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The release of 2015 NAEP scores showed national achievement stalling out or falling in reading and mathematics..

Critics of Common Core tended to blame the standards for the disappointing scores.  Its defenders said it was too early to assess CCSS’s impact and that implementation would take many years to unfold….

In the rush to argue whether CCSS has positively or negatively affected American education, these speculations are vague as to how the standards boosted or depressed learning.

One telling example is this:

Something significant happened in 2011. It is probably safe to say that Common Core shifted text materials more to nonfiction than any event having occurred any time in the past.

There is no evidence however that shifting to non-fiction creates better students.  In fact, evidence points to the exact opposite.

Prior to WWII our English curriculum was heavily based on British Classical writings covering drama, prose, poetry, and novels. Only after the 60’s with the informalization of education and the original ESEA of 1965, did problems of not being college ready after 12 public school years of education, begin. Until that time, a literature heavy English curriculum was understood as precisely the kind of precollege training students needed.

The very gaps Common Core was addressed to alleviate, will worsen.

“High achieving students in academically oriented private and suburban schools may receive rich literary historical instruction, students in the bottom two thirds of our student population with respect to achievement, especially those in low performing schools, will receive noncumulative, watery training in mere reading comprehension.”

Does College and Career readiness depend on non-informational texts being taught over 50% of the time?  It appears no.

For one, the purveyors of Common Core offer no support or evidence showing how non fiction promotes higher proficiency in reading when compared to students who read almost entirely all classical fiction.  For two, there is compelling evidence that the opposite is true.

Literary study in 1900 shifted from studying the classics to studying British Literature primarily at the insistence of the Committee of Ten, a group who convened in the 1890’s to standardize uniform entry requirements for college.  Their work developed syllabi which listed required readings at each grade level. These syllabi influenced students up until after WWII. At no time did colleges cry out that a rich English literature background would impede college progress, In fact, it was seen as a necessary requirement.

Then in the latter 60’s as massive funding from ESEA began pouring into schools to alleviate “gaps”, academic levels began to become disappointing. In ELA efforts to improve achievement were undermined by inferior, lazy reading texts on lower levels of difficulty.  As a result, remedial course-work in college has exploded, aided and abetted by lower admission’s requirements..

One of the best publicly educated states this past decade as consistently been Massachusetts. In  1997 Massachusetts developed a literature rich ELA curriculum.  The results were impressive. Massachusetts led the nation in reading scores from 2005 onward. It’s numbers of Advance Placement successes, are also highest in the nation. Simply because they reintroduced classical British literature into all classrooms.

A diminished emphasis on literary study will prevent students from acquiring a rich understanding and use of the English language, a development which demands the exposure to the thinking of the most talented writers of English. Increasing informational reading in English class will tend to lead to a decreased capacity for analytical thinking in all students.

The choice of curriculum is not given a literary historical basis but instead is chosen by how well it supports the language construct being taught. In other words,”How” the test are supportive, takes precedence over what is being taught.

Common Core lays out what students should be able to do… not what they should know. In other words, the skilled naive worker…..

One can’t help but wonder if the case for more informational texts and increased complexity (though not necessarily text difficulty) is a camouflage for lowering academic challenge so more high school graduates now appear ready for college upon or before graduation.

The recent collapse of NAEP scores show that dissipation of knowledge, is  exactly what is beginning to happen…..

For a broader picture, here is a interactive map which compares all Common Core states.  Running through the guantlet it becomes apparant rather quickly that one can only compare states taking the same test.

Not even the PAARC and Smarter Balanced are  on the same page. and a majority of states opted and got waivers to use their own test… So stacking those up against tests of another state simply can’t be done.

So below are the scores of our fellow consortium partners… The Smarter Balanced Assessment squad….  Click on each state to enlarge……..

One sees how closely aligned they are from state to state. Portend that factors and shades of differences are due to outside influences and not to brand new educational disruptions that have been inconsistent from state to state…

Although the Smarter Balanced results are consistent, it was very curious looking at the state tests prior, and comparing their scores prior with each other.  Obviously some state tests were much easier than others.

