Tag: national standards

National Education Standards–A Con Game?

Jim Stergios has a great column about the con game that is the Common Core Standards Initiative.  The following excerpt is particularly persuasive as most of the people who are writing the Common Core Standards have a record of failing to improve education in their own states…

Given the very average and in some cases below average performance of these players and their inability to move the needle on NAEP over decades, one can understand why in desperation they would try national standards. What you would not expect is that people and organizations with zero record over 20 years of improving either academic standards, or student achievement, would be entrusted to set standards for 40-50 million schoolchildren. Nor would you expect that they would create the Leviathan of testing systems, curricular materials and instructional practices to guide the nation’s teachers.

 He makes another good point regarding the failure to focus on methods that have actually improved test scores.

Since the 1990s, Massachusetts, California, Texas, Indiana, and Minnesota, to name a few, developed high-quality standards, state assessments, and reforms, which led to education improvements. The most noted of which was Massachusetts with its historic 1993 education reform law, nation-leading state academic standards and assessments, and the unprecedented gains on national and international testing.

Sadly, even though literature was 80-90 percent of the basis for MA’s historic success on National Assessment of Educational Progress testing in 2005, 2007, 2009, and 2011 (the test is administered bi-annually), CCSSIers too often disparage literature’s central use in ELA standards. What’s interesting is that the reading portion of NAEP tests “informational texts,” as CCSSI will, while MA’s former ELA standards/MCAS were based on literature. Yet,the Bay State students still tore the cover off the NAEP.

 Does this make sense to you?

We Must Stop The Indoctrination Of Our Children And Preserve Local Control Of Education

Last November, Alabama’s State Board of Education joined most other states in adopting the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) in Math and English. The Board of Education was told repeatedly that these “voluntary” standards were being written as part of a state-led initiative and would be state controlled.

So why are the Feds Writing Curriculum and Assessments?

The United States Department of Education (DOE) is funding ($345 m) the development of CCSSI curriculum and assessments (tests), which are being developed by a self-selected group behind closed doors and with no public accountability. [See “Why One National Curriculum is Bad for America” here and here]

And why are the Feds putting so much pressure on the states for adoption?

The DOE has announced plans to virtually force compliance with CCSSI on the states through waivers from unreasonable provisions of No Child Left Behind by making these waiver grants contingent upon adoption of “college and career ready standards” (aka “common core state standards”).  [see here]    Therefore, “the Executive branch will be telling every school in America what its curriculum will be – what it will teach,”  says CATO Institute’s Dr. Neal McCluskey. [see here]

And this isn’t the first time the Obama administration has pushed states to adopt CCSSI…

They have “encouraged” the states to adopt the common core standards by:
▪ Tying national standards to the Race to the Top initiative ($4.35 billion)
“The $4.3 billion has strings attached that include union buy-in before states can move forward with their reform agendas.” Lisa Snell- Reason Foundation
▪ Threatening to withdraw Title I funds beginning in 2015 from states that do not adopt [see here].

The Alabama State Board of Education Resolution

Prior to their vote for adoption, the Alabama State Board of Education was told repeatedly that these “voluntary” standards would be state controlled. Their adoption resolution said: “the Alabama State Board … will … be the sole and exclusive entity vested with the authority, without restriction, to adopt or revoke all academic standards … without direct or indirect pressure from the United States government…”

Privacy Concerns

According to the Memorandum of Agreement which all adopting states had to sign, 100% of the Common Core standards along with the curriculum and assessments will be imposed upon states.  States signing the document agree to “the process and structure” that includes “assessments that are aligned to the common core across the states, for accountability and other appropriate purposes”.  Therefore, students must be continuously tested by online computer assessments.  Serious concerns over student privacy rights have been expressed by Fordham Law School’s Center on Law and Information Policy, which says that the Federal Department’s effort to promote interoperability between state systems “appears as a backdoor means to create a national database of children’s [and family] information.”  As with countless other Obama Administration activities, this de facto national student database is without Congressional authorization.  See www.truthinamericaneducation.com/ for information on CCSSI and the vulnerability of our children!  Privacy issues include health, education, family, philosophical, financial, student labor and personal.

Why Is One National Curriculum Bad For America?

K12Innovation.com makes seven basic points in what it calls “A Critical Response to … the U. S. Department of Education’s Initiative to Develop a National Curriculum and National Assessments Based on National Standards”.  First, national standards, curricula and assessments are without Constitutional or statutory basis.  Also included is the fact that population mobility does not justify a national curriculum because the inter-state mobility among school-age children is only 0.3%.  Its last point is critical: “undermines control of public school curriculum and instruction at the local and state level.”

