tell the truth about who is funding the Common Core and the reviews of it – the Gates Foundation.

Sad.  The Common Core is in trouble and Arne Duncan, and it would seem the Indiana Chamber of Commerce, are getting desperate.