Misdirected Evaluation and Intimidation in Wake County, North Carolina

In this post, I am going to attempt to address a number of issues related to the situation in Wake County, NC where the school district adopted the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP).  The three main issues I hope to address have to do with the evaluation of the implementation of the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP), MVP’s lawsuit against a parent, and the parent voice in Wake County (as well as across the country).  And for good measure, or bad, I’m likely to hit on other issues.  I keep hearing, “It’s complicated,” being said about so many things.  While this whole situation may be complicated, it doesn’t have to be and it shouldn’t be.  Are the parents the only ones involved in this situation who have not lost sight of what’s important—the students, their education, and their future?

For more information see the linked articles and legal documents provided at the end of this post.

The Wake County Public School System (WCPSS or Wake County) adopted MVP as the math program to be used throughout the district.  WCPSS appears to be the fifteenth largest school district in the country so the adoption of this program impacts a lot of students.  In short, parents and students have expressed concerns in a variety of ways.  In response, the school board hired MGT of America Consulting, LLC (MGT) to conduct an evaluation.  MVP filed a defamation lawsuit against a Wake County parent.  For more detailed information see the links at the end of this post for articles and legal documents.

Evaluation of the Implementation

An August 6, 2019 article says this about the Wake County Board of Education:

The board voted Tuesday to have an outside company, MGT of America Consulting, review MVP math. The review will include classroom visits, analysis of student work, in-depth data review, and focus groups. The total cost of the project will not exceed $125,000.

This is misleading.  It indicates there will be a review of MVP math.  It isn’t the MVP math program that will be reviewed. 

The board did contract with MGT to conduct an evaluation.  The contract with MGT says:

MGT of America Consulting will work with district staff to do a comprehensive evaluation of implementation during the fall of 2019.  This evaluation will include classroom visits, staff interviews and student, parent and teacher focus groups.

MGT is not being tasked with evaluating MVP, which is a math curriculum/program.  The contract clearly states the evaluation will be of the implementation of MVP.  I think it is important to make a clear distinction between the program itself and its implementation. 

In my eyes, evaluating the implementation does not address the problem and the questions parents in Wake County are raising.  Decision makers often seem to blame poor implementation when problems arise and concerns are expressed.  That blame gives reason for doubling down on implementation efforts. 

What needs to be evaluated first is the concerns parents have about this program, why they have those concerns, and solutions they may propose.  What are their concerns?  What do they like and not like about the program?  What kind of math education would parents like for their kids?  What math program would they like to be used in their child’s math class?  What is it parents want?  What solutions would they propose if given a chance to have them really considered?  Could the proposed solutions be put in place?  If not, why?

It seems in Wake County’s case, an evaluation of parent and student concerns should take place.  Instead, an evaluation of the implementation of MVP is being conducted.  Why aren’t parent concerns being evaluated?  Why isn’t an evaluation of the MVP program being conducted?  It seems like that ought to come before evaluating the implementation.  If the program is not acceptable to parents, regardless of whether it is effective or not, I doubt it would make any difference to parents as to whether the program is implemented well or not.  And what if a program is not effective and is well implemented?  In this case, I see effectiveness as being subjective depending on which camp one is in and on this issue there seems to be two camps.  I would venture to say that each camp, and likely each individual, has their own effectiveness criteria.

From news accounts and a committee report, it appears WCPSS responded to formal complaints submitted by parents.  A letter from the district’s Chief Academic Advancement Officer says it is in response to “your complaint about the selection and implementation of the Mathematics Vision Project (MVP) curriculum.”  WCPSS established a curriculum review committee to review concerns, determine if any board policies were violated, and provide recommendations.  From the committee’s report, it appears the committee members were all district employees.  There is no evident indication the committee talked with, met with, or communicated with any of the parents who submitted formal complaints.  The committee may very well have addressed the submitted complaints but it is hard to tell without seeing the actual complaints.  Is it possible that parent concerns go beyond whether a board policy was violated?  While the committee reviewed the formal complaints, it does not appear any in-depth evaluation of parent concerns has taken place.

