Monday, April 1, 2013

Even Experts Don't Agree With The CCSS

Ze'ev Wurman is a former official in the U.S. Department of Education who is one of several experts who have admitted their concerns about the "rigorous" Common Core Standards.

He said,

The enrollment requirements of four-year state colleges overwhelmingly consist of at least three years of high school mathematics including algebra 1, algebra 2, and geometry, or beyond. Yet Common Core’s “college readiness” definition omits content typically considered part of algebra 2…they do not expect algebra to be taught in grade 8 and instead defer it to high school, reversing the most significant change in mathematics education in America in the last decade, supported by the 2008 recommendations of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, and contrary to the practice of our international competitors.

Another review of the CCSS came from the Dean of the University of Pennsylvaina's Graduate School of Education, Andrew Porter and his colleagues who concluded:

Those who hope that the Common Core standards represent greater focus for U.S. education will be disappointed by our answers. Only one of our criteria for measuring focus found that the Common Core standards are more focused than current state standards…Some state standards are much more focused and some much less focused than is the Common Core, and this is true for both subjects.
We also used international benchmarking to judge the quality of the Common Core standards, and the results are surprising both for mathematics and for [ELA].… High-performing countries’ emphasis on “perform procedures” runs counter to the widespread call in the United States for a greater emphasis on higher-order cognitive demand.

What about Stanford Professor R. James Milgram, the only professional mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee who refused to sign off on the CCSS?  He wrote the following about the Standards,

This is where the problem with these standards is most marked. While the difference between these standards and those of the top states at the end of eighth grade is perhaps somewhat more than one year, the difference is more like two years when compared to the expectations of the high achieving countries—particularly most of the nations of East Asia.

And here is what a non-American member of the Validation Committee wrote to the Council of Chief State School Officers when declining to validate the standards:
I cannot in all conscience, endorse statements 2 and 3 [(2) Appropriate in terms of their level of clarity and specificity; (3) Comparable to the expectations of other leading nations] The standards are, in my view, much more detailed, and, as Jim Milgram has pointed out, are in important respects less demanding, than the standards of the leading nations.

Another analysis by University of Southern California professor Morgan Polikoff, found the Common Core mathematics standards,

...similarly repetitive, and hence as unfocused across elementary grades as the state content standards they attempt to replace, with only somewhat less redundancy in the middle grades.

Then there is Professor William McCallum from the University of Arizona.  We mentioned him before as one of the writers for the Common Core Math Standards.

He even said while speaking at the annual conference of mathematics societies in 2010,

While acknowledging the concerns about front-loading demands in early grades, [McCallum] said that the overall standards would not be too high, certainly not in comparison [with] other nations, including East Asia, where math education excels.

Mr. Wurman concluded:

 I believe the Common Core marks the cessation of educational standards improvement in the United States. No state has any reason left to aspire for first-rate standards, as all states will be judged by the same mediocre national benchmark enforced by the federal government. Moreover, there are organizations that have reasons to work for lower and less-demanding standards, specifically teachers unions and professional teacher organizations. While they may not admit it, they have a vested interest in lowering the accountability bar for their members. With Common Core, they have a single target to aim for, rather than 50 distributed ones. So give it some time and, as sunset follows sunrise, we will see even those mediocre standards being made less demanding. This will be done in the name of “critical thinking” and “21st-century” skills, and in faraway Washington D.C., well beyond the reach of parents and most states and employers.