kitchen table math, the sequel: Common Core Standards

Friday, May 11, 2012

Common Core Standards

The process is moving right along. In my son's high school honors classes, the teachers are required to cite CCSS book, chapter and verse for everything. Some teachers are annoyed and are directly teaching the kids their opinions. Also, our local paper talked about how the lower schools are finishing their scope and sequence document for CCSS math with help from the Dana Center at the U. of Texas. The Executive Director is Uri Treisman, whose philosophy is summed up by: "To Treisman, high school algebra is the burial ground for the aspirations of many students in part because "almost no one uses the content of these courses in their subsequent university courses." So why are these gatekeeper courses determining who goes to college? Kids who drop out of these math classes are the same kids who drop out of school, says Treisman. At the other end of the spectrum, students who need more challenges aren't finding them in high school math." "almost no one uses the content of these courses in their subsequent university courses." I had to reread that a few times. The Dana Center is working with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Career (PARCC) on their CCSS test - which happens to be the test that our state will use. I've been trying to find some sample questions, but have only seen a few scanned examples that I could barely read. Everybody is waiting for test developers to quantify what CCSS means by "fluency", "understand", "reason abstractly", "solve", "represent", and a host of other vague terms. "Fluency" sounds pretty explicit (and it is specifically used sparingly in the standard), but we will have to wait for the sample tests. Then, we will have to wait to see how different states define the low cutoff levels. I find it instructive that some seem only worried about whether the standards will ensure that nobody has to take remedial courses in college. They are trying to find out whether colleges will buy into accepting their test results - and their cutoffs. There's the rub. I also found this commentary on fluency. "Although we do find that students who are fluent in facts have fewer obstacles when engaging in more complex problem-solving, we also find that many students who are fluent in facts still struggle with such problem-solving, and many who are not yet fluent are able to generate highly sophisticated solution strategies to different types of problems." Fluent students have fewer obstacles with more complex problem solving, but they still struggle with problem solving. And many who aren't fluent are able to "generate highly sophisticated solution strategies". Figure that out. They can't let go of their idea that understanding is somehow not connected with fluency. The haves will continue to get help at home and completely ignore CCSS. They will get on the AP calculus track to a STEM career and the rest get to look forward to college without remediation.


SteveH said...

That's odd. It eliminated my paragraphs. Actually, I was expecting it to publish twice because it didn't do anything the first time.

Kel said...

"The haves will continue to get help at home and completely ignore CCSS."

It's so true. Our community is pretty much divided between engineers and service people. Not much in between.

The engineers take things into their own hands and make sure their kids learn math.

Everyone else is at the mercy of the school, and it's completely hit or miss.

For my 7th grader, 30 Saxon Algebra problems per day seems to be doing the trick. He's certainly developing fluency and problem solving skills. He's way ahead of his peers, that's for sure.

Robin said...


It's Student of History here. I have raised the issue repeatedly that Common Core is not what anyone has been led to believe.

The PR campaign secured adoption. It does not govern implementation in that school or classroom.

I have written a book describing how we got here and how it will affect everyone. In the mean time I have created a blog to chronicle how rabid or flexible the Common Core implementation is looking in different districts and states.

Here's the link:

As you will see, my first post was on The Common Core Deception.

SteveH said...

Education has long been a "dirigiste" process. The solution, however, is not to go back to Adam Smith and start over as if we haven't learned anything in over 100 years. Capitalists and educators both love monopolies. Who wouldn't? The government loves a monopoly on control using taxpayer money, saying that they are smart people and smart people know best. Strings are attached, but individual students and parents are left out of that control loop. We end up with huge amounts of money going to urban schools that parents are desperate to leave. Parents struggle to win the charter school lottery that directly threatens the education monopoly. Educators think it's unfair and that all they need is more money. Educators in our area fought tooth and nail against charter schools that worked harder and focused on the basics. It didn't matter what many urban parents wanted. Nobody gets out unless everybody gets out. Educators blame poverty for bad results, but they won't let anyone leave because their goal is to fix poverty. Even Adam Smith knew about the problem with monopolies.

This has created what I call the urban elite; those parents willing and able to try to get a better education for their kids. They don't want to be used as pawns. It's easy to denigrate affluent parents who send their kids to private schools, but what do you call urban parents who want to do the same thing? Educators want to reduce the achievement gap, but urban schools are playing a different game. They just don't want to lose the top half of their bell curve.

