It's teacher hunting season!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Common Core, Common Fallacies

From eSchool News, "New report IDs problems with international school rankings: Common Core standards also predicted to have little impact on U.S. achievement" from February 17, 2012
eSchool News has a valuable critique of the assumptions behind the Common Core and it makes reference to Brookings Institution study that punctures the hype around the common core curriculum and similar current educational fads.
The opening part of the eSchool News article:
A new report that tackles a number of hot-button education issues argues that U.S. academic performance might not be as poor as originally thought when compared to other countries—and that the Common Core standards might not have the impact many are hoping.
The 2012 Brown Center Report on American Education is organized into three sections: Common Core State Standards, achievement gaps in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), and international test scores and rankings.
In the report, author Tom Loveless, senior fellow at the Brown Center on Education Policy, notes that education has not yet been an important issue in the Republican nomination campaign and “is unlikely to be a prominent issue in the fall general election,” although the report covers topics that will need presidential attention.
International assessments
The report says educators and policy makers often misinterpret international test scores because of dubious conclusions of causality, rankings, and what Loveless calls the “A+ Country Fallacy.”
The errors are usually committed by advocates of a particular policy position who selectively use data to support an argument, he noted.
For more education reform news, see:
Beyond ‘Superman’: Leading Responsible School Reform
“Dubious causal conclusions” refers to attributing a change in test scores to a particular policy change. The case of Poland is used to illustrate. It accomplished large gains on the PISA reading test. But the theory that tracking reform produced the gains is not supported by the evidence, the report argues.
When it comes to international rankings, Loveless demonstrates how rankings can distort a nation’s relative standing by exaggerating small changes in test scores or the reverse, making large changes appear less significant than they really are.
“Rankings are not equal interval—they differ in various parts of the distribution—so a nation may jump several rankings with a gain that is actually smaller than that of a country whose ranking stays the same,” Loveless notes.

UPDATE: Susan Ohanian has written an important critique on the subservience of educators to the Common Core, endangering libraries:
(Thanks to the Schools Matter blog, "The Common Core: A serious threat to libraries and free voluntary reading," with the tip to the Ohanian critique on what the common core will do to practiced literacy.)
NCTE Allegiance to the Common Core Is Burying Us
[note: National Council of Teachers of English]

NOTE: I tend to be quite tolerant of people holding pedagogies differing from mine: critical, maybe, but tolerant. But the Common Core Curriculum issue isn't about pedagogy. It is about power. Who's in charge? And who's going to lie down and play dead?
My quarrel with various NCTE powerbrokers is not that they and their spouses write textbook series or offer staff development. My quarrel is that they are systematically silencing us, encouraging teachers to accept a systematic de-professionalization. My frustration is with the 99% of NCTE members who allow themselves to be silenced by the 1%.

Wake up, NCTE people. Your dues are paying for your professional destruction.
And if you don't think teachers face a dire emergency, then take a look at the films being shipped out to state departments of education from Hunt Institute Videos. An Albuquerque educator put me on to this, and look what I found for Vermont. You can bet your bippy other states are doing likewise.
In 2009, the Hunt Institute received $5,068,671 from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation "to provide state-level policy and communications support to states seeking to rapidly implement the Common Core." In 2011, the Hunt Institute received $500,906 "to create the Hunt Fellows program to develop a strong cadre of state leaders who both care deeply about and have the knowledge and skills to ensure effective policies and practices to support improved educational outcomes." You can see a full list of Hunt Institute partners and collaborators here.
Teachers, ask yourself why NCTE isn't protecting you from David Coleman and his chilling rules for literacy. Kudos to Leslie S. Rush and Lisa Scherff for their editorial in English Education, January 2012. The good news is that they warned readers about Coleman, pointing out that he's offering lessons based on New Criticism tenets hardly suitable to young readers' needs. The bad news is that they failed to give any specific references. Advising readers to do a web search for Coleman is hardly sufficient.
I looked for other NCTE mention of David Coleman. I learned that then-NCTE president Kylene Beers met him. This, too, is woefully insufficient.

That was just the opening. Click here to the get the continuation of Ohanian's piece.

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