Evaluating the implementation seems to be an expensive endeavor to appease parents by trying to fool them into thinking the district is looking into things.

MVP’s Lawsuit against a Parent

I want to start with a quote that I hope people will give serious thought to.

“Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”      Ben Franklin

On July 5, 2019, lawyers on behalf of MVP filed a lawsuit against Blain Dillard, a Wake County parent.

This lawsuit is extremely important for all parents across the country.  It needs to be taken seriously.  I question how seriously MVP was in filing suit.  I would hope someone filing suit would take the endeavor seriously enough to spell the defendant’s name correctly.  The complaint filed by MVP is against Blaine Dillard.  His name is not Blaine, it is Blain.  I would think in a legal document it would be important to get the name of the person you are suing spelled correctly.  I wonder if a grammatically concerned judge would dismiss the case on that count?  Is the misspelling of the defendant’s name an indication someone is SLAPP happy?

strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censorintimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition.[1] Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.    From Wikipedea

Many states have anti-SLAPP laws.  It appears that Utah, home of MVP, has a weak anti-SLAPP law and North Carolina doesn’t have an anti-SLAPP law.  In the absence of a strong anti-SLAPP law is it okay to SLAPP someone?  Morally and ethically would someone end up with a red face?

I have heard many questions raised and comments about this lawsuit.  One question I have heard asked is who funded the development of MVP and is someone funding their lawsuit.  I just bet they aren’t raising funds on GoFundMe.

Is this a lawsuit about corporate rights to make a profit vs parental rights in directing the education of their children which may include expressing concerns in many forms and venues?  Starting in the 1800s, the court system gradually began viewing corporations as “people” with many of the same constitutional rights as individual citizens (See here and here).  Citizens United seems to be the most recent capstone.  Is it possible that this contributes to the boldness of corporations to file suits against parents for exercising their first amendment rights?  Are corporate interests to be protected at the cost of individual first amendment rights?

Tom Loveless, a former director of the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, replied to Sandy Joiner and Barry Garelick on a twitter post with this statement:

This is a first. In all my years of studying parent protests over curriculum, I have never heard of a publisher taking legal action against parents. MVP will not emerge from this looking good. Neither will the Wake County admin and school board.

I agree with Tom—no matter the outcome of the lawsuit, I do not think it will serve MVP well in the long run.  Is it possible they may have done more damage to themselves by filing this lawsuit than anything any parent may say or write about MVP?

Like Tom, I am not familiar with any publisher suing any parents.  I am familiar with lots of parent criticism of lots of math programs, but no related lawsuits.  The only thing close to this I have seen has to do with cease and desist letters being sent to some individuals on behalf of Istation.

Kieran Shanahan, an attorney representing Istation, has sent cease and desist notices to several critics of the new contract. In a statement Monday, Shanahan said those people are “misrepresenting Istation by making false, misleading and defamatory public statements” and are unfairly harming and maligning the company.

“Istation was legally and appropriately awarded the contract in North Carolina and has a proven record and reputation as an industry leader in early education assessments across the country,” Shanahan said. “The cease and desist notices provided are a lawful and appropriate starting point to end the misinformation, set the record straight, protect Istation’s interests, and let the state move forward.” 

The cease and desist letters are to people in a different part of the food chain than parents.  Links to more info and articles about this issue are provided at the end of the post.  One link includes copies of three of the letters.

On page 4, in item 28, and again on page 5, item 37, of MVP’s complaint (lawsuit document), MVP claims Dillard made statements with the intent to harm MVP.  They claim he knew statements were false.  Did he?  If the statements are in truth false, how does MVP know whether or not he knew they were false?  How does MVP know what his intent was?  Is it possible his real intent is to have a good solid math education provided to his kids and others in Wake County?  If MVP knows Dillard so intimately as to know his intent and whether he knows something is false or not, how come they don’t know how to spell his name?

