Dec 19, 2018
ELW

Sunshine State News – Parents Have Been Right All Along About Common Core: Officials Should Listen

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This column, reproduced in its entirety, by Dr. Effrem was originally published by the Sunshine State News. It deals with the significant data showing the failure of Common Core to improve student achievement, as well as how school choice accountability schemes requiring the Common Core aligned tests harm private school autonomy.

 

The enormous problems with Common Core Standards (CCSS) and accompanying tests have been obvious to parents and citizens groups since they first were imposed by states succumbing to federal bribery/coercion in 2010. Voluminous evidence continues to confirm those perceptive beliefs.

Parents, along with many experts, saw the academic inferiority of CCSS immediately. Parents have been in the forefront of protesting the destruction of math education during the Common Core era. Not teaching standard algorithms, marking correct answers wrong because the student didn’t use Common Core methods, and developmentally inappropriate standards have made it impossible for parents, even engineers and professors, to help their children with math homework. The resulting distress has led to a mass exodus of both students and teachers from public schools.

In English, vocabulary-rich classical literature that both teaches students how to write well and important principles of Western Civilization has been replaced by dull technical manuals or psychologically manipulative texts. Snippets of classics are taught without context.

Data is vindicating these parental concerns in spades. Jane Robbins of the American Principles Project described a new Pioneer Institute study by Ted Rebarber of AccountabilityWorks and Neal McCluskey of the Cato Institute, “Common Core, School Choice and Rethinking Standards-Based Reform,” that explains “how Common Core has not only damaged public education but also threatened the independence of private schools. How? By imposing government strings on the curricular autonomy of the schools that accept government funding via school-choice mechanisms such as vouchers. Rebarber called Common Core ‘the worst large-scale educational failure in forty years.’”

Undergirding that statement are the 2017 NAEP national results in math, which showed stagnation after declining for the first time in 25 years in 2015. Although Florida showed some improvement in math in 2017, Florida’s state test vendor  (American Institutes for Research) also performs “test development, psychometric analysis [and] validity studies” for the NAEP. So it is quite possible that Florida’s improvement has nothing to do with academic achievement, but with how its tests are written and validated.

2018 ACT results also confirm the CCSS slide. The national average composite score was down one full point from 2017 to 2018, with declines in English, math, reading and science. The percentage of 2018 graduates meeting none of the ACT college readiness benchmarks rose from 31% to 35%. Florida’s 2018 average ACT composite score is nearly one full point below the national average and basically the same as last year’s score, with readiness benchmarks below the national average and stagnant since 2014.

The ACT and NAEP also show that CCSS is harming struggling students. Achievement gaps that were improving before CCSS are starting to widen again in Florida, and elsewhere. State test results for charter schools, which generally teach Common Core, show the same or increased percentages of D or F schools as the public schools teaching more struggling students with which they compete. These results confirm that CCSS has failed to produce promised celestial levels of improved college readiness and that “choice” programs, especially if CCSS are imposed, are likely not the promised silver bullet either.  Continue reading »

Dec 12, 2018

The National Pulse – DeVos’ Swiss Agreement Overlooks Deep Problems with School-to-Work Model

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This article, written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse, details the flaws in Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ agreement with the Swiss Government to model U.S. school workforce on the vocational system of Europe. It also highlights similarities with this plan and other such initiatives like those put forth by billionaire Bill Gates.

This is reminiscent of the Gates Foundation “Smaller Learning Communities (SLC)” initiative that preceded their Common Core push. In that program, students were funneled into choosing a career path in sixth grade with little option to receive a broad-based academic education and before they had any idea what they wanted to do. Gates spent between $650 million and $1 billion on that school-to-work scheme, and it failed miserably, just like almost every other Gates education initiative, including Common Core.

Besides these concerns, there is a clear link between apprenticeships and competency-based education (CBE), Common Core, and social emotional learning (SEL). As previously noted, Anthony Carnivale — a board member of the National Center on Education and the Economy when Marc Tucker wrote his infamous “Dear Hillary” letter urging the remolding of “the entire American system” into “a seamless web that literally extends from cradle to grave and is the same system for everyone” — wrote in the Washington Post this summer that the new American workforce should include the following elements:

Assessments of “values and personality traits” — i.e. psychological screening and data mining, as does the OECD and education technology companies that want to do affective data mining.

“Firsthand exposure to alternative occupational pathways through internships and other applied learning opportunities” — which is edu-speak for further diluting the academic curriculum that has already been devastated by Common Core.

“Work experience to cultivate basic employability skills such as conscientiousness and collegiality in diverse workplaces” — translation: training in group-think and becoming worker bees.

