EdNext Readers Poll: Common Core

By 07/06/2012

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Last week we asked:

“What grade would you give Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s job performance?”

The results were as follows:

A – 3%
B – 3%
C – 6%
D – 16 %
F – 72%

This week we want to know your thoughts on the following question:

As you may know, all states are currently deciding whether or not to adopt the Common Core standards in reading and math.  If adopted, these standards would be used to hold the state’s schools accountable for their performance.  Do you support or oppose the adoption of the Common Core standards in your state?

Comment on this article
  • Stephen Krashen says:

    I wonder how the poll results would turn out if all those taking the poll realized that the common core state (sic) standards entails a massive increase in testing (about 20 times NCLB levels) and will be very expensive, at a time when money is very tight. I wonder how the results would be if respondees realized that there is no justification for the common core in the first place: the problem is poverty.

  • high school teacher says:

    Yes, the problem is poverty. It baffles me beyond belief that all of the “solutions” to the problems of education run around and around the real problem. No one wants to acknowledge the real problem, therefore, in 5 or 10 years, after it becomes clear that changes in common core, teacher evaluations, blah blah blah HAS NOT WORKED, then perhaps attention will finally be given to the real problem. Until then, those of us who see the problem are forced to play along with all the destined – to- fail “solutions” ( because they do not address the problem!) and deal with the disrespect we are shown on a daily basis. We are the professionals who recognize the real problems, but we are not respected enough to be listened to…and yet we are supposed to work miracles in the classroom by using methods which, again, DO NOT ADDRESS THE PROBLEM!

  • Clara Fitzpatrick says:

    Krashen is absolutely right: The common core will require more testing; it is very expensive with money going to test companies and corporations not students or classrooms; there is no justification for common core since common core does not teach, people do. And there is no justification if common core is supposed to solve the problem of differential performance of kids by ethnicity and income. He is wrong, however, that the problem is poverty. The problem is our unwillingness to provide equality of education for children with low incomes, heritage languages and children of color.

  • tigerljily says:

    I have yet to have anyone articulate precisely what Common Core is, so I guess I am completely opposed.

  • Kaye Thompson Peters says:

    Where are people getting that the Common Core requires more testing than NCLB? I am on my district’s CCSS team as well on the national American Federation of Teachers CCSS work team. The standards are about levels and types of reading and writing that will make students college-ready and critical thinkers. All assessments in the core are authentic, written work evaluated by classroom teachers. The standards themselves were designed with heavy teacher input.
    Now, if the states buy into the testing consortia, that is a state decision, but those consortia, while tying their tests to the core, are not the Common Core State Standards. Let’s keep our apples and oranges separate. Our test-crazed elected and appointed officials are demanding tests that are now being designed related to the Common Core standards, but the standards are about as close as we get to an antidote to testing. They are good, solid, comprehensible standards that–having piloted them this year–I can say made my classes stronger.

  • readingexchange says:

    Kaye, I completely disagree with you. The standards are convoluted, there is an enormous amount of testing required, and these standards have never been vetted. There is no actual research which says that these standards are the end all and be all that they are purported to be. A pilot does not provide enough data to suggest the long-term effects of the Common Core. Teachers must wake up to what is being thrust upon them. The idea that teachers have had enormous input is also a lie. It has been cursory, at best.

  • Kaye Thompson Peters says:

    Reading Exchange, give me the support for that there has only been cursory input from teachers. I sat in a room with 80 teachers who have been working on the standards for three years, teachers selected by the American Federation of Teachers. They said their voices were heard and significant changes were made in the standards. So, I need more than just for you to say it is a lie that teachers have not been involved. Also, no one has yet said where in the standards–standards I piloted this year–there is “an enormous amount of testing.” I didn’t see it. So, I want to know where you see it. Please respond.

  • Ellen Bernstein says:

    The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) embraced by most states, including my own, has great promise and an equal amount of peril.

    I still believe in the promise of well-crafted standards to guide us as we construct lessons aimed at deep understanding. Yet, I have witnessed the peril of surface implementation and compliance-driven, short-lived bandwagons. We can learn from the previous standards movement and avoid these pitfalls, but teachers have to own the process this time.

    Teacher ownership is paramount. Given time and support, teachers must collectively and collaboratively use the appropriate methods and materials to teach on a deeper level and help students develop a deeper understanding. Teachers must shed the need to cover content based on pacing guides and mandates, and begin again to teach students, not programs. We must trust their professional judgment and knowledge.

    Pedagogy is the key. I am disturbed that, in all the work I have been involved thus far, we talk about changes in instructional strategies, but never describe what teaching practice in a Common Core Standards-based system looks like.

