Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tribune's Callaghan is WRONG about CCSS

Rarely do I take this amount of space to respond to an article. Peter Callaghan is so far off on his 2-10-2011 article, I must respond in full.

#1.. The Title is incorrect. If the title is incorrect, it certainly confirms either an author's ignorance or perhaps agenda.

#2.. Here is the hyper-link to:
Common K-12 standards are rigorous, used in many states

Published: 02/10/1112:05 am

#3.. Here is my complete take on this: my responses are in navy the rest is from the Callaghan column.

Common K-12 standards are rigorous, used in many states

When doing nothing produces the same result as doing something, most of us would opt to do nothing.

addition: I would prefer to respond by doing something thoughtful based on the intelligent application of relevant data, rather than believe that more "ed reform packages" will be a solution.

That may be the path state lawmakers take when it comes to Common Core Standards in language arts and math.

Developed not by the federal government but by a consortium of governors and school superintendents, they would replace the state-by-state standards of what kids should learn in each grade of school.

correction: Developed by a panel secretly selected and initiated in private and funded by the Gates Foundation. This proposal eventually came into public view.

By using common standards we can finally have accurate comparisons of state education, no longer letting some states look good in testing by having lower standards.

Addition: Washington State can be part of uniformly dumbing-down our students further.

It will also make it easier for students to move among school districts and among states because what is taught in third grade in Takoma Park, Md., will be pretty similar to what is taught in Tacoma, Wash.

Addition: Only if what is taught is in Tacoma, WA is actually learned. ==> The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics 1989 Standards, coupled with over $200 million from the NSF, and direction from the last 14 years at OSPI have produced absolute math instruction chaos. It is absurd to believe that after taking $208 million headed to local school districts on December 11, 2010 in a one-day special session to help students, that requiring Districts to pay for 91% of the OSPI estimated $185 million needed to adopt the CCSS, will increase learning.

And rather than have 50 different sets of curriculum and textbooks and 50 different tests, states could band together and develop them together, saving money in the long run.

Addition: Not necessarily so. Another likely highly inefficient process led by an amalgamation of diverse interests will not necessarily produce either a great product or do so in an economical fashion.

Consider Seattle’s Schmitz Park elementary, which decided to use Singapore Math, instead of the Seattle Selected “Everyday Math” which was highly WASL aligned when selected in May 2007. Singapore Math eventually earned the distinction of, according to OSPI, being the least aligned k-5 series to the new 2008 math standards.

When the 2008 Math Standards were tested for the first time in Spring 2008, Schmitz Park grade 5 scored #3 in the state out of more than 1000 elementary schools. Quite nice for using a Math text series far cheaper than "Everyday Math" and rated by OSPI as the most misaligned to the WA Math standards tested.

The 2008 Math standards were tested for the first time in Spring 2010 with the MSP. Seattle’s Schmitz Park 5th grade scored at #3 in the state out of more than 1000 elementary schools. Quite a performance using the least aligned to the test materials according to OSPI.

Last year’s school reform bill allowed state schools chief Randy Dorn to make Common Core Standards Washington’s standards. But because lawmakers had seen only drafts, they asked that Dorn bring back the final product this session for a look-see.

Addition: OSPI was legislated by 6696 to give the legislature a document by January 1, 2011, which among other things detailed adoption costs. That information was submitted by OSPI on February 1, 2011 only three days before the hearing on HB 1443.

If lawmakers do nothing, the standards will begin to replace Washington’s current math and language arts learning requirements. Forty-one states have already adopted them.

Addition: Contrary to the title of this article, not a single state is using them. Note: the first assessment of the CCSS is due four years from now in the 2014-2015 school year.

Some lawmakers decided to do something instead by having the Legislature take a vote to adopt – readopt actually – the standards. House Bill 1443 also would endorse the latest recommendations of the Quality Education Council, created to implement recent education reform legislation.

While endorsed by most in the education community – reform advocates, teachers, principals, school boards – the bill has been targeted by those leery of any education standards not written locally. The math standards also are opposed by those grouped under the organization Where’s The Math.

The local-control argument is puzzling since the state hasn’t done a very good job with its own standards. Our language arts learning requirements have barely gotten passing grades by various analyses while Common Core got a B-plus.

And our math standards were so weak that state education leaders realized they needed to be replaced.

I’m not sure what’s magical about locally drafted standards. The question should be whether they are as good or better than what we have, not where they were written.

Addition: It is absurd to believe that changing standards will do anything to speak of unless instructional materials and practices that are efficient and effective are put into use. Spending $185 million on CCSS standards, instead of providing the resources needed to educate students in the classroom is absurd. On February 4, 2010 the state was found to be in violation of the State constitution for failing to fully fund k-12 education. The State appealed. It appears the state has no intention of adequately funding what happens in the classroom. Administrators seem always in favor of paying more administration.

The math issue is a bit more complex. Partly because of pressure from Where’s The Math, Washington has just completed improved standards at considerable time and cost. Those would now be replaced.

That has math advocates unhappy, not just because they think a lot of hard work will be wasted but because they think Common Core isn’t as rigorous as the new state standards.

They even cite a comparison that gives our new state standards a higher grade. The Fordham Institute – a think tank that supports tougher education standards – gave Washington’s new math standards an A and Common Core an A-minus.

The difference in grade isn’t based on rigor but on a conclusion that the Common Core Standards are written in mathese while the state’s are in plain English.

The differences are hardly enough to keep Washington from adopting Common Core and gaining the many benefits that come from being in line with nearly every other state.

Addition: There are a tremendous number of liabilities that may well out weigh the supposed benefits.

“With some minor differences, Common Core and Washington State both cover the essential content for a rigorous, K-12 mathematics program,” Fordham concludes.

Dorn suggests clarifying the narrative in Common Core so it is easier to understand. And Washington can exceed the Common Core math standards if it chooses.

Where’s the Math deserves credit for getting the state to a choice between two rigorous standards. It should take that credit, declare victory and get out of the way.

But it may not matter. Legislative leaders are considering taking the Common Core sections out of HB 1443 and letting the standards take effect when the Legislature adjourns in late April.

conclusion: The legislature needs to pass HB 1891, which would delay the adoption of CCSS for at least two years. Where is the funding to educate the students? It seems to increasingly be going to administration. What happens if the “NEWS” school funding lawsuit is upheld in Appeals Court?

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