Comments on: Convince Me That Common Standards Don’t Matter Education on the Edge Thu, 14 Nov 2019 06:13:35 +0000 hourly 1 By: Angela Stockman Thu, 15 Jan 2015 02:42:26 +0000 Thanks for this thoughtful post, Kenneth. I think we agree on much, actually. I wouldn’t agree that accountability is the only reason for the Common Core, though. Like you, I’m certain that this is how far too many powerful people who know little about education leverage them, but there are many more professionals who longed for a lean yet meaningful set of standards that could help establish common understandings about quality. We still recognize that potential in the Core, and many of us, myself included, have watched entire systems benefit from alignment.

I do have serious concerns about the amount and quality of testing kids are subjected to right now, and I also feel that using those scores to evaluate teachers makes a mockery of our profession. Anyone with even a shred of real expertise can attest to the fact that establishing causality between test performance and teacher effectiveness is impossible.

I guess it frustrates me that we seem to be throwing the baby out with the bath water here. This is the first time we’ve taken a shot at establishing common definitions of quality. It’s the first time we’ve begun attending to equity for all kids, regardless of where they live or who their teachers are, too.

I’m no math specialist, so I feel it would be inappropriate for me to speak to the instructional shifts there, but I will say this: one of the greatest discoveries I’ve made over the last few years was the fact that many of my assumptions about the Core and its recommended shifts in practice were wrong. Many of the teachers that I work with have said the same as well.

Two other quick points of departure: I’m not sure what you mean when you say that specific resources or texts are required in order to implement these standards. That’s never been my interpretation or experience. I’m also not certain that the evidence gleaned from observation could ever serve as our only data point when it comes to evaluation in any context….particularly if our standards differ. Bias is inherent in all assessments, but perceptions are extra soft and squishy and easily bent. Observation is a great tool, but we need other data points, and at least one of them needs to be standard to all and as reliable and valid as we can make it, in my opinion.
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By: Kenneth Tilton Wed, 14 Jan 2015 21:42:51 +0000 I have no problem with standards per se, so it is going to be hard to convince you of much!

You do qualify early on with “Used in healthy ways, …” so we agree even further, but from what I can tell the entire raison d’etre for the latest standards (CCSS) is accountability of schools and teachers. Given that testing the children will not really evaluate teachers and schools, using it for that will be decidedly unhealthy. I am glad to see talk of all that at least being deferred, but Secretary Duncan sure did hit hard on “accountability” in his latest talk — and in the context of sticking to testing — so look for a train wreck in a year or two.

Why not just observe and assess teachers directly? All the things you pointed out would be apparent.

Another problem. Rarely discussed is that these standards are not just going to be (almost) nation-wide. They are also quite novel content-wise, such that new books and lesson plans are required, none of which will have enjoyed the test of time and a nice gradual evolution. I have seen some pretty bad math lessons claiming to fit the CCSS intent. Teacher PD seems to have been deficient as well.

Perhaps I can convince you that untested change all at once is no way to introduce change in *any* system?

Meanwhile, can you convince me that there was something wrong with the “old skool” math curriculum I went through? If the problem is just that teachers marched to different drummers, then we could have kept the old standards and just adopted a test of that universally, maybe called it NAEP.

I think some extreme voices are upset by nationwide standards per se, but any defense of standards should include a defense of what strikes me as an unnecessarily disruptive implementation and design of CCSS in particular.