The government push started with NCLB, which tried to force the K-12 education monopoly to show that they added any value whatsoever, especially at the low end. There was a lot of pushback from educators who liked their monopoly, but pointed to all sorts of excuses like poverty, parents, and peers. The Common Core Standards try to raise those standards and try for consistency across states, but the implementation (watered down as expected) seems to have no tangible goal other than no remediation in college. They don't want to admit that this is just about the low end, since they are talking about college.

NCLB and Common Core are good in that they don't take any excuse for an answer. The downside is that it allows educators (for the most part) to continue with their monopoly. The real deception is that one standard for all is appropriate; that it is some sort of high college standard. Many parents know better and fix the problems at home. Educators claim the high ground of college for all and get to keep their monopoly.

For those kids heading off to a challenging college education, it's business as usual. CCSS does not help them. Kids still require outside parent or tutor help to get to a STEM career. Urban kids get neither help at home nor the ability to go to a better school. The education monopoly owns them.

Anonymous said...

Steve-you are confusing rent seeking political entrepreneurs with capitalists.

If you are using capitalism and monopolies interchangeably you are not talking about free markets. Everything you are describing involves a government created special privilege. That's Corporatism or Crony Capitalism.

It's parasitical. It doesn't create wealth. It asks politicians, bureaucrats, and regulators either to give it a stream of revenue or preserve the one it has.

What do you mean you don't want to go back to Adam Smith? What do you think he was writing about?

Anonymous said...

Where precisely do you think that "challenging college education" remains available?

The accreditors and AACU have taken the position that challenging college coursework can lead to disproportional results and is suspect.

The entire P-16 and K-20 concept is designed to impact and then gut what goes on in college and grad school. More of a paper credentials approach. The Lumina Foundation is creating a Diploma Qualification Protocol to be piloted over the next several years that makes obtaining the degree about attitudes and beliefs.

I know it is no fun to think that things could get worse. Everything this blog has been chronicling over the years is only a partial form of Outcomes Based education and what is called, by its advocates, radical ed reform.

Common Core is the full thing-Transformational OBE in all its ugliness. Not everywhere at once but anywhere districts and schools are signing onto Career Pathways.

I will be chronicling over next several weeks where that I know of. I'd love for you to keep an eye out in Rhode Island.

If you describe it, I will recognize it.

Glen said...

Where precisely do you think that "challenging college education" remains available?

That's an interesting question. My impression is that most STEM departments in, say, the top 100 universities in the US are about as rigorous now as they ever were. I mean sophomore year onwards, though, after the unprepared freshmen drop out.

I have to admit that I don't know much about it, though, so I'm just guessing.

My guess is based on my observation that the very top students these days (a thinner crust than those referred to as "advanced" by most standardized tests) do a lot more than the very top students did when I was a kid: more AP classes, more tutoring, more after school and online work, more parental "motivation," etc.

This plus the gates having been thrown open to East Asian students (and a huge increase in the number of Asian American families) would seem to provide enough people at the top to keep the STEM departments supplied with people who can handle the rigor, despite the low educational preparation of the vast majority.

Am I mistaken about this? Have physics or engineering programs in good undergrad schools dumbed down the curriculum (not counting freshman year)?

Jim Huck said...

OMG...this is horrifying.

A description of CCS:

"So, less multiple choices; Can you simple multiply 6x6? Much more do you conceptually understand what 6x6 means? Do you understand how to apply it? So it's much more depth of understanding; higher critical thinking," said Kevin Huffman with the Tennessee Department of Education.

It's called Common Core and it is a more focused and internationally benchmarked way of teaching. This method looks at what colleges and even employers are looking for: critical thinkers. Officials said that this is not about teaching students for a test, but teaching them how to think and truly understand that they are learning.

Anonymous said...


Yes it has changed. I am not being flippant. It's not too late yet because the Common Core implementation is just commencing and there are colleges and universities fighting back.

The higher ed push comes from the accreditors like AdvancED who control most of the accrediting bodies in this country. Also AACU is pushing a decidedly nonacademic focus. Not only are the state u's bound by Race to the Top agmts, but the deans of the schools of ed have been pushing into controlling degree programs in other parts of the institutions.

