These same education reforms being pushed in the US are also being pushed in TPP nations and the reactions are often the same---people do not want a homogenization of their cultures. One of the most obvious is the continuing math instruction having parents mad at what makes something easy feel very hard. We are told this is good because it allows for different ways of looking at numbers and indeed it may. The connection is really---this is how math is done in Asia---here we see Singapore. Whether programming code or this new math most Americans feel we need to keep our American standards of educating and then add what can be taken as electives coding as a language or Singaporean math as advanced placement for example. The point for ONE WORLD global pols is this----when Americans become part of that human capital distribution ring they will be sent ANYWHERE in that International Economic Zone system and you have to be ready to be sent to Singapore or China and that means knowing how they do math for one.
The problem for many American parents and students is this---they are taking too much of the school day on two subjects---math and reading to the detriment of arts and humanities.
DEEP UNDERSTANDING ---
Keep in mind all of global education reform is based on making the American people tied to only global markets for an economy----and making technology central to all employment because of that. Americans don't need global markets to have a strong, healthy, stable economy filled with diversity of employment-----global pols are simply telling us YOU WILL DO THIS.
The Core Knowledge Blog
Singapore Math Is “Our Dirty Little Secret”by CKF
October 6th, 2010
The following guest post is from Barry Garelick, co-founder of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math, an education advocacy organization that addresses mathematics education in U.S. schools.
The New York Times ran a story on September 30 about Singapore Math being used in some schools in the New York City area. Like many newspaper stories about Singapore Math, this one was no different. It described a program that strangely sounded like the math programs being promoted by reformers of math education, relying on the cherished staples of reform: manipulatives, open-ended problems, and classroom discussion of problems. The only thing the article didn’t mention was that the students worked in small groups.
Those of us familiar with Singapore Math from having used it with our children are wondering just what program the article was describing. Spending a week on the numbers 1 and 2 in Kindergarten? Spending an entire 4th grade classroom period discussing the place value ramifications of the number 82,566? Well, maybe that did happen, but not because the Singapore Math books are structured that way. In fact, the books are noticeably short on explicit narrative instruction. The books provide pictures and worked out examples and excellent problems; the topics are ordered in a logical sequence so that material mastered in the various lessons builds upon itself and is used to advance to more complex applications. But what is assumed in Singapore is that teachers know how to teach the material—the teacher’s manuals contain very little guidance. Thus, the decision to spend a week on the numbers 1 and 2 in kindergarten, or a whole class period discussing a single number is coming from the teachers, not the books.
The mistaken idea that gets repeated in many such articles is that Singapore Math differs from other programs by requiring or imparting a “deep understanding” and that such understanding comes about through a) manipulatives, b) pictures, and c) open-ended discussions. In fact, what the articles represent is what the schools are telling the reporters. What newspapers frequently do not realize when reporting on Singapore Math, is that when a school takes on such a program, it means going against what many teachers believe math education to be about; it is definitely not how they are trained in ed schools. The success of Singapore’s programs relies in many ways on more traditional approaches to math education, such as explicit instruction and giving students many problems to solve, in some ways its very success represented a slap in the face to American math reformers, many of whom have worked hard to eliminate such techniques being used.
Singapore Math does not rely heavily on manipulatives as so many articles represent. It does make use of pictures, but even that is misrepresented. Singapore makes use of a technique known as “bar modeling”. It is a very effective technique and is glommed onto as the be-all end-all of the program, when in fact, it is only a part of an entire package. People mistakenly believe that all you have to do is teach kids how to draw the right kind of pictures and they can solve problems. (In fact, there are now books written that provide explicit instruction on how to solve problems using bar modeling—meant to supplement Singapore’s books. That such books rely on a rote-like procedure is ironic considering that reforms criticize US programs as being based on rote instruction.) Pictorial representation is indeed a gateway to abstraction, but there are other pathways that Singapore uses as well. Singapore’s strength is the logical consistency of the development of mathematical concepts. And much to the chagrin of educators who may have learned differently, mastery of number facts and arithmetic procedures is part and parcel to conceptual understanding. Starting with conceptual understanding and using procedures to underscore it is an invitation to disaster—such approach is making profits for outfits like Sylvan, Huntington and Kumon.
The underlying message in articles such as the Times’ is that math education is bad in the U.S. because it is not being taught according to the ideals of reforms—and the reason it is successful in Singapore is because it is being taught that way. Never considered is the possibility that the reform minded methods and textbooks written to implement them are one of the root causes of poor math education in this country. Katharine Beals in her blog “Out in Left Field” does an excellent job describing this.
A friend of mine recently admonished me for my criticism of the article. At least schools are using Singapore Math and it is getting worthwhile publicity, he said. Fortunately, the logical structure and word problems in Singapore’s books are so good it will work in spite of the disciples of reform. My friend is right. If the education community wants to think that Singapore Math is student-centered and inquiry-based and the realization of US reforms, let them think it. For those of us who know better, it will remain our dirty little secret.
Barry Garelick is an analyst for the U.S. EPA and plans to teach math when he retires this year. He has written articles on math education in Education Next and Educational Horizons.
You will not find an article like this written in Baltimore about Johns Hopkins' grad students protesting their inability to afford health care just as many of Hopkins' rank and file employees, but they are----but Baltimore has one of the worst public health outcomes because Wall Street Baltimore Development and Hopkins uses Federal health subsidies meant for just these folks to build its global health system. Now, this is why coding and Common Core with the Singapore math for deep understanding is not only just pushed---but forced on the citizens of Baltimore. To have global telemedicine and global health tourism Hopkins says it needs citizens to think deeply about math. Keep in mind----if Hopkins simply allowed citizens in Baltimore to have a local economy with everyone having jobs and stopped taking all the Federal funding for health care subsidies----they would have all the health consumers they need---no global health system needed.
The point is this----all of the higher education and K-12 reforms are based on global markets and WE THE PEOPLE are being told IT IS THIS WAY OR THE HIGHWAY----or in real terms---the global worker distribution to International Economic Zone highway. NONE OF THIS IS QUALITY---NONE OF THIS IS PLACING CITIZENS IN BETTER EMPLOYMENT---it simply fits this ONE WORLD structure for global health care.
The students health subsidy is being cut because Trans Pacific Trade Pact does not allow public subsidy-----as all tax revenue has to go to global corporations for their RACE TO THE TOP. That is where Obama and Clinton neo-liberals got that term.
So, if you don't like Common Core or the Race to the Top education privatization policies written by the way in a Republican think tank-----this is why we are being forced to adopt this.
Graduate student employees lose health insurance subsidy
By - Associated Press - Monday, August 17, 2015
COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) - The University of Missouri said it’s eliminating subsidies that help pay health insurance costs for graduate students employed by the school.
University officials say the change is due to a recent IRS interpretation of a section of the Affordable Care Act, which requires adults to have health insurance or face tax penalties, The Columbia Daily Tribune (http://bit.ly/1NiSvgO ) reported.
The school said in a Friday letter to students that the law “prohibits businesses from providing employee subsidies specifically for the purpose of purchasing health insurance from individual market plans.”
Since the IRS considers the university’s student health insurance plan from Aetna an individual market plan, the school would be fined if it continued to give students a subsidy to help with health insurance costs, said Leona Rubin, associate vice chancellor for graduate studies.
