National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of Nothing

Dear Friends,

 An informative article on standardized reading and math tests and Common Core. Written by Jonathan Butcher, Butcher is a senior policy analyst in the Center for Education Policy at The Heritage Foundation. Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

“National Academic Standards Have Produced a Lot of Nothing” 

…Last week, the U.S. Department of Education released the latest Nation’s Report Card, documenting results from the standardized reading and math tests taken every two years by 4th and 8th grade students. In both subjects, the national average scores remain essentially unchanged from 2015 for both grades (with the exception of a 2-point improvement in 8th grade reading). National average scores have now remained steady for more than a decade.   

Lawmakers who pour billions of taxpayer dollars into district schools every year should pause to consider the implications. 

First, supporters of the Common Core national academic standards have some explaining to do. As early as 2012, some said national standards could “potentially improve the performance of U.S. students” in math. Others said the standards would “help narrow the achievement gaps.” 

Neither has happened. Indeed, the latest results show a widening achievement gap. Students at the top end of the scale are scoring higher and those at the bottom are scoring lower than when the Common Core standards were first adopted.  

A more rigorous evaluation is needed to say the Common Core is the reason for the disappointing results. But the lofty claims about national standards have not been realized.

Notably, between 2003 to 2011, almost every state showed improvement in math scores on the Nation’s Report Card. Some states even recorded double-digit gains. Reading test results evidenced similar gains, although not quite as pronounced.

Scores stalled and then took a turn after that. Between 2013 and 2017, only five jurisdictions logged improvements in 4th grade math, and just three in 8th grade math. 

Writing for Education Next, Senior Editor Paul Peterson notes a similar phenomenon when test results are broken out according to racial subgroups. Test score gains were substantially larger between 2000 and 2009 than from 2009 to 2017. 

Trying to explain these disappointing results, some have pointed to economic trends, blaming the 2013–2015 score drop on the 2007 recession and subsequent sluggish recovery. This explanation is problematic because math scores went up sharply between 2000 and 2003, despite the 2001 recession (4thgrade readingscores also improved, though not quite as much). Scores also trended up after the recession in the early 1990s.

Inadequate funding is also likely not the culprit. Per student spending nationwide has increased since 2000.

One final caveat about these scores: Long-term trends are more important than the results from any one test. And whatever variations we see in 4th and 8th grade results disappear by 12th grade. In fact, 12th grade scores in math and reading have not changed since 1971. After decades of trying, Washington’s carousel of reform ideas and regular federal and state funding increases have not wrought any lasting improvement to the national average for students finishing high school…

https://tinyurl.com/y9kf7vf2

 

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com

Common Core Is Very Much Alive

Dear Friends,

An informative article written on Common Core by Nicholas Tampio, Mr. Tampio is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Fordham University.  He researches the history of political thought, contemporary political theory, and education policy. He is the author of Common Core: National Education Standards and the Threat to Democracy (Johns Hopkins University Press 2018). Shared by Donna Garner a retired teacher and education activist (Wgarner1@hot.rr.com)

Truth in American Education

“Common Core Is Very Much Alive”

This article was originally published at The Conversation and was republished here with their permission. DeVos said Common Core was ‘dead’ – it’s not

In a speech in Washington earlier this year, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos called the education standards known as the Common Core a “disaster” and proclaimed: “At the U.S. Department of Education, Common Core is dead.”

The reality, however, is that the Common Core is still very much alive. As indicated in a recent report from Achieve, 24 states have “reviewed and revised” their English and math standards under the Common Core. In some instances, such as in New York, the revised standards are known by a different name.

This is worth pointing out because, as a political scientist and as I argue in my new book, the Common Core has soured many people on public education and civic life in general. When one group of people decides the national education standards, other people feel alienated from the schools and the democratic process.

Criticism and praise

Many families oppose the Common Core and have refused to allow their children to take the associated end-of-year tests such as the PARCC, SBAC, ACT Aspire, or New York State Common Core 3-8 English Language Arts and Mathematics Tests. Critics argue that Common Core math expects students to justify their answers in ways that are “unnecessary and tedious.” Others note that the standards will not prepare many students to major in a STEM discipline in college. And for some scholars and parents, the “close textual reading” under Common Core makes learning a chore rather than a pleasure.

In 2013, then-Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the Common Core may “prove to be the single greatest thing to happen to public education in America since Brown versus Board of Education.” For Duncan and others, the Common Core promised to prepare all students to succeed in college, career and life.

Waning support

But that view did not align with popular support for the Common Core, which dropped from 83 percent to 50 percent between 2013 and 2016. For many parents and educators, the Common Core has made public education worse.

For critics such as author and former Assistant Secretary of Education Diane Ravitch, the Common Core is “fundamentally flawed” because of the way that the standards were developed. Common Core work group members included more people from the testing industry than experienced teachers, subject-matter experts or early childhood educators. According to some early childhood health and education professionals, the standards conflict with research about how children learn and how best to teach them.

What political opponents said

When President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act in 2015, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., stated that the Republican congressional majority had “kept its promise to repeal the federal Common Core mandate.”

As a candidate for president, Donald J. Trump tweeted how he had been consistent in his opposition to the Common Core and argued that the federal government should “Get rid of Common Core — keep education local!”

It seemed only a matter of time before many states moved away from the Common Core.

As of 2018, however, nearly every state that adopted the Common Core during the Obama administration has kept the most important features. Across the country, students will take end-of-year tests that align with the Common Core.

Why the standards are still here

Alexander’s claim that Congress has repealed the Common Core mandate is misleading. The federal government has made it an expensive gamble for states to adopt education standards that differ from the Common Core.

According to the Every Student Succeeds Act, states that wish to adopt an alternative to the Common Core must now prove to the secretary of education that the standards are “challenging.”

According to the law, “each state shall demonstrate that the challenging state academic standards are aligned with entrance requirements for credit-bearing coursework in the system of public higher education in the State.” Most states adopted the Common Core as part of their “Race to the Top” applications during the Obama administration. Race to the Top gave an incentive to states to align high school graduation requirements and college entrance requirements with the new standards. States that keep the Common Core do not have to change anything to satisfy this provision. States that adopt new standards must prove to the secretary that high school graduates will be able to take credit-bearing courses as soon as they enter a public college or university.

In addition, the law requires states to adopt standards that align with “relevant State career and technical education standards.” The main Common Core reading standards are called the “college and career readiness anchor standards.” For states that want to meet this criterion of the law, the safest bet is to keep the Common Core.

States have a strong financial incentive to meet these criteria. The Every Student Succeeds Act directs approximately US$22 billion a year to states around the country, including over $700 million to Ohio, $1.6 billion to New York, $2 billion to Texas, and $2.6 billion to California. If a state fails to meet any of of the requirements of the law, “the Secretary may withhold funds for State administration under this part until the Secretary determines that the State has fulfilled those requirements.”

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has approved virtually all plans that include the Common Core or a slightly modified version. According to Education Week, even when states have revised the standards, “the core of the Common Core remains.”

https://truthinamericaneducation.com/common-core-state-standards/common-core-is-very-much-alive/

Respectfully,

Tincy Miller

SBOE, District 12

tincymiller35@gmail.com

www.tincymiller.com