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The state doesn't currently collect statewide surveys measuring school climate and student engagement. Parents and advocacy groups would like it to and use the results as part of a school accountability system.

Editor’s note: Proponents of the Common Core State Standards – the most ambitious education reform in decades – say the standards will help close the nation’s achievement gap. Just how is that supposed to happen, and how likely is success?

Michelle Rodriguez, assistant superintendent of the Santa Ana School District, is convinced that the new Common Core State Standards can help narrow California’s achievement gap. For all too many decades, that troubling disparity has been marked by lower test scores and higher dropout rates for African-American, Latino and low-income students, and students who are still learning English.

To explain her faith in the standards’ potential, Rodriguez pointed to a scene she witnessed recently in a 4th-grade math class in her district, where nearly nine out of 10 of the roughly 57,000 students are English learners, and a similar share come from low-income families.

A boy raised his hand to give the answer to a multiplication problem. The answer was correct, but the teacher wanted more.

“Explain your thinking,” she told the student.

“I just know it!” the boy protested.

“In past years, the teacher might have said ‘Good job!’ and left it at that,” Rodriguez said. “But this time, she told the boy to meet with his ‘collaboration team’ of three other students. The other kids were asking, ‘Are you sure? How do you know it?’ and it turned out he had the right answer for the wrong reason. They kept talking, and in less than five minutes this boy, who is still learning English, was not only able to grasp the concept, but explain it to the rest of the class.”

For Rodriguez and other champions of the new standards, the scene reveals three specific ways the Common Core can help all students, but particularly those who need extra support. Children are facing more challenging tasks. They’re also spending more time collaborating and communicating with their fellow students and teachers. And they’re routinely obliged to persevere.

In all these ways, say these proponents, classroom expectations for K-12 students are becoming more similar to the sorts of demands they’ll face in college and their careers – a change that holds great promise of improving children’s futures.

“These standards are going to make all of our children more competitive, both in college and careers,” Rodriguez said.

Her confidence is all the more striking given that some advocacy groups, including Education Trust-West, an Oakland-based organization focused on closing the achievement gap, have expressed concern that the Common Core’s more challenging requirements actually risk widening the gap, absent a great deal of extra support. Yet Rodriguez and other proponents contend that the new, higher standards are precisely what these students need most.

“Isn’t it better for them to know ahead of time that this is what’s going to be expected of them later?” Rodriguez asked, referring to the explicit Common Core goal of preparing students for college and careers.

Leading civil rights groups, such as the NAACP and MALDEF, the Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, share Rodriguez’s hopeful outlook. For the first time, say these advocates, the Common Core standards expect every high school senior – not just those whose parents can afford extra tutoring – to be genuinely prepared to succeed in college or in other career pathways. Those pathways can include a vocational training program, the job market itself, or enlisting in the military. The goal is to proceed without having to take costly remedial courses after high school.

The standards “are designed to promote equity by ensuring all students, no matter where they live, are well prepared with the skills and knowledge necessary to collaborate and compete with their peers in the U.S. and abroad,” said a 2013 resolution by the NAACP.

Expressing similar sentiments, MALDEF president Thomas Saenz has noted: “Because Latinos are an important and growing proportion of the public school population, our community has a particular interest in achieving swift and appropriate implementation of the Common Core Standards.”

Jason Zimba, a lead author of the Common Core mathematics standards and a founder of Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the new benchmarks, said the Common Core for the first time provides a “map” that makes it “explicit to everyone what a solid education looks like.” In an interview with EdSource, Zimba added: “The affluent have always known the terms of the deal – what math you should learn, that you should be learning algebra, that you have to have an academic component to your learning. But… these things need to be revealed to everyone, and that’s part of the goal of the standards.”

It’s no secret that, on average, students who come from low-income families, who are African-Americans or Latinos, who lack English fluency or who have learning disabilities lag behind their peers in U.S. classrooms. Repeated attempts at reform over the years have done little to significantly narrow these achievement gaps, which show up in high school dropout rates and in test scores.

California’s graduation rate for white students in 2013 was 87.7 percent. In contrast, and despite some recent improvements, the rate for Latinos is 75.7 percent, and for African-Americans, just 68.1 percent. On the National Assessment of Education Progress, or NAEP – a regularly administered national standardized test often referred to as “the nation’s report card” – the gap in 4th and 8th grade reading and math scores for Latinos and blacks remains stubbornly large, at more than 20 points lower than for whites in both subjects and grades.

