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Posted at 5:00 AM ET, 02/ 4/2011

Common Core Standards: Implications for instruction

By Valerie Strauss

This was written by Jack Farrell, a retired teacher of Advanced Placement English, a teacher researcher, and currently president of the school board in Mammoth Lakes, CA. Farrell has done extensive classroom observation as a consultant teacher and is an enthusiastic supporter of the Common Core Standards. He maintains his own blog and website where he writes about current instructional issues related to the new standards.

By Jack Farrell
Forty-three states have already adopted the new Common Core Standards as part of their application for “Race to the Top” funds. Many, however, have pushed actual implementation far down the road as the adoption of new standards requires a huge commitment of time and funds, from writing new frameworks, adopting new textbooks to rolling out extensive staff development.

In California, alone, the new math standards will not be operational until 2014 and the new English/Language Arts standards not until 2016. Since California did not win Race to the Top funds, I feel that the impetus to push additional educational reform in California has already substantially waned.

This a mistake, since the new Common Core Standards are not just another set of high standards, like those already adopted in California and Massachusetts. These are the first standards that focus on how students learn, not just on what they learn.

The movement toward a set of national standards can be traced back to research conducted by The ACT, the college entrance test often compared to the SAT.

The ACT researchers found through their research, published as “Reading Between the Lines,” that our typical high school graduates, even though fully qualified for college by their grades and either SAT or ACT scores, were still demonstrably unprepared for the reading demands of either the college classroom or the typical workplace.

The ACT researchers examined three levels of reading demands: simple text, more difficult text and complex text. When they examined their aggregate reading scores and correlated them with college success, the lines for simple and more difficult text rose in parallel fashion. However, the line for complex text remained fairly flat until it reached the most accomplished readers, those with scores of 34-36 (on a 36 point scale) where the benchmark score was 21, the score point above which becomes a predictor of college success. Since complex text is a staple of the university and the modern workplace, students’ inability to independently and proficiently negotiate it gave rise to these new text-based standards.

Here is a quick example of the difference between current middle school social science standards and the new common core. From the current California Social Science Content Standards:


Historical Interpretation, Grades 6-8
1. Students explain the central issues and problems from the past, placing people and events in a matrix of time and place.
2. Students understand and distinguish cause, effect, sequence, and correlation in historical events, including the long-and short-term causal relations.
3. Students explain the sources of historical continuity and how the combination of ideas and events explains the emergence of new patterns.

It is certainly possible to certify the above standards as rigorous. Proficient students would indeed possess exemplary content knowledge.

However, the ACT research has cast a troubling light on the rigor of these standards.

How a student comes to mastery on a standard is as important, or should be, as the fact of mastery itself. The above standards can be taught through direct, explicit instruction, supported by bullets on power point slides and streaming video. This is the most common way social science is currently taught in California classrooms. Social science textbooks are considered support in most modern classrooms. Many students consider skimming to be reading and scanning for information in a textbook the way most of us skim the internet is the primary way modern textbooks are accessed by today’s students.

Below are four 6-8th grade History/Social Science standards from the new common core. While it is true that currently the new standards are not as detailed as the California standards, the most obvious difference is the expectation of students working with, and learning from, text, independently and proficiently:


3. Identify key steps in a text’s description of a process related to history/social studies (e.g., how a bill becomes law, how interest rates are raised or lowered).
4. Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including vocabulary specific to domains related to history/social studies.
5. Describe how a text presents information (e.g., sequentially, comparatively, causally).
10. By the end of grade 8, read and comprehend history/social studies texts in the grades 6–8 text complexity band independently and proficiently. [Emphasis mine]


These standards make it clear that the burden for presenting the content has moved from teacher to writer, and that the student’s ability to navigate complex text independently is at the core of his learning.

The introduction to the Common Core Standards also describes what is not covered by the standards: “The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach.”

Perhaps this statement was meant to alleviate the fears of teachers who very much resent being told how to do their jobs. However, changing classroom behavior and the way instruction is delivered is at the heart of the ACT Research. Current pedagogical practices, wherein teaching is talking and learning is listening, do not adequately prepare students for the rigor of college or career.

Whenever I visit California classrooms, it is remarkably easy to see the California Standards for the Teaching Profession in evidence.

