Indiana Pulling Away From PARCC

indiana_flag_mapIndiana is reducing its participation with PARCC.

State Impact Indiana reports:

As a governing state in the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, Indiana gets a seat at the table. But no one from the Department of Education has attended a PARCC governing board meeting since Superintendent Glenda Ritz took office in January.

That tracks with what Ritz told StateImpact last week about participation in PARCC and Smarter Balanced, the other consortium writing tests for the Common Core.

“We will not be participating in consortiums that decide for us the cost of the test, the questions on the test, the cutoffs,” she says. “Indiana will be doing that on its own.”

Ritz says her office scaled back involvement in the PARCC consortium after state lawmakers voted to pause rollout of the Common Core pending a legislative review. HB 1427 also bars the State Board of Education from ceding control of standards or assessments to outside entities.

Ritz has expressed interest in Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium so Indiana could choose between the better of the two assessments as North Dakota is doing.

I don’t see how that would keep Indiana from not participating in consortium that decides cost, questions, and cutoffs.  They would just be deciding which of the consortiums would be dictating that to the state.

Pennsylvania to Bolt from Common Core Assessment Consortia?

Pennsylvania-state-flag-mapIt appears Pennsylvania will be leaving PARCC and Smarter Balanced.  If they do they will be the third state to leave its Common Core testing consortia.  Utah pulled out of Smarter Balanced, and Alabama left PARCC and Smarter Balanced.

EdWeek reports:

We heard this news last week while attending the Council of Chief State School Officers’ annual assessment conference. Senior officials in both the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, told me that Pennsylvania has notified them by email that it plans to withdraw. Assessment folks attending another gathering recently also reported that top Keystone State officials had mentioned the state’s withdrawal there, as well.

Like Alabama, Pennsylvania was never a governing state for either consortium so it is much easier for them to pull out.

Duncan to News Editors: This is How You Should Report on Common Core

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan gave a speech to the American Society of News Editors on Tuesday.  The thrust of the speech was telling them how they should report on the Common Core.  He then gave them questions to ask of people like us.

As you know, good journalism is more than just claim and counter-claim. It’s investigating what’s true and false, what’s a responsible statement and what’s not. Many of you have done fine work on that front.

You understand the truth about the role of the federal government with respect to common core standards: We didn’t write them, we don’t mandate them and we don’t regulate them.

That’s why leaders on the left and the right—Randi Weingarten and Mitch Daniels; Dennis van Roekel; and Jeb Bush—and so many others—support the Common Core standards, even if they disagree on many other issues.

You also understand that the federal government has nothing to do with curriculum. In fact, we’re prohibited by law from creating or mandating curricula.

So do the reporting. Ask the Common Core critics: Please identify a single lesson plan that the federal government created, or requires of any school, teacher, or district.

Ask if they can identify any textbook that the federal government created, endorsed, or required for any school, teacher, or district in their state.

Ask them to identify any element, phrase, or a single word of the Common Core standards that was developed or required by the federal government.

If they tell you that any of these things are happening—challenge them to name names. Challenge them to produce evidence—because they won’t find it. It simply doesn’t exist.

For starters.  We at Truth in American Education have never made any of the claims listed above.  It’s amazing though for somebody who wasn’t involved in it’s development Arne Duncan sure doesn’t mind spending federal money defending the Common Core and attacking those who criticize it.   I find it ironic that at the end of his speech he says, “Because the power of democracy depends upon an informed electorate—and a free press.” 

That’s great it would have been nice for the electorate to have been informed before the Common Core was implemented.  For somebody who wants a free press why is he telling them how to report on the Common Core.

Yes both sides should be represented.  I’ll admit that there has been some misinformation coming from some new Common Core critics.  I’ve worked mainly behind the scenes to try to correct that.  I’ve encouraged others to be measured in their criticism and not to overstate their case.

Has Arne Duncan done that?  Nope.  He touts this as a state-led effort when it was really a special interest group-led effort.  He didn’t mention that Congress never approved stimulus money to be spent on Race to the Top grants (it was an executive earmark) or for assessments.  He failed to mention not a single state legislature voted on this measure.  There was no mention that the validation process has been found wanting and relatively few people were involved in actually writing the standards.  Valarie Strauss points out some other omissions in his speech:

Duncan, in his speech to the newspaper editors, said the federal government didn’t start or write the standards, and that is true. He said that it wasn’t mandated either, though critics argue that it was coerced. He was also right when he said the Core is not a curriculum (even though the Core authors released a book of criteria to education publishers about what should be in Core curriculum).

