Pennsylvania Rebrands the Core

excerpt from Mercedes Schneider, “Update on Common Core Status in the States: Part Three,” deutsch29: Mercedes Schneider’s EduBlog, February 8, 2014

Pennsylvania Core Standards will replace the state’s current academic standards, which differ from the Common Core Standards adopted by other states.

National Common Core Standards address only English/language arts and math, incorporating reading and writing in other subjects like social studies under English/language arts. Pennsylvania’s standards will encompass various subject areas in addition to English/language arts and math.

The Pennsylvania Core Standards also reject the standardized tests on Common Core currently being developed by two national groups. Pennsylvania will test students’ knowledge and understanding of our new academic standards using revised PSSA tests in grades 3-8 and Keystone Exams for Algebra I, Literature, and Biology. Exams in other subjects will be developed in the future if funds are available.


Questions to school boards on Common Core

letter from Joanne Yurchak, Daily Local News, 2/5/14

Common Core State Standards (recently renamed PA Core Standards) is a costly, untested, educational experiment that was foisted on Pennsylvania’s schools without legislative approval. When full math and language arts implementation began in our public schools in July of 2013, few educators, school administrators, school board members and legislators understood the particulars of this initiative that will fundamentally transform our educational system. Currently, even fewer parents and taxpayers understand the variety of motives for its formulation, its methodologies, its huge unfunded mandates, and its potential harmful effects on Pennsylvania’s educational system and economy.

Listed below are several questions that citizens should pose to their own district’s school board members and school administrators in order to gain a better understanding of the Common Core initiative and parental and student rights with regard to its mandates.

1. There are multiple indications that the federal government will wrest control of our educational system from local school boards and parents via the Common Core initiative.

Question: Is this likely to occur in our school district? If the answer is “No,” can you provide assurances and convincing reasons why this will not happen?…

read more at Daily Local News

State Education Chiefs Can’t Withdraw From Data Sharing – Even If They Wanted

Scathing Purple Musings, 3 Feb 2014

Writes Dr. Karen Effrem, President of Education Liberty Watch and co-founder of the Florida Stop Common Core Coalition in Truth in American Education:

On January 23rd, 2014, thirty-four chief state school officers sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan trying to reassure the public that individual student test data will not be given to the federal government and that data is safe as the Common Core national standards and federally funded and supervised national tests are put into place……(Their) statements are problematic on a multitude of levels for the following reasons:

*The testing consortia are under obligation to the U.S. Department of Education to provide individual student test data via the cooperative agreements that they signed

*The most applicable privacy law, the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), has been so weakened via regulation that there is no real protection of individual student data.

There is a whole section of current federal FERPA regulations allowing the disclosure of individual student data without consent (All quotes in this next section are from §99.31 of the FERPA regulations)

*Individual student data may be released without consent to organizations and entities that have “legitimate educational interests,” which basically means for any reason that a state or the federal governments or researchers or corporations want to use the data in conjunction with any state or federal program….

read more and see links at Scathing Purple Musings

Gates Foundation Cheers the Growing “Momentum” of Common Core

Diane Ravitch’s blog: A site to discuss better education for all, 1/31/14. See original for links.

The Gates Foundation has spent $200 million or so to pay for the Common Core standards. Gates paid for everything because the U.S. Department of Education is prohibited by law from doing anything that might control, direct,or supervise curriculum or instruction. Of course, this did not stop Arne Duncan from shelling out $350 million to pay for new online tests of the Common Core. The tests will certainly influence, direct, and control curriculum and instruction, which is expressly forbidden. But why quibble over the law?

As you read on, recall that Gates paid for everything: the writing, development, evaluation, implementation, and promotion of the Common Core. There are very few education advocacy groups that have not received millions from Gates.

Now Vicki Phillips, who directs the education program at Gates, has written an article to remind us–in case the PR machine is offline–why we desperately need Common Core, why teachers and other educators are warmly embracing it, and how wildly popular it is. She admits that she is baffled by people who call on states and districts to slow down, stop or reverse this wonderful progress. Maybe that refers to Randi Weingarten and the teachers of New York.

One thing is clear, if inadvertently. The standards and the testing are portrayed as integral to states’ ability to evaluate teachers by test scores. All the pieces fit together. You are not supposed to have just the standards, you must have the whole package. That is the Gates Foundation’s vision.

Phillips is obviously unsettled by the controversies erupting in state after state, from left and right, about the standards and the tests. But she does not mention of the public hearings in New York, where thousands of parents berated the Common Core. The foundation seems to be in denial about the pushback against its prize program, the linchpin of wholesale change.

Common Core, she assures us, will get all students ready for college. But how does she know that? What if Common Core creates the results nationally that it did in New York, where only 3% of English learners passed? Where only 5% of students with disabilities passed? Where more than 80% of African American and Hispanic students failed? What if most students can’t clear the bar that the Gates Foundation raised so high? What will our society do with the many students who give up or fail? Will the Gates Foundation tell us what to do to help them? And when everyone goes to college, will the college diploma be devalued? Will there be jobs for them, or will they be truck drivers and retail clerks with a diploma and a load of college debt?

Just wondering.

My Speech about Common Core to MLA

by Diane Ravitch, 1/18/14, speech at the Modern Language Association convention

On January 11, I spoke to the annual meeting in Chicago of the Modern Language Association about the Common Core. My talk was titled “Common Core: Past, Present, Future.”

I think readers of this blog will find it of interest.

It is about 17 pages long, so sit down.

I explain the background of the standards and explain why they have become so controversial, with critics and supporters on all points of the political spectrum–right, left, and middle.

I recommend decoupling the standards from the testing. And I recommend that the standards be reviewed, corrected, and updated on a regular basis by panels of teachers and scholars. No set of standards should be considered so sacrosanct that they can never be revised. These arrived encased in concrete.

To open the speech, click herecommon-core-standards1


As an organization of teachers and scholars devoted to the study of language and literature, MLA should be deeply involved in the debate about the Common Core standards.

The Common Core standards were developed in 2009 and released in 2010. Within a matter of months, they had been endorsed by 45 states and the District of Columbia. At present, publishers are aligning their materials with the Common Core, technology companies are creating software and curriculum aligned with the Common Core, and two federally-funded consortia have created online tests of the Common Core.

What are the Common Core standards? Who produced them? Why are they controversial? How did their adoption happen so quickly?

As scholars of the humanities, you are well aware that every historical event is subject to interpretation. There are different ways to answer the questions I just posed. Originally, this session was designed to be a discussion between me and David Coleman, who is generally acknowledged as the architect of the Common Core standards. Some months ago, we both agreed on the date and format. But Mr. Coleman, now president of the College Board, discovered that he had a conflicting meeting and could not be here.

So, unfortunately, you will hear only my narrative, not his, which would be quite different. I have no doubt that you will have no difficulty getting access to his version of the narrative, which is the same as Secretary Arne Duncan’s.

He would tell you that the standards were created by the states, that they were widely and quickly embraced because so many educators wanted common standards for teaching language, literature, and mathematics. But he would not be able to explain why so many educators and parents are now opposed to the standards and are reacting angrily to the testing that accompanies them.

I will try to do that….

keep reading in the download, above