Browsing articles in "Common Core Standards"
Jul 24, 2019

The National Pulse: How States Can Fix Math Education Post-Common Core


Here are some recommendations from Dr. Effrem’s latest post at The National Pulse about how states can fix math education after the Common Core debacle based on the National Expert recommendations that were developed by Dr. Ted Rebarber, Ze’ev Wurman, J.R. Wilson and based on the writings of Dr. James Milgram:

1) Math standards should promote the actual performance of math problems in a much higher percentage than understanding, thinking about, or communicating about mathematical concepts, especially in the earlier grades.

2) Ensure that new standards provide a reasonable progression of skill and knowledge attainment to the completion of a full Algebra 1 course by the end of 8th grade, as is done in other high-performing countries. This should be universally available to allow all students to pursue a STEM degree who want to, but not universally required for those that do not want this college focus.

3) To be of high quality, math standards must include necessary math content standards that Common Core fails to include.

4) There should be no requirement for specific instructional strategies, especially for some of the experimental ones used in geometry, with the exception of the standard algorithms for the basic operations in the early grades, which are generally the most efficient and universally practiced.

5) As discussed in our Pioneer Institute White paper and in the FSCCC recommendations, there is little to no research basis for social emotional learning parameters like “grit” and a “growth mindset,” and these should not be included in new math standards.

Read the whole article here. Listen to the excellent podcast by Dr. Lawrence Gray, professor emeritus of the University of Minnesota, who helped develop Minnesota’s excellent math standards and saved that state’s students from suffering under Common Core math here.

Jun 6, 2019

The National Pulse: Here’s What States Should Do to Really Get Rid of Common Core

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition’s list of national expert recommendations for full getting rid of Common Core in Florida are listed in this article at The National Pulse. 

The Florida Stop Common Core Coalition and I are grateful to Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Dr. Mark Bauerlein, and Dr. Duke Pesta for their direct involvement and recommendations in this document, as well as Dr. Louisa Moats for her seminal work on phonics and literacy education. We are also grateful to Ze’ev Wurman, Dr. Ted Rebarber, and J.R. Wilson for their direct work on the math portion of this document, as well as to Dr. James Milgram for his long and seminal work on math standards as a mathematician across the nation. Finally, we wish to acknowledge Emmett McGroarty’s involvement and advice from a policy perspective.

The recommendations common to both subjects are offered first, followed by those specific to math and then to English language arts (ELA). Discussion of each recommendation accompanied by extensive references follows after the recommendations in the full document. Although recommendations and accompanying references in both of these documents are geared toward Florida and Governor DeSantis’ executive order, the recommendations here are generalized for any state.

Recommendations Common to Mathematics and ELA

1.) The best solution would be to review and adopt one of the best pre-Common Core sets of standards for English Language Arts and math as discussed for the subject specific standards. This would stop the academic decline seen across America and for the U.S. in international comparisons.

2.) Any statewide standards review should reject efforts to “tweak” or “fix” the current Common Core-based standards, but instead remove the entire set of these systemically inferior, deficient, and in some cases experimental standards and use the standards of one of the high performing states or countries listed in the subject-specific recommendations below as the basis for a review.

3.) The premises of the Common Core are fundamentally defective. Having the public comment on individual standards implies that the standards need to be tweaked, or adjusted, at specific passages. It will thus likely lead to a repeat of the rebranding that has occurred across the nation. Public comment on individual standards will not fix the systemic sequential flaws of the current math standards nor address needed content that is not present in the standards for either subject. Intentionally or not, constraining comments in this manner limits the ability of parents and other citizens to make broader points about the standards and gives the impression that public input is not really welcome.

4.) Completely reject “social-emotional learning” or “21st Century” psychosocial skills in the standards, such as “grit/perseverance” or a “growth mindset.” Both the math and the ELA standards are supposed to be and have been portrayed as rigorous academic content standards, and should focus on subject-matter academic content. The research supporting such fuzzy standards is unreliable and some of it borders on fraudulent.

5.) Prominently include, especially for review of the high school standards, content experts (e.g.,professors of mathematics, engineering, and physics as opposed to professors of mathematics education) in the subject matter standards for final review. Some of the experts reviewing the standards for younger students should have strong abilities in child development to make sure that new standards are developmentally appropriate, a glaring problem with Common Core.

The individual recommendations for math and English are available in the full article.

May 30, 2019

The National Pulse: “A Little Troubling”: Study by Pro-Common Core Group Finds Standards Have Failed

This study by a pro-Common Core group as summarized by Dr. Effrem confirms what many experts and parents have known all along – that the Common Core standards were going to fail academically. Here is an excerpt:

Yet another study confirms what a miserable academic failure the Common Core standards have turned out to be. The research was carried out by the federally funded Center on Standards, Alignment, Instruction, and Learning (C-SAIL) and reported by Lance Izumi of Pacific Research Institute in the conservative Daily Caller, as well as by Chalkbeat, a very pro-Common Core establishment outlet.

The key findings of this study are as follows:

Contrary to our expectation, we found that the CCR [College and Career Ready, i.e. Common Core] standards had significant negative effects on 4th graders’ reading achievement during the 7 years after the adoption of the new standards, and had a significant negative effect on 8th graders’ math achievement 7 years after adoption based on analyses of NAEP composite scores. The size of these negative effects, however, was generally small, ranging from -0.10 to -0.06 SDs.

