The move to local control under the state’s new funding and accountability system has given school districts much leeway in adopting the Common Core State Standards, the challenging math and English language arts standards that California and 41 other states and Washington, D.C., have adopted. And that flexibility, concludes a new report by researchers from Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, has the potential to create disparities in implementation the state should reduce.

“In California’s newly decentralized policy system the main responsibility for addressing many of these issues falls to local educators, but our research makes it clear that the capacity to address them successfully is sorely lacking in many parts of the state,” the report states. Local control, it says, cannot take the place of a stronger state role.

The 16-page report, “Implementing Common Core State Standards in California: A Report from the Field,” was based on discussions with educators in three dozen districts and county offices of education, four charter school organizations and two education organizations. Its principal author is Milbrey McLaughlin, the founding director of the John W. Gardner Center for Youth and Their Communities and an education policy professor at Stanford.

With the administration of the first official tests in the new standards less than a year away, the authors found that most districts lacked a comprehensive, coherent plan for the Common Core and that most didn’t have a unifying curriculum tying grades together. There have been promising regional collaborations among districts, but most of the work has been lesson planning by teachers at the school level. While teachers felt energized by the ability to shape what they’ll teach, they universally complained about the lack of time to prepare for the new standards, an overwhelming array of materials and textbooks to choose from and inconsistent quality of professional development, especially for English learners. The new standards are, as one teacher told researchers, “liberating in so many ways but also overwhelming and frightening.”

“If I stacked up the 25 largest districts, about half of them are  capable of and conditioned to thinking ahead in putting together plans and mobilizing people. Others are not unwilling to do that – they are not capable of doing it for a variety of reasons,” said David Gordon, superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education. 

Principals and administrators, who are supposed to lead school and district efforts, feel equally anxious. “Many have no experience with the more ambitious teaching and learning goals” associated with the new standards, and effective professional development for them is critical, the report says.

The integration of technology into Common Core instruction remains a big concern, the report says, even though there were surprisingly few problems statewide in administering the pilot standardized test last spring. The success of the test “laid some fears to rest, providing evidence that students are able to handle a computer-based assessment,” the report says. “Worries about technology shortfalls nevertheless remain. Many of this year’s technology fixes were pieced together, and do not represent long-term solutions.”

Many teachers lack the technical know-how to take advantage of the optional online interim or practice tests that will be available this fall to measure students’ preparation for the new standards, the report says.

Implementation gap

Some districts are far along in rolling out the standards, while others are still in the early stages. To prevent an implementation gap from widening and potentially eroding support for Common Core, the state must give “serious, sustained attention to local implementation needs,” the report states.

The report was released late last month through Policy Analysis for California Education, an independent research center with ties to Stanford, in conjunction with a conference in Sacramento that PACE sponsored on Common Core implementation. Speakers there corroborated much of what the researchers found.

Districts are struggling to return to pre-recession levels of staffing and funding and already are facing initiative overload with the demands of a new state funding and accountability system, said David Gordon, superintendent of the Sacramento County Office of Education. He has seen a “vast variation in the capacity of districts, be they large or small,” in implementing Common Core, he said.

Dave Gordon speaks at the PACE conference

David Gordon speaks at the PACE conference

“If I stacked up the 25 largest districts, about half of them are  capable of and conditioned to thinking ahead in putting together plans and mobilizing people,” he said. “Others are not unwilling to do that – they are not capable of doing it for a variety of reasons. They are getting through the night, this week and next week and they are really scrambling.” Those with “great continuity and consistency of leadership,” led by superintendents who stay longer than a few years, tend to do better, he said.

Shannan Brown, a California Teacher of the Year and president of the San Juan Teachers Association, complained about a one-size-fits-all approach to teacher training in Common Core. “There is a need to personalize for teachers,” she said, adding that the needs of veteran teachers are different from those of teachers who came of age under scripted curriculums that followed the passage of the federal No Child Left Behind law. The new standards, which stress analytical thinking and writing skills, will take time to implement, and there should be recognition of that, she said.

The implementation of Common Core is one of eight priorities that districts must address in Local Control and Accountability Plans, or LCAPs, the new three-year master plans for academic and school improvement. Districts were required to approve the plans by July 1. But districts have not included much detail about Common Core implementation in the LCAPs, Carrie Hahnel, director of research and policy analysis for the advocacy group Education Trust-West, said at the conference.

