Friday, October 11, 2013

Seven Quick Takes on The Common Core

I've been following the debate about Common Core with some interest.  I have two kids who have finished school,  mostly in the public school system and one fourth grader who will probably spend her whole school career in Catholic schools.  The big age span between my big kids and my youngest gives me a different view of "how things were" vs. "how things are" than parents with one or two closely spaced kids get.
I've seen some of the outrageous assignments floating around facebook.  I follow the links and read the articles but what I never see are 1) The CC standard the assignment is allegedly meeting 2) A link showing how the material is mandated or suggested by CC and 3)An explanation of how the assignment leads to the standard.  In short, there have been goofy and/ or inappropriate assignments created by teachers (some teachers, not all) and textbook companies for as long as there have been teachers and textbook companies.  Correlating them with CC rather than GLEs or whatever moniker your state used for whatever standards or objectives it had prior to CC doesn't mean that CC is the problem.
I'm concerned about the testing aspect of CC.  It sounds like it will be expensive, and frankly I think there are a lot of better ways to spend money.  Also, if we want to get a handle on whether CC is doing what it is supposed to do--make our children better at reading and math and more prepared for college or career--we need to evaluate it against what went before.  I'm not about to tell you I'm an expert on curriculum or on student evaluation; I'm not.  However, I'm concerned when I hear that large numbers of students are failing the CC standardized tests.  Is that because the test is harder?  Is that because the curriculum now being used isn't as good?  How do we know?
I looked at Appendix C to the CC standards, which says it is samples of student writing.  I've seen adults that don't have the grasp of composition that that some of those students do.  Call me a pessimist but I have a hard time seeing the majority of kids learning to write like that.
Appendix B gives some exemplar texts (which they specifically state do not represent a partial or complete reading list).  I haven't read very many of them, but I recognize the names of many of the authors and quite a few of the works.  Those I recognize I think are generally appropriate.
I am interested in reading a response from someone who has a poor opinion of CC and can voice it in terms of CC says ______ (citing where CC says it) and I don't think that is appropriate because_______.  At this point, I'm looking at it from an educational standpoint, not a political one--yes, I do think curriculum should be a local decision, and from what I can see CC sets the goals but the curriculum is still a local decision.  I don't really want to get into that discussion right now, I'm more interested in what is right or wrong with the goals themselves.
My daughter's math book is correlated with the CC this year.  I haven't noticed a huge increase in the number of work problems over the old series.  I have noticed the "explain" questions and we have trouble with those, and she is getting algebra problems in fourth grade:  Johnny has 10 fish in the tank.  There are two more goldfish than guppies.  There are 4 mollies.  How many of each kind of fish are there?  She's learned how to solve this problem, which her sibs didn't know how to do at this age.
For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. RAnn, I always like to read your comments/analyses/observations. They are always thought provoking. Being too old to be involved in CC but watching the debates, I must agree with what you've written here. We let politics invade way too much of our lives and that generally destroys objectivity.

  2. Completely agree. I taught in FL with the Sunshine State Standards and FCAT. Te standards were never a problem. The test itself wasn't a problem. The problem was using the test to fail/pass students and being told by the principal I could only teach to the test. Those things happen no matter what, unfortunately, but the problem isn't with standards-based education.


View My Stats