Verdict Is In: The Final Draft of Indiana Proposed Standards Stink

Ok some folks are now weighing in on the final draft of Indiana’s proposed academic standards that was released earlier this week.

Dr. Terrence Moore of Hillsdale College needs to let loose and tell us how he really feels about the ELA standards, don’t hold back!  No, just kidding, he writes a no-holds-barred review, and doesn’t give the standards good marks.  An excerpt:

This absurd incongruity is one of the leading characteristics of the supposedly new Indiana English standards. We are invited to be overjoyed as we skip down the Yellow Brick Road to College and Career Readiness, preparing our children for a Twenty-First-Century Global Economy by putting them behind computers and by having them act out “assigned roles” for “small group discussions and projects” (as though project-based learning has not been tried and failed over these last forty years). Meanwhile, we have children being introduced to the word night in fourth grade, and we utterly fail to teach even the letter A properly.

The math standards still have fuzzy math.

The new draft begins with a preamble before the standards are listed claiming that the standards are not instructional practices: “The educators and subject matter experts that have worked on the standards have taken care to ensure the standards are free from embedded pedagogy and instructional practices.” This statement couldn’t be further from the truth and those who cut and pasted these standards know it. They simply don’t care because it is the type of pedagogy they prefer – parents and experts be damned.

The IDOE and Pence’s CECI were duly warned that Draft 2 contained pedagogy by Dr. James Milgram, the national expert they hired to help review the standards. Unfortunately, it seems theIDOE and CECI ignored Milgram’s recommendations, and contrary to their claim of pedagogy-free standards many of them remain laden with it. I have highlighted a few of the many standards that still contain pedagogy in the final draft released on Tuesday with Milgram’s comments from the review. What is the point of hiring an expert if you ignore his advice?

James Milgram gave some comments to The Indianapolis Star:

But Milgram said the panel lacked the expertise of professional mathematicians — not just math educators: “I realized that there was no way in hell that they were going to be able to make the changes that I had indicated needed to be made with that background. That’s exactly what happened.”

Andrea Neal, who serves on the Indiana State Board of Education, also weighed in:

State Board of Education member Andrea Neal said the state made a mistake by only asking for expert opinions on early drafts and not on the final one. Milgram and Wu looked over the final version on their own, with Milgram focusing on the high school math section and Wu examining a few key spots in math.

“This notion that standards have to be written by Hoosiers was faulty by the get-go,” Neal said. “They weren’t written by Hoosiers. They were really more paraphrased by Hoosiers. … We’re now at a place where maybe we recognize we just need the best standards in the country, and there’s not enough time to get the full feedback that we need.”

Neal said she planned to send a letter to members of the Education Roundtable urging them to reinstate Indiana’s pre-Common Core standards.

And to top it off the final draft will be voted on without any analysis.

Lindsey Burke at Heritage said Indiana needs to reverse course and re-adopt their pre-Common Core standards.

Indiana has the chance to reclaim its position as having some of the most rigorous standards in the country by simply replacing Common Core with its excellent 2000 mathematics standards (which were updated in 2009) and its 2006 English language arts state standards.

Under Pence’s leadership, Indiana became a trailblazer, exiting the national standards push and showing other states that it’s possible. Re-adopting their prior math and English standards would ensure that Indiana has some of the highest standards in the country—standards that are state-driven and, most importantly, supported by teachers and parents.

The state has until July 1 to do it.

We’ll see what Governor Pence ends up doing with catastrophe rolling his way.

The Verdict Is Still Out: Indiana Releases Final Draft of New Standards

Indiana release the final draft of their new proposed academic standards.  You can read them here.  You can seen national evaluator input into the previous draft here.  Evaluators included:

  • Dr. Sandra Stotsky – E/LA
  • Dr. Terrence Moore, Hillsdale College – E/LA
  • Joanne Eresh of Achieve – E/LA
  • Dr. James Milgram of Stanford University – Math
  • Hung-His Wu from UC Berkeley – Math
  • Kaye Forgione of Achieve – Math

These will be “education roundtable” will release their review and evaluation on April 21st.  The Indiana State Board of Education will discuss on April 28th.

