Every person in America has a vital interest in stopping Common Core, a top-down, one-size-fits-all government takeover of our education system. Instead of teaching critical thinking and problem solving, Common Core stresses the lowest common denominator, punishes achievement, and forces all students to conform to government standards.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Common Core Critics Warn Of Fuzzy Math And Less Fiction?

If the new national Common Core educational standards influence curriculum the way some fear they will, students can say goodbye to literary classics and hello to fuzzy math, say critics.

The Common Core State Standards initiative, a plan devised by the nation's governors and backed by the Obama administration, seeks to set a uniform standard for grades K-12, to ensure kids all over the nation reach the same minimum level of learning. Some 45 states, in many cases enticed by federal grants, have signed on and testing of students in grades 3-8 and once in high school is scheduled to begin next year.

Supporters say Common Core only tests students in math and English, but critics say school districts will devise curriculum to maximize their students' performance on the national exams, and, in fact, have already begun that measure. And those same critics claim Common Core math standards barely cover basic geometry or second-year algebra and that the classics are all but ignored in English classes.

“The math standard focuses on historical math, which has been shown to be a disaster,” Glyn Wright, executive director of Eagle Forum, told FoxNews.com. “With the new math standard in the Common Core, there are no longer absolute truths. So 3 times 4 can now equal 11 so long as a student can effectively explain how they reached that answer.”

Stanford Prof. James Milgram, the only mathematician on the Common Core Validation Committee, refused to sign off on the math standards, calling the whole thing “in large measure a political document” during testimony he gave in May 2011 in which he advocated for Texas not to adopt the Common Core standards.

“I had considerable influence on the mathematics standards in the document. However, as is often the case, there was input from many other sources -- including State Departments of Education -- that had to be incorporated into the standards,” he said during the testimony.

 “So three times four can now equal 11 so long as a student can effectively explain how they reached that answer.”

- Glyn Wright, Eagle Forum
“A number of these sources were mainly focused on things like making the standards as non-challenging as possible. Others were focused on making sure their favorite topics were present, and handled in the way they liked,” he also said, adding that it led to a number of “extremely serious failings” in the Common Core that made it premature for any state hoping to improve math scores to implement them and that the Core Math standards were designed to reflect very low expectations.

But an official for the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, which backs Common Core, says the new standards have the opposite effect and can actually encourage critical thinking in students. She denied that the standards allow for wrong answers, but said the emphasis is on the process.

“One of the things we learned from research, and there’s a lot of it out there, is that kids do not necessarily learn from the algorithmic method,” Linda Gojak, president of the NCTM said to FoxNews.com. “The assessment is that it is more about kids making sense of what they are learning instead of memorizing a step-by-step process.”

But Wright believes critical thinking could actually be a casualty of Common Core.

“We think the goal of education is to make individual thinkers of our children,” she said. “The Common Core does the opposite. The [literacy] standard severely de-emphasizes classic literature which will surely lower critical thinking.”
Timothy Shanahan, a professor at the University of Illinois who also was part of an independent expert panel that reviewed the standards, speculates why many are opposed to Common Core.

“The reason that this criticism is coming up is because the Common Core is promoting greater attention to science, history and other informational texts,” he said to FoxNews.com. “Studies show that American kids do better with stories than with science or history materials, placing them at a real disadvantage in international economic competition.”

Because the actual Common Core exams have not yet been formulated, there is no list of what literature students may or may not be tested on. But critics say the stated policy of emphasizing "informational," or non-fiction reading, in English will inevitably come at the expense of literature classics. Those time-tested books are not simply fun to read, according to Brigham Young University English Prof. Alan Manning, they teach students how to write.

"An argument can be made that any improvement in reading/writing instruction should include more rather than fewer exercises where students write stories themselves that are modeled on the classics," Manning wrote in an e-mail to Utah activists opposed to Common Core. "This creates a more stable foundation on which students can build skills for other kinds of writing. The Core standards would prevent public schools from testing these kinds of approaches."
But Shanahan rejects the premise that more non-fiction will mean less fiction.

“Common core doesn't downgrade literature in our schools, but it does push for a big increase in those other kinds of reading,” he added.

While Common Core has plenty of defenders -- and may prove beneficial -- the main criticism is that it is not the federal government's job to impose educational standards, say critics. Finding out what works is the job of local districts, working with parents, they say.

“The bottom line is that the Common Core Initiative is nationalized education -- to which we are starkly opposed,” Wright also said. “Formerly, parents would have control over what their children are being taught in the classroom, but under Common Core everything comes down from a central, national group. Because the tests and standards are copyright and must be used as-is, parents will not be able to control the material on which their children are taught and tested.”
Groups that support Common Core disagree.

“Just because you have state standards, doesn’t mean a district will have a standardized curriculum,” Chad Colby, a spokesman for education non-profit Achieve, told FoxNews.com.

“Many states already have standards in place and curriculum varies district to district and even school to school,” he added, referring to the state standards in Arkansas which have been in place for 20 years but allows every school to independently choose their curriculum.

