Ready or not, here come the Common Core standards. In many schools, they’re already here.
Thanks to parent advocacy groups and news outlets like KPBS, which have covered the roll-out extensively, you might already have the gist: After governors and education leaders initiated the Common Core movement, teachers and content experts helped write new standards in math and English that weigh critical thinking skills above rote memorization.
California is one of 45 states that have voluntarily adopted the new standards. Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown earmarked $1.25 billion to help California school districts make the transition. And in classrooms across San Diego County, the shift is under way.
But if you’re like most people, you probably still have some questions: If you’re a teacher, what will this do to your lesson plans? If you’re a parent, how will this affect your kid? And if you’re a student: Like, what tests are you going to have to take?
First, to the students: The old fill-in-the-bubble tests, the kind you used for the California Standards Tests, are gone for the time being. (A few grades will still be taking portions of the CST, as well as those who need the tests for college admissions purposes.)
Otherwise, 11th graders and students in grades 3-8 will be trying out the new Smarter Balanced Test this spring. Don’t sweat too hard; this year will be a pilot. (You might want to practice, though. It looks kind of tough). Next spring, the district plans to be at full speed.
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I can speak as unqualified computer "non-native" and I can tell you that kids will have similar learning curves to know the correct vagaries of how to navigate the new tests as the teacher adults. Unless someone at the State is so "anal" as a Steve Jobs to make this assessment work easily, this test will test only one thing...your frustration quotient, not intelligence quotient. This test must be user friendly from the "get-go" or else performance will not be assessed properly. I have brought this issue up to the people at the San Diego County Office of Education and they look at me like....yeah, we know. ....but no answers. If babies are swiping on an iphone or ipad how are our children going to relate to someone's bad dream from d.o.s. How are the children going to overcome the stupid pop-ups on the screen because IT techies didn't do their job. The State needs to adapt their focus to an ipad type mentality to get the efficiencies necessary to assess properly and accurately. This is cross-cultural and not a north of I-8, south of I-8 problem. It is our problem. If it doesn't work for the kids, it just doesn't work: witness the Obamacare debacle of October. People are far more computer saavy than whomever is mixing this test. Get real.
This should be the topic story in the SDUSD? Check to see if this County is ready for testing - "NO"
"By Howard Blume
January 27, 2014, 9:08 p.m.
The nation's second-largest school district is woefully unprepared to administer new state standardized tests by computer, a survey of Los Angeles Unified schools has found.
An internal district report, obtained by The Times through a California Public Records Act request, indicates that fewer than a third of Los Angeles schools said they were ready for this spring's tests, which for the first time will be given online.
The survey comes amid a $1-billion effort to provide every student, teacher and administrator with an iPad or other computer. That effort has been delayed even though the Board of Education agreed this month to buy as many of the tablets as needed for testing.
The review, however, revealed larger problems: limited Internet access on many campuses, a lack of expertise at many schools and too few computers. Additionally, the iPads may not arrive in time."
http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-lausd-computers-20140128,0,5974079.story#ixzz2ri71JqfNL.A. Unified unprepared for computerized state testhttp://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-lausd-computers-20140128,0,5974079.story#ixzz2ri71JqfNThe nation's second-largest school district is woefully unprepared to administer new state standardized tests by computer, a survey of Los Angeles Unified schools has found. An internal district report, obtained by The Times through a California Publ...
I've got kids in elementary school and we're seeing huge changes because of common core. Personally, I'm a fan, but any change this big isn't going to be popular with everyone. I think a great follow up article to this would be to explain why the photo that Rachel Laing posted actually isn't nuts at all. I had pretty poor math instruction until college, when I took a lot of math. I spent a whole semester in elementary number theory cursing every teacher I had in elementary school --and from what I've seen, common core addresses every single thing I cursed those teachers over. Our school had a great parent night where a math educator came and explained how common core is changing things. I do think that those of us who grew up in the US learned a lot that night about how math is taught if you want the students to grow up and actually use math to solve problems. (Mario, if you want to talk to one of the math educators who can explain why the math in the picture isn't nuts, let me know.)
Really? "Why have bells?" Because the education agenda is a war agenda: class and empire's wars. Any nation writhing in inequality and promising youth endless war is going to make odd demands on schools. To write an article on the Common Core and not mention, prominently, Bill Gates' millions is to rather miss the journalistic point: follow the money. Or, ask: Why have school? http://www.counterpunch.org/2010/09/07/why-have-school/
For a contrary opinion on Common Core, read “Story Killers: How the Common Core Destroys Minds and Souls”, by Dr. Terrence O, Moore.
Remember when education was basically a local responsibility? Then the state started dictating more and more to local districts as it took over funding. Finally, with the creation of the Dept. of Education during the Carter administration, the feds got in the act big time.
I can‘t resist asking the question that got Ronald Reagan elected (slightly modified), “Are students performing better in school now than they were 50 years ago?” More pertinent, are we producing the graduates with the skills necessary for tomorrow’s careers? The answers are painfully obvious, and I don’t see any evidence that more central control of curricula and pedagogy is the answer. Remember "New Math" around 1970? where is it now?
Yes Mario it is. You just stated that in fact. If states are adopting them, then they must have originated somewhere else.