“We’re trying to comply with the interpretation of federal law,” Rubin said. “We’re not trying to hurt (students).”
The university is using the $3.1 million it budgeted for the subsidies to establish one-time fellowships for those employees. All graduate students with qualifying titles, including teaching assistantships and research assistantships, will be eligible for them this fall.
University spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said the money can be spent on tuition, books, rent or other expenses. She said the university can’t give students money solely for health insurance costs.
Graduate Professional Council President Hallie Thompson said students started a private Facebook group Friday afternoon to discuss the change. She said some students have said they wished the college had informed them earlier of the subsidy elimination.
“People are seriously up in arms about this,” Thompson said. “They depend on this insurance… we need it every money and every day.”
The school first learned of the problem with health insurance subsidies late July and sought an outside legal opinion. University lawyers met and discussed the subsidies July 29.
Rubin said the college then contacted other university to see how they were handling the change and reviewed its budget to see how it could assist students. She said the college wanted to explore its options for assisting students before informing students about the subsidy cut.
Every aspect of education in Baltimore is tied to STEM as humanities and arts is pushed to simply being VALUE-ADDED FOR PROFITS. This capture is complete as they now take our K-12 and install the most corporate education structure in the nation. If any citizen in Baltimore believes the progressive posing of having all these corporate education non-profits as wrap-around arts and humanities thinking this model will actually remain FUNDED......I have swampland in Florida to sell because Wall Street Baltimore Development and a very, very, very neo-conservative Johns Hopkins only sees Ivy League universities as the source for arts and humanities and as you see in this article---even Ivy League students are being marginalized with such low stipends.
'According to Lattman, stipends range from around $13,500 for those in the humanities to around $21,000 for those in the sciences'.
The fact that students feel they have to organize in unions shows a failed, hostile policy towards US education from K-university.
Grad stipends fall short
By The News-Letter on November 3, 2005
By Chelsea Borchers
For The News-Letter
While graduate students have not made any visible effort to protest the amount of compensation they receive for their work for the University, a discrepancy remains between the stipends they receive here compared with those of peer universities.
According to Eaton Lattman of the Department of Research and Graduate Education at Hopkins, “Low graduate stipends are the most common complaints that the Dean’s Office hears from departmental chairs.”
He also went on to agree that the money is often not sufficient for graduate students, but said that “providing significant increases in stipends is a long-term project. There is not much that we can do for them instantly.”
Graduate students receive stipends for their work as a teaching or research assistant, and the amount they receive varies by department.
According to Lattman, stipends range from around $13,500 for those in the humanities to around $21,000 for those in the sciences.
Tuition at every graduate school is paid for by the University, fellowships and outside scholarships. Health insurance is included for all Hopkins graduate students as well.
Compensation at other universities was found to be slightly higher. Columbia University humanities students receive an annual stipend of $17,000, while science students receive $25,000. Current data for Yale University was that the minimum stipend was $18,000.
However, one heavily weighted factor when deciding on the stipends offered to graduate students is the cost of living of the area surrounding the University in which they study.
The cost of living in Baltimore, compared to the locations of several peer universities is much lower.
According to the City of Baltimore, the average income of Baltimore City residents is $32,000. New York City’s cost of living is 99.8 percent higher than Baltimore, while in New Haven it is an increase of 20.4 percent.
The opinions of graduate students themselves are split.
Kristine Amari, a first-year computer science graduate student at Hopkins, makes $15,000 from her stipend.
Brendon Bagley, a first-year student in the biophysics department, receives a stipend of $24,500 before taxes and is not required to TA a certain number of classes, although he receives more money if he does.
Amari and Bagley both have yet to take on other jobs. “The stipend is sufficient for approximately $600 a month (with car note and cell phone and groceries plus minimal savings),” says Bagley.
He added, “The stipend is competitive and the benefits are good.”
Amari says that she feels “lucky, as many schools don’t have stipends available to masters students, only Ph.D. students.” Bagley’s friends in the physics departments at other schools receive around $14,000 for a nine-month period.
Adam Ruben, a biology graduate student receiving $24,500 in stipends, said that some of his friends make the minimum of $13,500 and people who started at Hopkins before the minimum was set. receive even less.
“I’m okay,” says Ruben, “but the stipends at the low end of the spectrum are terrible. They are not enough to live upon. Some people are spending more than half of their stipend upon rent.”
Lattman said the discrepancy between the departments here at Hopkins is due to a variety of factors.
“Some science departments have federal training grants that pay stipends, and the stipend level is set by the agency. In other departments the stipends are based on the stipends from the previous year, with as large an increase as we can afford.”
Accoring to Lattman t is important to note that, “students supported by training grants do not necessarily have to TA.”
“In other departments the number of semesters of TA work required depends on the teaching needs of the department. TAs teach more,” he said.
“When the department has a lot of large undergraduate courses. Students are supported by research assistantships when there is no TA role for them.” Both positions provide stipends for the graduate students.
The Graduate Research Organization, according to Lattman, “has been very creative in suggesting ways in which our current budge can be deployed more effectively.”
Ben Tilghman, co-chair of the GRO, said, “The deans, the provost and many other members of the administration are all eager to hear our concerns and often come to us for our thoughts and assistance on various issues.”
Ultimately, Lattman said that “raising money for graduate education will be a very high priority for the next development campaign.”
At other universities, the issue of low stipends has lead to much dissatisfaction among graduate students.
At Columbia University and Yale University this past April, graduate students organized a strike to demand the right to unionize. With more than 250 graduate students refusing to teach at Yale University, 450 classes were affected.
Both universities worked with the graduate students to come up with a solution to their demands, and the strikes ended.
The main goal of unionization was not met at either school. This is due to a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board in 2004, which makes unionization illegal at private universities.
At New York University, where teaching assistants are recognized as a union, graduate students authorized a strike for Nov. 9 in response to a renewed contract they recieved from the University which was found to be unsatisfactory.
Global pols are telling us all this testing and evaluation is about holding lazy, incompetent teachers and students accountable and to add rigor. That is not true. It is completely based on tracking students from pre-K to a vocational education track, to rate students from all nations under the same standard----and to market global education corporations having the 'best testing/evaluation' results. PERIOD. It has nothing to do with rigor---in fact it further hampers rigor---and nothing to do with broadening learning skills as all of the education marketing they do around this never plays out in the classroom. Students have and will sit in front of a computer doing online lessons. Remember, the 1% no longer look at 90% of American students as anything other than base labor.
They are touting 45 states as having adopted Common Core and Race to the Top but they never tell you that was because it was tied to being the only way for states to get Federal education funds and once that funding stopped----many states are leaving. Those still pushing this are like Maryland---completely captured by Wall Street global pols who will push this no matter what. Clinton started this corporate privatization-----Bush and Obama placed it into overdrive.
American public education has always been diverse because we are a nation of many races, creeds, and cultures-----WE THE PEOPLE ARE DIVERSITY. Nations like China and Singapore are very homogenous in that regard----so standardizing information regarding education content would work in those nations.
WE DO NOT WANT OUR COMMUNITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS UNABLE TO CREATE LESSONS FOR STUDENTS THAT ARE LOCAL AND GRASSROOTS NO MATTER IF A FAMILY IS REPUBLICAN OR DEMOCRAT.