*Teachers have the responsibility to engage students and in high functioning classrooms, students are demonstrably engaged (Standard 1).
*Teachers and students cooperate to produce well-managed classrooms (Standard 2).
*Teachers know what they’re talking about and there is significant evidence of transference of this knowledge (Standard 3).
*In the best classrooms, this is a highly efficient content delivery system and the pace and depth of instruction is evidence of significant planning, both short-term and long-range (Standard 4).
*Teachers are assessing machines, continually checking for understanding and teaching recursively to bring all students along (Standard 5).

The biggest challenge in the adoption of these new standards will be in supervision and instruction. I have made it a point to collect evidence of these new standards in today’s practice and I can find little evidence these standards are already in place.

For these standards to be in place, everything we know about instruction -- what we use to prepare our teachers in their university programs, what our teacher candidates experience in their student teaching assignments and the practices we advocate in our new- teacher induction programs -- must change.

Those who content that these new standards are high in rhetoric only, that tomorrow’s assessments will differ little from today’s, that the Common Core Standards do not represent real reform, have not read the standards carefully, nor have they examined the research behind the standards.

Moving from an essentially teacher-centered oral education with visual and text-based support, to a text-based writer-centered education with oral and visual support, may sound like a simple shift in emphasis.

But hundreds of hours of classroom observation convince me that such a shift will be monumental pedagogically. If the way students learn does not change to align with the new standards, there is little chance these new standards can enter the classroom.

I invite all teachers, students, parents and community members to examine these new standards and, not only support the transition to these standards, but actively encourage their implementation. You can examine these standards at: http://www.corestandards.org/ and also at links to your own state departments of education.

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By Valerie Strauss  | February 4, 2011; 5:00 AM ET
Categories:  Guest Bloggers, National Standards  | Tags:  common core initiative, common core standards, national standards, race to the top  
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Comments

We need to look at today with an understanding of "it is what it is." When that visual is complete, where are we going. Who is part of the success? Why aren't we involved in this together as opposed to singularity?

Colleges and high schools should be collaborating on standards. High schools, middle schools, and elementary schools fall under the same oversight, yet the idea of collaborating remains overlooked. At the 10th grade level, let's be honest with kids that are not heading toward college. What do they need to live and make a living? Who needs to be involved (business, finance, industry, etc.) to assure kids that are not headed to college are headed and focused on life after high school.

Posted by: jbeeler | February 4, 2011 8:19 AM | Report abuse

One problem with the Common Core English Language Arts standards in middle and high school is that they are essentially disciplinary literacy standards. That is, they define the textual skills students need for their college English, history and social studies, and science classes. They should not be conflated with a set of history and social studies standards, as Mr. Farrell does, science standards, or even a complete set of English Language Arts standards. For example, there is no concept of literary genre analysis in the Common Core standards, at all. There is no rhetorical analysis beyond logos. The range of writing is strictly academic.

High achieving countries like Finland and Canada do not conceptualize the goals of discipline of Language Arts as simply "college-level literacy" as the Common Core does. Their standards and outcomes reflect the full range of the discipline, which is why the Common Core ELA standards have not been internationally benchmarked, and why they cannot be.

And of course, California's current ELA standards certainly do contain standards similar to the ones Mr. Farrell cites, involving direct textual analysis, e.g. (from 8th grade):

1.1 Analyze idioms, analogies, metaphors, and similes to infer the literal and figurative
meanings of phrases.

2.4 Compare the original text to a summary to determine whether the summary accurately captures the main ideas, includes critical details, and conveys the underlying meaning.

I can understand the argument that students need to do more reading of complex texts, but we have been giving every middle school student in the country a high stakes reading comprehension tests for at least a decade. This is not a new idea. Perhaps it will be new that social studies and science teachers are also evaluated by reading tests, but nobody knows how that is really supposed to work.

And I do agree with Mr. Farrell that the Common Core reduces the role of the teacher in the ELA classroom, but I'm not convinced it will do so in a positive way. The whole scope of the ELA curriculum is collapsed into reading texts and performing some of all of eight narrow textual analysis tasks which are repeated across grade level and subject. It will be now easy to write computer programs to administer such a narrow curriculum.

Posted by: TomHoffman | February 4, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse

There is absolutely no recognition that supposedly the reason for "reform" of public education started in 2001 by NCLB was the inability of large numbers of students to read. Failure rates in reading in urban poverty public schools in the 4th grade national tests are over percent and for over forty percent for 8th grade students.

