Common Core Tests & Teachers

One piece of the Common Core “system” is the Common Core “next generation” tests. It was the creators’ intention that test scores be used in teacher evaluations. It is high-stakes testing.

To understand why I came to this conclusion, it’s essential that people clearly understand the words used in official documents.

“State assessments” means Common Core assessments unless otherwise designated. “College and Career Ready” now means Common Core aligned. “Local control” means control over what local people are allowed to have input on after the schools have complied with federal and state laws. Your local school board? That is another topic.

“Autonomy” in the face of a system controlled by profiteers working the political strings means nothing.

Early on in the Common Core States Standards Initiative (CCSSI), the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) accepted money for purposes they outlined very well. Their document Educating & Training Parents to Support Education Reform looks and sounds great on page one. Page two begins to layout the system. Screen Shot 2015-04-11 at 1.55.36 PM

Think about it. Outreach to the parents and the public to “increase awareness”? Alright. Plot to align Common Core Standards to curriculum, assessments, policies, budgets, college admissions and financial aid? The initiative was about more than national standards.

And we can’t forget accountability. “Accountability systems” are brought up repeatedly. But, what does that mean?

Ask the architect of Common Core, David Coleman. When he was the head of The Coalition for Student Achievement group, there was a gathering in Washington D.C. to decide how to use OUR American Reinvestment and Recovery Act dollars. In addition to common standards, it was decided that “…at least 50% of teacher ratings…” should be based on “academic progress.” Many state policymakers jumped aboard that train.

If teachers are “rated” individually by student progress on Common Core aligned assessments, don’t we have to do these assessments at least twice a year to measure real growth due to a teacher? Double the testing money?

But when this group left their little meeting in D.C., it was the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and National Governors Association (NGA) who brought this “initiative” forward as “state-led.” Here’s the BIG GUN in the Common Core plan.

It was quite a meeting of the minds in the Spring of 2009 in D.C.

It was quite a meeting of the minds in the Spring of 2009 in D.C.

CCSSO and NGA prepared their ESEA Reauthorization Principles and Recommendations. What’s the big deal?

They called it their "new deal."

They call it their “new deal.”

Once revisions to ESEA (currently called No Child Left Behind) are put in place, it will be extremely difficult to change. My proof? No Child Left Behind was due to be rewritten in 2007. It didn’t happen even in the face of knowing with certainty that it was detrimental to a generation of already under-served children. Change? Outcry? Action? By the People, yes. By Congress? Not soon enough.

If CCSSO and NGA are allowed to be leaders of the pack on ESEA, one principle upon which this law will stand for another decade is that ESEA will “set the baseline for state policy (in assessments, accountability, consequences, etc.)…”Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.51.06 AM

Thus far, it appears these ideas are leading Federal and State “leaders.” The House Student Success Act (H.R.5) still mandates yearly “state” testing and now shifts “accountability” and teacher evaluations to the State. The draft Senate version applies the same “guiding” principle. This policy ping-pong (partnership), I’ve seen played before when outcome-based education hit the States before being federalized in No Child Left Behind.

So, will the federal government set “baselines” or “just” require federal approval of all state plans? Will federal law mandate that “All accountability systems includes student academic achievement and growth”?

Is federal law being used to uphold a very controversial private/somewhat public partnership “initiative” that the majority of the public did not know was being put in place?

Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 11.58.24 AM

The addition of “critical thinking skills” has been a major selling point. Working to encourage children to think critically is nothing new to education.

But back to our teachers and include school leaders as these familiar groups did.

CCSSO, with their buddies at NGA, wrote Our Responsibility, Our Promise that aligns all teacher and principal development with the Common Core. These are two non-governmental trade associations. Don’t you think the preparation for teachers and school leaders FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS should be based on the standards and principles upon which WE —the public— want, believe, stand upon, respect, and trust to guide us well?

When the people behind the development of Common Core and the Core plan decided to transform the system to do their bidding, they needed to set the agenda in motion, drive adoption throughout the system, and accelerate results through divisive action especially if they felt the need to get this done while the Great Recession had the public’s attention. Screen Shot 2015-04-21 at 3.30.01 PMYou see —I hope—that the same people behind the curtain of our TOO BIG TOO FAIL epic story of BIG MONEY laughing all the way to the bank and leaving THE LITTLE PEOPLE scraping by, are some of the same people behind the revolving door of Common Core. Could we please HIT PA– USE?