But he didn’t mention the rushed implementation, nor the hundreds of millions of dollars the federal government has plowed into the testing creation effort. He has said for years that the Core-aligned tests would be “game changers” and be able to assess students much more broadly,  but he didn’t say Tuesday that that isn’t true. It turns out there wasn’t enough time or money to create those kinds of tests.

On Tuesday, Duncan said he doesn’t think the Common Core State Standards initiative is “going to be derailed.” But the thrust of his speech shows that he is plenty worried.

So journalists please do your job.  Report the truth and not just talking points given to you by Secretary Duncan.

Reclaiming Education Freedom: The Fight to Stop Common Core National Standards and Tests

The Heritage Foundation and Claire Boothe Luce Foundation had a great event for conservative women discussing the Common Core. I caught about the last 20 minutes of it. Lindsey Burke of Heritage spoke first, then Joy Pullmann of the Heartland Institute gave her remarks. They ended with a brief Q&A session. The video is now available which you can watch below.


Common Core is “Conservative” to the Core?

There is an orchestrated push on the part of Common Core advocates to publish nonsense in local papers and other publication.  We can’t respond to each and every piece here, but this particular post should cause a collective eye roll.

Chester Finn and Michael Pretrilli of the Fordham Institute wrote a piece published in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that must be addressed.

They say the Common Core State Standards should make conservatives happy, and they give six reasons.

1. Fiscal responsibility.

Yes I am not joking, that was their opening pitch to Wisconsinites.  They write:

The Common Core protects taxpayer dollars by setting world-class academic standards for student achievement — and taxpayers and families deserve real results for their money. Wisconsin has already invested time and money to implement the new standards, and many districts have already spent scarce dollars training teachers for Common Core’s increased rigor. Calling for a do-over at this point would waste time and money already expended.

First off, these are not world class.  Secondly I agree that taxpayers and families deserve real results for their money which why I’m against the Common Core.  Perhaps the Wisconsin Legislature should have approved the standards before money was spent.  But to appeal to fiscal responsibility when both the implementation of and assessments for the Common Core State Standards have lead to an increase in state education spending is laughable.

2. Accountability

Common Core demands accountability, high standards and testing — not the low expectations and excuses that many politicians and the establishment have permitted. The Common Core standards are pegged at a high level, which will bring a healthy dose of reality to the education-reform conversation.

I’m not against teachers and school districts being held accountable what I’m against is linking it to assessment scores which will do nothing, but continue to promote teaching to the test.  That is something that began with No Child Left Behind with what results?  Governor Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Legislature have made great strides in reigning in the hold that teacher’s unions have had on public education that made it virtually impossible to get rid of bad teachers.  That will do more to promote accountability than a test culture will.

3. School Choice:

As strong supporters of parental choice, we are often asked how to reconcile our enthusiasm for the Common Core. Doesn’t it force a “one-size-fits-all” approach onto schools? The short answer: No. Standards describe what students are expected to know and be able to do. Written correctly, they do not dictate any particular curriculum or pedagogy. Plus, the information that comes from standards-based testing gives parents a common yardstick with which to judge schools and make informed choices. In the end, Common Core is not a national curriculum—the standards were written by governors and local education officials, and they were adopted by each state independently.

First, standards when linked to assessments drives curriculum and pedagogy.  Secondly they diminish school choice when private schools who receive vouchers are forced to align their curriculum with the Common Core because they have to participate in the same assessments.  Third when college-entrance exams align to the Common Core that impacts homeschoolers.  It takes a lot of spin to say this bolsters school choice.

Their claim that these standards were written by governors is plainly false.  They were written by three committees, of which there were only a handful of classroom teachers chosen by special interest groups.  States didn’t adopt these standards – state boards of education did without approval of the legislative branch.

4. Competitiveness.

If we don’t want to cede the 21st century to our economic and political rivals — China especially — we need to ensure that many more young Americans emerge from high school truly ready for college and a career that allows them to compete in the global marketplace. This is why the Business Roundtable and the Chamber of Commerce support the standards — because they will help ensure that students are ready to succeed on the job.

First education is for more than workforce production.  Secondly, we still haven’t seen what these standards are benchmarked to.  Third, there’s no data that suggests centralized standards raises student achievement.  The Chamber of Commerce’s endorsement is meaningless since they endorsed these standards sight unseen.