Based upon the original reason for "reform" the logic of the author of this article is flawed since the new standards the author recommends will do nothing in regard to the large number of students that can not read by the 4th and 8th grade based upon national tests.

Instead of forcing states to adopt the Common Core Standards perhaps educators and the government should be forced to adopt new standards of common sense such as the following.

The reason for the large number of students that can not read should be researched and not simply ignored by the pretense that if these students had "effective" teachers they would be able to learn how to read.

The emphasis on standardized testing is guaranteed to make students that do not have any problem in learning to read bored and apathetic. Public schools are not teaching or encouraging thinking but how to choose the correct box to mark on the test with as little thought as possible.

Supposedly students for social sciences/history need to "Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text". Common sense would indicate that this is simply a requirement of the ability to read and not some key element of learning in the social sciences/history.

By the way if you really need a Common Core Standard for the United States think of the accepting the following.

Deal with the problem of large number of the students that can not learn to read.

Instill in students that can read the excitement and love of learning so that they do not become bored and apathetic.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 4, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Everyone wants a ladder of education where supposedly there is a description of what is taught in each grade.

Everyone pretends this is important for education but the reality it is not.

Large numbers of students fail reading in the 4th grade. If the ladder of education was important then none of these students should be allowed to attend the 5th grade until they pass reading in the 4th grade since the ladder step for learning in the 5th grade is totally dependent at the least upon reading at a 4th grade level.

The reality is that there are no standards in the United States since students are allowed to go to a higher grades when it is known that they do not have the skills required to learn in that grade.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 4, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

The intent of the recently adopted Common Core Standards is to provide all students equal access to a common body of knowledge; as Horace Mann observed in the mid-nineteenth century, to be the "great equalizer."

Finally, students from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, etc., would have access to, and be expected to learn, the same body of knowledge that youngsters from Massachusetts have had for at least the past two decades. This is the same rich body of knowledge we would all want for OUR OWN CHILDREN.

Posted by: phoss1 | February 4, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

This is the same rich body of knowledge we would all want for OUR OWN CHILDREN.

Posted by: phoss1
........................
National tests for years have indicated that over 50 percent of students in urban poverty schools fail 4th grade reading tests which indicate that these students can not read. These students are simply passed on to the next grade and generally fail 8th grade reading tests.

Meanwhile those supposedly in public education are concerned with the Common Core Standards.

In regard to the Common Core Standard paragraph 6, line 17, on page 232 should be modified with the second "and" changed to "and/or".

This is how public education will be improved with no concern of large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read.

Thank god for the Americans who know what is important in public education.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 4, 2011 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I'm a homeschooling parent getting ready to send my oldest on to public school 5th grade. He has high functioning autism, but is an avid reader and reads well beyond his grade level with great comprehension. I think an emphasis on static learning from textbooks sounds absolutely dreadful. What is so wrong about learning subject matter from a wide variety of resources, even (gasp) streaming video? While I think it is important that students develop the skills to utilize texts (real books would be better) as one component of their higher education, I don't think we need to go back to the 70's and 80's where most of our learning was done through textbooks. Sure, I learned how to navigate through texts alright, at the expense of creating a love of learning about several quite interesting topics of study.

Social studies and history are perfect examples of subjects that should NEVER need a text. Unless of course, you want to bore the students to tears with endless vocabulary words and timelines that they will forget the moment they pass their finals for the year.

I was an honor student and have a college degree under my belt. Navigating textbooks was the LEAST important skill I learned in that time. If a student is a good reader and has good comprehension, he'll figure out how to navigate the endless texts that constitute a mere "means to the end" of a college degree. Everything I learned, I learned by doing, not from a textbook. For meaningful learning to take place, kids need a variety of educational sources and experiences.

Posted by: bgrantwiden | February 4, 2011 3:40 PM | Report abuse

"Current pedagogical practices, wherein teaching is talking and learning is listening, do not adequately prepare students for the rigor of college or career."
-----------------------
My experience in college was just that: sitting in lecture halls, listening, taking notes and studying to pass exams.

That's why I'm concerned with how we "spoon feed" our students in school today. We make learning easy (and are told it also better be "fun") and put all the work and burden on the teacher. It's no wonder our students aren't prepared for college.

The best lesson they can learn is that in college and in the world, no one is going to spoon feed them and no one is going to make college and your career "fun" for you.