There are people who see the Common Core standards as just standards because of the “facts” they have heard.

Please stop and ask that person that is so passionately fighting against Common Core what it is that stirred their passion. Please stop and listen to them. Will they mess up some details? Chances are they will because the truth has been hard to find.

But ask yourself, are these “just standards”?

Teachers, are you sure you know what “they” have planned for your profession?

Is Common Core a Tool or Weapon?

Will Common Core Standards be a good thing for America? Maybe, but only if we understand the proper use and potential abuse that could easily occur if we aren’t watching closely. After all, WE are the ultimate check-and-balance. WE had better understand the circles of influence because influence is power that can turn to control.

Many think as Bill Gates expressed in the September 23, 2007 Parade Magazine, “It’s incredible that we have no national standards.” And there is some soundness to the idea, but, standards-based “reform” has only been proven NOT to work in America with No Child Left Behind being the most current example.

So, is Common Core a “national” standard? Not yet, but only because some states said “no thank you,” at this time.

So the argument goes:

Common Core is a state initiative. That “fact” you will have to decide for yourself. Is it state-led or Gates-led?

Standards are not curriculum. True. Standards are a teaching guide to help ensure all children are taught what we judge to be most important. But as the sequence of events goes; we develop standards, we develop tests to match those standards, and then what we teach and how (the curriculum) is aligned with the tests. Standards will direct curriculum so that makes it important to see how promoters of Common Core see the role of the federal government as compared to former lawmakers.

Back in 1965, Congress was influential in putting federal education law into place and clearly expressing within it the federal role as investment in children from low-income families whose needs were not being addressed by localities. And the testing of these children was to ensure the extra funds were serving the children’s learning needs. This law carefully explained the federal limits. Section 604 of The Elementary and Secondary Education Act read:

“Federal Control of Education Prohibited

Nothing contained in this Act shall be construed to authorize any department, agency, officer, or employee of the United States to exercise any direction, supervision, or control over the curriculum, program of instruction, administration, or personnel of any educational institution or school system, or over the selection of library resources, textbooks, or other print or published instructional materials by any educational institution or school system.”

Things have changed. By 2006, three circles of influence were explained through the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center in a paper titled – INFLUENCE (see chart page 21). Those organizations most influential were the United States Congress, the U.S. Department of Education, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In this same report, Mr. Gates was declared the most influential person in education reform — ahead of President George W. Bush.

Since then, the Gates’ tentacles of influence expanded to include not only the National Governors Association and Achieve (a Gate’s supported “standards-setting” service) but also the Council of Chief State School Officers as one of its many corporate partners.

Please note as you read the following that the first line is why “they” call it Common Core “State” Standards

The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and The National Governors Association (NGA) state in their Common Core Standards Memorandum of Agreement:

 “Federal Role. The parties support a state-led effort and not a federal effort to develop a common core of state standards; there is, however, an appropriate federal role in supporting this state-led effort. In particular, the federal government can provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Further, the federal government can incentivize this effort through a range of tiered incentives, such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use of existing federal funds, supporting a revised state accountability structure, and offering financial support for states to effectively implement the standards. Additionally, the federal government can provide additional long-term financial support for the development of common assessments, teacher and principal professional development, other related common core standards supports, and a research agenda that can help continually improve the common core over time. Finally, the federal government can revise and align existing federal education laws with the lessons learned from states’ international benchmarking efforts and from federal research.”

“They” redefined the federal role for us, told the federal government what to do, how to spend our federal recovery dollars, and what “they” said was done by the Department of Education; under the influence?

We should probably know who “they” really is. The original 135 member Common Core development group was heavily stacked with people associated with Gates-funded organizations and many members with connections that read like a list of Wall Street financial corporations in addition to global research & development, and technology companies already heavily invested in our defense, security, and energy information.

The two “consortiums” in the country that will offer the “Next Generation Tests” both have associations with Gates and received federal Recovery Act funds. “They” will be directing the show and we are told that “they” are the states; this is “state-led.”

