Comments on 'Expect Outrage' on Common Core Article

Someone recently sent me a link to Andrew Ujifusa’s article called ECS National Forum, Day 2: ‘Expect Outrage’ on Common CoreI was asked to share my comments about the thoughts I had as I read the article.  So here are some comments.

We should all be outraged about the Common Core State Standards(CCSS).  Unfortunately most people aren’t.  Many people don’t yet know about the CCSS or have bought into the promotional rhetoric that has become, well, so common. People believe things for which there is no evidence of effectiveness.

I find it incredible that David Coleman and Jason Zimba are saying some of the things they are saying.  Coleman and Zimba are the two lead writers of the CCSS for English/language arts and math.

The article said:

Zimba and Coleman argued that the depth and time on certain fundamental topics at each grade level required by the common core will help the U.S. catch up in a key metric for academic mastery: the length of lessons.

The US Coalition for World Class Math pointed out issues n their review of the CCSS math standards related to the skewed attention some topics received while others received next to no attention.  One example:  area is dealt with in excruciating detail with tiles while no standards develop the concept, skill, understanding, or formula for perimeter yet the standards expect students to find perimeters in the context of solving real-world and mathematical problems.  Area is addressed with great depth while perimeter does not even get shallow coverage.

The standards give an indication of depth.  That depth may be translated into classroom time devoted to a given topic.  In the case of area and perimeter, lots of time may be devoted to addressing area while no time will be allocated for perimeter.  The only time factor involved in the CCSS boils down to a set of standards for a grade level to be addressed during the course of a year.  So I am not sure what the author is saying Zimba and Coleman are arguing about with regard to time on certain fundamental topics at each grade level that are required.

The article said:

Zimba fended off a question…

What else can he and others do but fend off questions like this when no evidence of effectiveness exists. For heaven’s sake, these standards still have not been internationally benchmarked as was promised before they were developed.

The article said:

When it came to actually using the standards successfully, Coleman added, “The ‘how’ remains in teachers’ hands.”

This sounds like a set up to blame teachers if and when the standards fail.  Others behind the CCSS have also set the stage for teachers to be scapegoats if failure occurs.

Coleman and Zimba co-founded a non-profit, Student Achievement Partners.  Non-profits sound nice but they often end up being a lucrative vehicle for the individuals involved while sporting lofty missions.  The National Center on Education and the Economy (Marc Tucker) and StudentsFirst (Michelle Rhee) are two non-profits that readily come to mind.  There is money to be made as a non-profit.  Even though the opportunity is there, Coleman and Zimba wouldn’t be capitalizing on their involvement in writing the standards, or would they?