Posted by: UrbanDweller | February 4, 2011 3:53 PM | Report abuse

That's why I'm concerned with how we "spoon feed" our students in school today. We make learning easy (and are told it also better be "fun") and put all the work and burden on the teacher. It's no wonder our students aren't prepared for college.
Posted by: UrbanDweller
......................
We do not spoon feed students but rather bore them to death in an approach to teaching that is geared to the lowest common denominator.

This should be no surprise after 10 years of public education policy geared to having every child pass.

Imagine how public education would be different if teachers were seen to be effective if they raised the number of students that have advanced skills.

Instead our aim is to have every student proficient which is equivalent to having every student mediocre.

There would not be large numbers of students not prepared when they entered college if we separated students in classes solely based upon their skills but this idea will be never accepted.

Far better to keep mixing students in classes with different skill levels with the pretense that this is best for all the students, when the reality is that this is the poorest way to teach.

And of course the over 50 percent that can not read by the 4th grade are of course promoted and thrown into classes with the children that can read.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 4, 2011 8:12 PM | Report abuse

"...large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read." Who are you, Jimmy the Greek or Al Campanis? I certainly hope you are not a teacher.

Without the ability to read means...?

Posted by: phoss1 | February 4, 2011 9:36 PM | Report abuse

I'll make this short and very simple, Teacher talking, and students 'listening' never has worked! when is the educational system in this country going to wake up?! We can cuss and discuss common standards, etc., etc., until the cows come home, and things will never change for the better. WE MUST ENGAGE OUR STUDENTS FROM THE FIRST BELL UNTIL THE LAST!!!

Posted by: theogramps | February 5, 2011 10:31 AM | Report abuse

I'll make this short and very simple, Teacher talking, and students 'listening' never has worked! when is the educational system in this country going to wake up?! We can cuss and discuss common standards, standardized test scores, teacher evaluations, funding, etc., etc., until the cows come home, and things will never change for the better. WE MUST ENGAGE OUR STUDENTS FROM THE FIRST BELL UNTIL THE LAST!!!

Posted by: theogramps | February 5, 2011 10:32 AM | Report abuse

"...large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read." Who are you, Jimmy the Greek or Al Campanis? I certainly hope you are not a teacher.

Without the ability to read means...?

Posted by: phoss1
.............................
National tests of Washington DC in 4th grade reading in 2009 indicates 56 percent that have failed to achieve the basic level. The basic level is even lower than the ability to read at least at a 4th grade level.

Washington D.C. can be used as an indicator or urban poverty public schools in the nation.

Students that finish 4th grade are expected to be able to read at the least on a 4th grade level. Students that enter the 5th grade level are expected to have the ability to read at the least on a 4th grade.

My assumption was that everyone who made comments about public education had at least some understanding and knowledge regarding public education.

The curriculum of the 5th grade is based upon students with at the least the ability to read at a 4th grade level. It is not set up to deal with students that can not read at least on a 4th grade level.

There are also the national 8th grade reading test where students are expected to read at least on an 8th grade level.

The reality is that a child that fails reading in the 4th grade is probably going to fail reading in the 8th grade. These students will do poorly in all their grades since a certain level of the ability to read is expected or required in these grades.

At some point those who make comments about public education need to do research and some thinking. The curriculum and teaching of the 9th grade is based upon students having the "requirement" to read at least on the level of the 8th grade. The curriculum and teachers of the 9th grade are not set up to deal with students that do not have at least the ability to read on an 8th grade level.

It always amazes me that those without any knowledge and apparently little if any thought about public education continue to make comments about public education.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 5, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

WE MUST ENGAGE OUR STUDENTS FROM THE FIRST BELL UNTIL THE LAST!!!

Posted by: theogramps
........................
This is the problem with public education.

Everyone has their simple solution without any thought into the problem.

Teaching in public education is not a one on one process where there is only one student in a class.

It is teaching perhaps up to 30 students in a classroom, and these students enter this classroom with a disparate set of skills and abilities.

Do we "engage" the students that have the skills and ability for the class or do we "engage" the students that do not have the skills or abilities for the class?

Just a little thought would indicate that students enter classes with different skills and abilities, yet we continue to pretend that they are like some manufactured product that are all the same.

It is interesting that before NCLB the thought in public education was that you accepted that the students that could not learn because they did not have the skills and ability necessary would fail, and attempted to raise the skills and ability of the students that had the skills and ability and could learn.

But you do not win election by telling Americans that students that enter public schools without skills and abilities will fail. Far better to tell Americans "A chicken in every pot" and "No Child Left Behind".