Huck- I actually wrote again about Common Core today.

SteveH said...

This thread is getting weird.

One of the points I was trying to make in my original post was to show that the words of CCSS don't necessarily have a lot to do with reality. Life goes on and those kids supported and taught at home will get to AP classes, do well on the SAT, and continue to ignore NCLB and CCSS.

I laughed when I read Huck's comment that:

"This method looks at what colleges and even employers are looking for: critical thinkers. Officials said that this is not about teaching students for a test, but teaching them how to think and truly understand that they are learning."

Then I realized that maybe he was serious. That's my point. There is talk and there is reality. CCSS means no remediation in college. Maybe.

There are plenty of opportunities to receive a "challenging college education" (to quote myself) unless you are bound and determined to claim that the sky is falling. Part of the sky has already fallen - perhaps it was never up in the first place. However, CCSS only makes it worse because it institutionalizes low expectations in the guise of:

"... more focused and internationally benchmarked way of teaching."

Go ahead and fight the words, but they will just slip and slide away. You will be fighting a ghost. The only solution is to stop fighting the words and start fighting for individual school choice.

Allison said...

i'm happy to defend the k-8 Common Core Standards over the ones my state has. My state (MN) has incoherent standards. they are lousy, so lousy that they augmented the standards with "benchmarks", and then augmented the "benchmarks" with examples.

The benchmarks elevate trivial things to issues of great importance, and the examples become the Exact Replica of test items.

Guess what some schools do? they teach to the test. But of course! They idiotically teach the benchmark items in order, basically. Except the order isn't logically predicated on each other. And again, they promoted trivialities in this example set so the questions and answers taught to are not building up math knowledge.

the district of Minneapolis tells its teachers that "the standards are curricula". that means, if they listen to it, that they think they can just teach a benchmark by writing a lesson without thinking about what comes before or ahead.

So yeah, Common Core standards are better than that.

Now, does that mean schools can't ruin this too? Of course they can. It's a question of Cargo Cult Education. Do the administrators, educators, and the rest understand what needs to be taught? Do they have a clue what competence in mathematics looks like?

think of all the administrators who seem to honestly think that high test scores on state tests mean they are doing just fine. Kids are prepared well enough! How can we convince them they are wrong?

So yeah, the people who have a piece of the pie aren't going to let a little thing like better standards change their good thing. People read into the language of the standards what they want to hear.

Allison said...

Glen, my impression is there are competing interests in tension with each other on the issue of whether the top 100 schools are getting better or worse. On one hand, the top 100 below the top 5 private schools have access to, and the ability to retain vastly improved student bodies over a few decades ago. they also have access to top top professors who can demand and encourage their students. But at the same time, they are turning to methods that hurt that striving. their use of student evaluation of teachers, the rampant grade inflation, yes even in STEM, their hokey emphasis on cross discipline work. So it is not clear what happens when the bubble bursts.

State schools seem to be moving in the other direction. Their top students are weaker than ever before, even if they score highly. The students are totally ill equipped for the rigor of a real academic major, expecting "study guides" and the like, but the teachers are being pressured to adapt to the student body. they are flunking out the bottom, but that bottom is relative, and the Adjuncts don't hold sway at faculty senates, and they are expected to teach the service courses.

Allison said...

here are examples of MN's standards, benchmarks, and test questions.

I honestly didn't cherry pick.
the first number indicates the grade.
Standard 3.1.1: Compare and represent whole numbers up to 100,000 with an emphasis on place value and equality.

Find 10,000 more or 10,000 less than a given five-digit number. Find 1000 more or 1000 less than a given four- or five-digit number. Find 100 more or 100 less than a given four- or five-digit number.

ex: There are 23,650 people in a stadium. The stadium can hold 1000 more. How many people can the stadium hold?
a) 22,650
b) 23,750
c) 24,650
d) 33,650

Standard 3.2.2: Use number sentences involving multiplication and division basic facts and unknowns to represent and solve real-world and mathematical problems; create real-world situations corresponding to number sentences.

Understand how to interpret number sentences involving multiplication and division basic facts and unknowns. Create real-world situations to represent number sentences.

which story problem can be solved using the number sentence 2 x n = 18?
a) Tim had 18 pencils. He gave n away and had 2 left over. How many pencils did Tom give away?

b)Alice bought n books and spent $18 dollars. Each book cost $2. how many books did Alice buy?