5.  Innovation.

Common Core standards are encouraging a huge amount of investment from states, philanthropic groups and private firms — which is producing Common Core–aligned textbooks, e-books, professional development, online learning and more. Online learning especially is going to open up a world of new choices for students and families to seek a high-quality, individualized education.

So basically we see a creation of a monopoly surrounding curriculum and textbooks and this is supposed to excite us?  How is it innovative for companies that back the standards to also profit from them as well?  Online learning can’t exist without the Common Core?

6. Tradition education values.

The Common Core standards are worth supporting because they’re educationally solid. They are rigorous, they are traditional — one might even say they are “conservative.” They expect students to know their math facts, to read the nation’s founding documents and to evaluate evidence and come to independent judgments. In all of these ways, they are miles better than three-quarters of the state standards they replaced — standards that hardly deserve the name and that often pushed the left-wing drivel that Common Core critics say they abhor.

The Common Core is not educationally solid.  They were created in a virtual echo-chamber with a just a handful of people ultimately deciding how feedback was implemented.  Here are some of the concerns with the Common Core as addressed by content experts such as Sandra Stotsky, Ze’ev Wurman and James Milgram:

The CCSS Mathematics Standards:

  • Delay development of some key concepts and skills.
  • Include significant mathematical sophistication written at a level beyond understanding of most parents, students, administrators, decision maker
    s and many teachers.

  • Lack coherence and clarity to be consistently interpreted by students, parents, teachers, administrators, curriculum developers, textbook developers/publishers, and assessment developers.  Will this lead to consistent expectations and equity?
  • Have standards inappropriately placed, including delayed requirement for standard algorithms, which will hinder student success and waste valuable instructional time.
  • Treat important topics unevenly.  This will result in inefficient use of instructional and practice time.
  • Are not well organized at the high school level.  Some important topics are insufficiently covered. The standards are not divided into defined courses.
  • Place emphasis on Standards for Mathematical Practice which supports a constructivist approach. This approach is typical of “reform” math programs to which many parents across the country object.
  • Publishers of reform programs are aligning them with the CCSS Standards for Mathematical Practice.  The CCSS will not necessarily improve the math programs being used in many schools.
  • Unusual and unproven approach to geometry.

The Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (ELA):

  • Use confusing language in some standards.
  • Are not always clear or measureable on expected student outcomes.
  • Are not always organized in a logical way and are difficult to follow.
  • Treat literary elements inconsistently.
  • Have some writing standards that are general and do not specify what a student should be able to know or do.
  • Focus on skills over content in reading.
  • Do not address or require cursive writing.

So the Common Core is conservative?  Only if being conservative now means to erode local and parental control, ignoring federalism, ignoring that we a Constitutional Republic through bypassing our elected representatives, fiscal mismanagement through increasing spending on dataless reform, eroding school choice and promoting subpar standards.

Florida Common Core Protest this Saturday

This protest will be outside of a Common Core conference in Orlando, FL on 6/29. 

Via Florida Parents Against Common Core:

FreedomWorks Grassroots Coordinator Whitney Neal will be hosting a 2 hour training workshop on common core and insight on how parents across Florida are working to stop common core.

Seats are limited for the training but no limit for attendees to rally. Contact Whitney Neal of Freedom Works.  Training location is an unpublished location near the Protest location.  Contact to RSVP and location.

Protest: 11:30 to 1:30

Location: Public sidewalk in front of the Ritz Carlton/JW Marriott, Grande Lakes

4012 Central FLorida Pky
Orlando, FL 32837

Get Driving Directions

Georgia GOP State Central Committee Passes Anti-Common Core Resolution

The anti-Common Core resolution that passed the Georgia GOP resolutions committee  didn’t have the chance to be voted on at the Georgia GOP State Convention last month.  The State Central Committee met on Saturday and passed the same resolution unanimously and without debate.  So this is the policy position of the Georgia GOP now.  You can read the language below:


WHEREAS, the control of education is left to the States and the people and is not an enumerated power of Article I, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution; and

WHEREAS, in 2010 Georgia Executive Branch officials committed this state to adopting common standards with a consortium of states through the Race to the Top grant created by the federal Executive Branch; and

WHEREAS, this participation required Georgia to adopt common standards in K-12 English language arts and mathematics (now known as the Common Core State Standards Initiative) and to commit to implementing the aligned assessments developed by a consortium of states with federal money, all without the consent of the people exercised through their Legislative Branch despite the fact that the people fund K-12 education with over $13 billion in state and local taxes each year; and