Posted by: bsallamack | February 5, 2011 1:50 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack

As I said above, I hope you're not a teacher but then looking at some old posts it appears you're an art teacher? It's amazing how someone with no background in teaching academic subjects pretends to have all the answers - excuse me - the ONLY answers on subjects like reading or math. Who died and made you the Jaime Escalante of the Washington Post?

"It always amazes me that those without any knowledge and apparently little if any thought about public education continue to make comments about public education."
You're talking about yourself with that comment, are you?

Why don't you go to the arts and entertainment section of the Post and make comments on those articles?

It must be a treat having lunch with you in the teachers' room, a REAL treat. An opinionated narcissists. If that sounds mildly redundant, it was meant to be just that.

This is a blog, Awipe. People have different views and opinions on the postings. Why don't you try stating your opinion and then read the comments of others instead of trying to bully others into your line of thinking. You and DHume, sound like one and the same. Your CONSTANT attacks on the comments of others only serve to validate your insecurities of your points of view, not to minimize the views of the other posters.

FYI; I have 34 years classroom (that's academic experience, mind you) experience as a Massachusetts public school teacher with graduate degrees from two Ivy League universities. With that, I believe I have the right to make comments on public education and express MY opinions. If you disagree, that's fine, but you're not about to tell me (who you nothing about) what to say or think about any of these issues.

Posted by: phoss1 | February 6, 2011 7:53 AM | Report abuse

bsallamack
FYI; I have 34 years classroom (that's academic experience, mind you) experience as a Massachusetts public school teacher with graduate degrees from two Ivy League universities.
Posted by: phoss1
............................
"...large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read." Who are you, Jimmy the Greek or Al Campanis? I certainly hope you are not a teacher.

Without the ability to read means...?

Posted by: phoss1
.......................
I find it strange that someone with 34 years of public school experience does not understand that the curriculum for the 5th grade is based upon the requirement that students read at least at the 4th grade level.

I notice that your latest comment does not add anything to your previous comment and my response to it.

Please let us know why national tests of reading are given to 4th grade students, if public schools do not expect students at the end of the 4th grade to read at least at a 4th grade level.

By the way, not being able to read at the 4th grade level includes the possibility of a student that can not read at any level.

I am not a public school teacher. I read about public education and I have done a little research.

It is obvious that there are problems in public education with national tests that indicate over 50 percent of students in urban public schools that can not read at a 4th grade level, and may not be able to read at all, in a system where these large number of students will be expected in the next grade to have the ability to read.

I have not seen any programs or methods to deal with this problem, and students without the ability to read are simply placed in classes with students that can read. This probably explains the large number of students in urban poverty schools that never graduate.

Perhaps as a teacher you should explain what a teacher should do if their class is made up of 50 percent of students that can not read and 50 percent of students that can read. Current policy is that an "effective" teacher will be able to teach all of these students so that they pass. This "effective" teacher will work a miracle with the students that can not read even though the curriculum for the class is based on the premise that the students have the ability at least to read at the level of the previous grade level.

Please enlighten us.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 10:54 AM | Report abuse

FYI; I have 34 years classroom (that's academic experience, mind you) experience as a Massachusetts public school teacher with graduate degrees from two Ivy League universities.
...............
Finally, students from Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, etc., would have access to, and be expected to learn, the same body of knowledge that youngsters from Massachusetts have had for at least the past two decades.
Posted by: phoss1
............................
By the way please correct me if I am wrong.

The original standards that Massachusetts had were not the Common Core Standards.

States such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, etc., accepted the Common Core Standards in their hopes of obtaining additional Federal funding.

Massachusetts was forced to accept the Common Core Standards as part of their bid to obtain additional Federal funding. States that did not accept this standard would likely not receive additional Federal funding.

The reality is that States such as Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, etc.,
DO NOT have access to, and ARE NOT expected to learn, the same body of knowledge that youngsters from Massachusetts have had for at least the past two decades.

This should be obvious since these states accepted the Common Core Standards and NOT the previous standards of Massachusetts.

The reality is that with the Common Core Standards states have accepted standards that are totally untested, and in cases like Massachusetts, states have been forced to abandon previous standards that have been shown to be effective for years.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the shout-out Echo-Lover (aka Phoss1).

