Drawbacks of Common Core education plan

Mar 21, 2013 by

apple-150x150PAUL KARRER –

Those of us in education have been hearing a lot about Common Core lately. I’m reminded of the Soviet five-year plans, only ours started with No Child Left Behind, then turned to Race to the Top, and now it is Common Core.

So what is it? It is an education initiative that seeks to bring diverse curricula from the various states into alignment with one another. The initiative is sponsored by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. It begins in 2015.

It is alleged by those imbued with Common Core belief that it will better prepare students for college and job markets. It contains two magic words to make it happen: “rigor” and “authentic.”

How is it supposed to work?

Through “rigorous” standards and “authentic” testing, meaning that students will use different readings to answer questions. They may have to read two passages and watch a short video before forming an opinion. In English language arts, students will no longer be asked to answer multiple choice questions, but to do more writing and analysis. They will need more practice reading, writing and analyzing and will need to demonstrate what they are thinking and why.

Here are the technology requirements of Common Core:

1. Move away from Windows XP to Windows 7.

2. Upgrade computers to at least one gigabyte of internal memory.

3. Ensure that all screens being used for the assessments have a visual display of no less than 9.5 inches, with at least a

1024 x 768 resolution.

4. Student testing sites must operate on secure browsers.

5. The assessment requires about 5 to 10 kilobytes per second of bandwidth per student.

What could be wrong with all this? Much.

Supposedly the written parts of the tests will be computer graded. Meaning, a program will be used to assess answers. Wow! Much has been written already on how inefficient, error-ridden and just plain wrong this is. Consider that these are high-stakes tests and a computer program is being used to evaluate children’s answers. But let’s suppose a computerized program will not be used to evaluate these tests. Imagine that real humans will do the correcting. Talk to people who have been hired to evaluate tests. They reveal a horror show of subjective incompetence.

Diane Ravitch, former assistant secretary of education, said, “Common Core standards (are) fundamentally flawed by the process with which they have been foisted upon the nation. The Common Core standards have been adopted without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers or schools. Would the Federal Drug Administration approve the use of a drug with no trials? President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan often say that the Common Core standards were developed by the states and voluntarily adopted by them. Not true.

“They were developed by an organization called Achieve and the National Governors Association, both generously funded by the Gates Foundation. There was minimal public engagement in Common Core development. Their creation was neither grassroots nor did it emanate from the states.

“It was well understood by states that they would not be eligible for Race to the Top funding ($4.35 billion) unless they adopted the Common Core standards. Federal law prohibits the U.S. Department of Education from prescribing any curriculum, but in this case the department figured out a clever way to evade the letter of the law.

“CC will cause a precipitous decline in test scores, based on arbitrary cut scores, and this will have a disparate impact on students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students who are poor and low-performing.

“When Kentucky piloted the Common Core, proficiency rates dropped by 30 percent. What is the purpose of raising the bar so high that many more students fail?”

Here’s the answer. Reformers are confident that the Common Core will cause so much dissatisfaction among parents that they will flee public schools and embrace the reformers’ ideas (charters and vouchers).

Jeb Bush, at a conference of business leaders, confidently predicted that the high failure rates sure to be caused by Common Core will bring about “a rude awakening.”

Where is the money for all this? No Child Left Behind has shown us that unfunded mandates are a Faustian bargain. Learning needs to be the focus, not testing. Public education content needs to be formulated entirely by educators, not politicians, nor lobbyists for technology or publishing companies. Our kids need to have their education built from the bottom up by local educators.

Apparently kids aren’t the only ones who need more science these days. Too much of Common Core is based on crystal balls and magic. And remember your new magic words — rigor and authentic.


Paul Karrer teaches in Castroville and writes about education for this page.

via Paul Karrer: Drawbacks of Common Core education plan – MontereyHerald.com :.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related Posts


Share This

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.