 

 

How would the growth trajectory for African-American students be different, and I’m in the same class as these whites, and Asians, and everyone else.  I’m doing the same thing but I grow more, at a higher growth rate than everyone else. ? Coverdale

I think that would get into some of the differentiation and instruction that teachers have to do and I think that teachers are, their job gets harder more and more every year, and things are being asked of our educators and they are doing a tremendous job in meeting the needs of individual students, but you’re right, there’s gonna be different growth expectations for different students in your same class..  Schwinn

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My mommy says you’re not as good as us white people and thats why you have to stay in school longer… I’m glad I’m not black like you……………… We’re better.

 

 

 

“Yeah, so you’re going to have a steeper slope for those students who are currently lower performing, specifically, our students with disabilities, low-income, African-American, Hispanic-Latino, are starting at a much lower baseline so they are gonna be required to jump by 5,6, or 7 points each year as opposed to our Asian and white students who are gonna be required to jump 1 to 2 points each year.” Penny Schwinn….

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Yo, Asian boy… You gotta practice basketball 7-8 hours after school, because you ain’t good at it at all. You blacks who are already good at it, you can practice 30 minutes if you want to.. but you Asian boys are so far behind, you gotta stay on the court from immediately after school to 10 pm every day… Remember you have to shoot 1550 points from the floor in your games against the blacks, otherwise you aren’t proficient….

But I don’t want to be a basketball player. I want to be a mechanical engineer……

Fvck you, Asian boy; you have to play; no opt outs….

Moral is… if you are going to do it to blacks, you have to do it to Asians in basketball as well.  Otherwise you are defined as a racist by treating one race far better than others….

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“So is there someone in the classroom saying “Hey, African-American student, this is what you’re gonna have to deal with?”  Is there like an African-American student group?  Do you know what I mean? (wink-wink)” Coverdale

(See the amazing full transcript here…)

A Cure for Carlotta
by Bart King

A boy stood on deck and sniffed the salty sea air as the ship pitched back and forth. The smell of the sea was familiar and comforting. The boy’s earliest memories were of being at sea with his father. They would fish for hours, just the two of them, surrounded by the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Now Enzio and his family were on a giant ship crossing the Atlantic. Also on board were hundreds of other people, mostly Italians like Enzio’s family. There were more people on board than lived in his entire village back home in Trevilla.

Enzio clattered down the iron steps to the steerage deck and dove into his bunk. He rested his head against his pillow. Trevilla wasn’t his home anymore. Gone was the fishing boat. Gone was the Mediterranean blue that he’d always taken for granted. Who knew what kind of home America would be?

One of the passengers was a girl named Carlotta. Her family was from Rome. Carlotta had been quick to tell him this on the first day of the voyage. “New York will not be so different from Rome,” Carlotta had said. “They are both great cities, but of course Rome is better. My father has already been to America twice. He is going to open a big department store downtown. My father had a successful business in Rome; all the wealthy ladies would buy from him.”

Carlotta loved to talk about herself, her family, and the rich and powerful people they knew. With so many hours to fill, Enzio did not mind. He noticed—but didn’t really mind—that she never asked about him or his family. Enzio was especially hungry for any details about America. He loved hearing Carlotta’s tales about life in a big city. It sounded exciting and a little scary.

Today, Carlotta was unusually quiet. Her face was pale, and she clutched her stomach with one hand and the ship’s rail with the other. “Up and down, up and down, will it never stop?” she groaned.

Enzio took Carlotta’s hand from the rail. He pressed his fingers on the inside of her wrist, an inch or so from the palm of her hand. “Press this place here, on your wrist,” Enzio said.

Carlotta looked at him miserably. Enzio could tell that only her illness kept her from arguing with him. How well he knew that look on her face. He’d seen it on the faces of many fishermen. He smiled encouragingly. “That’s right. Keep pressing.”

An hour later, Carlotta found Enzio. She was still holding her fingers to her wrist. “I do feel better,” she admitted. “How did you know it would work? Is your father a doctor?” she asked.

Enzio explained that his father had come from a long line of fishermen who had passed down the remedy for seasickness. One of Enzio’s uncles always wore a braided wristband with a bead that pressed into his wrist.

Interested, Carlotta asked to hear more about Enzio’s family. He explained that they were sailing to meet his mother’s brothers. One was a successful stonemason in upstate New York. Another had helped construct the Brooklyn Bridge. Still another worked as a welder, joining the steel frames of the city’s rising skyscrapers.
Carlotta looked at Enzio with new respect. “Why didn’t you tell me any of this?” Enzio shrugged. “You didn’t ask.”