The verdict is still out on the quality of these standards.   Will these be first class or is this just a rebranding?

Indiana’s Draft Standards: A Scoop of Common Core with Some Junk on Top?

The idea for pausing the Common Core in Indiana and then putting the kibosh on them is that the Hoosier state would actually come away with better standards.

Somebody needs to tell that to the review committee working on them.  I’ve already written that it looks like the math standards will continue to use fuzzy math.   Hoosiers Against Common Core have discovered a stacked deck on the panel.

Joy Pullman (who happens to be an Indiana resident) writes:

The new set of draft standards is making the rounds this week, as the state holds three public hearings to discuss them. Citizens are allowed three minutes each to comment on the standards at these hearings and are limited to discussing specific standards only.

But do not worry. The state asked Sujie Shin, of WestEd, to review the standards rewrite, and she says it “is the deepest she has observed and will be recommending Indiana’s process as a best practice for other states reexamining Common Core,” wrote state board of education member Brad Oliver in an open letter. WestEd is a quasi-governmental organization that happens to financially profit from Common Core as a contractor for national Common Core tests.

Hoover Institution fellow Ze’ev Wurman’s preliminary review of the draft math standards does not give us much hope about the process.

…this draft did not focus strongly enough on improving the glaring weaknesses of Common Core standards but instead made minor (and sometime negative) changes, and piled a whole lot of new content on top of already massive Common Core. The draft is more bloated than the Common Core, and immeasurably more bloated than the 2009 Indiana draft. To come up with a good, focused, and coherent set of standards will take much more effort than dump a pile of additional standards on top of the Common Core with little rhyme and reason.

Unfortunately Indiana State Board member Brad Oliver doesn’t seem to have a problem with the process or with the likely product.  In an interview with State Impact Indiana he was asked  whether or not there was any concern at the State Board level if these standards look too much like the Common Core, he responded:

If again you go back and start from the premise that college- and career-readiness is about making sure students have requisite skills and knowledge prior to being able to go to college without being remediated or go into a career, and you apply that uniformly to whatever standards they looked at, you’re going to see a certain percentage of the standards come through. That’s what forced consensus is about. It’s about a group of subject matter experts saying, we agree, this meets that criteria.

So if they don’t understand that part of the process or they did not watch that process and all they’re doing is comparing, then yes, that’s going to come up because it looks like, well you didn’t really change anything, when what happened was the evaluation panels are basically affirming that it was college- or career-ready or it wasn’t, and therefore we went with a different standard or we revised it somehow. It comes back to making sure people really understand the process.

These standards are not even getting a good review from Common Core advocates:

It’s not often proponents and opponents of Common Core agree.

But speakers on both sides of the aisle told state education officials Tuesday at a public hearing in Indianapolis there are just too many proposed academic standards to teach.

Schauna Findlay is president of the Indiana Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and reviewed the standards for the state’s pro-Common Core Chamber of Commerce. Findlay says the educator teams who developed the drafts have included more standards than teachers can get through in a year.

“Everything they said ‘this is a good standard’ was included in the draft standards without paying attention to have we now completely overloaded a particular grade level with additional content?” she says.

Findlay says in elementary math, Indiana has added a number of probability and measurement standards without subtracting anything.

“It’s not a viable set of standards,” Findlay says. “Teachers will have to pick and choose what they’re going to include because they can’t go to the level of depth they need to with every standard, which means kids will have disparate education and different gaps.”

