JOINT HEARINGS ON COMMON CORE STANDARDS

Newly elected legislators take an oath to defend, protect, honor, and follow the U.S. Constitution and their state constitution. The public expects these legislators to follow the laws created by their government. If legislators ignore these documents and laws, how can Americans expect anyone else to honor them? That is the seminal issue with Common Core State Standards.

The U. S. Constitution requires states to retain authority over education.

Efforts made by the U.S. Department of Education to direct curriculum through Common Core Standards violated the General Education Provisions Act, the Department of Education Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 which prohibited the federal DoED from exercising any direction or supervision in the selection of textbooks or instructional materials or in the control of administration of curriculum. When the federal government provides funding and influence to assure that standards, textbooks, and testing materials are aligned, it is ignoring the laws that are intended to prevent this assumption of unwarranted power and influence.

Some members of Congress claim that the department of education appears to be developing Common Core Standards in a way that “takes control over education away from the states and hands it to the federal government.”
(http://thehill.com/blogs/floor-action/house/297219-gop-says-obama-administration-taking-over-education-policy-with-no-input-from-congress)

Should this lack of ethics be of great concern to our state legislators?

 The Wisconsin Constitution assumes responsibility for providing an education for its citizenry.

Wisconsin statute 118.30 (1g) (a) (1) provides that family and community stakeholder concerns are to be addressed at the local level. The imposition of federal and state regulations severely limit local control of schools and ample proof is available if you wish to see it.(The National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers has the copyright) When a copyright to curricula is held by nongovernmental entities unaccountable to parents and students and when additional content must be aligned with CCSS, isn’t local control of schools being undermined?

The efforts of the federal government to establish curriculum standards results in a de facto national curriculum and instructional materials that will in effect be supervised, directed, or controlled, by the federal Department of Education.

If we are a people of laws, should these violations be reason enough for ethical people to reject CCSS?

Why would state legislators willingly relinquish or limit their autonomy over public education?

The claim that only national standards will prepare students for a 21stcentury economy requires citizens to suspend logic and to ignore truth.

 National standards are not a new concept. Russia and Germany embraced nationalized education from the early 1900s to the 1950s. The curriculum became politicized and destructive socially and economically. Both countries have begun providing state autonomy over education, but Germany has experienced a bumpy transfer of authority to the states. Currently, the Romeike family is seeking political asylum in the U.S. Romeike said he wanted to homeschool his children because German school textbooks contain language and ideas that conflict with his family’s values. In America, when a federal DoED takes steps to align tests with curriculum, all school choice options will have to be aligned to the federally structured educational system. Doesn’t this federally required alignment create a similar situation by undermining the integrity of school choice options rendering school choice an illusion? (EURYDICE: EACEA.ec.europa.eu, National summary sheets on education system in Europe and ongoing reforms — Germany.^ Schülerzahlen Statistisches Bundesamt Deutschland. Retrieved 2007, 07-20  a b Country Profile: Germany, U.S. Library of Congress. December 2005. Retrieved 2006, 12-04)

The politicization of curriculum is addressed by Chester Finn of the Fordham Institute in The War against the Common Core. He explains that CCSS blurs the relationship between national and federal standards and that the standards will be “politicized, corrupted and turned from national/voluntary into federal/coercive.” Mr. Finn explains, “This is probably the strongest objection to the Common Core and, alas, it’s probably the most valid.” (http://www.edexcellece.net/commentary/education-gladfly-weekly/2012/march-1/the-war-a)

While Japan, China, and Singapore have national standards and their students outrank American students on national tests, their economies underperform the American economy. Teaching a specific curriculum to obtain a specific answer on a test discourages creativity needed for a productive economy no matter what the century. (World Intellectual Property Organization. (2010). World Intellectual Property Indicators 2010. Author. Retrieved from:

http://www.wipo.int/export/sites/www/ipstats/en/statistics/patents/pdf/941_2010.pdf Zhao, Y. (2009). Catching up or leading the Way. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.;Tan, S. (2010). Singapore’s educational reforms. The case for un-standardizing curriculum and reducing testing. AASA Journal of Scholarship and Practice, 6 (4), 50-58.)

Why is Wisconsin willing to repeat the mistakes of other nations?

The claim that Common Core State Standards are rigorous and internationally benchmarked must be analyzed. 

Since American students have been seeing some progress in math, let’s focus on math standards.

