Date: Aug 12, 2013 6:08 PM
Author: Jerry P. Becker
Subject: Miserable Common Core scores reported.

From Jeff Silva-Brown blog, Ukiah, California,
Sunday, August 11, 2013. See
"Within a couple of years, we start testing on
standards we're not teaching with curriculum we
don't have on computers that don't exist."

(Los Angeles Times editorial) [From a talk
given by AFT President Randi Weingarten]
Miserable Common Core scores reported. Hilarity ensues.

A long time ago, when NCLB ruled the land and the
wicked STAR determined the fate of the
endangered, I sat at a table and talked with the
more seasoned of my staff. They looked at a me
with eyes of knowledge and in their own way they

"Young Padawan, this too shall pass. For over
five score yarens the mission of public education
has been re-interpreted by those that wear bad
suits and answer to the mighty ballot. We will
end the cycle that is NCLB, and we will move to
something else, and to something else, and to
something else, and the circle will never end.
To excel in teaching you must make sure that you
use your skills, follow your feelings, and
actually teach what is in the students' best
interest to know. If you look into The Eye, the
horrible Eye of standardized instruction, you
will only go mad with its never-ending adjustment
and it's promises that at the end of the new
curriculum rainbow is eternal life, 99 virgins,
and all the delicious cabernet that you can
drink. No. Stay the course, my friend. Teach,
and know that your stability, ingenuity, and
educational integrity will reign supreme in the
eyes of the most important; those that are being

They were oh-so-correct. I remember being
freaked out early-on by NCLB and it wasn't until
I started reading educational blogs and reading
twitter that I realized that the best didn't care
about the standards. They cared about the

Which leads us to the recent news about the new
(and predicted) Common Core Standards! They will
save us!

"Test scores in New York state, its first under
tests aligned to the Common Core State Standards
in English/language arts and math, show sharp
declines in student performance in grades 3-8 for
the 2012-13 school year, as officials try to
assure parents that the new scores don't reflect
a major drop in students' academic understanding,
just tougher performance standards.

Statewide, the statewide ELA proficiency rates
dropped from 55.1 percent on the
non-common-core-aligned exams from the 2011-12
school year, to 31.1 percent in the 2012-13
school year. In math, the proficiency rates
declined from 64.8 percent to 31 percent."

The edu-wonks are in full boar response mode now.
Political saber rattling, back-tracking,
blame-gaming. It's back to being all about the
test. Except, wait a minuteŠ..

"For the first time in several years, California
students' performance declined on their state
assessments, the Standardized Testing and
Reporting exams (or STAR) in English/language
arts and math this year, although the drops were
significantly less dramatic than in New York.The
Sacramento Bee has the numbers: Statewide, 51.2
percent of students in grades 2-11 tested in math
were proficient, off very slightly from 51.5
percent last year, while in English, the
proficiency rate dipped from 57.2 to 56.4. Math
test scores had previously increased for five
straight years, while English scores had climbed
for the last eight years."

Oops. Looks like the last year of STAR testing
didn't quite go off so well either. Dammit
California. Now the reasons that are being
presented here are simple "transition to Common
Core" and "budget cuts." Maybe. I have another

Here's the deal. Teaching under No Child Left
Behind was a nightmare for most districts. While
the accountability and the data presented were
awesome, the standards assumed the impossible
(everyone can be proficient in Math and English)
and told everyone that if this didn't occur by X
date, there would be consequences to
everyoneŠŠ.except for the student. So the
atmosphere for many was one that didn't promote
education, it promoted test taking and having
public educators trying to bribe young kids with
everything from cash to baseball tickets to ice
cream to iPods. After the greatest budget crisis
since the Depression, the fudging of data,
social-media "cheating alerts", and various major
scandals all over the country, out went NCLB and
in came Common Core, with the theme of more open
instruction, more focus on writing, and the idea
of "college and career ready." And you know what
the reaction from most teachers is at this point
to Common Core?
They don't care.

"We will end the cycle that is NCLB Common Core,
and we will move to something else, and to
something else, and to something else, and the
circle will never end. To excel in teaching you
must make sure that you use your skills, follow
your feelings, and actually teach what is in
their best interest to know."

Teachers want to teach. They want to be
passionate about kids, want to watch kids
succeed, and want to see those teachers that
aren't passionate get run through a wood chipper.
Common Core does nothing for that. Common Core
does nothing at all except give another way to
teach subject matter that good teachers already
know how to do, only once again they will have to
use colorful language (along with precious time
and energy) to prove that they do it. I see
"Unit Planning for Common Core" in professional
development and it makes me look for bottle of 18
year Glenlivet and a straw. Seriously, you are
going to have a good veteran teacher spend time
on Unit Plans that work, by making sure that they
align to standards that are not a lot different
than previous standards but probably require more
evidence that they do align, some how. Know why?
Because. So everyone is going to go ga-ga over
Common Core until something else changes. In the
meantime the good teachers will make the small
necessary changes (little or nothing) and impact
kids lives. The waste of time and productivity
will be astounding.

Look around. Teachers feel marginalized and
totally screwed by a system that uses political
efficiency to manufacture what the problem is
within Education. Teachers try to tell people
but they are ignored because it isn't sexy to
place a mirror in front of society and say "Hey
look, we are the problem." Instead the
curriculum is changed and teachers, especially
young ones, are left with the taste in their
mouth that a social contract has been broken over
and over again; I teach passionately with every
fiber of my being, and you work as society to
create the best environment for successful

Fix the social contract and you'll fix education.
Fix that social contract and "test scores" will
go up. Fix that social contract or you are in
danger of losing a generation of really good
Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
625 Wham Drive
Mail Code 4610
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610
Phone: (618) 453-4241 [O]
(618) 457-8903 [H]
Fax: (618) 453-4244