The goal will have a corporation in Malaysia looking at a global pool of workers and their education backgrounds and know they are seeing human capital rated with the same standards and education structures.
What's Global about the Common Core Standards?
Common Core and global learning come together--can you make it a Venn diagram?
by Margaret Reed Millar
The Asia Society Partnership for Global Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) partnered together to define global competence and the skills and abilities that students need to demonstrate to be globally competent. CCSSO’s EdSteps initiative convened a Global Competence Taskforce composed of 24 researchers and practitioners that after 18 months of intense collaboration, defined global competence as: the capacity and disposition to understand and act on issues of global significance. This definition is expanded in a global competence matrix the Taskforce created that breaks the larger concept of global competence into the four primary capacities of globally competent students: they investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action. Global Competence can be developed within any discipline, and cuts across disciplines.
The adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for English language arts and mathematics in 45 states and the District of Columbia offers educators an unprecedented opportunity to marry the skill development and acquisition of core content needed to develop globally competent citizens with the rigorous skills and core content needed to prepare all students for college and careers. Further, the global competence matrix complements, and in many cases directly overlaps with, the expectations set forth for students in the Standards. In concert with clear expectations for reading, writing, speaking, listening, language and mathematics, the expectations outlined in the CCSS include the development of students’ abilities to think critically, reason, communicate effectively, and solve problems that arise in everyday life, society, and the workplace.
The adoption of new and rigorous college and career ready standards creates an historic opportunity for individual schools, districts, and states across the nation to work independently and collaboratively to rethink the curriculum, resource materials, and texts used in classroom and in online instruction. Educators across the United States are currently engaged in thoughtful discussions in their local communities about how best to make the shift to teach the Common Core State Standards through creatively adapting existing tools and resources, purchasing or creating new resources, and identifying world-class digital open educational resources. As the introduction to the English language arts Standards notes, “by emphasizing required achievements, the Standards leave room for teachers, curriculum developers, and states to determine how those goals should be reached and what additional topics should be addressed.” The time is now for schools and local communities to use the flexibility and opportunity the CCSS provide to consider instruction and curriculum that incorporates global competence into the preparation of college and career ready students.
The intersection of the CCSS and the global competence matrix can best be demonstrated through the lens of the four components of the matrix. For each, at least one example of direct intersection between the Standards and the matrix is provided, as well as suggestions for how educators may choose to embed opportunities for students to develop their global competence as part of CCSS aligned curriculum and instruction.
Investigate the World
Globally competent students investigate the world beyond their immediate environment. The CCSS for English Language Arts make clear that building research skills is integral to preparing students for the expectations of college and career, “To be ready for college, workforce training, and life in a technological society, students need the ability to gather, comprehend, evaluate, synthesize, and report on information and ideas, to conduct original research in order to answer questions or solve problems, and to analyze and create a high volume and extensive range of print and nonprint texts in media forms old and new. The need to conduct research and to produce and consume media is embedded into every aspect of today’s curriculum.” More directly, two of the College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards for Writing directly state that students must:
7. Conduct short as well as more sustained research projects based on focused questions, demonstrating understanding of the subject under investigation.
8. Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital sources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Similarly, included in the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice is the expectation that college and career ready students will be able to “construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others,” which includes developing abilities to “analyze situations,” “justify their conclusions,” and make “plausible arguments.” This emphasis on the ongoing and intentional development of students’ research, analysis and argumentation skills is repeated in the Investigate the World capacity defined in the global competence matrix, which calls for students to “identify and weigh relevant evidence,” to “analyze, integrate, and synthesize evidence,” and to “develop an argument based on compelling evidence…and draw defensible conclusions.” The higher-order analytic skills and research abilities that describe college and career readiness are equally a part of developing students to be globally competent citizens. Where the global competence matrix expands upon the CCSS is in an expectation that some of the research students conduct will focus on questions of global significance and that that the investigations into these researchable questions will include consultation of a variety of sources—including international sources and those sources that may exist in a non-native language. Educators looking to infuse opportunities to build global competence into a CCSS aligned curriculum may consider posing a globally relevant problem that requires the use of mathematical reasoning to develop an argument to address, or developing assignments that ask students to conduct original research into topics that have an impact beyond the local community and providing access to international sources.
Globally competent students recognize their own and others’ perspectives. The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts include a series of statements that, while not directly standards themselves, offer a portrait of the capacities of literate students who meet the Standards. One of these seven statements directly addresses the importance of college and career ready students coming “to understand other perspectives and cultures.” The statement continues, “Students appreciate that the twenty-first-century classroom and workplace are settings in which people from often widely divergent cultures and who represent diverse experiences and perspectives must learn and work together. Students actively seek to understand other perspectives and cultures through reading and listening, and they are able to communicate effectively with people of varied backgrounds.” This statement directly mirrors many of the statements in the Recognize Perspectives capacity of the global competence matrix, including the expectations that students “Recognize and express their own perspective,” and “Examine perspectives of other people, groups, or schools of thought.” Where the global competence matrix expands upon the CCSS for English Language Arts document is in the expectations that a student will “identify the influences” on his or her own perspectives and on the perspectives of others, as well as “explain how cultural interactions influence situations, events, issues or phenomena.” These statements call for students to go beyond the recognition of existing differences in perspectives by conducting an analysis of the potential influences on one’s perspective and how the interaction of individuals and societies with different perspectives influences history. Educators wishing to incorporate this extension into an aligned CCSS curriculum may consider, for example, developing assignments that ask students to interview others about their perspective on a given issue, or analyze the perspective of an author or public figure, and then compare and contrast that to their own individual perspective on the given topic.
Globally competent students communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences. The Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts document is replete with standards and statements that call for students to develop effective communication skills—in writing, in the creation of media, and in speaking and listening, both formally and informally. For example, one of the key features describing the Standards for Speaking and Listening is “flexible communication and collaboration,” noting that the Standards “require students to develop a range of broadly useful oral communication and interpersonal skills. Students must learn to work together, express and listen carefully to ideas, integrate information from oral, visual, quantitative, and media sources, evaluate what they hear, use media and visual displays strategically to help achieve communicative purposes, and adapt speech to context and task.” As another example, the fourth College and Career Readiness Standard for Writing asks students to “Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.”
Likewise, the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics require students to develop effective communications. For example, the third Standard for Mathematical Practice asks students to “Construct viable arguments” and “communicate them to others.”
The expectations for effective communications set forth in the Common Core State Standards are shared by the Communicate Ideas column of the global competence matrix, which sets the expectation that students will “communicate their ideas effectively with diverse audiences.” Where the matrix expands upon the CCSS is in the expectations that students will “recognize and express how diverse audiences may perceive different meanings from the same information” and “reflect on how effective communication affects understanding and collaboration.” Educators wishing to extend the curriculum to incorporate opportunities to build global competence in communications while maintaining alignment to the Standards may wish to facilitate discussions on how the same message can be understood differently by different individuals and groups, and ask students to reflect—either in writing or orally—about the importance of effective communication to successful collaboration with others from different backgrounds, cultures and nations.
Globally competent students translate their ideas and findings into appropriate actions to improve conditions.