The State Board is receiving a lot of backlash:

“It seems to be a done deal,” said Emily Camenisch, a homeschooler who came from more than two hours from Corydon. “I don’t think that’s acceptable. Maybe it’s a lost cause but you don’t stop fighting.”…

…“If the English standards are an improvement I don’t see it,” said Bonnie Fisher of the Bloomington-based group Global Education Reform Watch. “The standards are essentially the same as CCS (Common Core standards).”

Amy Nichols, who said she worked as a math specialist as a private school, estimated that half of the proposed algebra standards were identical to Common Core algebra standards.

The process, she said, is moving too fast for parents and others to make their concerns known.

“Why are we so rushed,” she asked, “especially when we already drafted standards in 2009? This draft of standards is going in the wrong direction.”

However will State Board members listen?

Even with such strong objections, state board member Gordon Hendry said he was not discouraged about the draft standards.

“The process is going well,” he said. “We’d like to have more input but it’s important we act quickly.”

Hendry said he was not concerned about the influence of Common Core on the standards because he was confident the state board would sort out those issues.

“Whatever is ultimately adopted,” he said, “will be Hoosier standards.”

I don’t share his confidence, and neither should Hoosier parents.  I’ll take a scoop of Common Core with some junk on top please.

Indiana Democrats Put Politics Before Kids, Skip Common Core Vote

indiana-flagI can’t believe I missed this news last week.  It needs to be shouted from the rooftops.

Members of the Indiana legislative study committee formed by the pause legislation passed last session voted 6 to 1 in favor of replacing the Common Core… a twist though since all Democrat members minus one decided not to show up there wasn’t enough votes to pass a resolution.

From Hoosiers Against Common Core:

The committee Republicans UNANIMOUSLY voted YES for the resolution with several making formal statements against the Common Core. The only Democrat who graced the committee with his presence, Justin Moed, voted no. Because the other democrats failed to show up, there wasn’t enough votes for a majority to pass the resolution.

Thankfully, all is not lost and a recommendation from Republican members will still be issued to the State Board of Education supporting the unanimous decision that Indiana write new standards. After all the hours committed to studying the issue and the public outcry for resolution, it’s unfortunate all members were not present.

In a not so surprising twist, the democrats have decided to put politics over the best interest of our children’s education. Democrats who have voiced concern over the Common Core standards, felt the political rivalry between the State Board of Education and Glenda Ritz  prevented them from voting on the issue.

At least there will still be a recommendation.  There will be a tremendous amount of pressure on the Indiana State Board of Education.  Whether they will actually listen to Indiana parents or to the educational establishment remains to be seen.

You can contact members of the state board here.

Pence Pulls Indiana Out of PARCC

There were indications that this might happen, and now it’s official.  Indiana is withdrawing from PARCC by order of Governor Mike Pence, it just needs to be followed-up by a letter from Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz.  Here is a press release sent out this morning:

Indianapolis – Governor Mike Pence today issued a letter to Mitchell Chester, Governing Board Chair of the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC), in regard to withdrawing Indiana as a member of the PARCC Governing Board, effective August 12, 2013.

On May 11, 2013, the Governor signed HEA 1427 into law, which provides for a comprehensive evaluation, and allows for reconsideration, of the Common Core State Standards that were adopted by the State Board of Education in August of 2010. The legislation also curtails the state of Indiana’s participation in a consortium such as PARCC.

“Indiana’s educational standards must be rigorous, enable college and career readiness, and align with postsecondary educational expectations to best prepare our children to compete with their national and global peers,” said Governor Pence. “Assessments must also align with these high standards. I support the legislative intent of HEA 1427 and firmly believe it is the right and responsibility of the state to make independent, fiscally responsible decisions regarding standards and assessments for the good of all the people of Indiana.”

Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz must also submit a letter of intent to PARCC’s Governing Board Chair in order for the state’s withdrawal from the PARCC Governing Board to go into effect.

I’m not entirely certain whether this means they’ll withdraw from the tests altogether.  I would suspect so, but I don’t want to overstate what this means.

Indiana Legislature Playing Monday Morning Quarterback?