Item 29, page 4, of the complaint reads:

29. The publication and/or public speaking of these statements harmed MVP. Part of MVP’s business involves submitting proposals for education-related contracts with private schools, public schools, school districts, government entities, and other entities. Dillard’s statements harmed MVP’s reputation as well as perceptions of the efficacy of the products and services that MVP provides. Upon information and belief, MVP has been unable to enter into contracts, and/or has not been invited to make proposals for contracts, and/or has been forced to enter contracts on compromised terms, and/or has been denied extensions on contracts, and/or has been forced to accept contract extensions on compromised terms, and/or has been unable to attract employees and/or consultants, and/or has been forced to invest more resources than otherwise would have been necessary to consummate a contract, and/or has otherwise been harmed.

I would like to think that a great program will stand on its own merits and those merits would override and rise above any criticism or possible falsehoods made of the program.  Could it be that by filing this lawsuit, MVP has harmed itself to a greater degree than the possible harm of a parent’s statements?  At this point, if harm has been done, how would one ferret out whether the harm, or how much harm, is caused by MVP’s own actions or by the statements of a parent?  If harm is caused by MVP’s own actions, would they sue themselves?

Since harm is at issue here, let’s ponder a bit.  Suppose MVP has been harmed.  Suppose they prevail with their lawsuit.  Where is the greater harm?  The supposed harm to MVP?  Or the harm to the willingness of parents to speak out in the interest of their children’s education?  Will parents not speak out and express themselves out of fear of being sued?  Could the outcome of this lawsuit open the door for corporations to completely shut down the Parent Voice?

It appears that MVP posted Clarifications Regarding Our Work in Wake County on their website around September 20, 2019.  One could argue that this is damage control.  While a link to their lawsuit  is provided, I found it interesting that no mention was made or links provided for the Answer and Counterclaim and Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings documents.  Those documents are well worth reading, especially the Motion for Judgment. Does the counterclaim make a good case that MVP hasn’t proven harm?   Those documents were filed on behalf of Blain Dillard on September 9, 2019.  MVP’s Clarifications post spells his name Blaine.  Is the misspelling intentional?  Is the intentional misspelling of a name a form of microaggression?  An adult bullying tactic?  We may never know, but the “e”, or lack of, is interesting.

MVP does state in their Clarification post they are a five-person organization and not a big corporate publisher.  Even though it is small, MVP is an LLC which shields its members from personal liability.  Is an individual parent shielded from personal liability?  And while MVP may be a small, five member LLC, its website says it has partnered with Open Up Resources.  MVP does not seem to list any funders or supporters but Open Up Resources lists their Philanthropic Supporters as Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

I wonder about a lot of things related to this whole situation.  I wonder…  Did MVP have a conversation with the parent about his concerns and claims before filing their lawsuit?  Or was it a nonversation?  If a conversation did take place, how come we haven’t heard about it?  How come we haven’t heard of any efforts to resolve this prior to the lawsuit being filed?  Lots of parents speak out critically, even with false claims possibly, about their kid’s teachers.  Ever hear of a teacher suing a parent for defamation?  I am not aware of any cases but I can imagine it has happened.  I wonder… Are there reasonable steps one might take in advance of filing suit that render a suit unnecessary?

One last comment related to that “e”.  Failure to use one’s preferred gender pronoun seems to become a civil or human rights issue these days.  What about the addition of an “e” to a person’s name?

Does this lawsuit subdue the freeness of speech?

For Parents and the Parent Voice

Here’s another quote.  This one is for parents all across the country.

“Make yourself sheep and the wolves will eat you.”      Ben Franklin

It appears the situation in Wake County is a part of the most recent phase of on going Math Wars.  To learn more about the Math Wars, I recommend reading two documents.  The documents are lengthy and informative.  Math Wars, by Alan H. Schoenfeld, is from the perspective of the progressive reform math camp and A quarter century of US ‘math wars’ and political partisanship by David Klein is more from the perspective of an explicit math instruction camp.