Although the authors say that the negative effects were “generally small,” one of the authors admits in the Chalkbeat piece:

“It’s rather unexpected,” said researcher Mengli Song of the American Institutes for Research. “The magnitude of the negative effects tend to increase over time. That’s a little troubling.”

As Izumi states, “it is more than a little troubling.” Here are several reasons why:

  • C-SAIL, the federally funded research entity that supervised the research, is headed by Morgan Polikoff, who is very much in favor of Common Core and student data mining. If research put out by these people and entities is finding that Common Core is harmful, then the outlined problems are quite likely to be real.
  • The actual researchers are from the American Institutes for Research (AIR) which bills itself as “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations,” and they are also strong supporters of Common Core and Social emotional learning (SEL) teaching, testing, and data collection. According to AIR’s contract with the state of Florida, they not only write state level Common Core assessments, but also the NAEP and the validation studies for the NAEP, the scores for which were examined for this study. If AIR researchers, with their vested interest in showing that Common Core and their state tests improve the NAEP scores (which they also write and which could easily be manipulated by them), found that Common Core in fact damages academic achievement measured by the very tests they write, then those findings must truly be very significant and “troubling.”
  • Tom Loveless of the center-left Brookings Institution (and long a critic of the Common Core standards as a means of improving academic achievement) said when asked about this study, “One thing standards advocates need to think about is that this doesn’t appear to work very well.”
  • Other pro-Common Core researchers and advocates admit that the methodology of this study is sound.
  • Chalkbeat is already discussing a study not even released yet that has NAEP results only through 2013 that allegedly shows improvements with Common Core in a attempt to blunt the seriously bad news for Core supporters from the C-SAIL/AIR study.

You may read the entire article at The National Pulse.

Feb 19, 2019

Common Core & SEL Architect Linda Darling Hammond to Lead CA State Board of Ed

In this article for The National Pulse, Dr. Karen Effrem describes the current state of the California education system, and how it’s new appointed head, Linda Darling-Hammond, is continuing to roll out faulty education policies state-wide.

While Governor Ron DeSantis is taking Florida away from Common Core, California Governor Gavin Newsom is bitterly clinging to the failed standards and pushing that state farther into the fuzzy, unscientific, invasive social-emotional learning (SEL) as well. Newsom appointed radical Stanford professor emerita Linda Darling-Hammond to lead the California State Board of Education.

Hammond, as you may remember, was terrorist and close Obama friend, Professor Bill Ayers’ choice for secretary of education during the first Obama administration. Hammond served as an education adviser and transition team leader in 2008. When Arne Duncan was chosen instead and took on the role of bribing/coercing 45 cash-strapped states to accept the Common Core standards during the Great Recession, Hammond got to work developing and implementing the Smarter Balance Assessment Consortium (SBAC) national Common Core assessment.

SBAC started out with 24 states plus the U.S. Virgin Islands and have now decreased to 13 states plus the U.S.V.I. However, some of the states formerly in SBAC like Utah and West Virginia have gone on to adopt the American Institutes for Research (AIR) test, which admits in it contract with Florida that it also develops the computer adaptive testing platform for SBAC, so it is likely that the two tests are quite similar, at least in format. AIR admits on its website that it “delivered online tests for 19 states and had contracts with 22 states in 2015-16” but does not list which states use their tests. It is also important to note that AIR describes itself as “one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations.”

The reason it is important to understand the connections between Common Core, AIR, SBAC and Linda Darling-Hammond is that she also is an extremely strong proponent of non-academic issues like “equity”and SEL. She believes that the U.S. has “one of the most unequal educational systems in the industrialized world.” Hammond serves on the board of the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), the godfather of SEL in the U.S. and co-chaired the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional and Academic Learning that just completed their final report that is loaded with problems and contradictions.

These problems include:

Lack of scientific and research support – the interim commission report on the brain science of SEL co-authored by Hammond had numerous problems

Strong links between SEL and Common Core, despite the fact that proponents promised that the standards were academic and rigorous

Repeated promises that SEL in schools will be a local effort while publishing an interim report that lists over 100 federal programs in eight different federal departments and agencies that can be leveraged to fund SEL

Despite the Commission and “grit” guru, Dr. Angela Duckworth, stating that SEL parameters and school climate surveys should not be used to judge students, teachers, and schools for accountability purposes, California has been piloting an effort to do just that among a large consortium of districts over the past several years.  With her strong SEL involvement, will Hammond heed the Commission and stop that effort or will she find a reason to continue the subjective and invasive data collection involved?

Hammond is also a strong proponent of the ineffective and dangerous Obama-era school discipline policy that has been so wisely rescinded by the Trump administration. This policy is also being rejected in Florida, where Arne Duncan mentee from the Chicago school district, Robert Runcie implemented the idea in the Broward County Public school district. This failure to maintain discipline and heed clear warning signals from a very troubled former student are felt to be large contributing factors in the tragic massacre of 17 innocent people at the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School one year ago. Some of the many legal, policy, and safety flaws with that guidance are discussed here.

Finally, Hammond was the co-founder of two Palo Alto charter schools that were dismal failures academically as described by Donna Garner at Education Views based on local reports. This does not inspire confidence for the future of California’s public schools.

Although it is tragic for California students, the contrast between failed philosophies espoused by Linda Darling Hammond and the efforts of Governor DeSantis to listen to parents and get rid of Common Core could not be clearer. Let us work to make the Florida efforts so successful that it inspires an even stronger parent rebellion in California that sets those poor children free.

The full article can be viewed on The National Pulse’s website.