The full article can be found at The National Pulse’s website here.

Dr. Effrem’s National Pulse archive is available here.

Nov 20, 2018

The National Pulse – Parental Rights at Stake in Case of Minn. Mother and Teen “Emancipated” by State

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This article, written by Dr. Karen Effrem for The National Pulse, highlights the story of the State of Minnesota emancipating a 17 year old boy from his mother after that mother refused to allow sex reassignment surgery for the teen.

It was this critical parental rights issue that Kaardal argued in the appeal based on the longstanding 2000 U.S. Supreme Court precedent Troxel v. Granville. This opinion affirms thousand of years of history and multiple other Supreme Court cases by making the constitutional “presumption that fit parents act in the best interest of their children.” Troxel also says that unless government entities can show evidence that the parent is not fit, there is “no reason for the State to inject itself into the private realm of the family to further question the ability of that parent to make the best decisions concerning the rearing of that parent’s children.”

Aside from this fundamental parental rights issue, there is the ongoing issue of the harm of gender dysphoria and the tragic “affirmation” of teens by major medical societies with life-altering puberty blocking drugs that result in sterility and sex-change surgery. Yet, according to both the American College of Pediatricians (ACP) and former Johns Hopkins chief of psychiatry, Dr. Paul McHugh, citing The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, “as many as 98% of gender confused boys and 88% of gender confused girls eventually accept their biological sex after naturally passing through puberty,” and the suicide rate is 20 times higher for gender dysphoric adults who have undergone hormone treatment and sex reassignment surgery even in very LGBTQ-friendly countries like Sweden.

You can read the full article on The National Pulse’s website here.

Dr. Effrem’s National Pulse archive is available here.

Oct 25, 2018

The National Pulse – Falling ACT Scores Are Latest Evidence of Common Core’s Failure

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This article for The National Pulse written by Dr. Karen Effrem details the fall in college entrance exam scores as detailed by an ACT report, and how this fall in scores is related to the Common Core standards.

ACT, the publisher of one of the two most often used college entrance exams in the nation, recently released a major report, “The Condition of College and Career Readiness – National 2018,” that is another stunning indictment of the Common Core standards. Proponents of Common Core — the ones that forced acceptance of the standards in nearly all fifty states via federal economic coercion and bribes — claimed that college and career readiness would be the key metric improved by Common Core, and yet the ACT scores show readiness declining.

Perhaps most noteworthy is the fact that “readiness levels in math and English have steadily declined since 2014.” These are the very subjects of the Common Core standards. It was promised by Bill Gates, former Governor Jeb Bush, the Fordham Institute’s Michael Petrilli and a host of other proponents that the new math and English standards would bring about celestial levels of college and career readiness because they were allegedly “rigorous” and “internationally benchmarked.” Yet the decline in math and English ACT scores began in 2014, the same year that the standards were fully implemented in most states. How could that be?  

Here are some other key ACT results (emphases added) confirming the trend:

“The national average ACT Composite score for the 2018 graduating class was 20.8, down from 21.0 last year but the same as in 2016. Average scores in English, mathematics, reading, and science all dropped between 0.1 and 0.3 point compared to last year.

“The percentage of students meeting at least three of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks in the four core subject areas was 38% for the 2018 US high school graduating class, down from 39% last year but the same as in 2016.

Thirty- five percent of 2018 graduates met none of the ACT College Readiness Benchmarks, up from 31% in 2014 and from 33% last year.

The national results are bad enough, but it should also be noted that many individual states making up that average had declines as well. This includes Florida, which has suffered as a laboratory for the Common Core standards and test-based accountability reforms for the last 20 years. Bush and company bragged about Florida’s performance on the 2017 NAEP results, which is given to a very select sample of Florida students. However, of the states that showed an improvement on NAEP, many of them, including Florida, had the American Institutes for Research (AIR) as its state test vendor. AIR admitted in its Florida contract that it performs “test development, psychometric analysis [and] validity studies” for the NAEP, so it is quite possible that an advantage is created taking the NAEP because of states using AIR that has nothing to do with academic achievement.

While Florida’s NAEP improvement may or may not be real, there is little that is praiseworthy about the Sunshine State’s ACT results, taken by a much less pre-selected sample and serving as a broader indicator of test-based education achievement. Florida’s 2018 average ACT composite score is 19.9, nearly one full point below the national average of 20.8 and basically the same as last year’s score of 19.8 and as the 2014 score of 19.6. The percentages of Florida’s student population as a whole meeting the college readiness benchmarks in math and English have remained below the national average and basically unchanged since 2014.

The full article can be found at The National Pulse’s website.

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