While it has been reported that the WCPSS received formal complaints from 16 parents, that’s just the formal complaints.  It is my understanding there’s more than 1400 Wake County parents with concerns enough to connect with each other.

Parents, take responsibility for your child’s education.  That includes math.  If you have concerns about or find the program being used is not satisfactory to you, teach your child math at home, single subject home school if allowed by your district and state, hire a tutor, or enroll in a tutoring or learning center.  If your child receives help outside school, you may want to consider opting out of assessments.  If your child scores well on assessments the school and others will credit it to the school program without considering the outside help. 

It appears Wake County has school choice options.  It would be nice if parents/students had a math program choice:  a progressive reform math program or a more traditional explicit example based instructional program.  In a district as a large as Wake County, that could work.  If they say they can’t do this, would it be because they are unable or unwilling?

Are Wake County parents up for the challenge of identifying potential candidates and supporting them in successful campaigns for the Wake County Board of Education.

The education system is supposed to work for parents and the community.  When will that system start listening to the parent voice?  What will have to happen to get the system to listen and act based on the parent voice?  And parents, are you willing to be a part of the parent voice?  Are you willing to take back control over your child’s education?  Are you willing to be a part of the rebellion it will take to regain local control?

Links to Related Articles and Information

Sites for Wake County Parents and Other Interested Parties

Wake County Parent Page   Website

Wake MVP Parent   Blog

Parents of MVP Math Students in WCPSS   Facebook Closed group

Parent Rights for All   Website by friends and supporters of Blain Dillard

Wake County Math Parent Legal Defense Fund   Go Fund Me

MVP lawsuit documents

MATHEMATICS VISION PROJECT, LLC, a Utah Limited Liability Company Plaintif, v. Blaine Dillard, an individual, Defendant   July 25, 2019

Answer and Counterclaim   Sept. 9, 2019

Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings   Sept. 9, 2019

News articles or posts

Clarifications Regarding Our Work in Wake County   c. Sept. 20, 2019 on MVP’s website

Meet Open Up Resources: partner to MVP math and funded by Bill Gates.   Sept. 19, 2019

A Few Facebook Comments—Abusive Litigation at its Worst   Sept. 15, 2019

Parent Who Criticized His Son’s Math Program Is Sued By Curriculum Company   Sept. 12, 2019

#WCPSS Updates: MVP Math, Reassignment plan, Restart Status and a Brain Drain   August 10, 2019

The Accidental Advocate   August 9, 2019

Wake school board stands by MVP math review, says it did not violate law, rules or policy   August 6, 2019

Common Core Math Publisher Sues Parent for Opposing Curriculum   August 6, 2019

Is An Education-World War Coming?   August 1, 2019

Dad wants Wake schools to drop this math program. Now he’s being sued by the company.   July 30, 2019

Wake Schools parent sued after criticizing math curriculum   July 30, 2019

MVP math suing Wake County parent for ‘libel and slander’ after he criticized program   July 30, 2019   updated July 30, 2019

After parent complaints, Wake will review panel that backs controversial math program   July 17, 2019

Wake school board to respond to parent’s MVP math appeal next month   July 17, 2019

WCPSS Mathematics Vision Project Curriculum Review Committee Report   June 18, 2019

WCPSS review committee backs controversial math curriculum amid protests   June 18, 2019

Wake schools to continue using controversial math program, but with ‘changes and improvements’   June 7, 2019

 Wake won’t drop controversial math curriculum but will make some changes   June 7, 2019

As some teachers defend controversial math curriculum, critics say it’s causing anxiety, PTSD   May 10, 2019

A Rising Parent Voice Gains Attention   April 29, 2019

Stop the coverup.’ Wake County parents and students protest new MVP math curriculum.   April 23, 2019

Nation’s 16th Biggest District Spends More Than a Million to Implement “Free” Discovery High School Mathematics Curriculum   March 21, 20

Related to Cease and Desist Letters

Why are parents and educators calling for an investigation of Istation pick?   July 19, 2019

Records show NC superintendent bypassed committee to award $8.3 million state contract   July 15, 2019