The Times of Northwest Indiana wrote an editorial Sunday opining that the Common Core State Standards not be set aside even though the implementation was paused.

Indiana has reset the clock on joining the Common Core Standards initiative, with the Legislature overruling the State Board of Education and delaying implementation by at least one year while lawmakers play Monday morning quarterbacks this summer.

The Common Core standards would replace the current Indiana Academic Standards, and for good reason.

The Common Core national standards were developed not by the federal government but by a national group of educators. The standards have been adopted in 45 states.

There are some valid concerns about the new standards, but there are concerns about the existing standards as well. The new standards can and should be improved over time.

First off lawmakers would not have to “play Monday morning quarterback” if they were involved in the process in the first place. Education policy is too important to be decided by an unelected board. There is a system of checks and balances that was totally disregarded by this pushing to implement the Common Core.

Secondly, several content experts that testified before the Indiana Senate Education committee either in person or in writing disagree that the Common Core is more “rigorous” than the Indiana Academic Standards. Sandra Stotsky and Augusto Fabio Milner would disagree with the Times. I think I’ll accept their word over The Times.

Third, out of over 125 members on the standards development work group only three were classroom teachers, only five were working for a local school district. So how again were these written by a group of educators?

I’m glad Indiana has newspapers who will go beyond the talking points given to them by Common Core advocates.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence Signs Common Core Pause Legislation

IMG_6401

Today Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed the Common Core pause legislation that requires the Indiana State Board of Education to hold three public hearings on the Common Core State Standards and have a fiscal impact study completed by 2014.

“I have long believed that education is a state and local function and we must always work to ensure that our students are being taught to the highest academic standards and that our curriculum is developed by Hoosiers, for Hoosiers,” Pence said in a released statement. “The legislation I sign today hits the pause button on Common Core so Hoosiers can thoroughly evaluate which standards will best serve the interests of our kids.’’

State Senator Scott Schneider (R-Indianapolis) who was the chief sponsor of the bill said, “Today Indiana takes a crucial step in deciding the future of our participation in Common Core. There will be heavy review and scrutiny of Common Core over the next six months. It is my hope we can come out of these study committee meetings with a clear understanding of the level of federal involvement in education policy in Indiana, and a dedication to setting the best standards in the country.”

Heather Crossin, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, responded to today’s news,”We believe this is a historic day, not just because it marks what we hope will be the beginning of the end for Common Core in Indiana, but because it proves that our American system of government still works. Against all odds, with no funding, the will of the People prevailed. It prevailed against hundreds of of dollars of paid advertising, a slew of paid lobbyists, and numerous powerful organizations like the Chamber of Commerce.”

“Unlike those with corporate interests at stake, our only stake in this game is our children’s education and ultimately their futures. Opponents of HB1427 fought vigorously all to prevent Common Core from being reviewed in the light of day. There seems to be only one reason for this – the Common Core emperor wears no clothes. The slogans and rhetoric that were used to sell the Common Core simply don’t hold up under close scrutiny,” Crossin added. “We are hopeful that Governor Pence, with his upcoming appointments to the State Board of Education, will decide to lead Indiana into a new direction where local control of education will be restored.”

Emmett McGroarty with American Principles in Action said, “With this legislation the people of Indiana have stepped forward to reclaim their sacred right to direct the education and upbringing of their children. This is a new breath of liberty for America.”

Erin Tuttle, co-founder of Hoosiers Against Common Core, stated, “This bill is a victory for the will of the people of Indiana. We were outspent and outmanned, but the will of the People prevailed which proves the system can work. Hoosiers still have a home at the Indiana Statehouse where their opinions are respected.”

Photo provided by Erin Tuttle.

Update: I had to update this post because I learned the bill had been amended to say three public hearings instead of a public hearing in each of Indiana’s congressional districts.  It was said this was done for fiscal purposes, but I believe it limits who may be able to attend these public hearings.