“The common core doesn’t tell you how to teach students," Colby said. "The curriculum will still be at the state level.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/08/30/new-age-education-fuzzy-math-and-less-fiction/#ixzz2dwHGePr7

Classroom Chaos? Critics Blast New Common Core Education Standards!

  • A full year before students around the nation submit to the new Common Core standardized tests, the federally-backed program is already causing chaos and confusion at local school board meetings, in the classroom and at the dinner table.

As critics fear Washington is poised to take control of what and how local districts teach kids, school administrators are adopting new curriculum in an effort to ensure their students outperform their peers and parents worry that their children are being used as academic guinea pigs. As the program gets closer to full implementation, a full-blown backlash is developing despite assurances from supporters that it is merely a test aimed at establishing a national standard.
“Common Core is forcing districts to re-think math curriculum. And in cases like ours, they are making poor decisions.”

- Kelly Crisp, parent from Fairfield, Conn.
“It’s just now reaching their school districts and their children’s schools and they want to know, ‘What is this, and why is it being forced on us?’” said the Cato Institute’s Neil McCluskey.

When 90 percent of states signed on to subject K-12 students to the Common Core math and English standards being pushed by the federal government, the program looked like an unqualified success. Kids around the nation would be tested once a year in grades 3-8 in math and English language arts, and once in high school, either in the 10th or 11th grades. Finally, students throughout the country could be measured by the same yardstick, long before taking college entrance exams. Local districts that excelled at educating children could be singled out, and ones who lagged could also be identified in order to address problems.
But if what happened in New York and Kentucky, two of the 45 states that have signed on to the Common Core State Standards Initiative, is any indication, the chaos has only just begun. Those states administered their own standardized tests aligned with Common Core, and the results were disastrous. Just 31 percent of New York students in the third through eighth grades were deemed proficient in math and English on the new tests, down about 50 percent from the traditional test given the year before. Kentucky, which also implemented its own Common Core-aligned tests, experienced similar declines in scores.

Other states are waiting until at least 2014-15 to implement Common Core tests that are still in development. But at the state and district level, educators are tinkering with the curriculum in the hopes of having students prepared for the new tests – sometimes with disastrous results. In the affluent town of Fairfield, Conn., the school district last year adopted a new math curriculum for eighth- and ninth-graders called College Preparatory Math, with an eye toward the looming Common Core tests. But a year later, standardized test scores dipped and, according to one parent, Kelly Crisp, kids who had always done well in math were left disillusioned with the subject.

Five parents filed a complaint with the state over use of the new Algebra 1 book, and, after a protracted battle, forced the district to establish an "instructional online interactive forum" for Algebra 1 students and adopt new regulations for pilot programs as part of a settlement on the controversy over use of a textbook. Crisp said she worries about some 800 students who spent a year studying from a textbook hastily adopted in the frenzy to align with Common Core. The district later disavowed the book.

“Common Core is forcing districts to re-think math curriculum,” Crisp said. “And in cases like ours, they are making poor decisions.”

McCluskey said school districts are “flailing to try to adopt curriculum that will prepare students for Common Core, but there is no real standard.

“What we’re seeing is the market flooded with curriculum that claims to be Common Core aligned,” McCluskey said.
While the Obama administration has embraced Common Core, the plan was actually drawn up by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers. Carissa Miller, deputy executive director of Council of Chief State School Officers, bristles at the suggestion that Common Core seeks to impose a Washington-based, politically correct curriculum on local districts.
“It’s a misperception,” Miller said. “States have had standards for a long time. This would just set common standards, and standards are not curriculum.”

As an example, Miller cites a third-grade writing standard in which students must be able to recall information from print or digital sources, write notes on it and then sort it into relevant categories. The process, Miller notes, is the same for all students. But the source materials used to prepare for it are up to the teacher or district.

David Coleman, whose nonprofit Student Achievement Partners was hired by the National Governors Association to design the Common Core standards, said parents should look at the standards set forth before deciding whether they are good or bad for their children.

“They are a set of standards that we expect kids to know,” said Coleman, now president of the College Board, where he is redesigning the SAT to reflect Common Core standards.. “It is not taking away any kind of state or district rights to say how or what kids are taught.

"Any time you do something new, there’s always concern. It is valid for parents to be concerned. But with more information, it will become apparent that this is simply setting a high bar and having a uniform standard across the nation.”

Proponents say that because Common Core only applies to math and reading, fears that revisionist history or agenda-driven social studies will find their way into K-12 textbooks are unfounded. But in McCluskey’s words, “standards are designed to set a box around curriculum,” meaning whatever is on the test will have to be taught.

Phyllis Schlafly of The Eagle Forum goes even further.
“Common Core means federal control of school curriculum, i.e., control by Obama administration left-wing bureaucrats,” wrote Schlafly. “The control mechanism is the tests (called assessments). Kids must pass the tests in order to get a high school diploma or admittance to college. If they haven’t studied a curriculum based on Common Core standards, they won’t score well on the tests.”

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/09/04/critics-claim-common-core-brings-chaos-not-accountability-to-classroom/#ixzz2dvq7FO4S