“Parents and the public will see their ability to influence education policies at the local level disappear, most likely forever.” Civitas Foundation Lance Izumi, JD

Former Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare Joseph Califano who advised Pres. Jimmy Carter in 1977 recognized the danger: “…any set of test questions that the federal government prescribed should surely be suspect as a first step toward a national curriculum … In its most extreme form, national control of curriculum is a form of national control of ideas.”

Teach and Test Alabama Standards

Alabama has received excellent ratings on our standards in the last two review cycles: English (A, A-) and Math (B+).  Why should we adopt these national standards that have never even been field tested?

Take Action NOW To Stop The Federal Takeover Of Education In Alabama

Please call, email or write Gov. Bentley and your state school board member today. You can find their contact information HEREAsk them to vote to rescind the Board’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards to preserve parental authority and state control of education in Alabama. Two board members voted NO last November: Stephanie Bell and Betty Peters and support withdrawing from the CCSSI.   All others need to hear from you!

Heritage on National Standards: Big Expense; Very Little Value

Heritage’s Lindsey Burke has written a web memo on national standards which is up today. She makes the case that the implementation of national standards comes at a great expense and results in very little value.  She has a good guide to spending on standards and assessment systems by states:

The budgetary impact of jettisoning state accountability structures and replacing existing standards and testing could be significant—likely much more than RTTT funding provides.

Over the past decade, taxpayers have spent considerable sums to develop existing state accountability systems:

  • California. California’s Standardized Testing and Reporting Program, which began in 1998, tests students in grades 2–11 in English, math, science, social science, and history. Estimates suggest that it would cost California taxpayers $1.6 billion to replace the existing state standards with the Common Core standards.[4] Yet California has agreed to overhaul its existing system with the new national standards and assessments.
  • Florida. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test measures student achievement in grades 3–11 in reading, math, and science. Since 1996, Florida has spent more than $404 million to develop and maintain the system.[5] Taxpayer investment in the existing high-quality assessments has been substantial, and overhauling the system for unproven national assessments, which Florida has agreed to adopt, could produce significant new implementation costs to taxpayers.
  • Texas. Texas has resisted the push for national standards. The Lone Star State estimates that the adoption of new standards and tests would cost taxpayers upwards of $3 billion. “Adopting national standards and tests would also require the purchase of new textbooks, assessments, and professional development tools, costing Texas taxpayers an estimated $3 billion, on top of the billions of dollars Texas has already invested in developing our strong standards,” stated Governor Rick Perry (R) in a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in opposition to national standards and tests.[6]
  • Virginia. The Virginia Board of Education unanimously rejected adoption of the        proposed Common Core State Standards and tests. One of the board’s chief arguments against adopting national standards was fiscal, with members noting that “Virginia’s investment in the Standards of Learning [SOL] since 1995 far exceeds the $250 million Virginia potentially could have received by abandoning the SOL and competing in phase two of Race to the Top.”[7] Indeed, since 1996, Virginia taxpayers have paid more than $379 million to develop and implement the state SOLs. The costs for developing the SOLs include expenditures for the initial development and subsequent revisions of the curriculum frameworks and assessments, as well as the development of new supporting materials and professional development related to using the new testing system.

She also gives a recommended solution for high-quality standards and assessments:

Instead of throwing out existing assessments developed at great taxpayer expense for unproven national standards and tests, state policymakers should:

  • Strengthen existing state-based accountability systems. State leaders should follow the example of states like Florida, Massachusetts, and Virginia and create strong state standards and tests. State leaders should work to continually raise standards by raising achievement levels, ensuring appropriate learning sequencing, and requiring teachers to demonstrate subject-matter mastery.
  • Provide information to parents and taxpayers about school performance. To make assessments meaningful, information about school performance should be publicized and easily accessible to parents and taxpayers. Standards, cut scores, school performance, and definitions of proficiency should all be readily available.
  • Empower parents to act. Once parents are equipped with information about school and student performance based on solid state standards and assessments, they should be empowered to use that information to choose a school that best meets their children’s needs.

Federal policymakers should likewise resist further federal involvement in education and should:

  • Empower states with funding flexibility in exchange for transparency. Instead of providing more federal funding with strings attached—such as national education standards and tests—policymakers in Washington should pursue avenues to maximize transparency of state assessment systems. Federal policymakers should free states from the bureaucratic red tape handed down from Washington and permit state leaders to use federal education funding in a manner that best meets local needs.

I hope state policy makers are listening…