Suddenly the blast of the ship’s horn startled them. Looking out the porthole, Carlotta shouted, “Look! The Statue of Liberty!”

They could hear the commotion of all the passengers talking at once. Soon the ship would dock at Ellis Island. Gazing out at the mighty but silent statue, Enzio wondered what marvelous things the statue might teach if only someone asked the right question.

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question 1question 2

 

To receive the full-credit score of 1 point, the student must correctly select both paragraphs. The correct paragraphs are paragraph 1 and paragraph 3.

question 3

question 4

question 5

And that concludes your Smarter Balanced test for your child…

He would need to answer all of these correctly to deemed proficient.  How proficient were you?

The idiocy of using this one single event to rate teachers’ performance, to rate schools’ performance, to rate district [performance, by now should be apparent….

The questions are aimed not to determine what each child knows, but how well they can guess what the test takers were thinking….

Remember, none of these questions came from anyone who actually spends time teaching kids… or has children of their own…

Every parent who does know children, needs to opt out today…. It would be different if the test was a good test…. by good, we mean objective… “What is the capital of Delaware?”..  this test does not test knowledge. It tests whether you choose the same things I would choose… nothing more…

I was particularly struck by the last question asking the main idea….  Only B and D could be opted out…..

For picking A, C, E all of which have very good grounds… you child will be deemed a failure who is not college or career ready by the 5th Grade…..

I understand many may be confused or not sure if your child is better served by not taking the test.

But when a Blue Ribbon panel is handpicked to decide the Opt-Out issue, and THEY shock their “handlers” by all siding with opting-out is the best for children….  something big is up.

You HAVE to take that seriously.. Just as serious as you do the fact that their viewpoint was dismissed and the preset policy decided long ago, was poured into form and allowed to set….

Politics are not your concern.  Plush post electoral jobs for Markell, Sokola, or Jacques are not your concern.  Your child,…. is your concern….

When a handpicked group of people expected to side with the administration (that’s why they got picked) all flip and say: “no, this test is awful.  We have go allow parents to opt out”…. then that should set off alarm bells.

You may be able to opt out later, but I can’t guarantee it.. If you opt out now, and change your mind later, you can always opt back in.  Even as late as test day…

But opting out now is the smart move because it gives you wider options to do what is best for your child….

Here is all you need to say…..

I __________________, parent of ________________ am opting my child out of the Smarter Balanced Assessment.  Please make sure he does not take the Smarter Balanced Assessment this spring….

Love,

Your favorite parent….

 

 

 

(Anthology courtesy of John Young; printed by Exceptional Delaware.)

LIES

• Test scores show we perform poorly.
• America performs poorly compared to international students (other nations do not test poverty).
• Schools are failing.
• Teachers are lazy.
• Teachers are incompetent.
• Lack of Grit is an obstacle to success.
• Lack of Rigor causes failure.

Truths…..

• Policies of merit pay and bonuses are creating turnover not stabilizing it.
• The constant shifts in staff based on test score accountability create understandable teacher inertia to meaningful policy change.
• Our schools have been subject to veritable unending policy change since 1983 (Nation at Risk).
• Testing is misused to label and destroy the profession of teaching.
• Testing is used to inappropriately measure schools of education (SB51).
• Testing is used to label schools and fuel a choice law that shifts funds and creates economic chaos in our schools.
• Property tax funding base is unstable.
• Special education is dramatically underfunded and frequently violated ….School boards can help, but honestly are largely an exercise in petty ego wrapped up in pseudo-authority.

Kevin at Exceptional Delaware has already done a review of the 76 page report released today…. It is the official US Department of Education’s own assessment of its own program:  Race To The Top.

One should expect a glowing endorsement.  But even though that would be the normal expectation, that  is not what was gotten… Of course, omissions were there as well.

Let’s begin with the total Race To The Top number..   $4.3 billion….

That stretched out is $4,300,000,000 or roughly 1% of the USA’s non military discretionary budget for one year.

Of that, Delaware got $119,000,000 of that wicked amount of money or in percent….. 2.7% . What did we get?

Delaware got the largest percentage of new students entering college…

RTTT College

Graph courtesy of US Dept of Ed.

Delaware also got an increase in AP scores….

AP Scores

Graph courtesy of US Dept of Ed.

