Tuesday, April 21, 2015

       This project is a cooperative effort by individual parents and educators from across Louisiana.  We have taken time to carefully research Common Core.  The problems are very real.  

     Common Core is a very important issue that will be debated during this legislative session.  It is important to US that the FACTS, not just talking points are available to our legislators so that they can vote FOR our children's education.  We urge you to do your own research.  What you will find here are some basic points.  We are more than happy to point you to more in depth research if you would like.  Thank You for visiting.

The Very Real Problems With Common Core
By: Michael Deshotels, retired Louisiana educator and blogger

Real Problem #1: Contrary to the official version of origin, the Common Core actually came from special interests in the testing and publishing industries with financial bribes to selected stakeholders from the Bill Gates and Walton Foundations.

Real Problem #2: The writers of the Common Core Standards accepted almost no input from regular K-12 classroom teachers who are ultimately responsible for implementation, resulting in very impractical standards.

Real Problem #3: Contrary to federal law, Common Core was pushed upon the states by the Obama administration using the coercion of exemptions to No Child Left Behind and the bribery of Race to the Top funding.

Real Problem #4: The Common Core Standards were never field-tested resulting in standards that do not work in real practice in Louisiana schools.

Real Problem #5: Early childhood education specialists have determined that the Common Core Standards are extremely inappropriate for younger students. Third graders are required to sit through 12 hours of annual standardized testing and countless hours of test prep.

Real Problem #6: Math methods required by Common Core have been found to be impractical and unnecessarily burdened with unorthodox methods of doing simple math problems.

Real Problem #7: Unnecessarily complex phrasing of math problems in the standards causes frustration of students based on reading level. 

Real Problem #8: The Common Core ignores and omits commonly accepted and crucial cursive writing training and higher math applications.

Real Problem #9: The promotion of unorthodox methods for reading such as “close reading” techniques are untested at K-12 levels and found to be ineffective.

Real Problem #10 (and most important): Parents were left out of the process completely!

Facts about the opposition to Common Core
By: Ganey Arsement, current Louisiana educator

  • Parents, teachers and community members are not opposed to high standards.  They are opposed to Common Core standards.
  • The Common Core standards were adopted and implemented by the Louisiana Board of Elementary and Secondary Education without following administrative procedure.
  • In accountability, the definition of “stakeholder” includes administrators, teachers, staff, students, parents, community members, business owners, school board members and city council members.  None of these stakeholders were included in the process as required by Federal law.
  • The majority of the standards in both Math and ELA are developmentally inappropriate for the age of the child in which they are presented.
  • In 2010, the previously used Grade Level Expectations (GLEs) were ranked #3 by the EPE Research Center.
  • In 2003, the Louisiana graduation rate was a dismal 60%.  The Louisiana GLEs were implemented in 2004.
  • From 2004 to 2012, the graduation rate in Louisiana rose from 60% to 73.5%.
  • The two previous facts illustrate that Louisiana’s standards were indeed high and that the education system in our state was not broken.
  • A review of the standards that results in rebranding the Common Core standards as standards developed in Louisiana is unacceptable.
  • The majority of parents, teachers, administrators and other stakeholders would be content with the GLEs.
  • A writing of new standards would be widely accepted if, and only if, ALL stakeholders were involved, the LDOE and BESE have complete transparency and the standards are ultimately approved by the legislature based on input from constituents.
  • The PARCC test is invalid and unproven and should be removed from Louisiana and replaced by a proven, statistically stable, assessment as required by Federal Law.

Common Core StandardsVerifiable Facts
By: Ganey Arsement, Louisiana Educator

Rationale “We must raise the expectations for our students, for our schools and for ourselves to prevent other nations from out-competing us.”- Barack Obama’s Blueprint for Reform, March 2010.

Faulty Reasoning
Based on the incorrect assumption that global rankings in standardized test identifies the fault in our educational system, focus has been aimed at educational standards shifting from attainment of basic skills to mastery of higher skills. For example, the shift in Math education is to follow the Singapore Math model. Singapore Math is highly visual and requires a mastery of foundational skills. Several studies have shown that the reasons the students in Singapore do so well with this approach is limited cultural diversity and an industry-based economy. More than 90% of students in Singapore are employed in the industrial workforce upon graduation. There are a very few scholars, inventors, explorers, artist, etc. One culture. One economy.
The idea that countries like Singapore out-compete the Unites States is solely based on Math scores. Yes, they may mass produce electronic parts for the rest of the world, but only because their population contains a specific skillset, and they produce goods at a fraction of what they can be produced elsewhere.
Development Under the premise of the above reasoning, it was determined that there was a need to develop higher standards. Surely, if our students can do as well as theirs, then the result would be a more capable workforce that can compete. Under the guidance of the National Governors Association (NGO) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), the non-profit organization, Achieve, was created. Achieve enlisted another organization, Student Achievement Partners, to create the standards. The standards were to be reviewed by internal audit groups. Here are some facts about the creation of the standards.One of the audit groups, Alliance for Childhood, refused to sign off on the standards because of their inappropriate nature and issued a formal statement to that effect.

  • The standards were completed in under one year, but had not been made public until after many States had already adopted them.
  • Sixty-five people participated in the creation. The group was comprised mostly of representatives from the testing industry. Only one was a classroom teacher.
  • Content experts and practitioners were omitted from the process because they were “determined to base the standards on content research.” Education Week, June 2010
Acceptance and Implementation The Common Core standards were accepted by the NGO/CCSSO (not written by), and the Race To The Top program was introduced by President Obama citing that the educational dollars would be made available to the States that adopted the Common Core standards, or comparable standards. Forty-six states adopted the standards without having seen them. The standards were reportedly designed to increase problem solving skills and higher order thinking skills; however, this is not a function of standards. These skills are cultivated by curriculum. Therefore, the implementation of Common Core standards requires specific curriculum and assessment which is produced by the very companies that were represented in the development.
Analysis of the standards Immediately upon implementation, members of the education community began to notice problems. Many of the standards were similar to previously used standards but moved down two grade levels. A Math skill that a 3rd grader would of have been taught previously, was now required of a 1st grader. The problem with this type of grade level shift is that many upper level skills are based on previously learned foundational skills and facts. In addition, the concept of higher level skills are at risk of being above the cognitive skill of the younger student. For example, the average kindergarten student doesn’t cognitively understand the concept of linear time such as yesterday, today, and tomorrow, yet they are required to solve word problems that they cannot read and not only require knowledge linear time , but also the ability to conceptualize a math problem. In addition, they are required to memorize and recognize more than 60 words for reading at a level that they have no context for. In general, there had been less opposition from parents of the middle school aged children because those children have reached the cognitive level required and they have had 5 more years of foundational skills. Kindergarten through fifth are not getting the foundational skills. They are going straight into conceptualizing.

Curriculum and Assessment
The curriculum and assessment, developed by the companies who developed the standards, represent a fundamental shift in purpose. Prior to NCLB, the purpose of standardized tests was to determine a student's progress in attaining basic skills and represented in a percentile comparison of a similar demographic across the nation. The ITBS, a norm-referenced test, was the primary instrument used by most states. NCLB changed that testing to standards-referenced testing which compares a student to a standard, then ranks them in comparison to other students. In both cases, the assessment was designed to create a general snapshot of skills attained. Under the new standards, the curriculum teaches skills above the student's level of learning, then the assessment creates a snapshot of what the student DOSENT know as opposed to what he DOES know. The system promotes failure, by design.