    Pedagogy does not look like transmission teaching—transmitting what is in our brains to the brains of our students. It does look like students engaged and grappling with complexity. Teaching strategies will be dominated by assignments that include evidence of students’ thinking at progressively deeper levels. Think constructivist teaching strategies, through which understanding is constructed from prior knowledge.

    As the pendulum swings away from testing and back to learning, let’s trust teachers to realize that the most sound philosophies and methodologies lie in the gray areas between the now dichotomized teaching skills versus teaching for conceptual understanding, as both are essential.

    What about the teacher’s role in creating curriculum in the CCSS system? Districts have invested scarce resources purchasing programs to be followed with strict adherence. While we must no longer mandate that these programs be followed with fidelity, there is no need to replace them. Programs will be one, but not the only, resource teachers will use as they teach to the standards.

    Any instructional program can be used with the common core as long as teachers have the discretion to augment the program and adjust the pacing. Warning: Textbook companies are going to slap a label on their products that reads, “Aligned to the Common Core.” We don’t need to buy it—literally. Prescribed curriculum has no place in the Common Core system. We won’t have thinking kids without thinking teachers who develop curriculum from multiple sources.

    I want to make a distinction—teaching the Common Core and teaching to the Common Core are different ideas. Teaching the Common Core implies following a set curriculum, posting the standards, having students reference and recite them, and calling it standards-based. Teaching to the standards is much more complex and will require teacher-created curriculum with carefully crafted lessons that infuse the conceptual base of the standards.

    The promise of the Common Core State Standards is that the United States, like other countries to which we are compared, will once again respect and trust the professional knowledge of its educators to teach, guided by a strong, common group of standards.

    The peril is that others who are not in schools full time will take control of this iteration of the standards movement. If state departments of education, districts, and textbook companies are allowed to own the CCSS, they are doomed to be the next thing layered on teachers—the next thing we have to do with fidelity, but without ownership. Teachers must own the implementation of these standards. Without teacher ownership, the promise will never be realized.

    Ellen Bernstein, NBCT, Ed.D.
    President, Albuquerque Teachers Federation

  • wtoth says:

    All else aside, I merely wish the federal government would get out of the education business and leave it to the states, as called for in the constitution. Beginning with goals 2000, NCLB and now “race to the top,” the feds have done nothing but harm education and create confusion.

  • James Boutin says:

    I think Ellen really provides the best response here.

    School-based staff mostly understand that many elements of today’s reform agenda are unhelpful. But it’s not as if everything coming out of the DOE is toxic. I completely agree that the CCSS will largely be about who gets to own them. I’m afraid, however, that, as Ellen warns against, it won’t be teachers.

    I’m also extraordinarily wary of the testing consortia. It does mean more money spent on what I suspect will only be mildly better assessment of skills well-trained teachers would be better left taking care of themselves.

    James Boutin
    High School Teacher
    Highline School District, Washington State

  • Stephen Krashen says:

    My sources for asserting that there are plans for increasing testing:

    More grade levels to be tested: PARCC document: http://www.parcconline.org/sites/parcc/files/PARCC%20MCF%20Response%20to%20Public%20Feedback_%20Fall%202011%20Release.pdf; Race to the top for tots: http://www.ed.gov/early-learning/elc-draft-summary. (For a reaction, see http://blogs.edweek.org/teachers/living-in-dialogue/2011/07/stephen_krashen_race_to_the_to.html)

    Interim tests: Duncan, A. September 9, 2010. Beyond the Bubble Tests: The Next Generation of Assessments — Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks to State Leaders at Achieve’s American Diploma Project Leadership Team Meeting: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/beyond-bubble-tests-next-generation-assessments-secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-state-l. The Blueprint, (op. cit.) p. 11. “U.S. Asks Educators to Reinvent Student Tests, and How They Are Given,” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/03/education/03testing.html?_r=1

    Testing in the fall (value-added measures: http://www.ed.gov/news/speeches/secretary-arne-duncans-remarks-statehouse-convention-center-little-rock-arkansas (August 25, 2010). The Blueprint (op.cit.), p. 9.

    Testing in more subjects: The Blueprint A Blueprint for Reform: The Reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. United States Department of Education March 2010; Education and the Language Gap: Secretary Arne Duncan’s Remarks at the Foreign Language Summit,”:

    Zero evidence it will work: Nichols, S., Glass, G., and Berliner, D. 2006. High-stakes testing and student achievement: Does accountability increase student learning? Education Policy Archives 14(1). http://epaa.asu.edu/epaa/v14n1/. Additional evidence in Krashen, S. NUT: No Unnecessary Testing. http://sdkrashen.com/index.php?cat=4

  • Yvonne Siu-Runyan says:

    Krashen is right. I agree with Krashen. The evidence sits right before our eyes.

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