Let’s examine internationally benchmarked standards provided by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) which are used to rank the quality of education provided by each country.(http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/index.asp?HasSearched=1&searchcat2=subjectindex&L1=2&L2=3http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2013009)

  

Table 7. Description of TIMSS international mathematics benchmarks, by grade: 2011 Benchmark http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2013/2013009.pdf page number 19 but actually page 35 of the document
 
(score cutpoint)
Grade 4
Advanced
(625)
Students can apply their understanding and knowledge in a variety of relatively complex situations and explain their reasoning. They can solve a variety of multi-step word problems involving whole numbers including proportions. Students at this level show an increasing understanding of fractions and decimals. Students can apply geometric knowledge of a range of two- and three-dimensional shapes in a variety of situations. They can draw a conclusion from data in a table and justify their conclusion.
High
(550)
Students can apply their knowledge and understanding to solve problems. Students can solve word problems involving operations with whole numbers. They can use division in a variety of problem situations. They can use their understanding of place value to solve problems. Students can extend patterns to find a later specified term. Students demonstrate understanding of line symmetry and geometric properties. Students can interpret and use data in tables and graphs tosolve problems. They can use information in pictographs and tally charts to complete bar graphs.
Intermediate
(475)
Students can apply basic mathematical knowledge in straightforward situations. Students at this level demonstrate an understanding of whole numbers and some understanding of fractions. Students can visualize three-dimensional shapes from two-dimensional representations. They can interpret bar graphs, pictographs, and tables to solve simple problems.
Low
(400)
Students have some basic mathematical knowledge. Students can add and subtract whole numbers. They have some recognition of parallel and perpendicular lines, familiar geometric shapes, and coordinate maps. They can read and complete simple bar graphs and tables.

 

science items.

More information on the development of the benchmarks and the procedures used to set the score cutpoints can be found in the TIMSS and PIRLS Methods and Procedures (Martin and Mullis 2011). http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/index.asp?HasSearched=1&searchcat2=subjectindex&L1=2&L2=3

The following are the “internationally benchmarked” standards provided by CCSS. As we compare these two sets of standards for grades 4, we see that the actual internationally benchmarked standards provided by TIMMS are more rigorous and more fact based than those provided by CCSS. Implementing a set of standards shaped after the TIMMS model would be one choice that Wisconsin has the right to make and would benefit Wisconsin students.
Grade 4 Overview:  COMMON CORE STANDARDS http://www.corestandards.org/Math/Content/4/introduction
http://standards.dpi.wi.gov/stn_math-tchingandlrng
 

Operations and Algebraic Thinking

Use the four operations with whole numbers to solve problems.
Gain familiarity with factors and multiples.
Generate and analyze patterns.

Number and Operations in Base Ten

Generalize place value understanding for multi-digit whole numbers.
Use place value understanding and properties of operations to perform multi-digit arithmetic.

Number and Operations—Fractions

Extend understanding of fraction equivalence and ordering.
Build fractions from unit fractions by applying and extending previous understandings of operations on whole numbers.
Understand decimal notation for fractions, and compare decimal fractions.

Measurement and Data

Solve problems involving measurement and conversion of measurements from a larger unit to a smaller unit.
Represent and interpret data.
Geometric measurement: understand concepts of angle and measure angles.

Geometry
Draw and identify lines and angles, and classify shapes by properties of their lines and angles.

Mathematical Practices

Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
Model with mathematics.
Use appropriate tools strategically.
Attend to precision.
Look for and make use of structure.
Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning, operations, and Algebraic Thinking (4.OA)

 

Only a mathematician would recognize that the grade four Common Core Standards do not require proficiency with multiplication using standard algorithm (step-by-step procedure for calculations). That skill is reserved for grade 5, a grade behind expectations of high-performing competitors. According to James Milgram, member of the CC validation committee, the material covered in arithmetic and algebra in CC in fifth grade should be covered in fourth grade if American students are to be competitive. He also stated that the standards are a “result of all the political pressure to make Core Standards acceptable to the special interest groups involved.”

Is this politicization of standards the method Wisconsin legislators want used when creating educational policy? http://parentsacrossamerica.org/james-milgram-on-the-new-core-curriculum-standards-in-math/

Teaching becomes a trade and not a profession when teaching methods are   intertwined with standards while requiring children to accept a specific value system to advance academically.

Under the Common Core Mathematical Practices section for grade 4 math, item 3 requires students to:

  Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.”  

