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January 2015 Policy Study, Number 15-1

   

Why the Common Core Is Bad for Iowa!

   

Background on CCSS

   

 

At first glance the concept of the CCSS makes a lot of sense.  Supporters of the CCSS would argue that a student in 6th grade in Vermont should be able to transfer to 6th grade in California and pick up right where they left off at their old school.  Who can argue with that?  Uniform standards across the United States sounds like a WIN-WIN scenario!

 

This STUDY will share with you the history behind the CCSS, how it was slipped into place, the implementations at the state level, and then how the CCSS is not the best option for our students.  I encourage everyone to take the time to learn about the CCSS and the impact it will have in our lives.  For the CCSS is not all that it is cracked up to be.  You may first think, “I don’t have kids, why should I care?”  But this will affect everyone from business owners to future leaders.  There are Republicans and Democrats on both sides of this issue.  This is about doing what is best for our children and their education.  It is also about states’ rights.  It is better to allow state and local school boards to set policy about education.  Washington, D.C., doesn’t need to be telling Iowa what is best for our kids!

 

In a perfect world, we believe that most decisions that are made in education are made by educators who feel that they have our children’s best interest at heart.  While we may not always agree with the decisions, we at least know that the educator is using the most recent research to teach our children.

 

The exception to this is the CCSS.  While the CCSS have been in the headlines for about two years, these standards have been sneaking up on all of us.[9]  Most of us are aware of the 1983 report “A Nation at Risk.” This report suggested that schools adopt “more rigorous and measurable standards.”[10]  From then forward, not much really changed in overall standards for education until we entered the 21st century.  2001 brought the passage of No Child Left Behind (NCLB).  Frederick M. Hess summed up the reality of NCLB in his essay, “How the CCSS Went Wrong.”

 

In 2001, the No Child Left Behind Act marked a dramatic win for standards-based reform — but at the price of abandoning the push for ‘national’ standards. NCLB required states to adopt standards in reading and math, administer annual tests geared to those standards, use tests to determine which students were proficient, and analyze the outcomes to determine which schools and systems were making ‘adequate yearly progress’ — including the absurd requirement that 100 percent of students be proficient by 2014. Schools and systems that didn't perform adequately were subject to federally mandated sanctions. The crucial compromise was that states could set their own standards and tests. In fact, NCLB specifically prohibited national testing or a federally controlled curriculum.

 

What followed was not difficult to anticipate. The possibility of sanctions gave more than a few state leaders reason to adopt easy tests and lower the scores required for proficiency. A ‘race to the bottom’ was soon underway, prompting an effort to combat the gamesmanship.[11]

 

So how do you stop the “race to the bottom?” With the “race to the top” of course! To better understand the problems with the CCSS we need to review how they were developed.  Most of the resistance to the CCSS comes from the notion that the federal government wants to lead us to believe that this is a state-led initiative when it is NOT.  To really understand why there is so much discontent, let’s look at the origins of CC.  First, we know that money drives everything.  Did you know that the largest private donor to this cause is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation?  They funneled money into this joint development of the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.[12] 

 

To begin, they started out with two work groups: one that focused on English-language arts and one focused on math.  There were 29 people involved in these two work groups and of those 29 people, 4 had never taught K-12 and none had ever written K-12 standards.[13]  Following is the list of those that developed the math standards:

 

    • Sara Clough, Director, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Phil Daro, Senior Fellow, America's Choice
    • Susan K. Eddins, Educational Consultant, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy (Retired)
    • Kaye Forgione, Senior Associate and Team Leader for Mathematics, Achieve
    • John Kraman, Associate Director, Research, Achieve
    • Marci Ladd, Mathematics Consultant, The College Board & Senior Manager and Mathematics Content Lead, Academic Benchmarks
    • William McCallum, University Distinguished Professor and Head, Department of Mathematics, The University of Arizona & Mathematics Consultant, Achieve
    • Sherri Miller, Assistant Vice President, Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Ken Mullen, Senior Program Development Associate — Mathematics, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Robin O'Callaghan, Senior Director, Mathematics, Research and Development, The College Board
    • Andrew Schwartz, Assessment Manager, Research and Development, The College Board
    • Laura McGiffert Slover, Vice President, Content and Policy Research, Achieve
    • Douglas Sovde, Senior Associate, Mathematics, Achieve
    • Natasha Vasavada, Senior Director, Standards and Curriculum Alignment Services, Research and Development, The College Board
    • Jason Zimba, Faculty Member, Physics, Mathematics, and the Center for the Advancement of Public Action, Bennington College and Cofounder, Student Achievement Partners[14]

The following are the members of the English-language arts work group:

 

    • Sara Clough, Director, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • David Coleman, Founder, Student Achievement Partners
    • Sally Hampton, Senior Fellow for Literacy, America's Choice
    • Joel Harris, Director, English Language Arts Curriculum and Standards, Research and Development, The College Board
    • Beth Hart, Senior Assessment Specialist, Research and Development, The College Board
    • John Kraman, Associate Director, Research, Achieve
    • Laura McGiffert Slover, Vice President, Content and Policy Research, Achieve
    • Nina Metzner, Senior Test Development Associate — Language Arts, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Sherri Miller, Assistant Vice President, Educational Planning and Assessment System (EPAS) Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Sandy Murphy, Professor Emeritus, University of California – Davis
    • Jim Patterson, Senior Program Development Associate — Language Arts, Elementary and Secondary School Programs, Development, Education Division, ACT, Inc.
    • Sue Pimentel, Co-Founder, StandardsWork; English Language Arts Consultant, Achieve
    • Natasha Vasavada, Senior Director, Standards and Curriculum Alignment Services, Research and Development, The College Board
    • Martha Vockley, Principal and Founder, VockleyLang, LLC[15]

