This Tennessee math teacher writes in a letter to his legislators about the improvement in this new generation of Common Core assessments that have the potential to get beyond testing strategies and give teachers useful insights into what their students have actually learned. We’ll see these same benefits in NH.
Why read an article in a Rochester, NY student newspaper? Because it’s a model of thoughtful, balanced reporting on the Common Core and the educators quoted make a thoughtful contribution to the debate.
It’s also interesting because, although to comes from New York, with possibly the most disastrous Common Core implementation in the country, the teachers’ observations are much like those of teachers in New Hampshire, which had done one of the best implementations of the new standards.
Celebrations by parents, teachers, and taxpayers across the political spectrum over the purported death of Common Core in Indiana may have been premature. When legions of outraged Hoosiers forced lawmakers to pass legislation dropping the Obama administration-pushed nationalization of K-12 education, which Republican Gov. Mike Pence signed on Monday, they thought that would be the end of the deeply controversial standards. (more…)
The LA Times just ran two Common Core editorials that are particularly good at putting the arguments in a concise, balanced way. California is one of the states doing a particularly good job of implementing the new standards, so these piecers reflect an informed view in an important state that has taken a sensible approach.
From In defense of Common Core, March 13:
What gets lost amid the political and administrative squabbling is the issue that ought to matter most: whether the Common Core standards are a solid improvement on what most states, including California, had before. And with a few caveats, they are. The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics praises them for following a more logical track in building math skills. The standards are also more closely aligned with how the top-scoring nations in international tests teach math. Educators are pleased that students will do more writing under the standards; colleges have long complained about the poor writing skills of incoming students.
California’s old curriculum standards were particularly well known for being a mile wide and an inch deep. Here’s one small example: In the middle of second grade, students were taught about obtuse and acute angles even though they had no geometry background to understand the concept. Although they didn’t know what a right angle was or how many degrees it had, they would do a few work sheets and then drop the subject for several years.
Here’s another useful radio story about how well the Common Core works when it’s allowed to:
…In Defuniak Springs in Florida’s panhandle, the third graders at West Defuniak Elementary are learning division. Specifically, 72 divided by six. Their teacher, Casi Adkinson draws circles onto the board.
Casi Adkinson, a third grade teacher at West Defuniak Elementary, listens to a student explain her work during a small group session. Adkinson says the Common Core standards emphasize that students explain their thinking in math and English language arts.
The important thing to know about today’s NYT story about the Common Core is that it about New York – and only New York. It’s the full New York Times treatment, though with a misleading headline, of the New York Board of Regents decision I reported here a few days ago. New York had leaped into the deep end of the Common Core pool, making its own new Common Core test high-stakes for students and teachers before the new standards were even in classrooms, and had to back down. New Hampshire knew better and hasn’t had the problems they have in New York. As a result, our educators have been enthusiastic supporters.
New York state has a relatively low performing education system and a high level of commitment to punitive education reform policies. Just the opposite of New Hampshire.
Their biggest problem has probably been high stakes testing. Although it takes years to begin seeing the effect of the new standards on student’s learning, New York made a brand new test, based on the newly introduce Common Core State Standards, high stakes for the students and teachers. For students, the test became a graduation requirement and, for teachers, a very crude form of the scoring became the bases for pay and promotion.
As a result, the state’s Common Core implementation has been a mess. That’s where all the horror stories come from.
As a result, the state has had a full scale rebellion on its hands. So the New York state department of education has announced that it will stop beating up its students and teachers – at least temporarily. In doing so, they have moved a little more toward the policies that have made the New Hampshire Common Core implementation so successful.
Here’s the meat of their announcement: