I have written about Common Core State Standards (CCSS) from about every angle except Oklahoma specifically, and I am puzzled about Governor Mary Fallin’s support of CCSS, based on what I believe to be fact. I can see only one reason for her support and that is the long, long-time connection to the National Governor’s Association (NGA) formed in the early 1900s to solely develop what we call Common Core today. It has been a long time coming, and it’s here, and coincidentally, Oklahoma’s first female Governor, Mary Fallin, served as Chairwoman at the 2014 NGA conference in Washington, D.C. Does it all boil down to politics? It must. This epic design for our children’s education and their futures, and the future of our country, deserves to have three basic questions answered directly and fully. The other oddities of Common Core can wait for another time.
In December 2013 Governor Fallin signed an Executive Order to “ensure” Oklahomans that Washington will have no involvement in the design of tests, curriculum, or assessments.
“I want to be really clear: common core is not a federal program,” Fallin said. “It is driven and implemented by those states that choose to participate. It is also not a federal curriculum; in fact, it’s not a curriculum at all. Local educators and school districts will still design the best lesson plans, will choose appropriate textbooks, and will drive classroom learning.” ~ Mary Fallin, 1/15/14 Source: TheOkieBlaze
All of which leads to:
If, as Governor Fallin says, “local educators and districts” will design “the best lesson plans” and “choose all “appropriate textbooks:”
1) Will those textbooks and materials come from Pearson Education, or any publisher that Pearson Education has recently purchased or will purchase in the future? Or put another way, will Oklahoma ever cut a check to Pearson or a Pearson entity?
If the answer to No. 1 above is ‘yes,’ then Oklahoma has no control and studies will be aligned with, and follow Common Core.
2) Do Oklahoma’s local educators and districts, have the freedom to use textbooks that are not Common Core aligned, and from outside the Pearson Educator’s networks?
If the answer to No. 2 above is ‘yes,’ your Executive Order cannot “ensure” Oklahoma children will be taught what they need to know to perform well on Pearson tests/assessments?
3) Will Oklahoma use Common-Core-mandated Microsoft products in the technology requirements for the assessments/testing/evaluations for both students and teachers?
If the answer to No. 3 above is ‘yes,’ then all assessments will be predesigned to align with Common Core, and Oklahoma will not have a smidgen of control.
Just curious about: What will Pearson’s tests cost the state? Exactly what has been budgeted for Pearson tests?
Governor Fallin should answer each of the three questions above precisely with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. If you are a parent, grandparent or citizen, ask away, and if you get an answer, let me know.
The Oklahoma State Department of Education, State Superintendent Janet Barressi‘s webpage says the following: (…the Oklahoma Academic Standards. This includes the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), adopted in 2010…):
What Oklahoma Academic Standards Do Not:
○ Do Not dictate how teachers should teach
○ Do Not mandate a specific curriculum
○ Do Not limit advanced work beyond the standards
○ Do Not require the purchase or development of entirely new instructional materials
○ Do Not prescribe all that can or should be taught
○ Do Not limit efforts to prepare students for College, Career, and Citizenship readiness
○ Do Not prescribe interventions for students below grade‐level
You can read what Oklahoma Academic Standards WILL DO here, and note that the list includes Common Core State Standards. The ‘DO’ list includes ‘focusing,’ ‘thinking conceptually’ and ‘understanding and solving real world problems,’ so the question remains, will Pearson be involved in anyway?
Gretchen Logue at Missouri Education Watchdog is deeply immersed in Common Core and is a sought-after speaker on the subject. I asked her how much control a state really has over the Common Core curriculum.
Paraphrasing her answer: Technically the state and districts have control, but here is the catch, it must be CCSS aligned and it will have to match the assessments that are written by Pearson Education, not the state or the districts. These assessments haven’t been written yet.
The choice of curriculum will be signifcantly narrowed since the teacher evaluations are based on assessment results and teachers will want to receive positive evals — they will want to have the curriculum that best matches the assessments. If the student doesn’t do well, or the class doesn’t do well, that teacher is graded down regardless of what kind of class-make-up he or she has that year.
One example of the problem (stated by a Common Core supporter):
New York State rolled out the new standards and rewrote state tests to align them with Common Core at the same time as the new Annual Professional Performance Reviews (APPR), which in part rely on student performance on the new standardized tests, were implemented. Source: ithaca.com
More from the same supporting site on “teacher evaluations:”
“Last year was the first year that districts were required to come up with a numerical rating for teachers,” said VanDeWeert. …These observations are now 60 percent of the APPR [Annual Professional Performance Review]. The difference is that now there’s a score associated with these evaluations.”
The other 40 percent of teacher evaluations comes from two separate measures of student learning. “That’s the piece of APPR that raises the most angst and concern among teachers and administrators,” VanDeWeert said, “because it’s really difficult to show correlation. Good teaching is critical to student learning, but to make the leap that a student’s performance on one measure or one test is directly related to teacher performance is a big leap to make. There are so many extenuating circumstances.
I am all for teacher accountability in every realm, including warning school principals and parents that a child is on the wrong track long before the time comes for standardized tests that will have bearing on whether or not a student will progress to the next grade — and we know many students do progress routinely, yet perform several grades below where they should be. Let’s make teachers accountable for helping to kick the child’s can on down the road, and let’s praise those teachers who refuse to do so. That’s change you can believe in.
One more quote from Ms. Logue from an August 2013 interview, which you can read in full here, and then visit her website for today’s post on the language used to throw “render parent’s wishes meaningless,” (at least in Missouri).
…the standards assessments are copyrighted by the two private organizations, so a school district cannot change the standards, nor can they change the assessments, so you have to teach to the assessments…to the tests and using the specific curriculum that aligned to Common Core Standards.
To close, I’m going back to Governor Fallin’s Executive Order (2013-40) and quotes from Oklahoman Jenni White on that specific Executive Order (Jenni founded Restore Oklahoma Public Education (ROPE) in 2009): Snippets only, read it all here (all emphasis is mine).
● She [Gov. Fallin] also claims here that Oklahomans had a say in the development of the Standards. Two members of the CCSS Committee, Dr. Sandra Stotsky[vii] and Dr. James Milgram[viii] have both testified that the standards Committee was nothing but a rubber stamp for Student Achievement Partners[ix] (the private organization with whom NGA contracted to create the standards, written by David Coleman, Susan Pimentel and Jason Zimba – all of whom but Zimba are non-educators). If national educational experts had no input, how did Oklahomans?
● The Governor uses paragraph four to acknowledge that the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) are listed by name in Title 70 – in other words, it is LAW that Oklahoma students be educated with Common Core State Standards.
● She does not mention these organizations are PRIVATE, DUES-PAID organizations in no way responsible to individual citizens – in essence, she admits the standards were created outside the bounds of representative government. She also does not acknowledge our legislature passed Common Core into law (SB2033[xii]) before the Standards were available to read. Read much more here.
David Coleman is mentioned above. He is considered the architect of Common Core English Standards. Read about Coleman’s connection to Barack Obama and Weather Undergrounder Bill Ayers here, and feel the chill to the bones when you realize that this man will be educating your children.
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