That must change, said Arun Ramanathan, the former executive director of Ed Trust-West, who is now CEO of the consulting firm Pivot Learning Partners. “Next year, Common Core implementation should be the most important of the eight [LCAP] priorities – and given priority,” he said.

This timeline outlines steps that the State Board and Department of Education must take under the state's Common Core implementation plan.

Source: California Department of Education

This timeline outlines steps that the State Board and Department of Education must take under the state’s Common Core implementation plan.

 What is state’s role?

Contrary to what the report implied, in fact there is a plan, which the State Board of Education has approved, laying out the state’s involvement in Common Core implementation. A slide of the timeline for the plan loomed behind the speakers on one of the panels. The plan lists actions that the state board must take, such as writing and adopting Common Core-aligned standards for English language learners, and steps required of the Department of Education, including managing districts’ readiness for the practice and official Common Core tests.

The key element is the creation of the curriculum frameworks for Common Core. Prepared by panels of teachers and academicians, the curriculum frameworks provide extensive grade-by-grade guides to the standards, including examples of how to apply them in the classroom. The state board approved the math version last year and adopted the 1,200-page English language arts version at its meeting on Wednesday.

But the state Department of Education has no active role in helping the state’s 1,000-plus districts and charter schools roll out the Common Core and has no plan to do so. Over the past two years, the Legislature has budgeted $1.65 billion for districts (about $250 per student) to purchase textbooks, add technology and train teachers as they choose. But not one dollar went to the state Department of Education to identify statewide implementation challenges and address problems that districts lack the capacity to solve.

The report identified five issues that are critical to successfully rolling out the Common Core that state and county offices of education could address:

  • Reviewing and filtering the “avalanche” of resources and materials – many of them overstated by their authors as Common Core-aligned – that are on the market. Districts and teachers lack the knowledge and time to evaluate what works best for students and what is cost-effective, the report says.
  • Creating quality training programs that go beyond a general introduction to the Common Core. That is the “most immediate practitioner need,” the report says.
  • Increasing funding for county offices of education, many of which are providing professional development programs and creating partnerships with districts. They are the intermediaries between districts and the state, and those that are doing exceptionally strong work should be given lead roles, the report recommends.
  • Reviewing and strengthening private and public universities’ teacher preparation programs in the Common Core. The report characterizes current programs as “spotty.”
  • Communicating better with parents and communities about the Common Core. A poll last month by PACE and the University of Southern California’s Rossier School of Education found declining support among Californians, including parents, for the Common Core – a sign that the high-profile opposition in other states to the standards is gaining a foothold. Overall, state leaders and teachers continue to back the standards, and, the report says, local leaders want materials they can provide parents and others that spell out the aims of the Common Core and why they’re important to students. This is one area in which the state Department of Education does plan to become involved, though indirectly, through the CDE Foundation. A new nonprofit funded by two dozen corporations and foundations, it plans to publish a video and other materials explaining the Common Core.

The report concludes, “Finding effective ways to support and assist schools and school districts in meeting implementation challenges that exceed local capabilities is urgently important if the new standards are to deliver on their promise of improved teaching and learning in California.”

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  1. George Buzzetti 2 years ago2 years ago

    This corrupt still a catagorical program only now without any real accountability purposely legislated into the LCFF and LCAP laws and implemented illegally and further by a company taking the states role in a state issue. This is insane from the get go. The California Legislature has purposely defunded CDE. Last year 80% of CDE's funding was only to monitor NCLB and RTTT only. There is none and will be no … Read More

    This corrupt still a catagorical program only now without any real accountability purposely legislated into the LCFF and LCAP laws and implemented illegally and further by a company taking the states role in a state issue. This is insane from the get go. The California Legislature has purposely defunded CDE. Last year 80% of CDE’s funding was only to monitor NCLB and RTTT only. There is none and will be no oversight of schools at the state level. Read the law, the superintendent of instruction’s job is to have large drinks and large cigars and that is it. This is “Educational Realignment.” County Offices of Education are a total joke. Let us take only LACOE, L.A. County, and look at only Centinela High School District with the superintendent making over $750,000/year with fringies on top. So the LACOE and Cal Pers come out with puffing up and saying he cheated. Well, you all knew all the time didn’t you? After all isn’t it LACOE’s job to check the budget of every school district out 3 years? If so, how did they miss these line items? Now for Cal Pers. Didn’t they take the payments at the ultra high salary and say nothing until they were in a pickle? Yep, that is what happened. So in the morning they think they are Kool with getting away with deflecting the game until the meeting at Centinela when I blew that to the wind. Now KFI is all over the county being crooked, and they are. So, when the county cannot keep track of what is going on at a small school district and there are 88 in L.A. County and LAUSD is the second largest in the U.S. and they cannot even keep track of a district with only 6,679 students how can they keep track of 87 others and LAUSD with 541,000 ADA and enrollment of about 650,000. Also, the county never noticed that LAUSD lied in the 2013-14 budget by over 100,000 on the ADA. Just go look and you will see, I did. Losers and losers again and we are supposed to trust them? This system is set up to be totally unaccountable. We have video of the top LAUSD people right to Deasy’s, with the phony PHD, #1 guy and the rest of the hacks not ever having read the original legislation. Only two of us and we are not district employees had read the legislation. If you do not know the original language how do you know what the spinners say and if it lines up with the law? You cannot is the answer.