As you review the list of names, some common companies start to pop out, such as ACT, The College Board, and Achieve. This doesn’t look like a state-led initiative to me; it looks like a corporate-led initiative!  After the initial work groups, there were the feedback groups.  The members of the mathematics feedback group were:

 

    • George Andrews, The Pennsylvania State University, Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics
    • Hyman Bass, University of Michigan, Samuel Eilenberg Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics & Mathematics Education
    • David Bressoud, Macalester College, DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics & President, Mathematical Association of America
    • John Dossey, Illinois State University, Distinguished University Professor of Mathematics Emeritus
    • Scott Eddins, Tennessee Department of Education, Mathematics Coordinator & President, Association of State Supervisors of Mathematics (ASSM)
    • Brian Gong, The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Executive Director
    • Kenji Hakuta, Stanford University, Professor of Education
    • Roger Howe, Yale University, Professor of Mathematics
    • Henry S. Kepner, Jr., University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Professor, Curriculum & Instruction and Mathematical Sciences
    • Suzanne Lane, University of Pittsburgh, Professor in the Research Methodology Program, School of Education
    • Robert Linn, University of Colorado, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and Co-Director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST)
    • Jim Milgram, Stanford University, Professor of Mathematics, Emeritus, Department of Mathematics
    • Fabio Milner, School of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, Arizona State University, Director, Mathematics for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education
    • Roxy Peck, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, Associate Dean, College of Science and Mathematics and Professor of Statistics
    • Nora Ramirez, TODOS: Mathematics for ALL, President
    • William Schmidt, Michigan State University, College of Education, University Distinguished Professor
    • Uri Treisman, University of Texas, Professor of Mathematics and Public Affairs & Executive Director, Charles A. Dana Center
    • Vern Williams, Mathematics Teacher, HW Longfellow Middle School, Fairfax County, Virginia Public Schools
    • W. Stephen Wilson, Johns Hopkins University, Professor of Mathematics[16]

The members of the English-language arts feedback group were:

 

    • Peter Afflerbach, University of Maryland, Professor
    • Arthur Applebee, University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY) Distinguished Professor & Chair, Department of Educational Theory & Practice, School of Education
    • Mark Bauerlein, Emory University, Professor of English
    • Mary Bozik, University of Northern Iowa, Professor, Communication Studies
    • Don Deshler, University of Kansas, Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Special Education & Director, Center for Research on Learning
    • Chester Finn, Fordham Institute Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University & President, Thomas B. Fordham Institute
    • Brian Gong, The National Center for the Improvement of Educational Assessment, Executive Director
    • Kenji Hakuta, Stanford University, Professor of Education
    • Carol Jago, University of California – Los Angeles, National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) President-elect, California Reading and Literature Project
    • Jeanneine Jones, University of North Carolina – Charlotte, Professor
    • Michael Kamil, Stanford University, Professor, School of Education
    • Suzanne Lane, University of Pittsburgh, Professor in the Research Methodology Program, School of Education
    • Carol Lee, Northwestern University, Professor of Education and Social Policy
    • Robert Linn, University of Colorado, Distinguished Professor Emeritus, and Co-Director of the National Center for Research on Evaluation, Standards and Student Testing (CRESST)
    • Dolores Perin, Columbia University, Associate Professor of Psychology and Education
    • Tim Shanahan, University of Illinois at Chicago, Professor, Urban Education
    • Catherine Snow, Harvard Graduate School of Education, Patricia Albjerg Graham Professor
    • Doranna Tindle, Friendship Public Charter Schools, Instructional Performance Coach[17]

As we look at the feedback group it is evident that it is lacking K-12 teachers.  There is one K-12 teacher on the mathematics feedback group, and she is from Virginia.  Virginia decided not to even participate in the CCSS system. They instead decided to strengthen their own standards of learning and have worked to decrease standardized exams for middle and elementary students.[18] 

 

Finally the last group to review the CCSS standards is the validation committee.  Who was on this committee? 

 

On it were one high school English teacher, one mathematician, no high school mathematics teachers, some testing experts and school administrators, and many mathematics educators (people with doctorates in mathematics education, or in an education school, or who work chiefly in teacher education, and who usually do NOT teach college mathematics courses). The one mathematician (Dr. Jim Milgram) and the one ELA standards expert (Dr. Sandra Stotsky) on the Committee declined to sign off on the standards.[19]

 

So as you read the information about the people who developed the CCSS that are dictating the curriculum that our students are learning from, do you see a state-led initiative?  The Website on the CCSS claims about the development process that “Teachers played a critical role in development.”[20]  The Website goes on to further state that “they served on the work groups and feedback groups for the English-language arts and math standards.”[21]  Must be a new math standard, but one teacher does not mean that teachers played a “critical role” by my standards. 

 

   

 

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