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Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: What Readers Think Of Common Core Standards

Readers tell us what they think of Common Core standards.

Merrycrafts / Flckr

Readers tell us what they think of Common Core standards.

All week we’ve been posting answers from teachers to three questions about the Common Core State Standards (Part 1 is here, part 2 is here, part 3 is here and a superintendent is here).

One criticism we’ve received from readers is that no teacher is going to bash the standards or training they received if they want to keep their job. Readers (not all from Florida) have also weighed in with their own thoughts on the standards.

Michael Paul Goldenberg is a math teacher who also writes about math education. He says Common Core rearranges topics — that means some teachers will teach topics which they never have before:

Here’s what you’ll never hear from a teacher who hopes to keep his/her job:

1) I received little (or NO) preparation for teaching the Common Core.

2) There are major new mathematics topics I’ve never taught being pushed down from higher grades. I have no idea why, and no one has tried to help me understand how they connect with what I have been teaching. Things that I used to teach that were pushed down to lower grades will be missed by this year’s 5th graders, but no one seems to think that’s problematic. Gee, maybe this should have been rolled out one grade at a time.

3) The new Practice Standards are just the same, pretty much, as the NCTM Process Standards I didn’t understand 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 years ago, and couldn’t manage to incorporate into my teaching over the last quarter century. In fact, like many colleagues, I disliked those ideas and actively resisted employing them. But now that the state and federal governments are making this into a big deal, I’m certainly not about to admit that I think the best way to teach is direct instruction. And as soon as class starts going even a little bit out of my comfort zone, you can bet your life I’ll be going right back to teacher-centered, direct instruction. It’s how I was taught, and I believe it’s what works.

I could go on. There’s little point in reading the puff pieces above. These teachers aren’t about to cut their own professional throats by being completely candid. They can’t afford to. But do we really feel good about hearing a teacher talk about needing to learn “the tricks” about dividing fractions? Isn’t mathematics supposed to be about understanding concepts? I thought teaching tricks was the old approach. Might make one think, if one were inclined to thinking.

Rod Viquez says he doesn’t like what he’s seen so far:

Very well unimpressed with the role out in NJ. I feel that no one has specific answers about how this will actually work in class and what specifically are we looking for? The idea of per packaged tests from Pearson is worrying because it goes against the very idea of U B D methodology. 25k BATS are also against this corporate takeover that has no empirical evidence of actually being correct.

Mark Halpert says he’s heard good things about the Common Core standards, but worries that when fewer students meet state scores on the tests that it will be used to takeover low-performing schools. He’s also worried about the effect on teacher evaluations:

I have spoken to many teachers and they like the Common Core Standards because they go deeper, allow the teachers to be facilitators and teach critical thinking skills. I am tired of hearing every good comment followed by, “I wonder how much they were paid” The Common Core Standards have many good attributes — the danger is that teachers, schools and students will be “Punished” because scores drop because the tests are harder. We need to work through that issue and make sure the Privatization Express does not capitalize on the opportunity because the real people were unaware of the consequences — we need to fight the Parent Trigger and other egregious bills and actions

And finally, eighth grade American History teacher tabbyloowho says the standards started to click during training this summer:

I think it takes a while and a lot of repetitive training but those teachers that are willing to put in the time up front will do a great job of implementing CCSS. The trainings I attended this summer finally brought it full circle showing how the CCSS was related to the Sunshine State Standards as well as the dreaded Marzano domains. I feel more prepared but the first year will be the hardest as I have to create new lessons. I teach American History, grade 8.

Got any thoughts on Common Core? Post them in the comments. Have a question you’d like us to answer? Email them to florida@stateimpact.org and put Core Questions in the subject.

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Florida’s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.

