Common Core Standards – The Backlash is Growing by the Day

Over 100 of the countries top professionals in education wrote an article and this is what they had to say –

We have grave concerns about the core standards for young children now being written by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. The draft standards made public in January conflict with compelling new research in cognitive science, neuroscience, child development, and early childhood education about how young children learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them in kindergarten and the early grades.

See the whole article here.

Diane Ravitch, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education had this to say –

I have long advocated for voluntary national standards, believing that it would be helpful to states and districts to have general guidelines about what students should know and be able to do as they progress through school. Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one. I envision standards not as a demand for compliance by teachers, but as an aspiration defining what states and districts are expected to do. They should serve as a promise that schools will provide all students the opportunity and resources to learn reading and mathematics, the sciences, the arts, history, literature, civics, geography, and physical education, taught by well-qualified teachers, in schools led by experienced and competent educators. ​For the past two years, I have steadfastly insisted that I was neither for nor against the Common Core standards. I was agnostic. I wanted to see how they worked in practice. I wanted to know, based on evidence, whether or not they improve education and whether they reduce or increase the achievement gaps among different racial and ethnic groups.

After much deliberation, I have come to the conclusion that I can’t wait five or ten years to find out whether test scores go up or down, whether or not schools improve, and whether the kids now far behind are worse off than they are today.

I have come to the conclusion that the Common Core standards effort is fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation.

The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time. Maybe the standards will be great. Maybe they will be a disaster. Maybe they will improve achievement. Maybe they will widen the achievement gaps between haves and have-nots. Maybe they will cause the children who now struggle to give up altogether. Would the Federal Drug Administration approve the use of a drug with no trials, no concern for possible harm or unintended consequences?

President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. This is not true. They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both of which were generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in the development of the Common Core. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states. ​In fact, it was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. Federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but in this case the Department figured out a clever way to evade the letter of the law. Forty-six states and the District of Columbia signed on, not because the Common Core standards were better than their own, but because they wanted a share of the federal cash. In some cases, the Common Core standards really were better than the state standards, but in Massachusetts, for example, the state standards were superior and well tested but were ditched anyway and replaced with the Common Core.

 Joanne Yatvin, a longtime public school educator, author and past president of the National Council of Teachers of English. She teaches part-time at Portland State University and is writing a book on good teaching in high poverty schools. Ms. Yatvin has this to say about Common Core –

Reading through the whole list of ELA standards several times, I marked 18 others in reading, writing, speaking or language that I consider inappropriate for elementary level students because of the emphasis on skills or knowledge that children have not yet developed. I will not quote any of them here, but I urge interested readers to read the Standards and see how many they think are beyond the range of elementary level students. According to an introduction piece the standards were developed, “in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.” But in looking through the names, titles and institutions of the fifty people who made up the ELA development team, I was able to identify only one current elementary teacher. All the rest, were college/university professors, state or school district administrators, or representatives of private educational companies

In reality, then, these standards were written by highly educated adults who do not teach children at present and, possibly, never did. Unconnected to the scientific research on children’s intellectual and emotional development and the everyday realities of children’s needs, interests and behavior, these writers relied only the folklore of academia, fantasizing not only what children should be expected to know and do, but also what adults need to function in actual colleges and workplaces.

The only hope for America’s children and its public schools is that parents and teachers will raise their voices for reason, wisdom, and quality education.

Stephanie Bell, a member of the Alabama State Board of Education had this to say –

The standards were founded on a flawed idea – which every child across America will “be on the same page at the same time. “every child is created, and I thank the Lord for this, we’re all created different,” she said. Sadly, schools superintendents and administrators are only being given one-sided information from the promoters of Common Core.

 According to the American Principles Project

The curriculum replaces the classics with government propaganda. They de-emphasize the study of classic literature in favor of reading so-called ‘informational texts,’ such as government documents, court opinions, and technical manuals. Over half the reading materials in grades 6-12 are to consist of informational texts rather than classical literature. Historical texts like the Gettysburg Address are to be presented to students without context or explanation.