Company awarded K-3 reading contract sends cease and desist letters ‘to end the misinformation’   July 15, 2019   updated July 16, 2019   includes copies of three cease and desist letters

Cease & Desist Letters and a “Whistle-Blower” – This iStation Thing is Getting Murkier By The Minute   July 15, 2019

After outcry from educators, NC will delay use of computer-based reading test   June 28, 2019

Deputized Education

Most of us, here in America, know that our State Superintendents are elected. We also know that some States have these leaders appointed. However, have you heard of new positions in your States for Deputy Superintendents? These leaders are appointed solely by your current State Superintendent.

As I often do, I’ll use NC (where I live) as an example of how troublesome this new concept is for America. Why would I do that? Because what I’ve found to be true more times than not, is if we spy one State expanding government in the name of education, it’s happening in other States, too.

Why would your State or mine expand government in the name of education?

ESSA (Every Student Succeeds Act) requires expansion. How? One of the most damning mandates in ESSA is that all education must be aligned to post-secondary readiness. To have all education aligned to the same thing, you have to update technology (ie: innovation). Of course, you update the technology, you increase the amount of data mining. 

The NC State Board of Education is hosting its December meeting 12/5 and 12/6. Among the documents is the 2019 Report to the Joint Oversight Committee on Education (as per a NC State Statute requires). In that Report, you’ll see on page 1, this excerpt explaining NC’s first ISD (Innovation School District (this ISD covers the entire State, by the way) leader who got a recent promotion: 

“The founding Superintendent, Dr. Eric Hall, was hired in May 2017 to launch and implement this new statewide intervention focused on improving student outcomes in low performing schools. On September 17, 2018, the ISD named a new Superintendent, LaTeesa Allen. Ms. Allen replaced Eric Hall, who was promoted to Deputy State Superintendent of Innovation.”

I was one of the first to expose the DIS (see below), but, I’m not the only NC citizen upset about an increased educratic government system in NC, From July 2018, Caffeinated Rage (a blog about public education in NC) published this article about the newly created Deputy position. As you read the Rage blog you’ll see that in fact there are several other new Deputies in education, as well as a comparison to our pre ESSA organization chart for NC and the new organizational chart. 

Besides the fact that our current State Superintendent expanded the Department of Public Instruction by creating Deputies, such the Deputy of Innovation, this type of move took AWAY some taxpayer transparency!

When you take away taxpayer transparency, you continue to mute the voices of the parents and concerned citizens. When you remove those voices, control of education becomes LESS local and more top-down. That’s another direct part of ESSA, more top-down control and less parental choice.

Oh, one last point about the Deputy of Innovation, the schools targeted are all low-performing ones. ESSA has mandates for low-performing schools that we’re seeing played out in NC and across the nation: these low-performing public schools are being turned over to private charter school management companies.

Deputies of Innovation are nationwide. After a quick internet search, I found that there are at least 160 such deputy jobs available just on Indeed.com alone. One such position is available in CA. NY has some education deputies which intersect with communities. (ESSA laid that aspect out as well). NM’s got a similar name as NC’s Deputy, but it’s called a Director. 

Just like the re-brands of Common Core (like CCR, College/Career Readiness), ESSA’s re-branding many parts of education. Why? Those backing the egregious national standards and control know that if a new sounding name is introduced, ‘We the People’ are more likely to embrace the changes. 

However, many citizens have woken up to the fact all that appears new isn’t new at all. It’s the same Common Core Standards nightmare being carried out. 

So, what are we, as Americans supposed to do with the newly created government expansion? 

Demand are voices be heard, re-instate total transparency. Repeal ESSA, nationally normed standards thrive on nationally normed (and conformed) tests. Which every single State in America is seeing play out. We also need our President to rescind the FERPA gutting Executive Order and restore true student privacy. 

We need to ditch updating technology and get back to the basics of learning. The increase in technology not only assaults privacy, it is dangerous in the fact of too much screen time literally harms student’s brains!