The Common Core State Standards focus on the development of the reading, writing, speaking, listening, language and mathematical skills and understandings students that research and evidence support are most essential for students to master in order to be ready for college and careers. These foundational skills and competencies lay the foundation to develop students with the capacity to take action to improve conditions in their local community, their state, the country and the world.
The Standards place an emphasis on real-world applicability of knowledge and skills, such as the fourth Standard for Mathematical Practice focused on modeling which notes that “mathematically proficient students can apply the mathematics they know to solve problems arising in everyday life, society, and the workplace.” Furthermore, an entire strand of mathematics in high school is devoted to modeling so students become adept at taking a real world situation and identifying when and how mathematics should be applied to solve a particular problem. The decision left to educators, families and communities is to determine how best to create opportunities for students to demonstrate their abilities and to take action.
Those interested in building into student learning experiences an expectation that students take action to improve conditions may consider designing extended projects to give students this opportunity. These projects may require students to identify a problem or substandard condition, assess options and plan actions based on evidence, act personally or collaboratively to execute the planned actions, assess the effectiveness of their actions, and ultimately reflect on the experience. These types of opportunities may take place within the traditional school environment, in an outside of school environment, or even at the self-direction of a student.
A Bill Gates corporate education journal like Education Week will use words like RIGOR, PREPARING CHILDREN TO COMPETE GLOBALLY----while parents and teachers will tell you the rigor is not there. What makes Common Core seem harder is the shift towards word problems requiring learning skills that many Americans have lost because the Clinton education reforms TOOK RIGOR OUT OF CLASSROOM LESSONS. So, Common Core is simply re-introducing this learning skill and it will take students time to adjust and build that learning skill. The other part of rigor is the use of a math model as I said earlier that is not rigorous---it is simply different. What they are calling DEEP LEARNING---is simply a concentrated learning at early ages ----elementary school that would normally occur in later middle or high school. They are concentrating that exposure to math, coding and such because global pols do not intend to have children in school through middle/high school. Remember, they want students in 7th grade working as apprentices-----9th grade for higher skills students ---with high school simply becoming that 2 year career college vocational degree with the student working on the job. This is why they are pushing downward on when students are learning to read----learning math-----
So, yes word problems and this kind of thinking is harder but it was standard instruction before the dumbing down of education by Reagan/Clinton as they moved to end public K-university. The reason many parents say it is not rigorous enough is exactly what this article states-----the standards are lower than many states already had in place. Some states, like Maryland used a state education standard test that was too easy-----less rigorous----to give Maryland students the appearance of having higher grades. This is why these states now feel Common Core is too hard and we simply need time for students to adjust.
The Trouble with the Common Core
By the editors of Rethinking Schools Purchase a PDF of this article
It isn't easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics.
We know there have been many positive claims made for the Common Core:
- That it represents a tighter set of smarter standards focused on developing critical learning skills instead of mastering fragmented bits of knowledge.
- That it requires more progressive, student-centered teaching with strong elements of collaborative and reflective learning.
- That it equalizes the playing field by raising expectations for all children, especially those suffering the worst effects of the “drill and kill” test prep norms of the recent past.
We also know that many creative, heroic teachers are seeking ways to use this latest reform wave to serve their students well. Especially in the current interim between the rollout of the standards and the arrival of the tests, some teachers have embraced the Common Core as an alternative to the scripted commercial formulas of recent experience, and are trying to use the space opened up by the Common Core transition to do positive things in their classrooms.
We'd like to believe these claims and efforts can trump the more political uses of the Common Core project. But we can't.
For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They're national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. (This is one reason many conservative groups opposed to any federal role in education policy oppose the Common Core.)
Written mostly by academics and assessment experts—many with ties to testing companies—the Common Core standards have never been fully implemented and tested in real schools anywhere. Of the 135 members on the official Common Core review panels convened by Achieve Inc., the consulting firm that has directed the Common Core project for the NGA, few were classroom teachers or current administrators. Parents were entirely missing. K–12 educators were mostly brought in after the fact to tweak and endorse the standards—and lend legitimacy to the results.
The standards are tied to assessments that are still in development and that must be given on computers many schools don't have. So far, there is no research or experience to justify the extravagant claims being made for the ability of these standards to ensure that every child will graduate from high school “college and career ready.” By all accounts, the new Common Core tests will be considerably harder than current state assessments, leading to sharp drops in scores and proficiency rates.
We have seen this show before. The entire country just finished a decade-long experiment in standards-based, test-driven school reform called No Child Left Behind. NCLB required states to adopt “rigorous” curriculum standards and test students annually to gauge progress towards reaching them. Under threat of losing federal funds, all 50 states adopted or revised their standards and began testing every student, every year in every grade from 3–8 and again in high school. (Before NCLB, only 19 states tested all kids every year, after NCLB all 50 did.)
By any measure, NCLB was a dismal failure in both raising academic performance and narrowing gaps in opportunity and outcomes. But by very publicly measuring the test results against benchmarks no real schools have ever met, NCLB did succeed in creating a narrative of failure that shaped a decade of attempts to “fix” schools while blaming those who work in them. By the time the first decade of NCLB was over, more than half the schools in the nation were on the lists of “failing schools” and the rest were poised to follow.
In reality, NCLB's test scores reflected the inequality that exists all around our schools. The disaggregated scores put the spotlight on longstanding gaps in outcomes and opportunity among student subgroups. But NCLB used these gaps to label schools as failures without providing the resources or support needed to eliminate them.
The tests showed that millions of students were not meeting existing standards. Yet the conclusion drawn by sponsors of the Common Core was that the solution was “more challenging” ones. This conclusion is simply wrong. NCLB proved that the test and punish approach to education reform doesn't work, not that we need a new, tougher version of it. Instead of targeting the inequalities of race, class, and educational opportunity reflected in the test scores, the Common Core project threatens to reproduce the narrative of public school failure that has led to a decade of bad policy in the name of reform.
The engine for this potential disaster, as it was for NCLB, will be the tests, in this case the “next generation” Common Core tests being developed by two federally funded, multi-state consortia at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars. Although reasonable people, including many thoughtful educators we respect, have found things of value in the Common Core standards, there is no credible defense to be made of the high-stakes uses planned for these new tests.
The same heavy-handed, top-down policies that forced adoption of the standards require use of the Common Core tests to evaluate educators. This inaccurate and unreliable practice will distort the assessments before they're even in place and make Common Core implementation part of the assault on the teaching profession instead of a renewal of it. The costs of the tests, which have multiple pieces throughout the year plus the computer platforms needed to administer and score them, will be enormous and will come at the expense of more important things. The plunging scores will be used as an excuse to close more public schools and open more privatized charters and voucher schools, especially in poor communities of color. If, as proposed, the Common Core's “college and career ready” performance level becomes the standard for high school graduation, it will push more kids out of high school than it will prepare for college.
This is not just cynical speculation. It is a reasonable projection based on the history of the NCLB decade, the dismantling of public education in the nation's urban centers, and the appalling growth of the inequality and concentrated poverty that remains the central problem in public education.