Mathematics Professor R. James Milgram of Stanford University, the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards, because they would put many students two years behind those of many high-achieving countries.  For example, Algebra 1 would be taught in 9th grade, not 8th grade for many students, making calculus inaccessible to them in high school. The quality of the standards is low and not internationally benchmarked. Common Core denies this on its website as a “myth,” but Professor Milgram’s opposition contradicts this.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance – this study was used to construct Common Core.

National Sexuality Education Standards:  Core Content and Skills, K–12 Advisory Committee – the study is being used to base there sexual education data and teachings.

Common Core Standards website.

Videos:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekYVdOo4OuE]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=WcpMIUWbgxY]

A look inside of a Common Core English book.

P-20 Data Collecting System – While laboratory experiments have examined behavioral task performance for many years, new technological opportunities offer potential for new methods and approaches. Educational data mining (EDM) and learning analytics within digital learning environments allow for “micro-level” analyses of moment-by-moment learning processes (see callout box). 
Student data collected in online learning systems can be used to develop models about processes associated with grit, which then can be used, for example, to design interventions or adaptations to a learning system to promote desirable behaviors. Dependent behavioral variables associated with a challenge at hand may include responses to failure (e.g., time on task, help-seeking, revisiting a problem, gaming the system, number of attempts to solve a problem, use of hints), robustness of strategy use (e.g., planning, monitoring, tools used, number of solutions tried, use of time), level of challenge of self-selected tasks, or delay of gratification or impulse control in the face of an enticing off-task stimulus. Such data can be examined for discrete tasks or aggregated over many tasks.

 In controlled laboratory settings, these kinds of performances are easily observable. The amount of time children can delay their gratification can be used as an indicator of executive functions and effortful control.

Interaction patterns also can be explored by tracking eye moments to see where learners focus attention during problem solving.  Sensors provide constant, parallel streams of data and are used with data mining techniques and self-report measures to examine frustration, motivation/flow, confidence, boredom, and fatigue.  The MIT Media Lab Mood Meter (Hernandez, Hoque, & Picard, n.d.) is a device that can be used to detect emotion (smiles) among groups. The Mood Meter includes a camera and a laptop. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces (like distance between corner lips and eyes) to provide a smile intensity score.

The field of neuroscience also offers methods for insight into some of the psychological resources associated with grit, especially effortful control. Using neuroimaging techniques, such as fMRI, it is possible to examine which parts of the brain are active during times of anxiety or stress and the effects of some interventions. For example, Slagter, Davidson, and Lutz (2011) have investigated the effects of systematic mental training and meditation to enhance cognitive control and maintain optimal levels of arousal. Motivation was found to be associated with greater activation in multiple brain regions. Moreover, studies have reported functional and structural changes in the brain and improved performance of long-term practitioners of mindfulness and concentration meditation techniques that enhance attentional focus. These initial findings are promising evidence of the cognitive plasticity and malleability of brain functioning for processes related to grit.

Data Mining/Storage –  Parents might reasonably assume that the “personally identifiable information” collected for the database will include students’ test scores and perhaps other measures of academic proficiency. But they would be much less likely to imagine that the federal government envisions something far more extensive and invasive than merely tracking academic performance.  Researchers are exploring how to gather complex affective data and generate meaningful and usable information to feed back to learners, teachers, researchers, and the technology itself. Connections to neuroscience are also beginning to emerge. The fact that Common Core Standards require children’s personal information to be provided to a database that can be expected to sell or share the data to unspecified companies is worrisome to many parents and educators. the DOE displayed photographs of the actual technology that will be used on students, if the department’s plan is fully implemented. What they call the “four parallel streams of affective sensors” will be employed to effectively “measure” each child. The “facial expression camera,” for instance, “is a device that can be used to detect emotion…. The camera captures facial expressions, and software on the laptop extracts geometric properties on faces.” Other devices, such as the “posture analysis seat,” “pressure mouse,” and “wireless skin conductance sensor,” which looks like a wide, black bracelet strapped to a child’s wrist, are all designed to collect “physiological response data from a biofeedback apparatus that measures blood volume, pulse, and galvanic skin response to examine student frustration.”  

Scary times we live in. 

Please read my other articles on this subject –

Progressive/Socialist Dream = Common Core Standards

“National Sexuality Education Standards” – Educate yourself!

Common Core Standards – Promoting Grit, Tenacity and Perseverance

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