Bill - 50 years ago? That was the year the Civil Rights Act was signed. Taken as a whole, yeah, I think schools are doing better.
Taken as a whole, no, they are likely not doing better.
While no metrics exist to quantify the rankings across those decades, OECD and PISA scores show the US, which at one time was at the forefront of public education is in decline on the world stage,
Our schools exist today to serve unions and not kids.
Hi Bill, I don't take a position for or against Common Core standards, but I don't think it's accurate to suggest they're coming from the federal government. States have the option of adopting them or not.
But to play devil's advocate to your point about students not being more prepared today than they were 50 years ago: If that's the case, wouldn't it be all the more reason to do something differently?
"After governors and education leaders initiated the Common Core movement, teachers and content experts helped write new standards in math and English that weigh critical thinking skills above rote memorization."
Oh? Which governors did the initiating? Can you show us how CCSS's genesis follows from any particular governor's chatter about standards? Because I've read that CCSS did not originate in any state or federal government office. It is the product of a privately assembled, privately funded effort, operating under a veil of secrecy. Teachers and "content experts"? I've read that there was exactly one teacher involved in developing the standards. Everyone else involved, your "content experts", came from companies involved in standardized testing or test prep and tutoring. These weren't panels of K-12 teachers or university education academics.
We hear a lot about how CCSS is supposed to emphasize critical thinking skills... but just how does it do that? And how do you test that effectively, with useful, informative results? Can you do it with multiple-choice questions, or do you have to use essays? When the college entrance exams added essay components, College Board and ACT had to build up huge infrastructures to get them evaluated. It was not a small effort, and that's two tests that cover just high school juniors who think they want to go to college. If you scaled that method to cover every K-12 student, isn't it an enormous cost?
You mention how Cindy Marten has to run point implementing CCSS in San Diego Unified, but you don't even ask how CCSS addresses and accounts for students in poor communities, or who are English learners, which SDUSD has in large numbers. Will those students be served well under CCSS?
No Child Left Behind "put people in boxes"... are we supposed to assume that CCSS does not? Is there any evidence to support that? How do the standards differ to make this happen?
I see no deep, probing, detailed questions here. That's out of character for VOSD. What gives?
Thanks for reading. This story was a question-and-answer piece, not really a in-depth look at the merits or history of the Common Core standards. With these, I try to let the source share her or his perspective.
But I can appreciate what I assume is your main point. You'd like to have more information on the topic. I'll be following up on the standards in future posts.
Carlsbad Unified, are you listening? IPADS (eg keyboarding) are essential skills needed with the smarter balanced testing that starts this year. What have you done to prepare our kids for this technology? After School PAID programs through your fundraising arm aren't going to cut it for the kids of our city. Neither is the online program that you recommend. IF you are implementing tests that require keyboarding, then your obligation is to teach KEYBOARDING in the schools.
As for the content, I would have liked to have read more about the proof of the benefits of Common Core, then this educators criticisms of NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND. Her statements about it being demoralizing if your school is on the bottom are ridiculous. As BS CS, 5s 4s 3s...kids need to be scored, and teachers need to be evaluated. If the teachers or the program doesn't work, find something (or someone) that does. You have to know what is successful, and evaluations make that so. Just like the real world. Everyone cant win. Sometime it takes failure to stoke the fire, or move you in a different direction where you can succeed.
The upcoming catastrophe with the common core roll-out will be this years' Smarter Balance testing of students. This year, all students "must" test with computers only. There will be no pencil/paper option. The schools in the San Diego Unified School District will not have the equipment nor band width to access all students on their servers. The schools the SDUSD operate and lease out (charter facilities) will fail miserably. On a good note, this is why the state wanted a "technology only" test. All schools can make the proper adjustments next year.
Something this article (and many articles on education) barely touches on is the need to communicate how Common Core works to parents. It's parents, not educators or students, who are the primary consumers of K-12 education. We are the ones you should be trying to sell this to. Parents are invested in getting a quality education for their kids. I want to know how, for instance, how teaching multiplication tables that way ties into other skills. I think it's great that my 1st grader is learning algebra along with how to add and subtract; it makes sense to integrate the curricula that way, but it would be nice to have a parent's cheat sheet; there's a whole generation of parents out here who learned differently and we need to know how to apply what we learned to understanding the curriculum being taught to our kids. Example: I'm an engineer; I use math every day in my job; I intuit how it works. This helps me to understand what it is that my 1st grade daughter's math homework is trying to get her to do; how it's communicating the ability to understand and manipulate numbers. But my wife, who is very smart, has a liberal arts Ph.D., is often lost simply because the problems aren't anything like what we learned as kids.
My experience here in San Diego is that schools are pretty bad at communicating with parents about curricula and how teaching is done and what students are expected to be learning. We also haven't been told how successful the Common Core has been at achieving results or what studies have been done to prove its efficacy, so it feels like our kids' futures are being jeopardized so that our education system can run this giant lab experiment. There's a lot of talk around education about how parent involvement is a critical ingredient in educational success, which is true not least because we are the ones filling out Choice applications. We are the ones paying property taxes and/or tuition. We are the ones shuttling our kids to and from schools and activities and trying to figure out how to manage 'minimum days' and 'curriculum days' and school vacations. It would be really nice to feel like we have a seat at the table.