Nor are we exaggerating the potential for disaster. Consider this description from Charlotte Danielson, a highly regarded mainstream authority on teacher evaluation and a strong supporter of the Common Core:
I do worry somewhat about the assessments—I'm concerned that we may be headed for a train wreck there. The test items I've seen that have been released so far are extremely challenging. If I had to take a test that was entirely comprised of items like that, I'm not sure that I would pass it—and I've got a bunch of degrees. So I do worry that in some schools we'll have 80 percent or some large number of students failing. That's what I mean by train wreck.Reports from the first wave of Common Core testing are already confirming these fears. This spring students, parents, and teachers in New York schools responded to administration of new Common Core tests developed by Pearson Inc. with a general outcry against their length, difficulty, and inappropriate content. Pearson included corporate logos and promotional material in reading passages. Students reported feeling overstressed and underprepared—meeting the tests with shock, anger, tears, and anxiety. Administrators requested guidelines for handling tests students had vomited on. Teachers and principals complained about the disruptive nature of the testing process and many parents encouraged their children to opt out.
Common Core has become part of the corporate reform project now stalking our schools. Unless we dismantle and defeat this larger effort, Common Core implementation will become another stage in the demise of public education. As schools struggle with these new mandates, we should defend our students, our schools, our communities, and ourselves by telling the truth about the Common Core. This means pushing back against implementation timelines and plans that set schools up to fail, resisting the stakes and priority attached to the tests, and exposing the truth about the commercial and political interests shaping and benefiting from this false panacea for the problems our schools face.
Rethinking Schools has always been skeptical of standards imposed from above. Too many standards projects have been efforts to move decisions about teaching and learning away from classrooms, educators, and school communities, only to put them in the hands of distant bureaucracies. Standards have often codified sanitized versions of history, politics, and culture that reinforce official myths while leaving out the voices, concerns, and realities of our students and communities. Whatever positive role standards might play in truly collaborative conversations about what our schools should teach and children should learn has been repeatedly undermined by bad process, suspect political agendas, and commercial interests.
Unfortunately there's been too little honest conversation and too little democracy in the development of the Common Core. We see consultants and corporate entrepreneurs where there should be parents and teachers, and more high-stakes testing where there should be none. Until that changes, it will be hard to distinguish the “next big thing” from the last one.
If you look Maryland is always at the top of education rankings and each year our state and local media-----outside oversight and auditing organizations ------find that the education data is skewed. The article below was written by the people pushing Common Core and as such the article makes everything sound as successful as could be. Meanwhile, in Baltimore and Maryland teachers, administrators, parents, and students are shouting this process does not work-----the testing results are found having the low-performing students often out of the data sets------and most importantly is the comment below-----it is not about the standards it is about content and methods. Classroom teachers did not need a standarized Common Core to reintroduce rigor----they simply needed to move rigor into Maryland state assessments and then give students time to develop the learning skills needed to improve.
- Charlotte Greenbarg says:
01/27/2016 at 10:34 amOpposition isn’t about standards. It’s about the curricula that CC requires to get to the standards. Pearson, Microsoft, Amplify et al profit mightily while the teachers who care and struggling families are victims. I have Bill Gates admitting in a Harvard interview that it might take years before they know if their “stuff” works. http://www.ivbe.org homepage. I’d also like to know what connection the authors have with any entity advocating for CC.
Florida’s test debacle is just one example. CC should have been piloted and empirically-proven before having been rolled out nationwide. I’m not a Tea Party member, and the first sentence in the article indicates the bias this entire sorry episode has demonstrated. When the right and the left agree on something, it’s worth taking note.
The article below is judging success in implementation of education structures-----and not whether education attainment is meaningful and that is what all policy does when it is pushed by global corporations and Wall Street. Nations score higher than US students because they are using the US model of education we had for centuries-----before Reagan/Clinton dismantled it to dumb down our achievement. As you see these articles are focused only on how US scores compete Internationally and that is because global education corporations are competing to sell their PRODUCT.
As this says-----RAISED THEIR STANDARDS-----meaning installed higher standards and yes, Maryland having had a lower standard did raise it moving it to this higher ranking-----it had a greater jump in standard...................so again, this is all simply installing the program-----not actual student achievement.
K. Stump says:
01/27/2016 at 7:19 pm
“good grades suggest that states are setting a high proficiency bar—that students must perform at a high level to be deemed proficient in a given subject at their grade level. ” This is not necessarily true. Students can earn higher grades because the standards are lower for earning a course grade than the metric used to determine a proficiency score on the state test. There is not inherently any consistency between a classroom teacher’s grading system and a state’s proficiency scale used for the state assessment.
Bert Stoneberg says:
01/27/2016 at 8:00 pm
The rigor of a state’s proficiency standard has little to do with overall student achievement in the state. No logical reason exists to assume a relationship between student achievement and proficiency standards. Student achievement is an outcome of pedagogical endeavor while proficiency standards are a product of political exercise. One cannot predict achievement scores from the rigor of performance standards, or vice versa. Using 2013 state and NAEP data, the statistical correlation between rigor and achievement in reading was 0.28 for Grade 4 and 0.01 for grade 8. The Pearson r in mathematics was 0.30 for both grades. See the evidence in graphic format on the U.S. Department of Education website at http://eric.ed.gov/?q=stoneberg&id=ED558198
After Common Core, States Set Rigorous Standards
Forty-five states raise the student proficiency bar
By Paul E. Peterson, Samuel Barrows and Thomas Gift
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Summer 2016 / Vol. 16, No. 3
Paul E. Peterson discusses these findings with Amanda Olberg on the EdNext Podcast.
In spite of Tea Party criticism, union skepticism, and anti-testing outcries, the campaign to implement Common Core State Standards (otherwise known as Common Core) has achieved phenomenal success in statehouses across the country. Since 2011, 45 states have raised their standards for student proficiency in reading and math, with the greatest gains occurring between 2013 and 2015. Most states set only mediocre expectations for students for nearly 10 years after the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). Now, in the wake of the Common Core campaign, a majority of states have made a dramatic move forward.
Common Core State Standards
In 2009, with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers formed a consortium that established Common Core. Put simply, the standards outlined what students should know and be able to accomplish at each grade level in reading and math.
Eventually, 43 states and the District of Columbia fully adopted Common Core, while one other state, Minnesota, adopted only the reading standards. Although much of the debate surrounding Common Core has focused on the nature of the curriculum for each grade level, proponents have also sought to raise the proficiency level on tests that assess student learning. In fact, one of the consortium’s central goals has been to encourage states to set their proficiency standards on par with those set internationally.
To motivate states to adopt Common Core standards, the U.S. Department of Education provided incentives in 2009 via its Race to the Top initiative. The department announced a competition that would award grants totaling more than $4.3 billion to states that proposed to undertake reforms drawn from an extensive list provided by the department. Adopting “college-and-career-ready” standards was among the recommended reforms. All but four states submitted Race to the Top proposals, and 18 states and the District of Columbia received awards.
Subsequently, the Department of Education further encouraged states to adopt Common Core by offering waivers from NCLB requirements, which many states had found increasingly onerous, in exchange for pursuing department-approved alternatives similar to those suggested as part of Race to the Top.
