Shifts in academic policy are fine. I am all for change. But when change happens there needs to be a proper plan to inform those affected. Also this new math is awful. I’ve read the defense of it. I understand the point but it’s still stupid. Those unaware of new math I’ll give you an example. Take 23 and 54. Increase 23 to a manageable, easier, number. Say 25. That’s 2. Draw a box around 2. Now increase 25 to the next easy number. 30. That’s five. Draw a box. Now increase to 50. Draw a box around the 20. Now increase by 4. Draw another fucking box. Add 2, 5, 20 and 4. It’s 31. Not wad that paper into a ball and throw it far, far away, wrap your arms tightly around yourself and pretend it never happened. There is also the line approach. Which is drawing lines to see difference. Yes, these are actual methods, that do actually work. The question is do they work better? Do they work faster? And most importantly do they create a process of thought that is better. By process of thought I mean does this teach critical thinking or proper problem solving skills that will enable a person to use similar methods of thought to conquer other problems. I’m rather sure the answer is no. Best of all if a child learns the older math, answers correctly they still score low. Why? Because they need to show their work. This is an old adage from math I always had to deal with and something I agree with (but not in the case). But they have to show the work the way the curriculum demands with boxes and lines.
I’m sure teachers are not exactly in love with this, they have to learn and enforce rules that seemingly make no sense. But teaching is still a job and they have to abide by the rules no matter how stupid if they want to keep making a living. I am increasingly reading more about teachers’ quitting over this. A long experienced kindergarten teacher quit because of forced changes that had her preparing five year olds for a test. Five year olds. I deal with small kids at the dojo and I’m happy when they pay attention and ecstatic when they remember things. She has to teach them to be ready for a test.
Administrators are probably pissed. Not all administrators are soulless abominations that exist simply to torture others and enforce pointless policy. And they have to learn these standards and get the teachers caught up and totally change how they track performance. Oh good, even more reason to love professional development. My version of professional development is going out with the team for drinks after work.
Students who don’t know any better don’t really care because they have no frame of reference. But parents are most likely frothing at the mouth. So why is it still happening? Well because the people who implemented this are not those who have to deal with the fallout. It is generally agreed upon that CCSS (Common Core State Standards) was dreamed up by The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and The National Governors Association (NGA). The CCSSO is not a group of educators they are officials. Wiki decribes them as such:
“a non-partisan non-profit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the U.S. states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity and five U.S. territories. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy and technical assistance on major educational issues.”
I’m not going to say they didn’t involve educators and learned scholars on the subject in crafting the curriculum, they did, however it seems they ran fast and loose with what they wanted from them as well as how they would go about implementing. Meaning they paid very bright people to give a holistic idea and cherry picked parts of it. I liken that to designing an archway then only building the parts of it they liked with no real insight as to why it was built in a particular fashion. Maybe it will hold up or maybe the load above will come crashing down. Hurray for keystones!
You can read Dr. Moats’ article here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mark-bertin-md/when-will-we-ever-learn_b_4588033.html
So if an untrained eye can see that these standards and practices are out of whack why are so many states (45 states as well as the District of Columbia) irrationally following bad standards? The answer it seems is federal money. Not adopting Common Core costs states millions of dollars. Indiana is one of the few states that initial bought in but is opting out now.
Here’s a quick reminder of the recent history of education and it has a lot to do with federal and state practices. Each state is in charge of determining their own standards and curriculum. All changes, improvements testing (with exception of the S.A.T.) was done by the state. No federal programs really had traction. This of course means there will be the best state for education and the worst state for education. A lot of that has to with funding, how the people in the state want their taxes spent, and various infrastructures. So as a parent if you cared about education it was best not to live in certain states or it was a good idea to send your kid to a private school. The problem being this is not exactly beneficial to people with less money. Less money means less options but that seems to be a constant in life in America. Scholarships help but only for a small few and only for top performers. So being an average student in a poor neighborhood in a state with poor national standings probably means a subpar education through no fault of the child. But there have been programs to try and change this as well as wonderful people who make it their life mission to help educate everyone.
On the national level there has been pressure to change some of this. I didn’t start with George W. but his No Child Left Behind program hinged on a resurgence of standardized testing. Obama’s version Race To The Top also has standardized testing at its core. There is a very big problem with standardized testing. Testing on its own is not bad. It’s great to have metrics and measurements to see progress. It’s great to see where a student is next to others. The problem comes back to money, or rather funding. Test scores effect funding. Administration wants that funding and puts pressure on educators to get scores up. To get scores up curriculums must be changed to teach subjects covered by the test. It’s called teaching to the test. In doing so we have stripped freedom from the teachers to teach as they see fit to make sure the kids know the material for the test above all else. Gone are the days when kids could be divvied up for special attention. The kids who excelled in a subject could be grouped together so they would be challenged appropriately for their development speed and not bored. The kids who are normal developmentally will be on their track and the kids who need more help (this doesn’t mean stupid) will have their own track designed to help them not make them feel like they are under water. Now it seems we lump everyone together and teach the same. People learn differently, at different paces and with different styles. But teachers aren’t allowed to make that call as much.
Teachers are leaving the profession in droves. I’m seeing countless articles about teachers’ quitting or writing open letters about testing in Kindergarten/the destruction of their profession. In a sense this could save the states money as those with more seniority and bigger paychecks leave while fresh new recruits come in with smaller salaries. But the dropout rate for teachers is very high especially first years. And it’s only going up. This is not cheap. Any decent HR person will tell you a revolving door of employees is very expensive in time, training and more.
“CTAF’s findings are a clear indication that America’s teacher dropout problem is spiraling out of control. Teacher attrition has grown by 50 percent over the past fifteen years. The national teacher turnover rate has risen to 16.8 percent. In urban schools it is over 20 percent, and, in some schools and districts, the teacher dropout rate is actually higher than the student dropout rate. The pilot study shows:
- The costs of teacher turnover are substantial.
- At-risk schools spend scarce dollars on teacher turnover.
- Teacher turnover undermines at-risk schools.
- At-risk schools could recoup funds by investing in teacher retention.
- Turnover costs can be identified, aggregated, and analyzed.
- District data systems are not designed to control the costs of turnover.”
The funny thing about Common Core is that politicians on both sides hate it, for different reasons, and news organization report on differing reason why it’s awful. But they agree. Let that sink in. Members of the Tea party and members of the Democratic Party agree on this.
A real big problem here is that to fix this we would need a massive overhaul. And the industry has been having every few years a massive overhaul but never in the right direction. Teaching and educating in general is in a tumult. I think it’s time a better solution one that empowers the right people, namely those who actually work in the classroom, is put in place. But that would be logical and politics it seems rarely uses logic. But it’s okay, if we fail here it’s only dooming the next generation to failure.