Comments

  • Sandra

    The Common Core initiative is a 3-fer: the standards, new and increased high stakes assessments, and a student longitudinal database. The implementation is a significant challenge for school districts, the accountability system to measure progress makes no sense (now test scores drop and ed reform proponents say that’s ok…don’t worry), and real concerns over standards and their appropriateness for student age. Are these standards and tests appropriate for Florida’s over a quarter of a million English Language Learners? With an implementation that has more questions than answers, it is reasonable to wonder if failing schools, failing teachers, and failing students is part of the plan.

    • Maria

      Yes, and Yes, again! It is reasonable suspect that failing schools, failing teachers and failing students are part of the plan. Failing schools in one of Florida’s major counties fall under the Office of Education Transformation. They are in charge of the lowest performing schools. My school was one last year-one of 10-not previously identified. We no longer fall under that auspicious umbrella because we did better than 22 other schools this year. Did we improve remarkably-NO-We just didn’t do as badly as the other 22. This organization has not really turned any school around-but they have many fingers in lucrative pies and last year many of the higher ranking administrators left their positions for more lucrative educational positions in other states. Humpty-Dumpty is heading for a tremendous fall-and all the law makers and district superintendents won’t be able to put it together again.

    • http://rationalmathed.blogspot.com Michael Paul Goldenberg

      I’d say at least a 4-fer: don’t forget those expense computers for the tests that high-needs districts and middle-income districts alike can ill-afford. Bill Gates, anyone?

      • Sam

        isn’t it about time they got some “expense computers” for their kids? when they grow up they will to a person be using a computer for some or all of their work.

  • Lisa Davis

    I must say that after 28 years of teaching, I am very disappointed in my colleagues and their willingness to go along with any new fad. They all have college degrees and yet when something strange comes along, like these standards, no one ever questions the logic or need for this to happen. So far I can see Bill Gates as the biggest winner in this game. His foundation has funded all of the components to make this happen. LAUSD has even purchased $30 million dollars worth of iPads from Apple to make this magic happen. And that money was taken out of a bond that was meant for school building improvement. The so called CORE standards are so badly written as to be meaningless. Ask for a demonstration in how a teacher becomes a facilitator and you will get none. I really do not think that teaching needs to be this difficult. My teachers never had to do a quarter of the paperwork which I have to do. The more the federal government gets involved in education, the more paperwork is expected of you. My new principal has stated the the most effective teacher does not teach but just guides groups of students through asking the right questions and monitoring progress. But do not ask her to show you how this is done nor why the need to become a facilitator. I would put any kids that I had in private schools in the hope that the teacher actually showed them what to do and how to read and write. Bill Gates thinks everyone should go to college and to get a high school diploma you have to meet college entrance requirements. But that is not true for a lot of people. You can always go back to a junior college and pick up any courses you need. Vocational education has been eliminated but I think we have all been conned by a man who knows how to sell his product. I predict that this too shall pass as no one will ever be shown in college education courses how to actually put this into practice. And I am still waiting to see the so called highly effective teacher in action. Seems to me they may have said this teacher has reached a new state of Nirvana,

    • Maria

      Your argument is very well stated. I have been sent to one CC PD after another to “unpack” the CC. I don’t think I need help, unpacking or understanding. It is very basic–I need help with implementation. I need that highly effective teacher to teach me. With all the paperwork I have to do-Plus anchor charts, plus printing and copying all the digital resources–because everything is on line but I am not and neither is my class- I am always behind. But I think that it will not get better soon. College and Career readiness is a joke. My sons did not have to take remedial classes in college, they are articulate, well educated and can write–one is working security (min. wage) while paying student loans and the other is a barista (makes coffee) and almost done. They can’t find a job-along with many, many other bright pre-graduates and graduates. The promise of corporate America – teach them to speak and write and we’ll take it from there is a lie. So Common Core Standards that will get our students ready for college and careers is moot. I am trying to convince my sons to go back to school and learn a trade- at least then they can pay their student loans by earning a living wage.

  • Meg
  • Sam

    oh those poor teachers, they have to teach something new! this will be such a challenge for them.

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