Diane Ravitch finally made up her mind on the Common Core.
She now deems it bad. What took so long? The skeptic in me thinks she waited until after November. Kind of hard to endorse the guy who is pushing this while speaking out against the Common Core. People who have read me for awhile know I’m not a Ravitch fan, but I’m glad she got off the fence here.
She believes in national standards, but they should be voluntary. Ravitch writes:
Such standards, I believe, should be voluntary, not imposed by the federal government; before implemented widely, they should be thoroughly tested to see how they work in real classrooms; and they should be free of any mandates that tell teachers how to teach because there are many ways to be a good teacher, not just one. I envision standards not as a demand for compliance by teachers, but as an aspiration defining what states and districts are expected to do. They should serve as a promise that schools will provide all students the opportunity and resources to learn reading and mathematics, the sciences, the arts, history, literature, civics, geography, and physical education, taught by well-qualified teachers, in schools led by experienced and competent educators.
Obviously the last sentence is a slight intended for private schools and homeschoolers, but moving on….
She said they haven’t been field tested.
The Common Core standards have been adopted in 46 states and the District of Columbia without any field test. They are being imposed on the children of this nation despite the fact that no one has any idea how they will affect students, teachers, or schools. We are a nation of guinea pigs, almost all trying an unknown new program at the same time.
She also points to the ELA standards debacle over informational texts:
The flap over fiction vs. informational text further undermined my confidence in the standards. There is no reason for national standards to tell teachers what percentage of their time should be devoted to literature or information. Both can develop the ability to think critically. The claim that the writers of the standards picked their arbitrary ratios because NAEP has similar ratios makes no sense. NAEP gives specifications to test-developers, not to classroom teachers.
She’s concerned about a drop in test scores:
Another reason I cannot support the Common Core standards is that I am worried that they will cause a precipitous decline in test scores, based on arbitrary cut scores, and this will have a disparate impact on students who are English language learners, students with disabilities, and students who are poor and low-performing. A principal in the Mid-West told me that his school piloted the Common Core assessments and the failure rate rocketed upwards, especially among the students with the highest needs. He said the exams looked like AP exams and were beyond the reach of many students.
She then goes into conspiracy-theorist mode and predicts that the reason for doing this is to push suburban parents to want vouchers and charter schools…. Ugh, already happening because of quality issues, as well as, indoctrination (as opposed to education) that occurs often in public schools. Take the tin foil hat off. There are plenty of reasons that supporters of the Common Core want to see them implemented, but this I doubt is one of them. The Common Core impacts private schools in many ways – especially if there is state accreditation or public monies involved. I also haven’t seen any information that charter schools would be exempt from the Common Core either.
She does acknowledge at the end of her post that no one will escape their reach.
Anyway, welcome to the ranks, Dr. Ravitch. Better late than never.