Monday, March 31, 2014

What’s wrong with the Common Core and Education Reform in NYS? In a nutshell…

The Accountability Mandates in Race to the Top:
·      Discourage emphasis on “un-tested” subjects like art and music, which are often areas of significant strength for students for students who struggle in other academic areas.
Eliminate teacher autonomy over pacing in the classroom. The pace is dictated by “the test,” not the students. This hurts both struggling learners and “gifted” students.
Require schools to share sensitive, personally identifiable student information that can be shared with 3rd party vendors without parental consent. For students with disabilities, this often includes information that in a medical setting would be protected under HIPAA law. However, their educational records (including IEPs) are afforded no such protection.
Discourage teacher responsiveness to student interests –if content is not on the test, there is NO time to pursue student directed avenues of inquiry.
   Ignore research indicating that standardization is decreasing student creativity, a quality that is needed in the fields of engineering, medicine, music and art. (Kim 2011) Read more about that here.
NYS proficiency levels are based on cut scores and levels of proficiency that are not based in research or evidence, but rather on an illogical and faulty premise. Read more about that here,

The Common Core Learning Standards:
·      Pre-Supposes that students will demonstrate greater academic gain by arbitrarily making standards more difficult to achieve. There is NO evidence to support this.
I  Ignores the basic pedagogical tenant that student engagement is the largest influence on student learning. By teaching to developmentally inappropriate standards, we risk losing student engagement and actually risk a decline in student achievement.
Are based on flawed research. One of the premises of the Common Core Standards is that text complexity has declined since the early 20th century and that we have “dumbed down” the curriculum. Researchers from Penn State published a report in October of 2013 that indicates text complexity has in fact increased. (Gamson, Lu, and Eckert, 2013) That study can be found here: pe=ref&s        iteid=s peer

·      Due the erroneous assumption that text complexity has decreased, the Common Core arbitrarily increased grade level reading benchmarks by 2 to 3 years. In doing so, the achievement gap widened overnight and many students have been turned off to reading. Read more about this here,

·      Encourage instructional methods that are not aligned with evidenced based best practice. The Common Core promotes a reading strategy called “Close Reading.” Close Reading encourages students to rely ONLY on the information on the next rather than accessing their own background knowledge and personal experiences.

·      Compel the use of mental math strategies and multiple methods to solve a single problem. Research shows that direct and explicit instruction in one strategy is the most effective way to learn a new concept. The Common Core encourages a type of learning that will result in a student who is “a jack of all trades, master of none.”

·      Were created without the input of elementary school teachers, pre-school teachers and child development experts. You can read about the CCLS work groups here,

·      Carry a liability waiver which you can read here,

·      Do nothing to address the real problems facing students – poverty, insufficient funding of public schools, lack of appropriate support and access to assistive technology.

The rushed implementation of the Common Core Learning Standards:

·      Ignored the fact that students are sensitive to change and improper scaffolding.
·      Resulted in students receiving instruction without being taught the necessary pre-requisite skills.
·      Widened the achievement gap by raising standards “overnight.” Students who were struggling prior to implementation suddenly found themselves significantly further behind.
·      Resulted in 25 million dollars being spent on curriculum materials rife with errors and inappropriate content, many of which have not yet been released even though students are already being tested on the standards.
·      Could have been predicted and prevented. Public feedback in 2010 revealed significant concern regarding a possible rushed implementation. You can read about that here,

The Common Core Raises the Questions:
·      Will the teaching of developmentally inappropriate learning standards result in more students being erroneously identified as learning disabled?

·      Will the lack of teacher autonomy and the inappropriate use of test scores to evaluate teachers cause more experienced teachers to shy away from teaching students with the highest level of need?

·      Why would New York State adopt copyrighted, unproven learning standards that they have no control over and no ability to revise?

·      What are the long term effects of using learning standards that have no basis in
evidence or scholarly research?

·      What was wrong with the previous standards held in NYS? You can read the 2005 NYS Math standards here,

·      Why did many members of the Common Core Validation Committee refuse to sign off on them?

·      Why did the Board Of Regents and The NYS Education Department award millions of dollars to curriculum companies and subcontractors outside of New York rather than keeping these dollars in the NYS economy?

Bomer, R., Maloch, B.  (2011).  Relating Policy to Research and Practice: The Common Core Standards.  Language Arts, 89, 38-43

Burris, C. (2013, August 12. How come officials could predict new test score results? The Washington Post. Retrieved from                  test-scores/.

Ferguson, D., (2013/2014).  Martin Luther King Jr. and the Common Core, A critical reading of “close reading”. ReThinking Schools, Volume 28, No.2.  Retrieved from         

Gamson, D.A., Lu. X., & Eckert, S.A. (2013).  Challenging the Research Base of the Common Core State Standards: A Historical    Reanalysis of Text Complexity. EDUCATIONAL RESEARCHER, 42, 381

New York State Education Department.  Mathematics Core Curriculum, Revised 2005.  (2005). Retrieved from

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.  (2010).   Common Core State       Standards Public License.  Retrieved from

National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers.  (2010).   Reactions to the March                   2010 Draft Common Core State Standards: Highlights and Themes from the Public Feedback.  Retrieved from     

Kyung H.K. (2011). The Creativity Crisis: The Decrease in Creative Thinking Scores on the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking.      Creativity Research Journal, 23:4, 285-295. Retrieved from

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