People do have different views. Yes, you are right there. But I find your position here, and in other places, rather inconsistent: You want people to speak their mind, but you don't want people to oppose you (or anyone else) or point out your logical contradictions. And instead of owning up to your mistakes and addressing them, you ignore or deny them.

The story of Narcissist is an interesting one, and it is one that is apropo here as well. You should remember that before he saw his reflection in a pool, he was running away from Echo. You are running away from your own echo as well: Although I doubt you like looking at your visage on any reflective surface, it is obvious that you have fallen in love with your own voice.

Oh, and by the way, bsallamack obviously opposes CCS. I, on the other hand, find some potential and hope in them. And I've taken a look at samples from the two consortiums that are crafting the assessments. And both assessments are far better than what we have right now. One group emphasizes writing, while the other focuses on benchmarks. Both focus on interconnected, big ideas instead of specific skills in a multiple-choice vacuum. It is not the standards, in and of themselves that will help out kids in Texas and Mississippi or with your ivy leagueness (in this bsallamack is correct), but how the CCS assessments will narrate how each state is doing on a national level.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 6, 2011 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Interesting discussion...

BTW, his name is Narcissus or Narkissos (Greek).

Posted by: AGAAIA | February 6, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Oh, and by the way, bsallamack obviously opposes CCS.
And both assessments are far better than what we have right now. One group emphasizes writing, while the other focuses on benchmarks. Both focus on interconnected, big ideas instead of specific skills in a multiple-choice vacuum.
...but how the CCS assessments will narrate how each state is doing on a national level.
Posted by: DHume1
..........................
I guess you are right since I feel there is far too much emphasis on testing now. I am satisfied with the current national testing if the government wants to compare states in regard to the entire country.

Continuous testing of a student that can not read is rather pointless.

Currently there is no method or program to deal with students that have not developed the skills required for the next grade.

One grows tired with make believe ideas such as the Common Core Standard. It is interesting that other nations would call this a curriculum and not a standard.

Does anyone really imagine that states did not know what their students were expected to be taught before taking national tests and that this is the reason why these states have always done so poorly on nations tests?

A curriculum is important but simply imposing it does not mean that in years to come less students will fail national tests.

Nothing is being done to address directly the problem of so many students that can not read at least at current grade level and the reality is that many of these students can not read at all.

Instead we have the insane idea that we need more standardized testing and the aim and emphasis on every student passing without doing anything different in regard to the students that fail. Supposedly if the 50 percent of pipe fails more testing will correct the problem without a change in the system.

With this policy for the last ten years we have created the new problem of very bored and apathetic students among the students who have developed the required skills for classes.

It is easy to develop testing other than multiple choice testing but the reality is that this does nothing for large number of students that can not read.

For ten years there has been this great emphasis on "standardized testing" which has created the new problem of "teach to the test" with bored and apathetic students. Now we have the new wave that will give us "standardized tests" that supposedly will not make students that can learn bored and apathetic.

More insanity when the solution should be to abandon an excessive emphasis on "standardized testing".

The country really needs where possible the separation of students based upon their current skills and abilities into classrooms. It is insane to simply pass on year after year students who fail as though some miracle will occur in a later grade where these students suddenly learn.
SEE PART 2

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 1:11 PM | Report abuse

AGAAIA,

Yep, you're right. See phoss, I have no problem being wrong.
--------------------------------
bsallamack,

BTW, I personally would like only two tests. A formative one at the beginning of the year that covers whatever grade standards there are and gives teachers a baseline for what they need to do to help students. The second test would be at the end of the year to see how much the students grew during that single school year. My guess is that teachers would see tons of growth and finally have a useful assessment tool that they could employ.
Obviously none of it should be used to evaluate teachers since teachers are not taking the tests.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 6, 2011 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Part 2

I really believe that teachers should be allowed to develop their own tests for their classes and that principals should know and review what is going on in classrooms.

The idea of two consortiums just raises in me "the money to testing alarm".

Why can not these private organizations come up with new methods, ideas, and programs to deal with the large number of students that can not read?

Do we really need private companies creating new standardized tests that are not gearded to multiple choice?

One of the major problem in the public discussion about public education is that everyone accepts flawed ideas and an entire structure of absurd ideas is built up.

Let us look at the money spent on standardized testing. The national tests indicate problems but instead of spending more money on more teachers we are spending money on standardized testing.

We force states that have a superior curriculum to adopt the supposedly "Common Core Standard". The reality is that this is not a "Common Core Standard" but in actuality a "Lowest Common Denominator Curriculum".