  2. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    “The success of the test “laid some fears to rest, providing evidence that students are able to handle a computer-based assessment,” the report says.”

    What do hey mean by the success of the test? …that they were able to administer it? Aren’t test results relevant in making that determination?

    Replies

    • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

      Don -- You are absolutely correct that the success of a test involves more than just being able to administer it, tho for a computer-administered test having sufficient machinary and bandwidth is a mandatory first step. Beyond that SB has to complete test development steps to insure their tests that will generate valid reliable fair comparable data, and SB is only part of the way done so far on these requirements. SB tried out about … Read More

      Don — You are absolutely correct that the success of a test involves more than just being able to administer it, tho for a computer-administered test having sufficient machinary and bandwidth is a mandatory first step. Beyond that SB has to complete test development steps to insure their tests that will generate valid reliable fair comparable data, and SB is only part of the way done so far on these requirements. SB tried out about 5K items spring 2013, and an additional 20K items spring 2014, so with a typical survival rate for an adequate item pool for eventual computer-adaptive tests, they should have roughly 12,500 items for their “benchmark” year tests spring 2015 — roughly speaking, they need between 7K and 14K items [or 500 to 1000 items for each grade level and content area] for good computer-adaptive tests. So far, SB has not released any technical data on the results of their 2013 or 2014 item-tryout exercises, as far as I know, to document the status of their test development efforts through the item-tryout phase. The next phase is to give actual computer-adaptive tests to preferably a census sample of students consortium-wide [tho a strict very large stratefied random sample might also suffice] spring 2015 to generate the data necessary for standards-setting or setting cut scores, which will have to wait until late summer or fall 2015 before valid cut scores can be determined, with these cut scores then available for the first true full operational use of SBE tests spring 2016. These are the test development steps SB must complete for valid reliable fair comparable test results for their client states, beyond the tech-ready portion for which both SB and California success this last spring was a very good first step.

      • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

        Don -- The above reply talked about the steps needed for full test development for Smarter Balanced tests, assuming that the kids are ready for the content on the tests. This assumption is questionable for California's implementation of SB tests in 2015 -- and the major point of the McLaughlin report John describes is that CA does not appear to have instruction for common core content standards well on the way as of summer 2014. … Read More

        Don — The above reply talked about the steps needed for full test development for Smarter Balanced tests, assuming that the kids are ready for the content on the tests. This assumption is questionable for California’s implementation of SB tests in 2015 — and the major point of the McLaughlin report John describes is that CA does not appear to have instruction for common core content standards well on the way as of summer 2014. A quote from the successful Smarter Balanced vendor proposal (Measurement Incorporated) for conducting standards-setting work for SB is relevant here — in their proposal to SB, MI’s proposal on page 2-88 said “No matter how well the tests are constructed, no matter how well they are aligned to the common core, no matter how carefully we set the cut scores, if large numbers of students have not had the Opportunity to Learn the content of the tests, no cut scores will be valid.” Obviously, validity of test results depend on validity of cut scores . . . . . the McLaughlin report is a clear red flag that CA is not ready for Smarter Balanced tests in 2015 (or likely 2016 at least for ELA/ELD) based just on status of instruction for the common core, even if Smarter Balanced itself has a valid reliable fair comparable testing system ready for California’s use.

      • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

        Doug, thank you for elucidating aspects of the SBAC tests. Would you be kind enough to expand on the subject of "setting the cut scores?" Given what I know of how data is treated, "setting cut scores" is used when the data comes not from criterion-reference tests, that is, the student is not tested against what s/he should know of the curriculum, but against a "curve" set by testing "a census sample of students consortium-wide" … Read More

        Doug, thank you for elucidating aspects of the SBAC tests.