C) Maya had n rocks and 2 baskets. She put 18 rocks in each basket.How many rocks did Maya have?

d) Pedro saw 2 kinds of birds. He saw 18 robins and n crows. how many crows did Pedro see?

Anonymous said...

My point is that the collateral documents guiding the actual implementation look very little like the CCSS sales campaign.

Steve-I am sorry you view this as weird. You do realize that the AP courses are being revised?

If the accreditors for colleges and universities and K-12 state in writing that accreditation is at risk for schools committed to the traditional transmission of knowledge, should we just ignore that? They have the political power. Their stated goals are clear.

But it's too painful to look it in the face and deal with the reality?

Sometimes the sky does fall. It's best then to stay inside or wear a helmet. I am trying to tell you do one or the other, there are facts not yet on your horizon. But they are on mine. And since I am relying on insider statements of their own intent, there's not really a dispute as to what is going on.

Anecdotally every undergrad at the most famous schools recognizes a sea change in what is occurring in higher ed at the private schools. Allison is right it is worse at the state schools because of this desire to link up all ed into a continuous system.

Allison-MN is the state in the 90s that actually committed to implementing Transformational OBE. Then the legislature realized what was really going on and pulled back.

SteveH said...

"Steve-I am sorry you view this as weird. You do realize that the AP courses are being revised?"

It's getting weird because the thread got two opposing views; one saying that the sky is falling (when part of it was not up in the first place) and another which said that the CCSS standards are internationally benchmarked and set high standards.

I agree with Allison. The CCSS standards will force a better test in our state over our use of NECAP. I'm not thrilled. I'm not thrilled when people talk of PISA as some wonderful international benchmark. Look at their assumptions. Look at sample questions. However, most students helped at home can almost completely ignore CCSS. My son's honors teachers may have to assign CCSS codes to what they teach, but nobody (at that level) is telling them to change what they teach. High schools don't worry about the top half of students. It's the bottom half who will make or break their state test scores. CCSS is still just about NCLB.

CCSS doesn't define a STEM track even though they claim a goal of pseudo-algebra II. It doesn't fix the low expectations and poor curricula in K-6. It's still "Game Over" for many in math by 7th grade. The worst part of CCSS is that it institutionalizes low expectations with the only goal being relative improvement. They are trying to improve the average of a bell curve which is required to have a small standard deviation. Nobody excels gets out unless everyone gets out. Affluent parents can, and do, play by different rules.

The only changes to AP that I have seen are minor. There ARE pressures to get everyone into AP classes, but our high school works at trying to get kids into things like AP Art, Music, US History and Psychology. AP for all can dumb down the courses (cover less material), but students still have to take the national test.

SteveH said...

"But it's too painful to look it in the face and deal with the reality?"

And what, exactly, is that reality, not words?

Which AP courses are being revised and exactly what are those changes? How do those changes compare in magnitude to issues at the low end?

"If the accreditors for colleges and universities and K-12 state in writing that accreditation is at risk for schools committed to the traditional transmission of knowledge, should we just ignore that?"

What, exactly, are colleges being forced to do? How does this affect STEM departments? I know about K-16 pedagogical pressures at state schools, but who, exactly, does this affect. What, exactly, are the changes?

"Sometimes the sky does fall. It's best then to stay inside or wear a helmet. I am trying to tell you do one or the other, there are facts not yet on your horizon. But they are on mine. And since I am relying on insider statements of their own intent, there's not really a dispute as to what is going on."

Do we have to wait for the book? I guess my direct talks with professors at my old engineering department at U. of Michigan aren't giving me a realistic picture.

concerned said...

Fewer students will make it to the AP Calc track under common core (unless their parents start investigating the content around the 6th grade)

Yes, more students will probably make it to college without remediation, but only because colleges and universities will be under extreme political pressure to lower their standards once common core is fully implemented.

This is where we are headed...

SteveH said...

"Sometimes the sky does fall."