Yet few admit to the absurdity of forcing states that had a superior curriculum to adopt a totally unproven "Lowest Common Denominator Curriculum".

Take the idea of CSS.

Accept the flawed idea that more standardized testing will fix the problem of large numbers of student that can not read.

Emphasis on standardized testing then creates the problem of bored and apathetic students who are learning on the level of the least common denominator in classes.

Introduce the idea of standardized tests that are not multiple choice to supposedly deal with the bored and apathetic students. No mention that probably all the skills taught for the new tests such as writing will be taught on the lowest common denominator in classes.

When do we face reality?

All those students that have been given more standardized tests still can not read. Having a national policy of every student proficient without new programs, ideas, or new methods will only create a situation where teaching is at the lowest common denominator in classes.

Our current public schools reflect the absurd ideas we have accepted.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 2:02 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack,

BTW, I personally would like only two tests. A formative one at the beginning of the year that covers whatever grade standards there are and gives teachers a baseline for what they need to do to help students. The second test would be at the end of the year to see how much the students grew during that single school year. My guess is that teachers would see tons of growth and finally have a useful assessment tool that they could employ.
Obviously none of it should be used to evaluate teachers since teachers are not taking the tests.

Posted by: DHume1
...................
I want a national accredited test of every child before they enter public school. Such tests exists that gauge the preparedness for entering school and is being used in NYC on a limited basis. These tests could be used in the initial placement of children in class rooms.

This would also quickly show that children are not the same when they enter public school.

I really believe that money spent on public education could be effective if there were new ideas, new programs, and new methods directed to problems instead of the current environment.

The Federal government should be introducing new ideas, new programs, and new methods, or simply stay out of public educations.

Ten years of the Federal government involvement has only degraded public education. There are still the large number of students that can not read while the problem of bored and apathetic students has gotten larger.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 2:18 PM | Report abuse

bsallamack,

"Ten years of the Federal government involvement has only degraded public education."

I certainly agree with you there.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 6, 2011 2:45 PM | Report abuse

Obviously none of it should be used to evaluate teachers since teachers are not taking the tests.

Posted by: DHume1
...............

I prefer the quaint idea that principals should be responsible for evaluating teachers. Of course this assumes that a principal is given the resources to allow them to carry out this primary function.

Why is that the debate of public education is all over the map?

The primary schools are the area that make or break the possibility of whether a child will be able to learn, yet there are no new ideas, new programs, or new ideas for the primary schools.

I provide below an idea for the primary schools.
................................
Test every child when they enter the public school system and place them in classes based upon their current abilities and skills so teachers can teach to the level of the class.

There are already tests for testing children prior to entering kindergarten.

Divide primary education in half with schools of K to 2nd grade and schools of 3rd to 5th grade. This allows you to use existing schools and staff. On this basis each grade will have 4 different levels to match the current skills and abilities of children.

Now you are maximizing education for children in each class room. This method also allows you to spend more money for children that need more help since children are in classes based upon their current skills and abilities. Teacher aids can be assigned to lower level classes to assist in raising the skills and capabilities of these children. This allows schools to pin point resources where they are most needed.

Yearly school tests would be used to indicate the level children are prepared to go into for the next school year. Knowing the current abilities and skills in their class will allow teachers to use the teaching method best suited to the class. This testing would not be outside expensive testing but the once quaint idea where a teacher was able to determine grades on a report card. Informal class tests would be used. One of the responsibilities of the principal would be to review the appropriateness of tests and their results.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

DHume,

I'll have to apologize to you for putting you in the same boat with BS. When you're not criticizing/bullying other posters, you have some relatively constructive things to say.

When BS makes comments such as: (1)"...large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read."
and (2) "Test every child when they enter the public school system and place them in classes based upon their current abilities and skills so teachers can teach to the level of the class."

(1) Is racist, pure and simple, while (2) Is tracking, which leads to poor/minority students historically dominating the "low" cohorts. Beyond that, kids who get placed in the "low" groups are labeled at an early age, a label from which many rarely escape. Tracking lends itself too easily to discriminatory practices in our public schools, outlawed as far back as 1954 in Brown.

So, DHume, as long as you keep it civil and don't attack posters I'll attempt to converse with you. On the other hand, BS has proven himself an out and out bigot/moron and not worth the effort.