        Would you be kind enough to expand on the subject of “setting the cut scores?”

        Given what I know of how data is treated, “setting cut scores” is used when the data comes not from criterion-reference tests, that is, the student is not tested against what s/he should know of the curriculum, but against a “curve” set by testing “a census sample of students consortium-wide” and using them as the “norm.”

        If this is how the SBAC tests will be “graded,” then we are back to beating the same dead horse as was done with the CSTs: the “curve” is set by the population tested and the vendor will always “scale” the scores to fit the data to the curve leaving a portion of the population forever below the “proficient” cut-off point. Or, worse, the tests will “adapt” to produce results that fit the curve, come hell or high water.

        But that’s not all, given that SBAC is not California-only (or so last I heard, although all the talk so far has been about California), what will be the effect of including all those other states in this? Won’t that create a different set of “cut scores” than if it was just California kids?

        • don 2 years ago2 years ago

          And can the cut be used to reduce a too steep decline due to lack of Common Core preparedness?

        • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

          That's a great point about the combining of the scores from different states in the statistical transfer of the raw scores to cut ones. One thing that has largely been ignored is that different states have/had different content standards and some are/were much more similar to common core than others. It's also the case that under nclb individual states were able to set their own definitions for proficiency (some even moved those goalposts during the … Read More

          That’s a great point about the combining of the scores from different states in the statistical transfer of the raw scores to cut ones. One thing that has largely been ignored is that different states have/had different content standards and some are/were much more similar to common core than others. It’s also the case that under nclb individual states were able to set their own definitions for proficiency (some even moved those goalposts during the process). I expect those differences to be ignored in the ‘defining the curve’ process even though those differences could end up relegating different states to different areas in the curve. Perhaps we are going to need a new subgroup: state.
          I am also curious how PARCC and SBAC will collaborate on scaling, if at all, not to mention those states who did not choose one of those two. If differences between them are significant enough it is going to reduce the value of the whole process.

          • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

            Manuel / Don / Navigio -- The basic technique Smarter Balanced is using to set cut scores is the same as the technique used to set STAR cut scores, and it is not based on any kind of score "curve" or fixed distribution of scores. Rather, standard-setting panels are charged with evaluating the content being measured for what constitutes "basic" or "proficient" or "advanced" performance on the test, regardless of how many students fall in … Read More

            Manuel / Don / Navigio — The basic technique Smarter Balanced is using to set cut scores is the same as the technique used to set STAR cut scores, and it is not based on any kind of score “curve” or fixed distribution of scores. Rather, standard-setting panels are charged with evaluating the content being measured for what constitutes “basic” or “proficient” or “advanced” performance on the test, regardless of how many students fall in each category. Then, after initial cut scores are established by a panel, score distributions are used as “impact” data to allow the panels to evaluate the impact or consequences for the initial cut scores and the panels can then adjust their recommended cut scores based on that impact data. Then the panel recommended cut scores are forwarded to a policy body (i.e., the SB goverance structure) for final approval. The policy body can use their own collective judgment to change cut scores. Results for SB tests will not be based on scoring on a curve, or any “fitting” of a curve, or any predetermined percentage of scores falling in any given performance category.

            My understanding is SB will establish “preliminary” cut scores based on simulations for full computer-adaptive test results generated using spring 2013 and spring 2014 SB item-tryout data, with these final cut scores set October 2014. But SB has clearly indicated these will not be “valid” cut scores. Rather, final SB cut scores will be validated on actual rather than simulated computer-adaptive test scores collected spring 2015 [i.e., the benchmark year for SB tests, not a fully operational year as has been advertised]. So, under this plan, final valid cut scores needed for valid test results will not be available until (say) Sept/October 2015, for use to score spring 2016 SB tests.

            Finally, my understanding is SB will set final valid cut scores for their tests and then coordinate those with PARCC so that scores from SB and PARCC states will be comparable. I have not seen a timeline for this coordination work. But, final SB (and PARCC) cut scores are planned for use for federal accountability purposes [i.e., AYP or whatever the feds require in the future]. However, individual states may also establish their own cut scores for their own state accountability systems [i.e., API or whatever follows API for California] and also for specific purposes so that SB tests may be used (say) for HS graduation purposes (perhaps replacing CAHSEE over time) or college placement purposes (replacing EAP).

            I hope these understandings address a number of the questions or issues you’all have posed.

    • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

      It's the former, Don: The districts were able to administer the field test without major headaches. We don't know how the students did because, as Doug noted, the aim of the field test (Doug would not call it such) was to determine the validity of thousands of test questions, not measure students' performance on the overall materials. A district's ability to cobble together computers and bandwidth in a central location for the field test should … Read More

      It’s the former, Don: The districts were able to administer the field test without major headaches. We don’t know how the students did because, as Doug noted, the aim of the field test (Doug would not call it such) was to determine the validity of thousands of test questions, not measure students’ performance on the overall materials.

      A district’s ability to cobble together computers and bandwidth in a central location for the field test should not be read as readiness to instruct students by computers this coming year in the classroom. Smarter Balanced, the testing provider, promises to make available interim tests and formative items in the months preceding the formal test in the spring. Formative items are the complex questions, requiring critical thinking and multiple skills — challenging word problems in math, perhaps an essay using multiple sources of material in reading — that will appear on the spring test. Interim tests will measure students’ progress and understanding of grade-level standards. Districts, especially those struggling with rolling out curriculums and choosing materials, may find these exercises indispensable as indicators of student readiness. Putting aside Doug McRae’s argument that interim tests and formative items prepared by the test vendor teach to the test and are inappropriate, an important question is how many schools will be adequately equipped and their teachers trained to take advantage of these tools in the classroom. The state has no idea; those schools that can’t administer and interpret results from the interim tests will likely be at a distinct disadvantage, come the spring tests.

      • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

        Thank you, gentlemen, for your instructive comments. John, going back to my original question, I'm not sure how they determine the validity of thousands of test questions if the student responses are not included in that calculus. And did they prescreen the students to find out which has common core instruction and to what degree? Am I misreading what you said? I realize that I'm over my head in terms of understanding the nuts … Read More

        Thank you, gentlemen, for your instructive comments. John, going back to my original question, I’m not sure how they determine the validity of thousands of test questions if the student responses are not included in that calculus. And did they prescreen the students to find out which has common core instruction and to what degree? Am I misreading what you said? I realize that I’m over my head in terms of understanding the nuts and bolts of these complex issues and that time constraints probably prevent a thorough explanation.

        Moving on, does the CDE monitor the individual districts to determine the state of the common core rollout into the classrooms?

        Doug, if CA goes ahead with the SBAC on the current schedule regardless of Common Core uptake by teachers and students do you expect that the test participation rate will drop? I summarized STAR test scores at SIG schools in SFUSD between 2010-2013 and noticed that participation rates were much lower than average, If students don’t feel ready there could be a large absentee problem. At SIG schools I assumed that lower performing students made up the bulk of nonparticipants. That would skew the scale upward and paint a rosier glow on results.

        If one believes as some do on this blog that CCSS is a sort of conspiracy to paint American school children as underachievers, rolling out the test sooner makes sense and explains the haste. But conspiracies aside, as an ordinary parent of public school children I don’t understand how we can administer a test to children, some of whom will get far less adequate CCSS preparation than others, and use the test results to scientifically compare one student, subgroup, school, district, state or country to another. There will always be a curve regarding CCSS uptake, but I’d hate to be a teacher administering a test to students she knows are unprepared. Is there some magic number of prepared test takers that would make the test valid? And what of those who through no fault of their own were unprepared?

        • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

          Don -- You've got a lot to chew on in your last comment. First, did SB prescreen for students having or not having common core instruction? No prescreening, to my knowledge, but SB did conduct student and teacher surveys that may or may not have elicited information on status of common core instruction, but no results from those surveys have been released yet as far as I know. Second, does CDE monitor status of … Read More

          Don — You’ve got a lot to chew on in your last comment. First, did SB prescreen for students having or not having common core instruction? No prescreening, to my knowledge, but SB did conduct student and teacher surveys that may or may not have elicited information on status of common core instruction, but no results from those surveys have been released yet as far as I know. Second, does CDE monitor status of implementation of common core instruction for individual schools and districts? Nothing conclusive or detailed that I have seen, and that is why the McLaughlin report is important, it fills that void to some degree. Third, will participation rates drop? Smarter Balanced participation is mandatory via AB 484 approved last year, so my guess is participation will be close to 100 percent just like STAR participation since 1998. But . . . Fourth, responding to your last paragraph, legislative mandates aside when a large scale assessment system is administered to many kids who are not prepared for the material on the test, there will be significant pushback from students and parents, as well as teachers and administrators. I would put the blame for such a circumstance squarely on the K-12 education leaders in the state who prematurely implement such a statewide assessment system, that is, the CDE, the SSPI, the SBE, the Legislature, and the Governor (and his education advisors). Unfortunately, it will be the folks in the trenches (students, parents, teachers, etc) who suffer the consequences of invalid, unreliable, unfair, non-comparable statewide assessment data.