The sky fell long ago. When I was in school, I got to calculus in high school with no help at home or with a tutor. Today, my son gets to calculus only with my help. The sky fell with social promotion and full inclusion. How can you increase the ability range in K-6 and somehow improve differentiated learning, critical thinking and problem solving? Somebody should have gotten a Nobel Prize for that. This is old news. CCSS tries to fix the problem by setting specific standards, but it doesn't fix the underlying problems. We still have "trust the spiral" and "kids will learn when they are ready".

This is not to say that things were so great back when I was growing up. I remember when my son was in preschool and the teacher told me that they used MathLand. They were going in the wrong direction. Things are now better with Everyday Math. Yippee for relativity.

Anonymous said...

Steve-U Michigan is the lab for the teaching profession. Is the engineering dept there bound by the terms of the grants coming into state and the university involving College of Ed? Unfortunately that's how it works in other states.

What makes you think RI and MN are going to have state tests?

That's not what assessment means. I explained that in yesterday's post on OBE and Ralph Tyler.

I raised the issue of testing with one of the supers piloting the most extreme form of CCSS because of the emphasis on group activities and projects and portfolios as constituting the assessment.

After the glare, she said I was right but that's what a performance assessment meant.

I was just off downloading the ASCD explanation of this from where it was piloted from 1990 to 1996. Back when what is now being called CCSS was performance -based education. You "meet" or "reach" the standards through tasks. No knowledge.

Moreover the idea is that every school kid learns the same "skills, concepts, understandings, and dispositions". The only variance is how long it takes. You cannot make national ed policy about math accessible to all and only that and not gut innovation.

Other documents in my possession acknowledge I am right on that and urge us to take our satisfactions from our personal relationships in a post-consumerist world. I think that is a prescription for economic disaster. It's as bad as the World Economic 2012 report I read this morning on the need to get better regulations that eliminated the problem of unintended consequences. It's a by-product of bureaucratic overrreach. Might as well try to suspend gravity.

If the real goal of education reform is impossible or catastrophic, now is a better time to be acknowledging the reality. Not a year from now.

SteveH said...

"What makes you think RI and MN are going to have state tests?"

The class of 2014 will be tested using the PARCC test in RI. My son is in that class. I'm ignoring the test. It's meaningless for my son. So are the portfolios and senior exhibition that the state currently mandates for all students.

You say a lot of words, but offer no details. CCSS says a lot of things, but the test will drive what goes on in class, and everyone is waiting to see example tests. We are waiting to see the low proficiency cutoff point. Life will go on just the same for those kids with help at home.

You claim that CCSS will cause the sky to fall, but offer no details. The sky is not just one big thing. I'm fairly happy with my son's high school education. The AP classes are better than my world in the old pre-AP days. I'm sure we can find a rigorous college education for him. However, I think full inclusion has caused lots of problems in K-8. That's where the sky has fallen, but it did that long ago. CCSS just provides better institutionalized cover for their ideas. They just have to keep harping that PISA is some sort of wonderful international benchmark.

SteveH said...


This is nothing new to Ze'ev. He is once again trying to make a point that will have little effect. We all have been trying to do that. Over the last 12 years I have been fighting this, and at best, there is less argument over the standard arithmetic algorithms. However, there is still talk of problem solving and critical thinking as cover for low math expectations. CCSS tries to claim a path to STEM careers, but it's all just smoke and mirrors. The need for parents to offer KTM will not be diminished. Kumon will grow. The urban demand for charter schools will grow. For many, however, it will be all over by 7th grade no matter how much Project Lead The Way you offer; no matter how much top-down engagement you offer.

concerned said...

I appreciate the time that Ze'ev has devoted to debunking the CC bs.

Wurman on misleading Common Core advocacy 'research'from
Bill Schmidt, of Michigan State University.

Interesting read...especially the chart linked in paragraph 9. Enjoy!

lgm said...

>>Moreover the idea is that every school kid learns the same "skills, concepts, understandings, and dispositions". The only variance is how long it takes.

Exactly what our city-slicker super has been saying. Additionally, high school math is defined to end at Regents Integrated Alg 2/Trig. Anything further is college math. Those that are done can leave (at 14) if they don't want to help their 'peers'. I'm surprised there is no push to remove the age limit on high school attendance in order to accomplish the Regent's Advanced Diploma goals, but then again I'd bet that that Diploma option is removed in the near future and that coursework pushed into college.

SteveH said...