The priority given to Common Core by both Race to the Top and the waiver program provoked outcry among some conservatives, who feared that the national standards would both undermine local control of schools and lower expectations for students. “The Common Core national math standards are not ‘internationally benchmarked,’ … not world class and competitive with the best … and not ‘second to none’ (though advertised as such when announced),” testified Hoover Institution researcher Williamson Evers before the Ohio legislature. Similarly, Jamie Gass at the Pioneer Institute in Boston declared, “Common Core is dumbed down.”
Meanwhile, teachers unions also expressed trepidation that Common Core standards would be used to assess teachers, especially since test-based evaluations of teachers ranked high on the Race to the Top agenda. The District of Columbia Public Schools, for example, had introduced such evaluations over heavy union opposition, and teachers unions across the country mobilized against accountability systems that leveraged statewide tests as a basis for evaluating their members.
With opposition mounting in both liberal and conservative circles, support for Common Core slipped significantly among the public at large, casting doubt on its very viability. But despite staunch political dissent, a careful look at proficiency standards reveals that most states have delivered on their commitments to tighten them.
Measuring State Proficiency Standards
Beginning in 2005, Education Next has published the grades given to state proficiency standards on an A-to-F scale designed by researchers in the Program on Education Policy and Governance (PEPG) at Harvard University. In 2005, only six states received an “A,” while just three states earned this distinction as recently as 2011. In 2015, however, 24 of the 49 states (including the District of Columbia) for which data were available as of mid-January 2016 earned an “A.” Meanwhile, the number of states receiving a “D” or an “F” has dwindled from 17 and 13 in 2005 and 2011, respectively, to a grand total of 1 in 2015 (See Figure 1). In short, state standards have suddenly skyrocketed.
State proficiency standards were initially required when Congress passed NCLB in 2002. Under that law and continuing under its successor, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the U.S. Department of Education has required states to test students in math and reading in grades 3 through 8 and again in high school. States must also set the performance level that students must reach on the exams to be identified as “proficient.” States report proficiency rates for each school as well as for the state as a whole. Importantly, each state chooses its own tests and establishes its own proficiency bar.
Federal law also mandates the periodic administration of tests in selected subjects to a representative sample of students in 4th and 8th grade as part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often called “the nation’s report card.” The performance levels that the NAEP deems as proficient are roughly equivalent to those set by international organizations that estimate student proficiency worldwide.
Data from both the NAEP and state tests allow for periodic assessments of the rigor of each state’s proficiency standards. If the percentage of students identified as proficient in any given year is essentially the same for both the NAEP and the state exams, we can infer that the state has established as strict a proficiency standard as that of the NAEP. But if the state identifies a higher percentage of students as proficient than the NAEP, we can conclude that the state has set its proficiency bar lower than that of the NAEP.
To be clear, high proficiency standards do not necessarily reflect high student performance. Rather, good grades suggest that states are setting a high proficiency bar—that students must perform at a high level to be deemed proficient in a given subject at their grade level. Grades gauge “truth in advertising” by indicating the degree to which states inform parents of how well their students are doing on an internationally accepted scale.
Dramatic Rise in Standards
Education Next has evaluated the rigor of state proficiency standards each time results from both state and NAEP tests have been available for the same year. This is the seventh in a series of reports that grade state proficiency standards on the traditional A-to-F scale (see educationnext.org/edfacts for a complete list of these reports). Each state earns a grade according to the size of the difference between the percentages of students identified as proficient by state and by NAEP exams in 4th- and 8th-grade math and reading.
Previous reports (most recently “States Raise Proficiency Standards in Math and Reading,” features, Summer 2015) show that states, on average, established proficiency benchmarks that were much lower than those set by the NAEP and that state standards varied widely. Furthermore, prior reports revealed that until 2011, states did not markedly increase their proficiency standards nor did the variation among the states narrow. If anything, trends drifted in the opposite direction.
In Table 1, we report a grade for each state for each of four tests (4th-grade math, 4th-grade reading, 8th-grade math, and 8th-grade reading). An average of the underlying scores generating these grades determines the overall grade for the state. (The differences between state and NAEP proficiency rates, as well as the changes in state standards over time, are shown in an interactive graphic available at educationnext.org/edfacts). Table 1 also shows changes in standards over three time periods: a) 2013–2015, b) 2011–2015, and c) 2005–2015.
The results are striking: The last two years have witnessed the largest jump in state standards since they were established as part of the federal accountability program. Overall, 36 states have strengthened their standards since 2013, while just 5 have loosened them, and 7 have left their standards essentially unchanged. In short, the Common Core consortium has achieved one of its key policy objectives: the raising of state proficiency standards throughout much of the United States.
Even more remarkable is that states are earning higher grades even though it was harder to get an “A” in 2015 than ever before. Education Next grades the individual states on a “curve” that includes all observations from all years dating back to 2003. Until now, state standards had changed so slightly from one year to the next that the curve made little difference. Yet so many states raised their standards before the 2015 administration of state tests that every state in every year is being evaluated on a tougher scale. As a result, some states that, for example, obtained an “A” in previous studies have been downgraded to a “B+” in 2015.
The table and the interactive graphic on the Education Next website display the grades under the tougher grading system that has evolved because so many states have raised their standards. In the text, however, we refer to grades as originally earned in prior years. This yields slight discrepancies between the two metrics (see sidebar below, “Grading the States”). Note that the curve does not affect the estimates of the percentage difference in state and NAEP proficiency standards reported in the three right-hand columns of Table 1. These columns reveal the exact estimate of the change in proficiency standards for all states for which data are available.
One should keep in mind that participation rates can affect our estimates. Proficiency standards may appear more rigorous than they actually are if lower-performing students are more likely to participate in state testing, but less rigorous if higher-performing students are more likely to participate (assuming that NAEP samples are representative of all students). In 2015, advocates sought to persuade parents in a number of states—including New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Colorado, and California—to “opt out” of statewide tests. The opt-out movement seems to have been particularly successful with high school students. New Jersey, for example, reports that its highest nonparticipation rates occur among juniors in high school. Our estimates are based on the performances of 4th and 8th graders, making them less susceptible to bias from opt-out activity. We are currently unable to estimate patterns of participation in the opt-out effort, but to the extent that many students who opted out were potential high scorers, proficiency standards may be lower than our calculations suggest.
Reaching for an “A”
In 2015, 24 of 49 states (including the District of Columbia) earned an “A” grade. Since 2013, the average difference between NAEP and state proficiency levels has plummeted from 30 percent to 10 percent, representing a dramatic improvement over the previous two-year period (2011–2013), in which the difference dropped only 5 percentage points, from 35 percent to 30 percent (see Figure 2). Clearly, states are tightening standards more than ever since NCLB took effect. As mentioned earlier, no fewer than 36 states have raised their proficiency standards over the past two years, while just 5 relaxed them. Forty-five states have boosted their standards since 2011.
In 2015, the following 24 states earned an “A” grade: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New York, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, and Vermont. In 2013, nine states earned an “A,” but of these, only New York, Pennsylvania, and Utah remain in the elite group in 2015. The standards for five of the other six high scorers from 2013—Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, and Tennessee—are among those that slipped in 2015. North Carolina, however, is the only state where the downslide (12.1 percentage points) exceeds 5 percentage points.