Outside the circle of influence, there is talk about another way to use standards. We can probably all relate to this. A lesson is taught, quizzes are given, an opportunity to self-correct or re-learn is provided and, eventually, a larger test is given —and the student is given a grade. Add periodic standardized tests (4th, 8th, and 12th grade) where the only “test-prep” is reminding kids to make sure they do their best. This is honest testing with honest results and you have an “assessment system” without high costs and with less danger of inappropriate use of data. Back when we were kids, standardized tests were used properly — as a snap-shot for systemic guidance and some comparisons. We can adopt standards without adopting the testing and centralized data collection that is currently planned for us.

With the Department of Education under Gates wing, and federal education law (No Child Left Behind – NCLB) due to be re-written, we should pay attention to the “new deal” CCSSO and NGA have for the last circle of influence — Congress. Their plan for NCLB is to use our federal dollars to improve data systems, assessments, and consolidation of “reporting to a single office in the U.S. Department of Education [ED] that manages all data requests and collections…”(with good intentions, of course – page 9,#10 ). Plus, “they” suggest some new power be given to the Secretary to approve “new policy models” in our states in the name of “innovation.”

Are we setting up a system that is vulnerable to the further corruption of power?

The good and bad of it — Common Core can be one powerful tool for improvement of instruction, or, one ultra-powerful weapon to be used at will.

The last instrument of influence over public education that we the People have – as a nation – is Congress through No Child Left Behind. What is the will of the People?

(Originally posted as an article in April of 2013 on the Federalist Papers Project site under current events. More recently, I found time to go back and look at the origin of Common Core and have had a personal encounter that prompted me to look closer at the Common Core story. )

The Post-Election Politics of Education

In the 1980’s, corporate-politicos and the National Governors Association waged a silent coup in taking over this nations public schools improvements. Their actions unraveled improvements of the 70’s, devalued the teaching profession, and further limited learning opportunities particularly for underprivileged children.

These “reformer’s” actions culminated in the 2001 national policy dubbed “No Child Left Behind” (NCLB) with its reliance on the theory of standards and testing.

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www.mhmarketingsalesmanagement.com

Costs have risen dramatically as more tax dollars enter the pockets of private testing companies, publishers, supplemental service providers, charter management organizations, and “non-profits” (good and bad). Meanwhile, true “achievements” changed very little.

The original version of this blog was an article written post-2010 elections. Update: 2014

The truth? NOTHING HAS CHANGED. Politicians are directing public education. The bonding of politicians to corporations, and entrepreneurial and political interest lobbying groups, puts our children squarely at the mercy of politics.

The true indicators of the quality of our system — rates on dropouts, graduates, adult literacy, college enrollment, degree completion, and the financial efficiency of the system — are what we must know to be fully informed. Test scores are not relevant. That whole “process” is corrupted.

Our “leaders” have set the wrong goal for the American education system.

Twisting the Truth

“The nation’s governors developed Common Core.” That is the Bloomberg View on the development of The Core. Readership? Probably pretty widespread!

And the history of Common Core is being told in this U.S. News & World Report and elsewhere as having been started by former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano. Her (?) 2008 report is purported to be what has led the way ever since. After that bite of information, this article depends on Rick Hess (resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute) and Dane Linn (VP of the Business Roundtable, Education and Workforce Committee) to tell the story.

Web of Deception

Web of Deception

The article then leads its readers to believe that Achieve (a Bill Gates created organization) stepped in to help. Fact: “they” were in it all along!

And low and behold, “It was decided that ‘the key to advancing any of these recommendations [made by the governors] was to start with the standards,’ Linn says.”

The rest of the story, as told in this article, paints a picture of the arduous work of creating these new “benchmarked” standards by the main stakeholder groups —union and non-union members holding hands— to produce our wondrous “new” standards. The backlash to Common Core is painted as purely political.

The events that unfolded with the unveiling of Common Core and its tests “served as fodder for the federal-overreach debate.”

The real truth; right in the Memorandum of Agreement, which governors and school chiefs signed, it states (page 3):

In particular, the federal government can provide key financial support for this effort in developing a common core of state standards and in moving toward common assessments, such as through the Race to the Top Fund authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Further, the federal government can incentivize this effort through a range of tiered incentives, such as providing states with greater flexibility in the use of existing federal funds, supporting a revised state accountability structure, and offering financial support for states to effectively implement the standards. Additionally, the federal government can provide additional long-term financial support for the development of common assessments, teacher and principal professional development, other related common core standards supports, and a research agenda that can help continually improve the common core over time. Finally, the federal government can revise and align existing federal education laws with the lessons learned from states’ international benchmarking efforts and from federal research.”

