I've already posted on this before - "What People Think Is Common Core ISN'T" and "Common Core, It's NOT the Devil" so I apologize now for being repetitive. One article I read last night, entitled "What's the largest number you can represent with 3 digits? Nope. It's not 999." is a great article. I agree with everything the author said and applaud his sticking by his daughter, the second teacher, and the fact that he forced the standardized testing company to change their answers. Awesome. Then I saw the last line: "don't let common core stand in the way of your own children's education". Sigh. IT"S NOT THE COMMON CORE that's doing this - it's publishing companies, it's testing companies, it's misunderstanding and lack of training of teachers.
Standards for Mathematical Practice. What the above article was demonstrating was the fact that the teacher was NOT following Common Core Practices, whether through ignorance or more likely, through the pressure of textbooks publishers and standardized testing companies to "standardized" the Common Core, and thus in fact become something completely different than what the Common Core represents. Let's go back to my two previous postings....what people think is Common Core ISN'T - it comes back to our testing culture and a need to standardize so we can "assess" students quickly, and in the process, take out all the problem-solving, uniqueness, critical thinking that is the essence of the common core.
Here are some facts about the Common Core:
- State education chiefs and governors in 48 states came together to develop the Common Core, a set of clear college- and career-ready standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English language arts/literacy and mathematics. Today, 42 states and the District of Columbia have voluntarily adopted and are working to implement the standards, which are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to take credit bearing introductory courses in two- or four-year college programs or enter the workforce.
- States led the development of the Common Core State Standards. In 2009, state leaders, including governors and state commissioners of education from 48 states, two territories and the District of Columbia, came together and decided to develop common, college- and career-ready standards in mathematics and English language arts. They worked through their membership organizations – the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – to accomplish this. The development process included defining expectations for what every child should know and be able to do when they graduate from high school and then creating content standards for grades K-12 aligned with these expectations. States relied on workgroups of educators, representatives of higher education and other experts to write the standards with significant input from the public in 2009 and 2010. States then appointed a validation committee to review the final standards. The federal government was not involved in the development of the standards. The final standards were published in June 2010 and available for each state to review, consider and voluntarily adopt.
- Adoption of the standards is voluntary. It is up to each state and territory to decide if they choose to adopt the Common Core State Standards as their state educational standards in English language arts and mathematics. States can tailor the standards to address their needs. Here is a map showing the states that have adopted the standards.
The standards are voluntary, with the idea that if all states had the same standards it would be easier for students to be compared state-to-state and to ensure that all students, no matter where they live, were getting an equal and rigorous education. Notice - nothing about the Federal Government. The Federal Government did encourage adoption and funding with Race-to-the-Top money if states adopted the Common Core, but not required. And NCLB did require standardized testing of all students, which is the 'standardization' push of the Common Core Standards, which are difficult to assess in a standardized test. Standardized tests are NOT Common Core.
Standardized testing - states realized they needed to assess and that they needed some help withstandardized testing aligned to The Common Core. States got together to create consortiums, such as PARCC and Smarter Balance Assessments. These were led by Pearson (PARCC) and a "public agency" (Smarter Balance Assessment) and state leaders who opted to join the consortiums. These assessments are voluntary and there have been issues with both. There are currently only 15 states still in Smarter Balance and only 11 left in PARCC. Many states have dropped out.
With the adoption of ESSA, where states have more control over assessments, there is going to be a change in which standardized tests are used to assess students. But they are not "Common Core". ACT, SAT, NAEP - the most commonly used now, are definitely NOT Common Core. In fact - true assessment of Common Core should not be standardized, especially when keeping the mathematical practices in check. There-in lies the problem. We are trying to standardized standards that are meant to help students become problem-solvers, critical thinkers, and communicators. You can't demonstrate that on multiple-choice tests where one correct answer is the norm. So - rather than blaming Common Core, blame the 'standardized' way of thinking that forces teachers to teach to a standardized test, accept only "one" answer, or force ways of thinking on students when they should be encouraging uniqueness and multiple pathways. In order to change the way students learn, we need to change the way we assess or we are always going to be forcing students into one or two ways of thinking so they can 'pass the test'.