C’mon America, we not only HAVE to demand the best for our students, we MUST not stop raising awareness of the daily wrongs being committed on our dime and to our children. We MUST hold State level and national level Congress members accountable that there’s a U.S. Constitution which laid out what was federal business and what wasn’t. 

Education was NEVER supposed to be top-down from the federal government. Education HAS been used by the federal government to coerce every single State in our nation! Federal laws were created to prohibit federal overreaches in education. Laws like ESSA not only violate that concept, it totally squashes our State leaders!

Related Resources:
Back in 2016, I first wrote about the Districts of Innovation on my full-time blog

To see the 2019 Report to the Joint Oversight Education Committee, here’s the link: https://simbli.eboardsolutions.com/Meetings/Attachment.aspx?S=10399&AID=151291&MID=4874

A Peek at a “Mastery-Based Classroom”

As part of their “Future of Learning” newsletter, The Hechinger Report‘s Tara Garcia Mathewson gives us a peek inside a “mastery-based classroom” of fourth-graders learning math at Piney Grove Elementary School in Charlotte, NC.

“Mastery-Based” is just another phrase for “standards-based learning” and both rely upon “personalized learning.”  This trend is all about students working at their own pace with teachers providing support. A student does not move on until they have “mastered” the content which is determined, in this case, through a quarterly assessment.

Mathewson writes:

Every 12 weeks during the school year, students here take assessments to gauge their progress toward mastering all of the standards in the fourth-grade curriculum. While all students take these tests, Nealeigh’s pay more attention to the results than average. For her fourth graders, the test results offer a picture of their strengths and weaknesses, revealing specific skills they need to sharpen.

(Molly) Nealeigh (their teacher) helps them glean this understanding. She makes a chart, listing each test question under the standard it relates to (like “use place value understanding to round multi-digit whole numbers to any place”). Students calculate a percentage for each standard based on how many related questions they got right or wrong. When students get 80 to 100 percent of questions related to a given standard correct, Nealeigh considers that mastery, and the students don’t have to do any review. Less than that and students either have to work on the skills by themselves or, if they got fewer than 60 percent of the questions correct, with a teacher.

“The mindset is ‘Give students their own data and let them choose what to work on themselves,’” Nealeigh said.

We’ve written about (or pointed out articles about) where this trend is headed. The future looks disturbing. Teachers become facilitators of learning instead of teaching.  Much of personalized learning is not actually personal

Jane Robbins, when writing about what is wrong with the personalized learning approach, hit the nail on the head:

In her valuable book Seven Myths About Education, Daisy Christodoulou makes the same point about the necessity of committing knowledge to long-term memory. Everything the progressive educators say they want – including education as “problem-solving” – depends on deeply embedded knowledge: “When we try to solve any problem,” Christodoulou writes, “we draw on all the knowledge that we have committed to long-term memory. The more knowledge we have, the more types of problems we are able to solve.” And the stubborn fact is that (personalized learning) makes it much harder for students to increase their long-term knowledge.

In short, cognitive science confirms what all veteran teachers know: True learning requires structure, repetition, and work, not just ability to mimic something that pops up once on a screen before moving on to the next.

Just because students scored 80-100 percent on one assessment does not mean they don’t need review. As far as letting students choose what they want to work on, gee, what could possibly go wrong there? 

Anti-Common Core Victories at the State Level

Governor-elect Chris Sununu (R-NH) said Common Core "needs to be scrapped."

Governor-elect Chris Sununu (R-NH) said Common Core “needs to be scrapped.”

Much has been made about what Donald Trump’s election may mean for federal involvement in education, and rightly so. President-Elect Trump has the ability to show real change is coming or if status quo will be maintained when he nominates his Secretary of Education.

That said, what has been under-reported, is the victories that anti-Common Core candidates had at the state level. The 74 points out these changes may represent a greater threat to Common Core than Donald Trump does.

Here is a list of the candidates they highlighted who won on Election Day.