"Schmidt explained during the event that the CCSS for mathematics strongly resemble the standards of the highest-achieving nations,..."

Ze'ev attacks the comparison, but standards also don't drive what's in the hearts and minds of educators. You can look in Everyday Math and see all sorts of proper math depending on how you look. Our schools would screw up Singapore Math.

There is also a competence issue and an issue of onus. They could take a survey of students who do get to STEM programs in college and ask how they got there. I'm waiting for someone to point to my son as an example of the school's success.

Anonymous said...

The College Board has named a new Pres who plans to align SAT with the standards.

I have watched David's videos for Common Core he did for the Hunt Institute and have nicknamed him Pinocchio. Not a good sign.

By the way his mother is long time Pres of Bennington and has a TED lecture that will make you ill.

SteveH said...

"Many colleges and universities have pledged support to the idea of allowing students who reach a "college readiness" cutoff on those "common assessments" to skip remedial work and enroll directly in credit-bearing, entrance-level courses. The tests are far from being ready, however, and that cutoff score has yet to be determined."

The SAT is much more than a cutoff exam. You can't ignore the top half of the bell curve. They can't allow too many people to get 800's on CR and writing. It's one thing to get colleges to accept a no remedial level on the SAT, but quite another to manage the upper end of the bell curve. If you start screwing up that end of the test, you will be in big trouble. I suspect that the changes will mostly be at the no remedial cutoff level.

Any comments on this from our English Language and SAT experts on KTM? Can you even get all colleges to agree upon one fixed non-remedial level? What is remedial for one college might not be enough for another.

SteveH said...

There is always the ACT. If the SAT is modified at the top end, will colleges start putting more emphasis on SAT II's or the ACT? I can't imagine that the College Board will start messing with their prized SAT at anything above a low cutoff level. I also think that the SAT is in danger of losing a large share to the ACT.

I can't say that I would be unhappy to see the SAT disappear except that maybe it's better than the devil we don't know.

Crimson Wife said...

The SAT started out as an Ivy League admissions test. If it stops being useful to the elite schools for admissions purposes, I could totally see those schools creating their own admissions test again. I doubt the College Board would want to lose the top students like that.

FedUpMom said...

SteveH, you need to add the HTML tag < P > (without the spaces) to separate your paragraphs. I've had the same problem on my own blog. It's a new bug introduced by blogger, for your convenience.

lgm said...

I only toured one college this spring with my jr, a small private in the health field. The admissions emphasis was on diversity.

Bostonian said...

A curriculum for all students, or for the top 95% of students who are not in special ed, cannot prepare students for college, much less a STEM college degree (SteveH's goal), because far fewer than 95% of students have a high-enough IQ. A real college-prep curriculum will be hard enough that a large fraction drop out and move to a different track or drop out and start working.

Common Core is advertised as being for almost all students. Any such set of standards must be watered down. Different standards are needed for different IQ levels, but it not politically correct to say that.

Anonymous said...

Bostonian-You should not exclude the special ed students. UDL, PBIS, and RtI are being mandated under Common Core's implementation to apply to all students. Precisely to allow mainstreaming.

As James Comer said, there are 6 developmental skills and the focus has been too long on the linguistic and the cognitive. To include everyone, we need to shift the classroom and school focus to physical, social/interactive, emotional/psychological, and spiritual needs.

I am digging in for a reason. The actual implementation looks like a coup more than any common understanding of what education should be about.

SteveH said...

"...much less a STEM college degree (SteveH's goal), because far fewer than 95% of students have a high-enough IQ."

Once again I disagree with your calibration. Besides, you can have a wide variety of high potential - low achievers, and low potential - high achievers. And, there are lots of colleges and degrees that are a far easier than STEM colleges and degrees. Whether that is a good thing or not is another issue.

However, I do agree that CCSS as one standard for all is fundamentally flawed. However, you don't have to use an IQ justification or even have to calibrate standards to IQ. You just have to set high expectations and try to keep all doors open. CCSS, unfortunately, closes some of those doors early because it reflects a lower end standard. It can't even keep the doors open until tracking really begins in high school.

Regardless of CCSS, most school systems already start sorting kids by seventh grade. Our high school calculates class rank and makes a big deal about how National Honor Society students are special. Some schools might have eliminated those, but it's really not that politically incorrect. What is politically incorrect (and completely unnecessary) is to focus on IQ over effort and results, however they are obtained.