“Delaware, Massachusetts, and Tennessee also get shout-outs for relying on teams of teachers and administrators to provide ongoing feedback. Delaware teachers and state leaders allegedly teamed up to create “rigorous and comparable” measures of growth in non-tested subjects…”

Isn’t this a lie?  We know that some task forces were created but we also know they were handpicked so only those who previously registered support of Common Core (long before its details were made public) were allowed to be on those panels and even then, their recommendations were completely ignored.  If anyone can prove this is not so, please respond in the comments below.

Whether inclusive or exclusive of RTTT funding, independent sources outside the US Dept of Education has reported that spending per child increased in our state by $475 during the RTTT window…. This is in comparison to 4 other states which had not brought per student spending even up to pre-recession levels.  Of those RTTT state increasing, Delaware was at the top.

Funding increase

Courtesy of CBPP

But the report leaves out, or only touches on briefly, several controversial issues where states stumbled or backtracked. That’s especially true with respect to teacher evaluations and policies linked to the Common Core State Standards, especially assessments.

The report seemed to focus less on measurable improvement and more on the new relationships the grants have helped to create between teachers, administrators, and others, and how the grants have refined and enhanced their energy.  Translated into corporate speak that is the equivalent of a CEO requesting down the pipeline if we had achieved his goals for the quarter, only to receive the answer that  “no we haven’t but  we have good news!  Nadine in insurance is dating Jonathan in Finance, which means they are talking to each other a lot,” and expecting that to assuage the expected bosses ire.

Essentially we spent $4.3 billion just to create more urgency and more cooperation…

Today, Arne Duncun admitted as much in his speech on Race To The Top… “My administration, recognizing the urgency of change for today’s students, pushed a lot, fast. We haven’t gotten everything right, and we’ve seen unintended consequences that have posed challenges for educators and students.” 

BUT WHAT WERE THOSE UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES AND HOW SERIOUSLY HAVE THEY DAMAGED AMERICAN EDUCATION?

All of the Race to the Top states struggled with  teacher evaluations that took into account student outcomes. Many experienced serious political blowback to the standards, in some cases causing major consequences for state leaders. Plus, indicators of student achievement in the report don’t paint a uniformly glowing portrait. Duncan himself acknowledged in his remarks that declining scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress aren’t encouraging…..

Here is how that $4.3 Billion was divvied up. (all graphs can be clicked on to enlarge)…

RTTT Funds

Courtesy of Ed Week.

Shifting to new tests to measure students’ grasp of the common core has been difficult. That huge issue is ignored in this report…  Instead  highlights of cooperation between teachers in different states are expounded.  It is like praising the recruitment and training of little boys to fight Russian tanks while ignoring the total collapse of Berlin and the Third Reich.  The newest NAEP results represent Berlin in that scenario.

“The Education Department sunk $360 million into two testing consortia, funded by a second RTTT grant. But four of the states that received the grants the report focuses on (Florida, Georgia, Ohio, and Tennessee) decided to ditch the PARCC exam for either 2014-15 or 2015-16, while Massachusetts is still undecided about whether to officially adopted PARCC as its state exam. New York has no plans to use that test and  it’s no longer listed as a consortium’s member on PARCC’s website. North Carolina, meanwhile, is still a member of Smarter Balanced, but has so far held off on using the exam.” EdWeek

Today three Race to the Top states—New York, North Carolina, and Tennessee—are formally reviewing the standards as required by their General Assemblies.  Florida and Georgia also made changes to their common core, (Plus a large number of non-RTTT states have ditched or drastically modified Common Core from its original perception.)  No mention in the report, of course.

Unmentioned as well, was the damage RTTT did to top state chiefs… The exalted “chiefs for change” got changed out… It might have gotten hottest for former Tennessee chief Kevin Huffman, who left his post nearly a year ago. But it also made life difficult for John Barge, who is no longer Georgia’s chief.  Delaware’s Mark Murphy mysteriously resigned in the middle of a gigantic all-encompassing state-wide controversy over the right of parents to opt out and not have their schools punished by doing so, and Rhode Island’s former head, Debbie Gist, has downshifted to being in charge of a single district of Tulsa’s school system. Only two Race to the Top states (Massachusetts and North Carolina) and the District of Columbia have the same chief as they did when the program began, by all accounts, a failure…..