Disparities evident in elementary school hit home when high school graduates enroll in college or look for work. Nationally, roughly half of incoming freshmen at community colleges have to take remedial courses that don’t offer credit. Meanwhile, many employers have been complaining for years that their new hires among high school graduates lack the skills they need to do well at their jobs. Some, they say, lack basic English fluency and math skills, while many also lack the ability to think critically and collaborate.

“The future U.S. workforce is here – and it is woefully ill-prepared for the demands of today’s (and tomorrow’s) workplace,” concluded a major 2006 survey of more than 400 employers throughout the nation.

The Common Core standards aim to better prepare students with higher and clearer expectations that begin in kindergarten.

As the 4th-grader in Santa Ana discovered, the new standards require that students not only get the right answers to problems but be able to explain how they reached their conclusions. Of particular potential help to English learners is a greater focus in all classes on communication and collaboration, obliging all students to speak and listen much more during the day, which can help build both their vocabularies and their stamina. Moreover, students are expected in all subjects to read more non-fiction, including technical documents, and to practice more analytical, argument-based writing and speaking, all of which is more compatible with what they’d be expected to do in college and on the job.

In an oft-quoted comment justifying a shift to more professional and less personal writing in school, David Coleman, a principal author of the standards and now president of the College Board, which administers the SAT and other standardized tests, has said that an employer would never tell an employee, “Johnson, I need a market analysis by Friday, but before that, I need a compelling account of your childhood.”

“It’s a heavy lift, but a necessary one, and not too much to ask,” said Jeannette LaFors, director of Equity Initiatives at Education Trust-West.

An especially useful change with the new standards, say LaFors and others, is that they emphasize perseverance. “There’s a focus on productive struggle that we didn’t see in previous standards,” LaFors said. “Too often when kids struggle, they just give up and say ‘I’m stupid.’ But you actually see the word ‘persevere’ written into these standards. We’re encouraging students to use their mistakes as a critical part of their learning.”

LaFors, a former administrator at Envision Schools, a network of small, academically rigorous urban charter schools, said low-achievers often fall into one of two categories: capable but unmotivated kids who have “skills without will” and others who have more will to learn but who lag behind in developing their skills. Ideally, the new standards will help both of these groups, she said; they’re intended to engage the bored kids by giving them more active roles in the classroom, while providing less-skilled students more opportunities to catch up.

“The Common Core allows teachers to spend more time with students on fewer concepts, helping them grapple with and understand those concepts from various vantage points,” LaFors said. “With the previous standards, if you didn’t get something on the first fly-by, the class moved on and left you behind. But with the Common Core, you’re going deeper, which should give the previous low-achievers a better shot as concepts are introduced and re-introduced.”

Even as the Common Core offers hope of greater education equity, LaFors and others who are closely watching the transition to the new standards say that promise will only be fulfilled if school districts provide considerable additional support to English learners, in particular, to ensure that they benefit from the new approach.

“We know our students need additional support to meet the higher expectations, and we don’t want to change those expectations,” said Santa Ana’s assistant superintendent Rodriguez.

In other words, while the Common Core may provide the “map,” it’s up to the school districts to undertake the journey to make sure the new standards fulfill their promise for students whose futures depend on them.

Educators such as Oakland Unified School District Superintendent Antwan Wilson recognize that the Common Core is only a piece of the puzzle of narrowing California’s achievement gap. In an interview with EdSource last fall, he warned that truly meaningful reform must also include additional support to teachers and school leaders, as well as social-emotional programs that address some of the issues that children face in their homes and neighborhoods.

“In and of itself, the Common Core isn’t going to be enough,” Wilson warned, even as he added that the Common Core is “a significant piece of the puzzle because what it is really talking about is putting all young people on the trajectory to be college- and career-ready. So it’s important. It’s about raising standards.”

Katherine Ellison covers the Common Core for EdSource.


