10 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COMMON CORE
1. WHAT IS COMMON CORE?
- The Common Core State Standards are a single set of educational standards for kindergarten through 12th grade in English Language Arts and Mathematics, agreed to by 45 states, including New York. These standards, if adopted will replace existing state standards in these subject areas.
- They were released in 2010. The purpose of the Common Core standards is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers.”
Common Core documentary: http://www.commoncoremovie.com/
2. WHO CREATED COMMON CORE STANDARDS?
- Common Core was written by Achieve, Inc. under the auspices of the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
- Both are trade associations (organizations founded and funded by businesses that operate in a specific industry), and members have no legislative authority to represent states.
- Both received millions of dollars to support and “shield” the writing of the Common Core standards from Congress, the public, and the press. Massive funding for all this came from private interests such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
- Funding was also provided from other companies such as Intel, Apple, McGraw Hill and Cisco among others
3. HOW HAS COMMON CORE BECOME A NATIONAL STANDARD?
- The Common Core “State” Standards are often promoted as voluntary standards. Some states adopted the standards before they were even completed. If a state did not adopt the Common Core, they would likely not receive Race To The Top (RTTT) grant money from the federal government.
- The Common Core Standards are copy write protected. This means that states are not allowed to change the standards only to augment them up to %15. Essentially creating a national standards.
4. WHY DID STATES ADOPT THE COMMON CORE?
As a part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), the federal government distributed $4.35 billion dollars to the states via the Race to the Top Fund (RTTT).
RTTT program invited states to compete for federal grant money by competitive grants to states to encourage education innovation and reform in four areas:
- enhancing standards and assessments
- improving collection and use of data
- increasing teacher effectiveness and achieving equity in teacher distribution
- turning around low-achieving schools
- Grant applications were evaluated on a rubric, with a total of 500 possible points.
- Between 70 and 135 points depended on adoption of common standards and assessments.
- 14-27% of a state’s score on its RTTT grant application depended on the state’s willingness to embrace Common Core.
- Adoption of Common Core was a virtual necessity for a winning Race to the Top funds
5. DID NEW YORK RECEIVE FEDERAL FUNDS FOR ADOPTING THESE STANDARDS?
- New York was awarded $696,646,000. Half of this money goes to Title 1 districts that volunteered to participate in RTTT, the other half (approx $350 million) goes to NYSED, to be used for implementing the state’s educational reforms.
- This money may be used for paying testing companies, such as Pearson, to create NY assessments, for the scoring of assessments, for implementation of Common Core, and for “enhanced” student data collection.
6. HOW WILL COMMON CORE AFFECT THE TESTING OF OUR STUDENTS?
Originally, PARCC included 24 states and the District of Columbia. But according to an Education Week survey, “for a variety of reasons, including the length and cost of the tests,” only nine states (including New York) and D.C. planned to use the PARCC exams next year.
7. HOW WILL PARCC ASSESSMENTS BE DIFFERENT FROM THE CURRENT ASSESSMENTS MY CHILD IS TAKING?
The PARCC assessments in mathematics and English Language Arts (ELA) would be focused on students in grades 3-11. It will enable student performance to be compared among all participating states. PARCC will have two exams—one called a Performance-Based Assessment that would be given after 75 percent of the school year has passed and a second called an End-of-Year Assessment that would be scheduled after 90 percent of the school year passed. Districts can also decide whether to use PARCC assessments that would be available for the beginning of the school year and/or mid-year tests.
The PARCC assessments are also computer-based. According to Ken Wagner, deputy commissioner for curriculum, assessment and educational technology, this raises several concerns:
- Uncertainty regarding how many New York school districts have the technical capability to use the tests. State efforts to gather such information have been unsuccessful, but will be renewed, Wagner said.
- Concern that the PARCC tests are too long in duration. Under PARCC’s scheduled test time, every grade level in New York would see an increase in the amount of test time.
- Desire to see other states’ experience with PARCC tests. “We look forward to learning more about the tests once they release approximately 40 percent of the questions following the operational tests in spring 2015,” Wagner said. This is the only way to be sure about the quality of the assessments, he said.
“The question is not if there will be computer-based testing but when and how,” King told superintendents at the annual fall conference of the state Council of School Superintendents, which was held in Saratoga. He said he anticipated a “phase-in over the next few years.”
The state Board of Regents is expected to discuss its membership in PARCC during 2015-16 before the end of this school year.
In New York, there has been an expectation that PARCC assessments would eventually replace the current Common Core-aligned exams developed by Pearson. The ultimate purpose of the Smart Bond Act is to upgrade technology and pave the way for PARCC Assessments, read more about that here.
8. WHAT WILL COMMON CORE COST NY STATE?
$177.2 million per year ongoing maintenance and upkeep of technology “Over a typical standards time horizon of seven (7) years, we project Common Core implementation costs will total approximately $15.8 billion across participating states.”
These cost projections over seven years do not include:
- $1.2 billion for the new assessments
- $5.3 billion for professional development (i.e. teacher training)
- $2.5 billion for textbooks and instructional material
- $6.9 billion for technology infrastructure and support
(“The National Costs of Aligning the States and Localities to the Common Core” – The Pioneer Institute)
9. WHAT ARE THE EXPERTS SAYING ABOUT COMMON CORE?
Opposition to Common Core is mounting across the country as more and more people are becoming familiar with the secretive process used to develop these standards, the quality of the standards themselves and the people behind the whole program. Among the harshest critics are two members that sat on the Common Core Validation Committee, Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram. Both are experts in their fields of English Language Arts and Mathematics, respectively. Here is a list of some outspoken critics: Diane Ravitch, Jeanette Deutermann, Anthony Cody
10. DO MY KIDS HAVE TO TAKE ANY STANDARDIZED TESTS INCLUDING THE ELA/MATH STATE ASSESSMENTS?
State Regents exams, yes. State assessments for grades 3-8, no. Local Assessments (STAR), no.
Watch this video for a complete explanation regarding refusing the ELA/Math Assessments. Including the fact that THE SCHOOL WILL NOT LOSE FUNDING.