The report almost ignores the turmoil surrounding tying teachers performances to the test.  Instead as mentioned above, it applauds areas of cooperation and ongoing feedback, including Delaware’s infamous TELL survey…  Imagine if that was the only true accomplishment of $4.3 billion and Common Core?

Three cheers for RTTT!  We got  teachers to take a survey on their phones…

It’s worth stressing outside this report that it was evaluations  which was perhaps the toughest hurdle many states have faced both internally and with the Education Department. Almost all have argued that tying student test scores to teacher evaluations at the same time that states were shifting to new standards and assessments was misguided. The Department has recently acknowledged this through giving its waivers postponing the implementation of the Accountability piece 2,3,4 years into the future.

Most  astute people can deduce that by having the US Department of Education ignore the problems of Common Core and Race To The Top in its analogy of how their pet project was doing, it becomes obvious by its omission  that in achieving its aims, this program is not working.  This proves once again that you can’t throw money and snap your fingers and make problems go away…

It takes trained people.  And forcing them through constant irrational change-ups to move out of education into other fields, …is something that is not good for America’ s education, …… period.

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Massachusetts, long considered the most successful state when it comes to education, released their PARCC scores….

You may remember that Massachusetts was always the state at the top of the NAEP, which is considered the nations report card. You may also remember that when considered as a separate unit in the PISA, Massachusetts had one of the highest scores for any geographic region….

Yet a state doing this well in education, suddenly upon taking the PARCC now has  fewer people proficient than did the previous state testing which was handled by Massachusetts itself…

This does not mean the PARCC is harder.  This proves all along what we have said.  The PARCC is stupider… The entire reason for outrage against the consortium tests is that they unnecessarily create roadblocks to learning.   Whereas one can easily do fractions using single digit denominators to prove one knows how, the PARCC requires the same calculations using weird congruities not seen in the real world like 13/17ths when doing the math.  This creates unnecessary headaches without any gain of knowledge for the student…

This simply means that the PARCC is not an good indicator of student abilities.   Whereas the older system made Massachusetts one of the top educational powers in the world, using the PARCC is like putting carpet tacks on the 100 yard running track and asking Hussein Bolt to run across it… Then crow that your test was more challenging because scores were lower, like his times, than before……

If there ever was a test designed solely to make large numbers of children fail, it is this one.

I am saddened to see that Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Steven Godowsky, our newly confirmed superintendent, has slid so rapidly into the cess pool of corporate malpractice…  I hope I am premature in my assessment.  There was once great opportunity to dismantle the planks of corporate reform that do not work.

Nice guys are nice until you fight them.  Leading to the saying that  “nicety is a pretext based on prior agreements.”

But it appears that we are about to return to having schools be punished if they do not hit 95% levels of students taking the test.

I am harkened by the reaction of the football players at the University of Missouri…  When faced with an injustice, they said no:  we won’t play until our head resigns…

They said so with solidarity.  And if he did not resign, they would not play and the school would be fined $10 million I believe…  Since that was 20 years worth of the president’s yearly compensation, the powers-that-be insisted that he step down, and he did.

This is similar to what opt out must now do….

Solidly opt out large numbers of students from taking the test.  Stay steadfast and true as the threats of penalties get thrown our way… If the penalties are real, the powers-that-be will quickly realize that continuing support for a $119 million dollar agenda now deemed worthless, is far more expensive than losing $400 million each and every year across the next 20….

The Delaware General Assembly said almost unanimously that Opt Out was a parental right and neither the state nor schools had any business making impositions upon parents choosing what was best for their child.   Tests should be there to help children.  Not children there to justify the test.

These are our football players.  And our Governor who represents Missouri’s University president has not done what was asked: fix the problem…..   The General Assembly as did the football players, needs to assert their power for they are the official maker of laws and policy; the governor simply executes their implementation… Do they now choose to forever give up their right to represent the people?  Stay tuned.

We The People are the powers that be… We are the ones who decide who keeps or loses their job.  We are also the ones who suffer or must pay more if funds are not forthcoming…

We need to stand firm under threats and continue to insist that all parents now opt  their child out of this test… This test has no bearing on determining if or whether a child is career or college ready.

A teacher who deals with your child daily, is far more capable of making that assessment.

If you haven’t; send in your opt out the day after Veteran’s Day….