One should mention that as time has expanded, the usage of the word Common Core has also expanded over its original definition.  I believe it is safe to say that today, Common Core, as did it’s predecessor before it, No Child Left Behind, has come to represent a broad view of all current educational reforms….  including things like Teacher Accountability based on test scores,  which are not part of the original selection of standards often pointed, by those in the position of defending Common Core….

Data from SIG was released yesterday… SIG is the School Improvement Grant program that spent $3 billion of stimulus money on our worst schools to bring up their scores…  As an educational reform tied to Common Core, it is being lumped in with Common Core for it’s analysis here….

Despite $3 billion being spent, which is ending this year,  roughly one third of the schools showed a decline….  Of course two thirds showed  some gains.  And those  fewer schools making the most drastic changes, did show the most gains.

Again, test scores were the determining method used to measure progress.

Alyson Klein’s analysis is here, and it is from here I draw the facts I use.  I would like however to investigate a side bar to this data, and determine now, how it is possible that with some serious changes being implemented inside of schools losing ground, how one third of them could still decline….

My hypothesis is that it is because the standards being used, are no good.  I hope to argue that the 66% of gains were made from other factors, such as  community cooperation,  hard work, inspirational leadership,… all traits independent of Common Core.

When one has a problem outside of education, one tries to find a solution that succeeds all the time.  It makes no sense for Honda to make Accords that collapse and fall apart one third of the time.  Likewise it makes no sense for McDonalds to have a cooking system that cooks only 2 out of every 3 frozen french fries…  That is just not how our expectations work.

If either Honda or McDonalds bought an automated system and got results like this, they would scrap the system.  I’m sure the salesperson for those automated systems half-heartedly proffers up this excuse… “Ahhh, but two out of tree are coming out fine.” The reality is that most people don’t want to bite into a frozen fry after biting two hot steaming ones… Nor do they want their car to collapse in the middle of the area’s most critical exit ramp in the middle of rush hour….

If one assumes as do I, that a system is supposed to take care of all of a problem with universal results,  then having one third of the schools actually get worse under this system, is rather damning….

Ok. Now fixes.

With French Fries, one can feel each fry first and pull them out and just eat the hot ones.   With a Honda, one can have a “bring it back if it breaks and get a new one” policy, and still sell some.  But why?

“Oh, I ate lunch at McDonalds.”  “Oh did you have to sort your fries too?  I hate that.”  “Yes, I wish they’d fix that”  Such a concept assumes a captive audience which unfortunately our children are.

But in this case, the system still is not working.  What is working and working harder, are the work arounds… One can still eat fries if one sorts them out.  One can still drive a Honda if one keeps swapping till one actually works.  One can still get decent test scores if one works around Common Core and teaches real math and real English on the side, instead of the curriculum provided….

That is the scenario that this data points us to…

If one’s school in one’s community is slated to be closed, for those parents who didn’t prioritize about school before but now see the implications behind daily transporting their child to another district,  it does push community involvement higher.  That extra push is probably good for a couple of test points, heralded here as a success.

If ones employment is slated for closure, that could propel cooperation within that school to create a small bump or two in test scores.

If one’s school is slated for closing, and as a student your test scores can possibly keep it open, you might try harder and commit yourself across the year, to get a point or two higher come the final assessment in spring….

But all of these are workarounds… All of these could probably have been more successful if Common Core had not at the same time, been rolled out.  If just using the old system which worked fine back when it was flush with money, had some more money, perhaps we could return to a system where all schools increased.  Not just two out of three and the remaining layer actually declined….

It is past time that we again take a hard look at what is being force fed to us by a cadre of self-appointed educational experts. Experts who this year have stacked up a track record of results, that even McDonalds would fire…..