  • Governor-elect Chris Sununu (R-NH) he said during a debate that “Common Core must be scrapped.”
  • Mark Johnson, a Republican who won the North Carolina Superintendent for Public Instruction race, ran on repealing Common Core.
  • North Carolina Lt. Governor Dan Forest, the state’s leading anti-Common Core voice, won reelection.
  • Governor-elect Eric Grietens (R-MO) said that he opposed Common Core.
  • Four anti-Common Core candidates were elected to the Utah State Board of Education.
  • Elsie Arntzen, a Common Core skeptic, won the Montana Superintendent of Public Instruction race.

This of course does not include any state legislative races. Kentucky’s House of Representatives just flipped Republican so I’m cautiously optimistic that a Common Core repeal can happen since Governor Matt Bevin (R-KY) campaigned on repealing Common Core. Republicans flipped the Iowa Senate and expanded their majority in the Iowa House, but I’m less optimistic that change can happen since Governor Terry Branstad (R-IA) line-item vetoed a bipartisan measure that would have delayed implementation of the Smarter Balanced Assessment. I believe the legislature possibly have the votes to override the Governor’s veto, but I’m not as convinced legislative leadership wants that battle. We’ll see.

A North Carolina Common Core Rebrand Is Almost Certain

Photo credit: Mr. TinDC (CC-By-ND 2.0)

Photo credit: Mr. TinDC (CC-By-ND 2.0)

Nothing like hearing about the final recommendations of a Common Core review commission and see that only “modest” changes are going to be made.

North Carolina Public Radio reports:

The commission recommended revising the K-12 math and English language arts standards with attention to things like developmental appropriateness and clarity in the way a standard is written. But it offered no specifics as to which standards should be changed or how.

Commission co-chair Tammy Covil says she’s disappointed the final recommendations aren’t more specific, but that the 15 months members had to deliberate weren’t enough.

“Rather than do something haphazardly, we backed off of attempts to be too specific or even make specific recommendations of changes to specific standards and decided it was more productive to move forward with generalized recommendations,” Covil said.

Raleigh high school math teacher Greta Lumsden was relieved the commission voted down its most sweeping recommendation—to scrap the K-8 math standards and adopt Minnesota’s.

“As teachers we have invested a lot of time, planning, creating curriculum to help implement these standards, and the taxpayers have invested a lot of money in this also,” she said.

The commission also voted down a proposal to switch back to the traditional high school math sequence.

This, this was most definitely not in the spirit of the review bill that was passed that set this commission up.

What States Have Pulled Out of their Common Core Assessment Consortium?

239 PreTests

We wanted to provide a complete list in one location of all the states that have pulled out of either Smarter Balanced or PARCC, as well as, states that are considering it.

States that have pulled out of their Assessment Consortium:

  1. Utah (Smarter Balanced) – http://www.sltrib.com/sltrib/mobile/54627081-68/utah-state-standards-consortium.html.csp
  2. Oklahoma (PARCC) – http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/oklahoma-pulls-out-of-parcc/ (the Tulsa World article is no longer on the website).
  3. Georgia (PARCC) – http://www.ajc.com/news/news/breaking-news/georgia-decides-against-offering-common-core-stand/nYzDr/
  4. Alabama (Smarter Balanced & PARCC – they were an advisory state) – http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/02/alabama_withdraws_from_both_te.html
  5. Indiana (PARCC) – http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/pence-pulls-indiana-out-of-parcc/  and http://indianapublicmedia.org/stateimpact/2013/07/29/gov-pence-signals-intent-to-withdraw-from-common-core-consortium-parcc/  As of December PARCC still had them listed though – http://hoosiersagainstcommoncore.com/indianas-withdraw-parcc-real-show/
  6. Kansas (Smarter Balanced) – http://m.cjonline.com/news/2013-12-10/kansas-opts-create-its-own-common-core-tests
  7. Pennsylvania (Smarter Balanced & PARCC) – http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/06/pennsylvania_signals_departure_from_test_consortia.html
  8. Alaska (Smarter Balanced) – http://www.newsminer.com/news/education/alaska-changes-school-testing-consortium/article_05509298-7d77-11e3-9606-001a4bcf6878.html
  9. Florida (PARCC) – http://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-assessments/rick-scott-pulls-florida-out-of-parcc/

