Beth Fine

Educational Fiction Author – Serious Thinker – Child at Heart

Common Core Curriculum Concerns – Part III

DIVERSE CRITIQUES
The Bigger Picture:
Plenty of pro-con comments on Common Core and its standards can be found online, many of which you are probably aware. Even so, the following words from a U.S. News article re-quoted online, jumped out at me of why teachers and parents might be concerned. “People who advocate for the [Common Core Standards] miss the bigger picture….[It] came as a package deal with the new teacher evaluations, higher stakes testing, and austerity measures including school closings.”
(http:// thejosevilson.com/changing-language-anti-testing-pro-whole-child/)

Student Complaints:
In another U.S. News article entitled “How Common Core Standards Kill Creative Teaching,” the reporter captured the strong opinions of two students who had passed through the rigors and repetitive nature of Common Core. “I once saw an eighth grader who was on the verge of being tossed out of his middle school even though he was one of the brightest kids there. When asked why he was failing, he said ‘Why should I be doing the same frickin’ thing since I was in third grade?’ Another student I heard about could comprehend the whole Harry Potter series before she was 11 and read two novels a week, yet thinks she ‘sucks at English’ because she is more nuanced in her thinking than the questions on standardized tests allow. She [has] learned to hate reading.” (usnews.com/opinion/articles/2013/02/17 )

Teacher Responses:
Some teachers want to give CCC a chance to work, many feel ambiguous, and others wonder if they should retire early or resign to start new careers. An article on the pros and cons had some thoughtful comments. https://www.thoughtco.com/common-core-ste-standards 3194603

“Some education policy researchers and professors in schools of education worry that the politicized education arena and the state’s indecisiveness over the Common Core could have significant ramifications for its teaching corps…a profession that already suffers from staggering attrition… [especially] among new teachers…” (https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/04/04/15…common-core teachers)

“Last year, more than 30,000 teachers completed an online 80-question survey created by the American Federation of Teachers and Badass Teachers Association. The results showed… that the majority of teachers reported high levels of stress and were ‘particularly anxious about having to carry out a steady stream of new initiatives—such as implementing curricula and testing related to the Common Core State Standards—without being given training.‘” https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2016/10/the-disproportionate-stress-plaguing-american-teachers/503219/

In most articles I read, the singular most prominent objection was the misconception that state standards were the same thing as testing standards. Considering how hard teachers work to get their kids ready to perform well on uniform tests, I wonder who would devise tests not reflective of what’s taught in the classroom. However, that’s beyond the scope of this project and must be left to states to address. The article found in the below link, expressed opinions from middle school teachers in Massachusetts who had first thought the material too advanced but then touted the approach when they saw their students returning to a text to answer questions. (http://www.slate.com/blog/schooled/2015/09/09/common_ core _standards_what_four_teachers_actually_think_about_them.html)

Since that view comes from middle school teachers who automatically would use more advanced materials for their more mature audience, it is not possible to adopt their conclusions or to compare their outcomes with the K-3 materials we reviewed for Sullivan County. Even so, members of our committee independently considered the county’s materials too difficult and inappropriate for the intended kindergarten through third grades.

Serendipitously, I found agreement to our contentions in a summary from several “focus groups on the Common Core and Assessments [which] reveals support, concerns, and insights about the standards [as] expressed by elementary teachers in Delaware, Illinois, Utah and Wisconsin. “Several kindergarten and primary grade teachers said some standards did not appear to be developmentally appropriate for young children, who are still working on basic skills. We have to start at ground zero. We have to spend the first quarter front loading letters and sounds, and how to hold a pencil, and how to sit in a chair, and none of that is accounted for in Common Core…A lack of standards-aligned instructional materials forced teachers to create their own.

“Prior to the Common Core State Standards, I don’t think many of us were involved in writing our own curriculum. But then when the Common Core came out…we didn’t really have a curriculum….We hunted, begged, searched, and tried to piece together things that matched that standard.” (https://edsource.org/2017/common-core-standards-what-educators-are-saying)

Parent Considerations:
Having read various domain Letters to Parents outlining how the lessons from the day should be followed up at night, I wondered if devisers of such instructions considered that 70.5% of working women are parents who wearily arrive home, must fix meals, and put little kids to bed, leaving little time to re-enforce unit goals with kids, not withstanding a weekly spelling test and some help with worksheets. (https://www.bls.gov/news.release/famee.nr0.html)

Joy Pullmann, Federalist editor and author of How Common Core Fights Parents for Control of American Kids, wrote in 2009 about how “a conglomerate of unelected, self-appointed officials met behind closed doors to create a set of rules that would outline what children must learn…in core K-12 classes.”
(https://www.encounterbooks.com/…/the-education-invasion-how-common-core-fights…)

“About 1.8 million children in the country are now homeschooled, with the numbers growing each year…Twenty-five percent of parents surveyed have said that the environment of the public schools, including such issues as safety, drugs, and peer pressure,” [and 22 % listed religious or moral instruction] “as reasons to home school.” Others mentioned “dissatisfaction with the academic instruction in other schools,” while smaller numbers explain that their child has a special need, such as a physical or mental health problem.

“A more recent cause for the rise in homeschooling is the introduction of Common Core and other related aspects of nationally-driven standard curriculum in the public schools. Home schooling has grown so quickly in that state [NC] that more children are now being homeschooled than are in private schools.” (https://www.the newamerican.com/…/24541-homeschooling-and-other-education-alternative-on-the-rise)

State Costs, Objections, and Accommodations
“The cost to write new standards is actually fairly modest, experts say. It’s everything else that goes with it – professional development, textbooks and classroom materials – that gets expensive…The implementation of new standards is quite complex,” said Kelly Henderson, who oversees K-12 curriculum for Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools. “It actually starts a year, or actually two years, before the actual implementation.” (http://www.chalkbeat.org/posts/tn/2015/03/05/ cost-of-implementing-new-standards-would-be-high-say-experts-and-educators/
“Common Core’s rollout costs were projected at $17 billion. California’s actual spending suggests taxpayers will pay more than four times that…[because] the technology costs for Common Core tests are… approximately $4 billion more…[added to] the extra $3.5 billion the legislature gave schools for Common Core in spring 2015 and a separate infusion of $1.7 billion …That makes a total of approximately $9.2 billion above and beyond existing tax expenditures Californians will pay to have Common Core injected into their state.
“California contains approximately 12 percent of the U.S. K-12 population. Given that, Ze’ve Wurman [former DoED official] says: ‘Another way to look at it, the nationwide cost of Common Core exceeds $80 billions, even as most states carefully avoid separating the Common Core costs like California does.”
(Thefederalist.com/…/estimate-common-core-to-cost-california-nearly-10-billion-nation…)

Eighty-five percent of American students attend school in a state that has adopted the Common Core State Standards…As the states transition from adoption to implementation of new standards, many are grappling with how best to assess whether students are learning the material contained in the Common Core. Debates about the costs and merits of Common Core tests are raging in states across the country.
(https://www.brookings.edu/research/standardized-testing-and-the-common-core-standards-you-get-what-you-pay-for/)

Nine states have opted out of Common Core Standards – as of 2017. Others have opted out of the testing. (http://www.corestandards.org/standards-in-your-state/)

(STAY TUNED FOR MORE CONCERNS ABOUT THE METHODS AND CONTENT FOR LOCAL COMMUNITIES TO SCRUTINIZE.)


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