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Doug, you've spoken at length and with conviction on the question of the hasty implementation. While there are any number of inside baseball issues having to do with the administration of the test, some of which were broached in the last few comments, the one question that keeps coming back to me is why those leaders are so bent on a fast rollout despite a lack of instructional preparedness that would give pause to a … Read More

            Doug, you’ve spoken at length and with conviction on the question of the hasty implementation. While there are any number of inside baseball issues having to do with the administration of the test, some of which were broached in the last few comments, the one question that keeps coming back to me is why those leaders are so bent on a fast rollout despite a lack of instructional preparedness that would give pause to a reasonable person.

            I understand that sooner is better – all things being equal. But the purpose of Common Core standards is to ensure that K-12 students receive the 21st Century instruction they will need as adults (if indeed they are 21st standards). Since the powers that be are doing so little to assure the necessary professional development for CCSS is provided PRIOR to testing, one could surmise that SBAC in 2015 is being driven with the intent to let unprepared districts fail. If this is so, is failure meant to light a fire under such districts to hurry up or is the hurried nature simply intended to roll out the programs faster in order to create the markets for the sale of Common Core instructional and evaluative products?

      • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

        John -- Your description of formative "items" or formative "tests" is accurate but incomplete, I think. Most curriculum/instruction folks describe these elements as formative "practices" rather than just "items" or "tests" and include stuff like simple questioning by teachers in the process of delivering instruction, questioning designed to ascertain what kids know and don't know to guide an instructional activity. So, stuff like using the Socratic Method would be a formative practice. Formative elements of … Read More

        John — Your description of formative “items” or formative “tests” is accurate but incomplete, I think. Most curriculum/instruction folks describe these elements as formative “practices” rather than just “items” or “tests” and include stuff like simple questioning by teachers in the process of delivering instruction, questioning designed to ascertain what kids know and don’t know to guide an instructional activity. So, stuff like using the Socratic Method would be a formative practice. Formative elements of instruction as part and parcel of good instructional practice; I recall a classroom assessment specialist colleague some years ago saying that up to 1/3 of good instruction is made up of formative assessment practices. I’ve got no argument with that description. My concern is that if formative practices are limited to things that look like test items or tests themselves, and are issued by the large scale testing vendor, they begin to look like a fish and act like a fish, with the fish being teaching to the summative test. That is bad for both good curriculum/instruction practice and good large scale assessment practice. My preference would be that good formative assessment practices and good interim testing practices be left to suppliers of instructional materials, rather than come from the supplier of large scale summative tests such as statewide assessment system, which should be designed primarily for measuring achievement status and progress at the end of the instructional period and agnostic to the individual instructional elements chosen by individual schools and districts.

        • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

          Thanks for the more expansive definition, Doug.

          • Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

            Reply to Don's comment @ 8:50 last night -- For any information on why CA's education leaders have decided on a hasty implementation of common core tests, you'll have to ask CA's education leaders. Anything else is just speculation. However, I will say the 2015 implementation date is tied to the target date for the federally funded consortium test development efforts, so the fed funding and consortium agreements signed 3-4 years ago would seem to … Read More

            Reply to Don’s comment @ 8:50 last night — For any information on why CA’s education leaders have decided on a hasty implementation of common core tests, you’ll have to ask CA’s education leaders. Anything else is just speculation. However, I will say the 2015 implementation date is tied to the target date for the federally funded consortium test development efforts, so the fed funding and consortium agreements signed 3-4 years ago would seem to play an important role in the hasty implementation timelines that are contrary to good large scale assessment program practices (in my opinion).

  3. Tressy Capps 2 years ago2 years ago

    Common core is the federal government takeover of education. It is illegal and must be stopped. Do your research and you will quickly realize it is BAD. California must follow in the footsteps of the states who have already rejected these ridiculous standards. No amount of bribe money is worth stupefying our kids. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Si-kx5-MKSE

    Replies

    • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

      Common Core may be many things, but it is not a federal conspiracy. The Obama administration has been snookered, in my opinion, by their own Secretary of Education who decided to follow the advice of David Coleman and his associates. (Coleman brags about that in several videos, so it is not like I am making this up.)