For many students (especially those helped at home), CCSS is meaningless. High schools already sort and they offer several tracks.

So what are the potential downsides to CCSS? The first is that it maintains (to a certain level) the control of the educational community over their turf. Our school committee has publically supported the idea that if our town meets the (pathetically low) cutoffs on the current state standards, then "our" kids should not be allowed to go to charter schools.

Another is the push for more educator control over stadards from Pre-K to 16. (They would love to increase their turf.) This may force state schools to accept academically poorer students - which is already happening - and it will force the better students to private colleges - which is already happening even without CCSS. Part of that is due to a lack of grants or merit aid. (However, it was interesting that Catherine's son was offered money from UMASS, if I recall correctly.) However, why would I send my son to UofMichigan with little aid than to a private college with much more aid. Educators may end up increasing their turf, but losing the war.

CCSS won't make the soft learning and low expectations worse in K-6. In some cases, it might improve mastery of the basics. However, it institutionalizes standards that are not good enough in the low grades and perhaps inappropriate in high school. On one hand, it allows doors to close in K-6, but on the other hand, tortures some students with having to get through an algebra II course in high school. The nice-looking algebra II standard in high school hides the bad curricula in K-6 that makes that seem like such an impressive goal. By high school, many kids need help with career paths other than those defined by algebra II. Then again, many high schools are quite pragmatic about vocational education. Our high school now offers many choices.

There seems to be two worlds; the pedantic talking world, and reality.

allison said...

Don't confuse a set of standards with a curriculum. higher achieving kids don't need higher standards. they need the opportunity to have a better curriculum. granted, every kid needs that, but they need different better curriculum.

CCSS is still a set of standards. By definition, a set of standards is a bar--a minimum, not a maximum.

Standards are minimum requirements. Nothing about minimum requirements REQUIRES them to also be maximums. It may turn out to be so, but it isn't a necessity. So higher minimum standards aren't doing any worse for high-achievers than the standards that are present now, which are lower minimum standards.

Having higher minimum standards is better than not. There are thousands of kids now who are in schools that say "we hit proficient; we're done", and those kids deserve a chance. Right now, without CCSS, they've no chance. I disagree with SteveH that it institutionalizes standards that are not good enough. I think it keeps the doors open through K-6.

But no, it won't mean better curriculum or better teaching preparation necessarily. that remains to be seen.

But what high achievers need, or SpEd kids need, or low SeS kids needs, those are differences in curricula. Curricula is how and what you TEACH. Different kids need to be taught differently, and sure, of course, some have a horizon worlds away from others.

But we'd have to believe in teaching content by teachers who know content at a deep level, beyond the insanity of Cargo Cult Education.

SteveH said...

"I disagree with SteveH that it institutionalizes standards that are not good enough. I think it keeps the doors open through K-6."

How would that work? I've thought a lot about this because what I want to see is something that will improve K-8 math (mostly K-6). My son went through schools (public and private) that thought that you couldn't do better than Everyday Math. CCSS allows schools to claim higher standards with little or no change in K-6. How do you change what's in the hearts and minds of K-6 teachers? What is the mechanism that will change ed schools? Will states now legislate a requirement for content specialists in K-6? That's what drove out CMP in our 7th and 8th grades. I don't see how higher expectations can be driven into the lower grades. This is as much of a low/high expectation issue as it is a math curriculum issue. CCSS will allow their low expectations to hide behind a seemingly high standard.

"I think it keeps the doors open through K-6."

Everything depends on what we will see in the PARCC tests and the low state cutoffs. CCSS might define a reasonable bar, but the cutoffs will define it all. If states are like ours, they will again define a proficiency index that determines the percentage of kids who get over some very low minimum. The goal will be only to improve that better looking number. Again, nobody will look at the questions and the raw percent correct scores.

On the other hand, CCSS will force some high schoolers through math doors that aren't necessarily best for their career paths. By the time kids get to high school, it's not a question (for them) of could-of or should-of, but what's best for them now. It may not be the same algebra II class used by those heading for a STEM career. I think CCSS allows lower schools to continue to ignore examining their fundamental beliefs and assumptions of education.