Common Core State Standards (CCSS) might seem to have diminished, but the standards are still embedded in testing and technology and still hurting students.
When the standards were first imposed on students, parents and teachers complained. Sandra Stotsky, now Professor Emeritus, was an outspoken critic of CCSSs. She had previously helped develop the Massachusetts standards, once considered the best in the nation. As a member of the Common Core Validation Committee, she refused to sign off on the CCSS.
Diane Ravitch, in her book Slaying Goliath, notes that CCSSs were supported by the national teachers’ unions, conservative and liberal think tanks, the National PTA, United Way, and the Chamber of Commerce (p. 230-231). Bill Gates gave education organizations and civil rights groups millions to promote CCSSs. Ravitch states, Gates may have spent as much as $2 billion to develop, implement, and promote the Common Core (231).
In the last Presidential election, Common Core was said to be the Democrats “third rail.” Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos promised to get rid of Common Core, and she declared it was dead. Now, no one running for President or President Trump seem to remember Common Core.
But Common Core State Standards have morphed into assessments and standards imbedded in tech programs which school districts purchase at great expense. They are still age-inappropriate.
Sometimes we hear about Common Core, usually in a negative light, but deceptively.
Common Core is Still in Florida
For example, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently said that the state will replace Common Core with its own standards. But many school districts there, much to the dismay of parents, use the controversial computer program called iReady which is based on, you guessed it, Common Core State Standards!
From the iReady website starting in 2017: i‑Ready is currently the most widely-used supplemental mathematics and reading program in the state of Florida, actively used in 50 districts—or 75% of all districts in the state—and by more than one million students.
This was what they used to say, but iReady has changed: i-Ready was built for the Common Core. It provides the data-driven insights that classroom teachers and school and district administrators need to determine exactly where to focus their instructional time to ensure all students are on track to meet these more rigorous expectations and to succeed on the accompanying assessments.
Built for the Common Core and also correlated to state standards, i-Ready prepares students for the rigor of the CCSS and helps them to succeed on state assessments. Through real-time reporting, it allows educators to track how students are performing against each standard and whether or not they need further remediation or enrichment. Already used by over 1 million registered users, i-Ready is great in a blended learning lab, for accelerating your struggling students, or for supporting summer school supplemental activities.
Unless Florida ditches iReady, the Governor is not being candid. Students are still working towards Common Core State Standards, and data is being collected on students in their classrooms.
(See more about iReady below.)
Common Core is also destined to be online (who needs teachers?) and designated to prepare (or not) students for future employment. Tech companies promote online curriculum alignment to Common Core.
This instructional computer program found in the U.S. and Canada, is advertised as being built on Common Core for Reading, Language, and Mathematics. It includes troubling assessment that starts in kindergarten. Here’s a discussion about the effects of iReady on students.
The Vancouver school district is moving to introduce iReady testing…in kindergarten! Yes…the 5 year olds will be asked to use a computer to complete the testing. In addition the district is planning on giving the iReady test…MONTHLY! Why? So they can train children for the SBAc [Smarter Balanced Assessment] annual test. So they will dramatically expand testing in the name of “gaming” the SBAc to try and improve falling testing scores. No matter that the iReady and SBAc have no value or validity. Please…Please reach out to your local school district and tell them…yes tell them…to stop this testing and focus on teaching rather than testing them into oblivion.
iReady is a poor instructional program with lousy, if not dangerous, assessment, but school districts, including the State of Florida, have signed on to iReady, and states continue to pour money into the program.
Thomas Ultican wrote an extensive description of the program in “iReady Magnificent Marketing Terrible Teaching.” iReady has been adopted without proof that it works. Parents often don’t know how long their students spend on the program. Children hate it.
Amplify, a digital program aligned to Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science (also Common Core), is described in part in the previous post. Betty Casey from Tulsa Kids wrote about Amplify’s language arts program. It’s an age-inappropriate program. The reading program emphasizes close reading, a signature, albeit age-inappropriate trademark of Common Core.
Here’s a parody if you need help getting through this post.
Oklahoma was supposed to have repealed CCSS, but Oklahoma still invests in Amplify!
Here Amplify Reading: 6-8 Edition is described using close reading. Emily Hanford, Natalie Wexler, Timothy Shanahan, Robert Pondiscio, and others who promote a Science of Reading which supports explicit phonics instruction, do podcasts for the company.
These are not the only programs that align with Common Core State Standards. Look carefully at your child’s school district to see what programs they are using, and likely you will find Common Core. It might be hidden, or, it might be in plain sight. Feel free to share what your district is doing as it relates to Common Core, or how the standards are camouflaged into testing and technology in your student’s curriculum.
Also, this isn’t all about Common Core, but about switching from children having teachers in their classrooms, to so-called competency-based instruction students can get on screens without teachers. This could be tech at home, in an online charter, or anyplace a child has access to a computer.
Diane Ravitch. Slaying Goliath: The Passionate Resistance to Privatization and the Fight to Save America’s Public Schools. (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2020), 230-231.