“A lie can get halfway around the world before the truth can even get its boots on.” Mark Twain
The scores are out!!
The State Ed crowd has been whispering the scores from a mountaintop for months … preparing the masses for scores that would decline by 30% … well, not really.
The scores reflect a different examination based on different standards – comparing last year to this year is comparing “apples to oranges.”
A summary of the test results, as well as individual school and district results, are available at:
If this stuff turns you on – see the Methodological Summary – External Benchmark Studies Summary: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/assessment/reports/summary38externalbenchmarkstudies.pdf
The “quick and dirty” results:
• 31.1% of grade 3-8 students across the State met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 31% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
• The ELA proficiency results for race/ethnicity groups across grades 3-8 reveal the persistence of the achievement gap: only 16.1% of African-American students and 17.7% of Hispanic students met or exceeded the proficiency standard
• 3.2% of English Language Learners (ELLs) in grades 3-8 met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.8% of ELLs met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
5% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 7% of students with disabilities met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
Across the Big 5 city school districts, a smaller percentage of students met or exceeded the ELA and math proficiency standards than in the rest of the state:
• In Buffalo, 11.5% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 9.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
• In Yonkers, 16.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 14.5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
• In New York City, 26.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 29.6% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
• In Rochester, 5.4% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 5% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
• In Syracuse, 8.7% of students met or exceeded the ELA proficiency standard; 6.9% met or exceeded the math proficiency standard
An acquaintance of mine is an evangelical minister – he travels around the country preaching the gospel, his purpose in life is to save souls. We enjoy exchanging views – this cynical New York agnostic and the dedicated Southerner traveling the nation. I asked him to read, Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why (2005), and asked since the New Testament was written by many unknown contributors and has undergone change after change how could you really know what Jesus wrote or said? My friend responded, with a smile, “Faith.”
I feel the same way about John King – he is an evangelical preacher of the Common Core, and, yes, there may be many flaws, he has “faith” that the Common Core is the gospel.
The fallacy is that “faith” is not sufficient.
About twenty years ago a new wave of standards swept across the city, standards are learning expectations, for each unit and lesson teachers were expected to write expectations in a “Students Will Be Able To,” (SWBAT) format.
* Students will be able to identify geometric shapes.
* Students will be able to add single digit numbers
* Students will write a five sentence paragraph describing a science experiment
* Students will be able to write an evidence-based essay explaining the causes of World War One
* Students will be able to write a persuasive essay, using the works Friedrich Nietzsche and other philosophers, supporting or opposing the statement, “God is dead.”
Superintendents and principals required teachers to attach appropriate letters/numbers to each unit and lesson plan listing the specific standard.
Some teachers loved the new standards approach, others hated the standards, and with time the latest “new thing” faded away.
The phase out of the Regents Competency Exams (RCT) and the phase in of the Regents-only diploma dominated the educational air in the late nineties.
The Common Core is the latest “new thing.” To put it as simply as possible David Coleman convinced the National Governor’s Association to develop a set of new standards based on college and readiness – what do kids need to succeed in college and plan backwards to kindergarten – take a look at the English Language Arts Literacy Standards here
An example of a 6th grade writing standard: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.6.2a Introduce a topic; organize ideas, concepts, and information, using strategies such as definition, classification, comparison/contrast, and cause/effect; include formatting (e.g., headings), graphics (e.g., charts, tables), and multimedia when useful to aiding comprehension.
The teacher’s job is incorporating the standard into his/her lesson, and, the April ELA test will ask questions to “test” the student’s acquisition of the standard.
The State crew decided to reduce the “grades” on the new Common Core standards test by 30% – remember that cut scores are established by human beings and based on subjective judgments. In spite of a lengthy explanation of the process by Regents Research Fund fellow Kristen Huff, strangely, the names of the “educators” who reviewed and determined the “level of difficulty” of each question were not released. (Read an account from “inside the room” here.
In reply to a reporter question concerning the readiness of teachers King responded that the State had spent at least $1.5 billion to prepare teachers.
In a New York Daily News op ed UFT President Mulgrew wrote,
While teachers — many of whom helped create the new Common Core — support the new standards, the decision by the state and the city to rush them through has made the situation much worse. The lack of a thorough new curriculum that teachers could use to create lessons matched to the Common Core has meant that children were far less prepared.
A core question: how is the State measuring the effectiveness of the teacher/supervisor training? If the students scored in the 30% range isn’t that “evidence” that the preparation of teachers was insufficient?
The problem with the evangelical commissioner is that rather than “converting” skeptics he is treating them as “heretics.” The last time I looked the Crusades were not successful.
Phasing in the Common Core, working with unions and teachers, building support both from within and without, instead schools have the feeling that the tests are punitive.
There is a wealth of research on personal and organization change: two of the key concepts,
* Participation reduces resistance, and
* Change is viewed as punishment
The Common Core with appropriate curriculum and a collaborative process of including teachers, a school-wide discussion of teaching and learning, always a good idea … will the Common Core prepare a new generation of college and career ready students, probably not.
You cannot separate cognitive skills (reading, writing math, etc.) from non-cognitive skills, Paul Tough is right,
… noncognitive skills, like persistence, self-control, curiosity, conscientiousness, grit and self-confidence, are more crucial than sheer brainpower to achieving success.
How about highly qualified chancellors and superintendents and school leaders guiding teachers to improve instructional practice in a collaborative setting? Nah!! Can’t sell enough stuff.