The slippage in Massachusetts suggests the importance of viewing proficiency standards in context. In 2015, the state allowed local school districts to choose between the established test, the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS), or a newly developed test from the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, dubbed the PARCC. To preserve continuity with prior testing, we report results for the MCAS. The percentage of 8th graders identified as proficient on the MCAS, however, is much higher than the percentage identified as proficient on the PARCC. This could be because PARCC standards are higher, or it may simply be that a greater number of high-performing districts chose to retain the MCAS. The state department of education promises to provide more specific information on the students taking the two tests.
The lowest grade, a “D+,” goes to Texas. Four years ago, the Texas Department of Education promised to set in place a staircase that would result in gradual increases in the state’s standards. The Texas commissioner of education at that time, Michael Williams, said the “approach is intended to minimize any abrupt single-year increase in the required … standard for this school year and in the future.” By 2015, however, Texas had yet to move beyond the first step of the stairs, though it promises to do so in 2016. According to officials, the purpose of the delay was to give teachers and students sufficient time to adjust to more-rigorous standards.
State Standards Converge
Not only have standards risen across the country, but the differences in standards among the states narrowed considerably between 2013 and 2015. Figure 3 shows the distribution of the states according to how much they vary from NAEP on the proficiency standard. The 2013 distribution varies widely, while the 2015 distribution is clustered around the NAEP standard. In 2015, the range between the highest- and the lowest-performing state was less than 50 percentage points, as compared to nearly 65 percentage points in 2013. Even more impressive, nearly 80 percent of the states’ proficiency rates are within 15 percentage points of the NAEP rates, with only one state possessing an average proficiency rate differing from the NAEP standard by more than 40 percentage points. By comparison, 25 percent of states differed from NAEP by more than 40 percentage points in 2013.
Race to the Top
The rise in standards between 2013 and 2015 is not concentrated among states that received Race to the Top awards. We do not find that Race to the Top grant winners raised their standards more than other states (results not shown). This does not necessarily mean that Race to the Top was ineffective, however, as the remaining states later came under similar federal encouragement to raise standards when they sought waivers from NCLB requirements.
Not There Yet
Although the overwhelming majority of states have established standards that approximate international benchmarks, and no state set standards so low as to receive an “F” grade, seven states did earn a grade in the “C” range, and one a “D+,” indicating a substantial divergence from the NAEP. Although proficiency standards have climbed overall, an average difference of 10 percentage points remains between the state proficiency levels and the corresponding NAEP proficiency levels. Additionally, two states—Florida and Wisconsin—had yet to report test-score performances at the time the data for this report were prepared.
Since the inception of NCLB, the introduction of higher proficiency standards has been fraught with political controversy. With a rising proficiency bar, student performance appears lower even when it is the bar itself—not student performance—that has changed. Indeed, controversy rocked Florida and New York, two of the first states to raise their proficiency bars after 2011. Amid the furor, the state education commissioner in Florida resigned, and in New York, the tougher standards fueled the parental opt-out movement.
Such political storms might be avoided in the future because states no longer need to comply with many NCLB provisions. With the passage of ESSA, which has eliminated NCLB sanctions for most schools, states find themselves under less pressure to set lax proficiency standards. Previously, districts had strong incentives to resist high proficiency standards, as they feared their schools might be subject to increasingly severe penalties for not producing improved test results. Because most schools no longer need to worry about sanctions, the waivers from NCLB and the subsequent passage of ESSA may facilitate the increasing rigor of state standards.
If Common Core works as its proponents expect, higher proficiency standards could propel schools to achieve at more impressive levels and thus raise the nation’s ranking on international tests. Of course, it is imperative that parents, teachers, administrators, and policymakers recognize the low levels of student proficiency now being identified in most states as a serious warning that action is needed. Otherwise, raising the proficiency bars will be for naught. Still, it is a hopeful sign that standards have moved in the right direction. If student performance shifts upward in tandem, it will signal a long-awaited enhancement in the quality of American schools.
If you looked at the Harvard global corporate article saying the Common Core was a huge success ranking Maryland #3 in installing a test that raised achievement levels you then look here to see 1/2 of students did not pass PARCC. That article deliberately led people to think it was raising test scores and not simply expectations. Having a stronger assessment was needed in Maryland and could have been done with the already-in-place state assessment model which is what parents are shouting---WHY DO WE NEED THIS PARCC TEST?
The answer is Pearson is a global testing corporation that is tying to international education corporations to create a ranking for global education schools and lessons. It will simply be a marketing tool for global corporations----having that PEARSON rating.
This doesn't mean Maryland students are less capable----it means the rigor and standards in Maryland were kept artificially low for decades and that WAS POLITICAL -----governors wanting to tout they were strong on education and their policies were getting results----just as that Harvard analysis on Common Core results.
Less than half of students in Maryland pass PARCC
Liz BowieContact Reporter
First PARCC test results for elementary poorLess than half of Maryland elementary and middle school students passed the state's tough new standardized tests, a result school officials attribute to a major revision of teaching and testing standards.
Just 39 percent of Maryland students in grades three through eight met the reading standard set by a governing board of educators from Maryland and about 10 other states. Only 29 percent met the standard in math.
School system leaders across the Baltimore area said they believe the scores will increase quickly in coming years, as teachers and students adjust to the new test and Common Core standards put into effect by most schools three years ago. The new test is called the Partnership for Assessments of Career and College Readiness, or PARCC.
"We have set the bar high, and this data reflects that," interim State Schools Superintendent Jack Smith said in a written statement.
Smith said parents should not be too concerned if their children have not scored well on this first test, which is considered a baseline. The test, he said, is snapshot of how their child did on one test.
2015 Maryland PARCC scores: Grades 3 through 8"I have five children, and I do not equate them to their test score," he said. At the same time, Smith said, he was dismayed at the continued disparities in achievement.
For instance, while 65 percent of Asian students passed the English test, only 23 percent of African-American students did. In addition, only 13 percent of economically disadvantaged students, and 5 percent of students who are learning English as a second language, passed.
The new Common Core standards require students to do more analytical thinking, writing and complex reading. The tests are scored on a five-point scale. Scores of four and five indicate that the student has met or exceeded expectations. A three is approaching expectations. Smith will ask the state school board to designate a four and five as passing scores in alignment with the national standard set by the governing board. A vote by the board is expected in January.
The results were not as good as for school districts in Massachusetts and New Jersey, but slightly better than those in Illinois, Louisiana and Rhode Island. Not all of the states that gave the test have released all of their data yet. Some education advocates found the local results disheartening.
"Maryland's 13 percent math pass rate for African-American students and for students from low-income families shows how many children are being left behind," said Bebe Verdery, Maryland education director for the ACLU. She said additional resources and experienced teachers will be needed.
MarylandCAN executive director Jason Botel, said he supported giving students a much tougher assessment, but he said the results make the disparities look "even more staggering," particularly in the city schools.
"The structure of city schools might need to be different, might need to change," he said. "I think these results show how aggressive we need to be in terms of doing things differently."
Even in school districts such as Howard County, where students have generally done well, less than half of students passed math. Baltimore City scores were the lowest in the region. CEO Gregory Thornton said the results "overall are concerning."
In the city, Anne Arundel, and some other counties, educators were pleased that third grade scores were among the highest of any grade. Those students, they said, have been given the Common Core curriculum since first grade.