      Yes, it is a sin of omission, but not of commission. Just say no. 🙂

      • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

        Snookered implies he cared. I think he’s ambivalent enough to simply let other people do what they will as long as it can make him look like he has a direction and nets him some sound bites.
        Obama released a book near the beginning of his first term that supposedly describes the issues that would drive his education policy. It reads like a school reform almanac.

      • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

        You have a good point, Manuel. No illegality to be found here. States sign on to CCSS "voluntarily." One of the advantages the pseudo-reformers, like Gates, have had is that there are so few discretionary dollars available in the education system that it makes states and districts desperate when a few bucks are waved in front of their noses to be used on something that is not tied up in day to day operations of … Read More

        You have a good point, Manuel. No illegality to be found here. States sign on to CCSS “voluntarily.” One of the advantages the pseudo-reformers, like Gates, have had is that there are so few discretionary dollars available in the education system that it makes states and districts desperate when a few bucks are waved in front of their noses to be used on something that is not tied up in day to day operations of the schools. This was true when Gates was pushing his “Smaller Learning Communities Initiative,” which turned out to be an absolute debacle and was abandoned by Gates, and it again proved true when Arne rolled out RTTT as a “competitive grant.” One of the requirements was for states to adopt “world class standards” (in some phrasing or other) to qualify for RTT and there was CCSS already on the menu. How convenient. In the legislative frenzy to get qualified for RTT several CA legislative neo-liberals joined conservatives and pushed adoption of CCSS (and other ill-conceived laws like Parent trigger.) It remains to be seen if CCSS will turn out well or poorly. Luckily Brown, Torlakson, the legislature, and the SBE have all collaborated to see that CA has some extra time to implement CCSS and the new assessments, but that leaves a lot of questions (as Doug McCrea has pointed out) about whether or not there will be sufficient instructional time for the kids to learn the new standards, whether professional development can be provided so teachers can teach to the new standards, whether instructional materials aligned to the new standards will be available, and whether the majority of school districts can manage the necessary technology fixes. The common sense way to approach this would be to just postpone testing until all the pieces are in place, but that of course would trigger false shouts of “fire in a crowded theater” from the usual suspects translated into “fear of accountability.” So doing the common sense thing is likely not a possibility. Reports from the field suggest, generally speaking, teachers like the CCSS and find them an improvement over the old standards. A key problem is no one bothered to field test them before jumping on the implementation bandwagon. Where they have been implemented, with assessments (!), to this point has been a debacle just because all of the points Doug brought up have not been addressed. Did I mention CCSS is another Gates initiative? The debacles this time, particularly as occurred in New York, so disturbed him he has backed off on quick implementation. He has also backed off on using student test scores for teachers’ evaluations. So, it appears, after enough failures Mr. Gates can learn. Now, if only some other state and national leaders and policy makers could do the same we might actually get somewhere.

        • John Fensterwald 2 years ago2 years ago

          From what I have read, Gary, the Council of Chief State Officers and the National Governors Association. creators of Common Core, approached Gates for support for the initiative, not the other way around. That is an important distinction.

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            I believe I have read reports, John, that make it very clear that it was not Gates' idea. Nevertheless, without his considerable economic and political resources, CCSS would never have had the level of "success" it has had in being embraced by all sorts of characters. While it is easy to attack CCSS for it being a bit on the wishy-washy on the educational side (and I've done a few of those0, it ought to … Read More

            I believe I have read reports, John, that make it very clear that it was not Gates’ idea. Nevertheless, without his considerable economic and political resources, CCSS would never have had the level of “success” it has had in being embraced by all sorts of characters.

            While it is easy to attack CCSS for it being a bit on the wishy-washy on the educational side (and I’ve done a few of those0, it ought to be given a chance to fail. But since it depends on so many things to be “just so” for CCSS to succeed, I think it will eventually be found to have been DOA but was kept on life supports while the Usual Suspects looked for cover.

            Yet another one bites the dust, it seems.

            Of course, who ends up paying the price for being the guinea pigs on this grand experiment? Students, parents, and teachers, in my opinion.

            And so it goes…

            (now where is my cithara?)

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Only if you don’t take the issue of who has the discretionary dollars available and how “school related” officials will lunge with abandon at any funding. And I will check the sources on who went to whom first. Certainly, whatever the order of the initial “ask,” it had Gates blessing which has not been good news for education.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            “The Gates Foundation has spent more than $170 million to develop and promote the Common Core standards, and is their biggest nongovernmental backer.”

            From the WAPO. March 14.