Posted by: phoss1 | February 6, 2011 5:24 PM | Report abuse

When BS makes comments such as: (1)"...large numbers of students entering grades where the ability to read is required but without the ability to read."
and (2) "Test every child when they enter the public school system and place them in classes based upon their current abilities and skills so teachers can teach to the level of the class."

(1) Is racist, pure and simple, while (2) Is tracking, which leads to poor/minority students historically dominating the "low" cohorts. Beyond that, kids who get placed in the "low" groups are labeled at an early age, a label from which many rarely escape. Tracking lends itself too easily to discriminatory practices in our public schools, outlawed as far back as 1954 in Brown.
Posted by: phoss1
........................
phoss1 should really take a course in thinking.

National tests indicate large number of students that fail the test for 4th grade reading. Based upon these test results it is apparent that these students will not be prepared for 5th grade courses with a curriculum that is based upon students being able at least to read at a 4th grade level.

Based upon phoss1 thinking one would assume these tests should not be given because they are "racist, pure and simple" since these tests will indicate that students are unprepared for the 5th grade.

The world according to the strange logic of phoss1.

One really tires of the flawed supposed "tracking, which leads to poor/minority students historically dominating the "low" cohorts" argument.

Let us look at Washington D.C. where overwhelming large majority of students that are poor and black. If students were placed in 4 class levels based upon their skills there would be almost no difference in the class makeup based on poverty or race.

Besides if phoss1 could read he would see that this separation of students by skill levels in a single school. phoss1 should really do some research since the 1954 decision regarded the idea of separate but equal schools. Contrary to phoss1 the Supreme Court never ruled that schools could not place children in classrooms in a school based upon skill levels.

Besides according to phoss1 then the current practice of selecting the supposedly gifted and talented is also illegal since this creates two groups where very few of the poor/minority are selected as being gifted and talented.

The argument of phoss1 also goes against the current practice of separating students into reading groups based upon skill. Based upon the argument of phoss1 those with the lowest skill are being placed in '"low" groups are labeled at an early age, a label from which many rarely escape'.

phoss1 may claim over 30 years of teaching in public schools but his arguments show very little logic. His ideas regarding the Brown decision in 1954 really display an absence of knowledge.
SEE NOTE 2

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 6:15 PM | Report abuse

NOTE 2

I am aware that their are educators that do not favor the idea of separating children in a school based on skill levels. This is because of earlier work done where it was shown that students in the lowest level where viewed as unteachable by teachers. This opinion of teachers created an environment where no real attempt was made to teach these children.

In my proposal more resources would be spent on the lowest level and there would be supervision to insure that an attitude of "these children can not be taught" does not set in. One would expect results such as tests that indicated that the students have higher skills than when they entered the class.

It is interesting that so many are worried about the possibility of unfairly branding students, while the national tests indicate large numbers of students without the ability to read. The reality is that the large number of students that can not read are damaged throughout life far more than the harm that might arise from possibly being unfairly branded.

Yes without honesty and intelligence almost any idea in education can go amuk but this does not mean that these ideas should be simply abandoned.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 6:37 PM | Report abuse

Emperor Phoss,

Although I disagree with bsallamack on some things, I see how he has become jaded by people like you. He is living through some dark times as a teacher under an oppressive rule. I feel good in him. Besides, I'm an independent rebel who loves to criticize those who see the world in the mentality of "you are either with us or against us." And you are certainly one of those. You'll never tempt me to the dark side. Never.


Posted by: DHume1 | February 6, 2011 9:18 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DHume1
................
I am not a public school teacher.

Did some teaching in college and at a Catholic school.

My interest in public education began when my daughter started public school.

In 2000 I saw NCLB as dumb as dirt and I am always surprised how in public education so many are willing to believe in fairy tales.

Love how with such a horrible economy politicians are now saying public education is so important for our economy.

And people eat this up instead of recognizing another ploy by politicians to pretend that they are concerned about public education and the economy. Why not two birds with one stone?

I seriously start to believe that this nation has totally lost the ability to deal with problems.

Posted by: bsallamack | February 6, 2011 10:03 PM | Report abuse

DHume,

When you're not criticizing/bullying other posters, you have some relatively constructive things to say. "Emperor Phoss is a perfect example of that. I'm glad to see you figured this out.

Posted by: phoss1 | February 7, 2011 6:11 AM | Report abuse

Echo, echo, echo, echo.

Posted by: DHume1 | February 7, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

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