States Actively Considering Withdrawing

  1. Michigan (Smarter Balanced) – http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/12/consortium_watch_kansas_drops_.html
  2. Kentucky (PARCC) – http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/curriculum/2013/12/consortium_watch_kansas_drops_.html
  3. North Carolina (Smarter Balanced) – http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/01/02/3502892/common-core-backlash-casts-shadow.html
  4. Iowa (Smarter Balanced) – The Iowa Legislature actually has to approve its use – http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/2013/05/iowa-puts-common-core-assessments-on-hold/

States that never joined.

  1. Virginia
  2. Texas
  3. Nebraska
  4. Minnesota

Photo credit: Barbara Day

Credit: Stephanie Zimmerman of Idahoans for Local Education put the original list together in an email to our group.  I expanded it and added some additional news stories.

North Carolina Standardized Testing in Question Due to Common Core Backlash

nc-state-flagThe Raleigh News & Observer published a story yesterday entitled “Common Core backlash casts shadow on future testing in NC.”  Sounds dramatic doesn’t it?

Basically the North Carolina Legislature threw a monkey wrench in the North Carolina State Board of Education’s plans by not funding the Smarter Balanced Assessments.  Those pesky legislators!

An excerpt:

North Carolina has been part of a group of states guiding the creation of a national test called SMARTER Balanced, which is tied to Common Core standards for reading and math. The thought was that students statewide would begin taking the national exams next year.

The Common Core State Standards establish a clear and consistent map for what students should learn from kindergarten through high school to prepare them better for college and careers. North Carolina is one of 45 states to adopt the standards.

But a Common Core backlash, driven by critics who question the state’s decision to hand over control of its education standards to national groups, has complicated the decision on whether to adopt the national tests.

The legislature in its budget prohibited the Board of Education from spending any money on new tests linked to the standards, including SMARTER Balanced, unless the legislature passes a law allowing it.

A legislative committee examining Common Core wants to consider the fiscal and legal consequences of the state dropping out of the group working on the test.

The state board was scheduled to vote next week on what tests to use next year, but Chairman Bill Cobey said Thursday that the board isn’t ready to do so. Instead, the board is going to get more information on options and what other states are doing.

“It’s a very complicated thing because it has budgetary implications,” he said. Ultimately, the legislature controls what that board will do, Cobey said.

Read the rest.

First I have to point out the obvious bias in the article (or laziness if the reporter is just being fed talking points) when it says, “The Common Core State Standards establish and clear and consistent map…”  Clear?  Please, a lack of clarity is one of our primary problems with the content of the Common Core State Standards.

Second, this is a model for states to follow who are still a part of PARCC or Smarter Balanced.  Hard to implement what isn’t funded.

Common Core "going to hit like a ton of bricks"

Ann Doss Helms is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer and she is following the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board retreat.  Two of her tweets from the retreat are worth noting:

#cmsbd members say public knows little about federal changes that will shape local education, inc. Common Core Standards …

Common Core Standards are “going to hit like a ton of bricks,” says Ellis-Stewart. #cmsbd

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools (CMS) is the second largest school district in North Carolina.  The district has more than 141,000 students and 159 schools.  If the Common Core hits CMS like “a ton of bricks,” our children will be in deep trouble.

Common Core webinars in North Carolina

According to the NC Department of Public Instruction,

Information for implementing the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics is the focus of three webinars scheduled in the New Year. We hope your schedule will allow you to participate in one of the following (the webinar material is the same for each) webinars. Each will be held from 3-5 p.m.:

Jan. 10: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/137465529
Feb. 9:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/762931233
March 8:  https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/380992544

As far as I can tell, the webinars are open to all.  I will be monitoring these sessions, but if anyone else is interested, follow the links above to register.