What type of critique is acceptable? How does one define a “viable argument”? What happens if a “non-conformist” refuses to critique a fellow student? What remediation will be offered? Will this remediation condition a child to suppress the leadership quality of non-conformity? Who controls or determines the appropriate responses: the federal government that shapes the tests? the private organizations that wrote the standards? the state? or local parents and teachers?

The Wisconsin DPI website includes a page called: Wisconsin Guiding Principles for Teaching and Learning: What Do They Look Like in Mathematics Classrooms? Item 5 includes, “Students share mathematical thinking. Multiple solution strategies are welcomed and discussed.”  http://standards.dpi.wi.gov/files/cal/pdf/principles-for-math.pdf

 

Over the centuries, mathematicians have found the most efficient and effective methods of finding mathematical solutions; they have passed those practices down through the generations. Yet, teachers were told in the early 60s to encourage children to find their “own way” of doing a math problem. This discovery or inquiry-based approach to math led to confusion, frustration, and incompetence.

 

In 1967 Project Follow Through compared the different educational models which showed that the Explicit Instruction model (also known as direct instruction) was the only instructional approach which actually helps disadvantaged students. Project Follow Through remains the most comprehensive study of instructional models.    See Addendum C

 

The federally created National Mathematics Advisory Panel (NMAP) reported in 2008 that “Explicit instruction with students who have mathematical difficulties has shown consistently positive effects on performance” The report explained that teachers should provide clear models for solving a problem using an array of examples. http://www2.ed.gov/about/bdscomm/list/mathpanel/report/final-report.pdf

 

In 2010, the Gendler&Mann law firm filed suit against the Seattle Public Schools for implementing the Discovery Math series in their schools. The suit claims that the Discovery Math approach worsens the achievement gap between minority/disadvantaged students and their peers. The school district is accused of choosing a deficient mathematics program for “equity” reasons and children are asked to “discover age-old principles on their own” even though there is evidence that the discovery method of instruction does not work. See Addendums D, E, F, and G

Teachers who are going to be held accountable for the academic progress made by their students must be free to be flexible and to select the teaching method (s) which best meets the needs of their students and which best presents the concepts being taught at any given time. Common Core Standards expect teachers and children to be productive using methods and standards that have been historically unproductive.

Educators should be justifiably leary of a set of standards which strictly define the teaching materials and teaching techniques allowed to be used in the classroom rather than provide a list of skills and knowledge that should be mastered.

Does Wisconsin know how much it will cost the state to implement federal testing tools once initial implementation is complete?

Has Wisconsin conducted a technology feasibility assessment to determine their readiness to enforce the standards? Upgrading bandwith and purchasing technology to implement these programs will place a heavy tax burden upon Wisconsin citizens. Are Wisconsinites willing to assume this financial burden?

The attached e-mails from school district superintendents and school board members across the state of Wisconsin show that the actual costs of implementation of CCSS has not been defined by school administrators. Addendum H

Is it ethical or fiscally responsible to implement any program without providing a well-defined cost analysis?

Testing for the 21st Century

Sternberg, a professor at Yale, is developing The Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test which measures other forms of genius than book smarts by identifying creative and practical abilities in addition to conventional abilities. Once Sternberg’s research is complete, current testing methods for identifying academic progress will be antiquated.

If Wisconsin is burdened with a federally created testing program, Wisconsin will be unable to update quickly their assessment tools to recognize all progress made by students. http://education.jhu.edu/PD/newhorizons/future/creating_the_future/crfut_sternberg.cfm

When tests are aligned to curricula through federally funded assessments, those assessment tools will ultimately direct the course of curriculum content.

 

In Conclusion

Not one citizen-elected legislative body has had any input into the standards or the system of development by which those standards came to be. Is this ethical? Is it in the best interest of children?

 

The Standards are owned and copyrighted by nongovernmental entities unaccountable to parents and students in the individual states. “Race to the Top” required states to commit to a common set of K-12 standards by August 2, 2009. States that did not commit to the program stood no chance of winning any of the grant money. Phase I Race to the Top applicants were required to demonstrate their commitment to Common Core without having seen a draft of the standards.

 

The required standards and teaching methods have historically failed students, especially minority/disadvantage/struggling students and their peers, while turning the teaching profession into a trade and granting federal government unwarranted power and influence over our children.

iii. http://achieve.org/files/BenchmarkingforSuccess.pdf (accessed 4/22/2013), p. 2

v. Ibid, p. 2

 

One thought on “

  1. One of the best articles about flawed Common Core I have read! I will be emailing to many and presenting to my school board president and our local school superintendent. Invaluable information! I will post on facebook also.
    Thank you!

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