 

Federal involvement appears to be dictated by the Common Core agreement. Governors signed it.

So when did The Core start? 2007 with Bill Gates, the most influential person in education reform policy? 2008 with the governors (and Gates funded Achieve)?

Was it “just” accelerated in 2009 with a group of high-powered “thinkers” getting together in D.C. to produce Smart Options and deciding that “priority 1” is to develop common American standards with our Recovery Act dollars?

At the moment, the truth is our reality. The rest of the story is this — The copyright on Common Core standards are privately held by two D.C. unions of bureaucrats. The National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief States School Officers (CCSSO) are nothing more than that – D.C. unions of government officials with no responsibility for results and with very murky transparency as to the flow of money.

The Chief architect of Common Core – Mr. David Coleman – sat on the Smart Options committee and directs the College Board (SAT testing)….There are lots of private dollar connections….D.C. insiders pushed The Common Core…..The plans have always been to use federal law to make this “work.” Question is; whom is it working for?

#WorkForMe

America, wake up! ———–This isn’t about “just standards.”

If we want national standards for our public schools that prepare students for college, isn’t it public colleges and universities that are most aware of the knowledge and skills gaps they are seeing in their students? Wouldn’t it make more sense to assign them to the task of helping us improve the education of our public school children? Won’t gaps in student preparation differ in degree and areas of concern depending on the current quality of education in a given location?

Run this by me again, why are we redoing the whole system and gearing it towards another one-size-fits –all “fix”? Twisted thinking, me thinks.

Masters of Deception

Actions speak louder than words.

May 2009 Governor Otter and Idaho State School Chief Tom Luna signed a memorandum of agreement with the National Governors Association (NGA) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) agreeing to the Common Core State Standards Initiative (CCSSI) in addition to defining the federal role in education for us.

But they said they did so “with the understanding that these standards are not mandatory.”

August 11, 2010 The Idaho State Board of Education approved Common Core with Mr. Luna in attendance.

Mr. Luna campaigned – not on Common Core and Students Come First laws – but on how good a job he had done and that Idaho was on the “right track.”

November elections Yes, Idaho is one of few states that elect the person to head education (because the politics are so great and politics drives school improvement so well?). Mr. Luna was re-elected.

December 15, 2010: Luna named president-elect of CCSSO with his term beginning in November 2011.

January 2011 – Idaho legislative session begins. Lawmakers and the public heard – for the first time – the introduction of what would come to be hated as the Luna Laws (Students Come First –ha). For our Idaho lawmakers, it began on January 12th with a presentation of The Pillars of Student-Centered Education.

Testimony proceeded with heated debate on both sides of the issues. The pillars – technology-replacing teachers through a one-on-one laptop program with online graduation credits required, pay-for-performance, and limiting collective bargaining.

Among a docket full of rules reviews and hearings on budget items plus the

As our attention was focused on the Luna Laws, the Common Core Standards agreement signed in 2009 was quietly pushed into law. And the Luna Laws held our attention.

As our attention was focused on the Luna Laws, the Common Core Standards agreement signed in 2009 was quietly pushed into law. And the Luna Laws held our attention. Image from Boise Weekly.

unfolding of the details of the Luna Laws, on January 19th mid-afternoon in front of ONLY the senate education committee, Mr. Luna answered questions asked previously of him on a variety of statistics including class size, teacher pay, funding for new assessments, internet conductivity issues in rural areas, laptop issues, outsourcing of IT services, and just a slew of concerns…yawn…. Then, after a short story about how Common Core began with “an impromptu discussion about common achievement standards among states,” Luna’s Chief of Staff, Luci Willits, introduced Rules Governing Thoroughness; Common Core Standards (Docket #08-0203-1003).

Ms. Willits is the same person who explained, “When the grant was put forth, the SDE [State Department of Education] went to the colleges to ensure that any student who passes these standards will be able to go to any college without the need of remedial training.” And she said, “These standards are just that—they are standards.” Hum?