WHEREAS, the Common Core standards have been evaluated by educational experts and were determined to be no better than Georgia’s previous performance standards and according to key members of the Validation Committee, the standards were even inferior; and

WHEREAS, adoption of Common Core obliterates Georgia’s constitutional autonomy over the educational standards for Georgia’s children in English language arts and mathematics because 100 percent of the Common Core standards must be delivered through Georgia’s curriculum, yet the standards belong to unaccountable private interests in Washington, D.C. which have copyright authority and do not allow any standards to be deleted or changed, but only allow Georgia to add 15 percent to those standards; and

WHEREAS, this push to nationalize standards will inevitably lead to more centralization of education in violation of federalism and local control and violates the spirit, if not the letter, of three federal laws; and

WHEREAS, both the Common Core standards and the PARCC tests will create new tax burdens to pay for enormous unfunded mandates on our state and our local school districts; and

WHEREAS, the Race to the Top grant conditions require the collection and sharing of massive amounts of student-level data through the PARCC agreement which violates student privacy;

THEREFORE, the Georgia Republican Party delegates to the 2013 Convention resolve that state leaders should:

n Withdraw Georgia from the Common Core State Standards Initiative;

n Withdraw Georgia from the PARCC consortium and its planned assessments for Georgia’s students, and any other testing aligned with the Common Core standards;

n Prohibit all state officials from entering into any agreements that cede any measure of control over Georgia education to entities outside the state and ensure that all content standards as well as curriculum decisions supporting those standards are adopted through a transparent statewide and/or local process fully accountable to the citizens in every school district of Georgia; and

n Prohibit the collection, tracking, and sharing of personally identifiable student and teacher data except with schools or educational agencies within the state.

Be it further resolved that we appreciate Governor Nathan Deal’s principled Executive Order issued on May 15th which strongly recognized the need to honor the constitutional sovereignty of the people of Georgia over education and the urgent need to protect student privacy.

Lessons From French Schools

French_flag_in_AngersWe should have learned by now that if you want to know how not to do something learn from the French (I’m only joking – sort of).  Bloomberg has an interesting article that discusses how French Schools show the pitfalls for the Common Core State Standards here in the U.S.

An excerpt:

France’s excellent standards also come at a human cost. Its education system is plagued by a high failure rate and worsens social inequality. About 20 percent of pupils struggle with basic reading, writing and math throughout their school years, according to recent government and international reports. A decade ago, that figure was 15 percent. The vast majority of those in difficulty come from poor or disadvantaged families.

Most troubling, the proportion of students who complete high school is lower in France than in the U.S.; one-third drop out before getting to the baccalaureat, and most of these are working-class and first- or second-generation immigrant children. Comparative data compiled by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s PISA program show that the socioeconomic background of schoolchildren is as much a determinant of their performance in France as it is in the U.S.

Read the rest.

The Common Core’s Fundamental Trouble

Answer Sheet had a guest post by the editors of Rethinking Schools whose writers include teachers, parents and researchers.

An excerpt:

For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They’re national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.)

Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.

The standards are tied to assessments that are still in development and that must be given on computers many schools don’t have. So far, there is no research or experience to justify the extravagant claims being made for the ability of these standards to ensure that every child will graduate from high school “college and career ready.” By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates.

Read the whole thing.

@GovMikeHuckabee Has Become a #StopCommonCore #EducateHuckabee Twitter Target

819px-Mike_Huckabee_by_Gage_Skidmore_2Former Governor Mike Huckabee is being targeted on Twitter due to his support of the Common Core State Standards.  The “Twitter Bomb” started at 11:00a (EDT) today and will go until Saturday when his show ends.  Those who organized this are asking those who participate to Tweet  @GovMikeHuckabee and put on Governor Huckabee’s Facebook page facts about the Common Core.

Dawn Wildman of Citizens United for Responsible Education (CURE) said in an email that they are doing this to make sure that Governor Huckabee gets the message about how grassroots activists feel about the Common Core, not “his crony political buddies like Jeb Bush.”

The hashtags they are encouraging you to use if you participate is #educatehuckabee, #stopcommoncore and #CURENat.  My two cents is to prioritize the #educatehuckabee and #stopcommoncore hashtags; tweets with more than two hashtags seemed to be shared less and they are longer.  Also try to keep your tweets shorter so they are easy to “RT.”

Here is the Twitter feed for the primary hashtag –  #educatehuckabee:

!function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?’http’:’https’;if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+”://”;fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,”script”,”twitter-wjs”);

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons (CC By 3.0)