Harford County had some of the best results. It ranked first or second in reading among school systems in the state; its students scored higher than they did on the old assestment tests. County officials attributed this to a strong curriculum and better teacher preparation.
"We put our teachers and students up against any in the state," said Susan Brown, executive director of curriculum and assessment in Harford.
Carroll County students had significantly higher pass rates on math than the other suburban Baltimore counties. Baltimore County schools had higher scores than the city, but lower than the other suburban counties, particularly in math. For instance, less than 14 percent of sixth-grade students in the county and less than 28 percent of fourth-grade students passed math. In reading, less than 50 percent of students passed. In Baltimore City, in all grades less than 20 percent of students could meet the expectations. In math, that dropped in some grades to 10 percent.
Baltimore County Superintendent Dallas Dance said he expects scores to increase by the 2016-2017 school year as teachers grow more comfortable with the new curriculum.
"If you talk with teachers ... they are feeling more confident with it now," Dance said.
Dance blamed the low pass rates, in part, on the fact that when he arrived three and a half years ago, the school system had not yet aligned its cirriculum with the Common Core curriculum, a step most school systems had taken. Dance then hired and fired a company to do the rewrite, setting the county even further behind. Dance said he will analyze the math data and make any needed curriculum changes.
Dance also attributed the low scores to leadership changes across the state in the past several years. There have been three state superintendents — two interim — in the past five years, and nearly every school district in the Baltimore region has a new superintendent.
Despite the overall poor results, schools in the state that were predictably high performers continued to show better results, indicating that students' socioeconomic backgrounds infuence test results. The new test provides a finer-grained look at individual school achievement. A smattering of schools in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, and Howard counties had grades in which more than 75 percent or 80 percent of students scored a 4 or higher. For instance, Severna Park Elementary, located in a high-income area, had 85 percent of its third-graders and 92 of its fifth-graders passing the reading test. At Shipley's Choice in Anne Arundel, 94 percent of third-graders passed.
In Baltimore County, Summit Park, Franklin and Timonium elementaries had high pass rates. In Baltimore City, elementary and middle schools including Hampstead Hill, Hampden, Mount Royal, Mount Washington, Tunbridge and Thomas Johnson continued to be high performers.
Schools that did poorly — and there were many — had less than 10 percent of their students passing. In addition, they sometimes had large numbers of students failing with a 1, the lowest score. In the city, 52 percent of students got a 1 in eighth-grade math. Such low scores indicate that the majority of students will have to make large gains in achievement before they are able to pass the test.
One of the reasons Harvard and Pearson ranked Maryland #3 in installing more rigorous standards is tied to the laws passed to assure these Race to the Top and Common Core policies stay in place. Here you see Baltimore students getting out with the rest of the nation to PROTEST PARCC TESTING. What makes that #3 rank is Maryland Assembly passed a law saying students COULD NOT PROTEST OR WALK-OUT ON PARCC TESTS. Maryland is always first to take away citizens' rights and O'Malley led by Baltimore City Maryland Assembly pols again----pushed this law making students FEARFUL OF NOT TAKING THIS TEST while all around the nation where states still allow civil liberties----students and teachers are walking out in large numbers.
I HEARD A MEDIA OUTLET SAY-----'STUDENTS ARE DOING WHAT THEY WANT AND NOT FOLLOWING THE RULES'. No, students are simply telling Maryland they are citizens and they have rights.
Students descend on city school headquarters to protest PARCC testing
Baltimore city students staged a walk out in protest of the PARCC test, saying it perpetuates the "school to prison pipeline." (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun video)
Erica L. GreenContact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun
Baltimore City Schools students walk out of class in protest of standardized testing.More than 100 high school students from across the city walked out of classes Friday and rallied peacefully outside Baltimore school headquarters to protest standardized testing.
Their action was planned by the youth-led activist group Baltimore Algebra Project, a nonprofit operated by people under age 25. The group has partnered with the school district for years to tutor students and advocate for education reform.
The students left their schools at noon and gathered at the school district's headquarters on North Avenue at 1 p.m., where they engaged in chants such as "No PARCC, we want freedom; all these standardized tests, we don't need them."
They also held signs that read "Jobs not tests."
The group organized the event as a protest against the new, tougher state exam called the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC. The exam measures students' understanding of a new, more rigorous curriculum aligned with national Common Core standards that are designed to make students more academically competitive globally.
Maryland board considers two-tier high school diploma system
The Algebra Project's position is that the exam "was designed to make students of color fail and go to jail."
Horns blared up and down North Avenue as passing motorists showed support for the protesters, who spent about an hour expressing their frustrations about the prospect of multiple-choice questions determining their futures.
"This is about taking back our education," said Alanis Brown, a sophomore at Baltimore Design School and a youth organizer for the Algebra Project. "This is sending the message that we're tired of being statistics."
Passing the PARCC exam, which students across Maryland began taking last year, will be a graduation requirement beginning in 2017. Seniors are required to take the exam this year but don't have to pass it in order to graduate.
Last year's results showed that most of the state's students couldn't pass the test.
Leete Doty, a sophomore at Polytechnic Institute, was one of those students. He said he refused to take the exam a second time because he felt there was no point. Even though he was a ninth-grader taking first-year algebra, the test included 12th-grade calculus problems, he said.
"It was way over my grade level," said Doty, as he walked out of Poly shortly after noon Friday. "I thought that I would rather go to my classes and actually learn than take a test I knew I was going to fail."
While acknowledging standardized tests are helpful, Doty called them "a very one-dimensional way to look at a person."
The exam has been the source of debate in Maryland and around the country. Some states such as Ohio have abandoned it altogether.
School districts in Maryland have experienced haphazard implementation of the new curriculum and difficulties administering the online exams.
Teachers and students also have complained that the testing period takes weeks longer than prior ones and takes away from instructional time.
Because Maryland's pass rates are so low, the state school board is considering how high it can set the bar for graduation.
In a statement, city school officials stressed that the test is a state mandate, and that parents are not allowed to opt their children out of the exam. Students entering high school next year will have to earn a passing score that has not yet been determined by the Maryland State Department of Education.
Shanaiah Evans, a senior at Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School, said she guessed most of the answers on her PARCC test, and wrote "N/A" on the essays, but participated in the protest to support her brother who is in the ninth grade and will have to pass it.
"It was so bad I had to guess, and I don't want him to have to go through that," she said. "They're forcing us to take a test we're doomed to fail."
City schools CEO Gregory Thornton and other district leaders met with Algebra Project leaders last night to address their concerns, according to the schools' statement.
"City schools' leaders support student social activism and civil engagement and are interested in hearing their concerns," the statement said. "City schools leaders are committed to maintaining a good working relationship with the organizers in order to engage in ongoing productive discussions."
Algebra Project co-executive director Antwain Jordan said he was "ecstatic" at the turnout Friday.
"We're taking steps in the right direction," he said. "We got people's attention, and they're listening."
Some schools threatened to punish students who walked out of class Friday, including Polytechnic Institute, where fliers plastered around the school announced that students who participated could miss events such as prom and lose the opportunity to make up missed assignments.
At other schools, like Frederick Douglass High, students said that administrators announced their support for civil disobedience but that students should be smart and safe.
The district's official statement said "students who are purposefully absent may be subject to provisions outlined within the City Schools Code of Conduct."