Since when can people read a set of standards on math and language arts and say “passing” them (the tests I assume) will “ensure” student success without remediation? Given the information they had at the time. is that possible?

Anyway, very few but good questions followed this brief presentation to the Senate Education Committee prior to adjournment for the day. Without further discussion and no testimony from the public (who knew – those watching the session were caught up in the Luna Laws debate), on the afternoon of January 24th Senator Winder moved to approve Docket #08-0203-1003. The motion passed with unanimous consent.

Mar.-Apr., 2011: Governor Otter signs Students Come First Legislation (S. 1108, 1110  & 1184). Then, the fight in Idaho to remove those laws kept the public’s attention for two years.

I think this is a great example of Card Stacking that employs all the arts of deception by stacking the cards against the truth. It uses under-emphasis and over-emphasis to dodge issues and evade facts. It uses half-truths.

Cards Stacked ; Game Rigged

Cards Stacked ; Game Rigged

Truth about Common Core? It is built on a foundation of lies and deceit. And it isn’t just standards; it is a package of reforms of which we have only seen the surface. There is much more below the surface if you care to dig. It includes linking the pieces to the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind (CCSSO again!) and training of all our education “workers.”

I’d rather see us stop a moment.

Public education needs to first fix its foundation of trust and base real reform on proven and ethical principles.

“They” Have Plans for U.S. Children

No Child Left Behind (NCLB) was a failed experiment. That is, it failed as a reform for schools.

So why do Americans continue to trust many of the very same people who created the law to now lead us down yet another path – over a decade later? This time, the National Governors Association (NGA) and Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) (ESEA_Task_Force_Policy_Statement_2010) plan to use the rewriting of NCLB to consolidate data reporting to a single “office in the U.S. Department of Education that manages all data requests and collections…” (with good intentions?).Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.52.22 PM(Update 12/10/15: NCLB changed to The Every Student Succeeds Act – ESSA. The lead groups on Common Core — the non-governmental trade organizations CCSSO and NGA —have more power under ESSA than they did under NCLB.)

This country desperately needs to talk about proper roles of government in education. But for now, local control?

When and how students receive additional help should always be made at the school level. Do we need good data there? Yes. But more importantly, we need capable, caring people who understand kids!

Every state put in a longitudinal data system so that each state could track each student in order to make “better decisions” as to where and how to spend our education dollars — at the state level (?). Fair enough, maybe. That is supposedly why the Data Quality Campaign came into existence. But check out the campaigns supporters at the bottom of this page and ask yourselves, should data systems have been a priority?

“Coinciding with the movement for more and better data, federal lawmakers established the Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) grant program (part of the Educational Technical Assistance Act of 2002) to help states design, develop, and implement longitudinal data systems.” (Source New America Foundation, Many Missing Pieces)

People – this was back in 2002!!! And now, it is time to “consolidate data” to a point of central control. Our lack of vigilance has been astounding!

“…there was a diabolical realism in his plan to make all learning the monopoly of the elite which was to rule his envisioned world empire and keep the anonymous masses barely literate.”

That is what Eric Hoffer wrote in the The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. He was speaking about Hitler. Control of the education system is THAT important!

Stop IT !

Stop IT ! P.S. I think Godwin’s Law is detrimental to open discussions about our times and history.

Until the day that the anonymous masses of citizens once again have control over their government, we must defend every inch of control we have remaining over the public education system.

Welcome to the Real Education War!

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To know more, read about the power and control of the Common Core Standards and the excellent comments from the people.

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Addition 2/17/16: You can also learn more about the Common Core “Initiative” through this smorgasbord of blogs. I suggest beginning with “Research Made Me Do It.” What it made me do is take a firm stance against corporate takeover of the public education standards, assessments, curriculum, data systems, and the production of a totalitarian workforce development system.

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Addition 9/7/17: Consider this. ESSA State Consolidation Plans are all approved by the Secretary of Education. After approval, will all states then submit their data as evidence of compliance (“accountability”)? The “new” ESEA is ESSA. It delivered. The question now is, how much will we pay for it?

They do have plans for US.

Two more additions:

The Big idea?

Big funders? Big investors? Big pay-off for some.