            So Gates is the “biggest non-governmental backer” but it not one of his initiatives? That seems like a bit of semantic quibbling. I will dig further but without much energy.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Sorry Manuel, we had to return the cithara; and your violin too. The parent donations that pay for music instruction didn’t come through this year..

          • Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

            Gary, seek no more. Here it is ,straight from the... man's mouth in this Washington Post article/interview: How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution It says so in the fourth paragraph: On a summer day in 2008, Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist for the standards movement, spent hours in Bill Gates’s sleek headquarters near Seattle, trying to persuade him and his wife, Melinda, … Read More

            Gary, seek no more. Here it is ,straight from the… man’s mouth in this Washington Post article/interview:

            How Bill Gates pulled off the swift Common Core revolution

            It says so in the fourth paragraph:
            On a summer day in 2008, Gene Wilhoit, director of a national group of state school chiefs, and David Coleman, an emerging evangelist for the standards movement, spent hours in Bill Gates’s sleek headquarters near Seattle, trying to persuade him and his wife, Melinda, to turn their idea into reality.

            Once in, though, Gates has not pulled any punches and believes that his giving money to promote Common Core “is trying to make sure students have the kind of opportunity I had.” Really? Why doesn’t he just fund a good number of scholarships to high-end private schools? You know, the ones that charge $30k and up per kid?

            (navigio: does that mean that I have to buy my own cithara? whatever happen to my constitutional right to a “free public education”? oh, wait, music lessons are not included. my bad.)

            Then, when all these kids have “defied their demographics” we can point out that it takes $30k/year to truly teach such a kid rather than $7k as we do in California public schools.

          • navigio 2 years ago2 years ago

            Didn’t you know Manuel? The education you’re entitled to is only for those things that allow you to make money (or allow others to make money off of you).
            Subjects which expand your horizons or allow you to enjoy life are reserved for socialist counties and rich people. Where have you been?

          • Don 2 years ago2 years ago

            Gary, you said yourself that teachers, generally speaking, like the CC standards so bashing Gates seems a bit off color. I’ll let you all get back to bashing the rich guy now. When you come up with something concrete let me know.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Thanks, Manuel. Found that one myself, but you beat me to it as far as posting.

  4. Doug McRae 2 years ago2 years ago

    Thanx for alerting your readers to the recent Stanford study that confirms that many if not more than half of California local school districts have yet to fully implement the common core. It confirms the viewpoint I have voiced in this space (see my May 19 commentary published) that common core instruction has not yet been implemented and following good large scale assessment practice that instruction must come before assessments, California is not ready to … Read More

    Thanx for alerting your readers to the recent Stanford study that confirms that many if not more than half of California local school districts have yet to fully implement the common core. It confirms the viewpoint I have voiced in this space (see my May 19 commentary published) that common core instruction has not yet been implemented and following good large scale assessment practice that instruction must come before assessments, California is not ready to implement common core statewide assessments scheduled spring 2015. Some may argue that assessments are part of instruction, and thus can be implemented concurrently with implementation of instruction. But, the general public interprets results of statewide assessments as measuring achievement and progress of achievement by California students, measuring the results of instruction, not as an internal component of the instructional process. There can be and should be assessments internal to the instructional process, but statewide assessments administered at the end of the school year with heavy test security are de facto tests to document status and progress of achievement, not instructional tests per se. The Stanford study you describe is powerful evidence that California is not yet ready to implement common core assessments as part of a large scale end-of-year statewide assessment program, with the results to be used for accountability purposes.

  5. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    Some good documentation about how we've rushed into Common Core. The aspect I did not see addressed is the real conflict between LCFF and Common Core. LCFF provides differentiated funding which was meant to meet the differentiated needs of districts. Is the contention that LCFF ramp up is too slow to be effective in meeting the timing of Common Core? Or that even the final LCFF funding is too low to … Read More

    Some good documentation about how we’ve rushed into Common Core. The aspect I did not see addressed is the real conflict between LCFF and Common Core. LCFF provides differentiated funding which was meant to meet the differentiated needs of districts. Is the contention that LCFF ramp up is too slow to be effective in meeting the timing of Common Core? Or that even the final LCFF funding is too low to meet the challenges of Common Core? LCFF in theory does suffer from the lack of coordination between districts. In practice it’s not clear the state would do any better job at eliminating variations as there are plenty of examples of variation before LCFF existed. We are fortunate that some districts in our state formed CORE and I believe membership is still open to all districts, true?