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  1. Joe 1 year ago1 year ago

    Another important thing to keep in mind when targeting the achievement gap is the access-to-books gap that exists between low and high income neighborhoods. A 2010 study from 27 countries and 70,000 students showed that coming from a home with a lot of books adds three years to a child's education. Unfortunately, in addition to a huge achievement gap between high and low-income students, we also have an enormous access-to-print gap. Considering the lifetime cost … Read More

    Another important thing to keep in mind when targeting the achievement gap is the access-to-books gap that exists between low and high income neighborhoods. A 2010 study from 27 countries and 70,000 students showed that coming from a home with a lot of books adds three years to a child’s education. Unfortunately, in addition to a huge achievement gap between high and low-income students, we also have an enormous access-to-print gap. Considering the lifetime cost to taxpayers of a high school student dropping out is $127,000, putting money into the relatively low-cost investment of children’s books for the home and neighborhood library can go a long way to close that gap. I wrote more about it here:

    http://gettingyourkidstoread.com/2015/04/22/can-giving-away-500-books-save-taxpayers-127000/

  2. Manuel 2 years ago2 years ago

    There is a very simple explanation why English learners score lower in the tests. But I'll let you come up with your own answer: what would happen if native English speakers took tests in the foreign language they are learning at the school? Oh, wait, that's not fair because the vast majority of students in the US are not learning a foreign language in school. They don't need no stinkin' second language, they are Americans! Seriously, folks, … Read More

    There is a very simple explanation why English learners score lower in the tests.

    But I’ll let you come up with your own answer: what would happen if native English speakers took tests in the foreign language they are learning at the school? Oh, wait, that’s not fair because the vast majority of students in the US are not learning a foreign language in school. They don’t need no stinkin’ second language, they are Americans!

    Seriously, folks, doesn’t it fly against common sense to expect English learners to do as well as native English speakers? Why is this still being considered a reasonable demand?

    Similarly, if the language of the test is that of those with a better socioeconomic status, why are we surprised that poor children, who don’t have access to an extensive vocabulary are going to score equally well? I once was shown results of similar tests given in Spain, a country not known for having many children learning Spanish. The scores were lower for children who are poor. Sure, some of you will say that correlation is not causation, but I think that you are wrong in this case.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Manuel: Obviously you don't understand that the relationship between high achievement and low achievement and their respective relationship to the wealth,income, and parental education levels is correlational. It is mere coincidence that wealthy students routinely outperform poor students on achievement tests. Of course it is extremely difficult to find a truly low performing school in a wealthy enclave, I can't think of any, but accepting the consistency of that finding is, as they say, the "hobgoblin … Read More

      Manuel:

      Obviously you don’t understand that the relationship between high achievement and low achievement and their respective relationship to the wealth,income, and parental education levels is correlational. It is mere coincidence that wealthy students routinely outperform poor students on achievement tests. Of course it is extremely difficult to find a truly low performing school in a wealthy enclave, I can’t think of any, but accepting the consistency of that finding is, as they say, the “hobgoblin of small minds.”

      Now there are some relatively high(er) performing schools (aka, outliers) in low wealth areas but further inquiry into those cases seems to indicate schools that; 1) restrict entry to EL and special ed students; 2) have curriculums that seem oriented towards test prep; or, 3) have actually implemented policies that harness the skills of their teaching force, create collaborative relationships between management and unions, instituted “wrap-around services” for kids and parents, and reject mass firings of teachers-closing schools-turning management over to private sector charter operators-Teach for America-or other unproven and draconian “reforms.” Option #3 can be classified as “reforms that work;” however, because those reforms don’t satisfy the whims and yearnings of the best known self-styled reformers-aka, mostly those who have no experience or background in education or research whatsoever- those reforms are to be rigorously ignored by “right thinking” citizens.

      The fundamental truths involved here are that to: 1) make claim to the idea that you are really interested in leveling the educational playing field for all children; and, 2) to recognize the connections between parental wealth and children’s achievement, means you have to congruently recognize that something has to be done to establish economic equity in the nation. And one of the direct consequences of that kind of thinking leads one inevitably to think about taxing the wealthy and business interests to support systems in this nation, like systems that have been established in other prosperous nations, that bring increased equity and necessary supports to create that level playing field.

      Obviously, such ideas, like those about school reforms shown to actually work, will bring cries of outrage from those “right thinking citizens” mentioned previously. You know, people like the Koch brothers and Bill Gates.

      And then you get into issue of school performance of second language learners. Yet another bit of research about that, that linguists assert it takes five to seven years to acquire academic proficiency in a new language, must be ignored. Just because. And the fact that yet another tech guy with no clue about education got an initiative passed in CA inhibiting the instruction of students in the content areas in their heritage language, and thereby inhibiting their learning while they get to academic proficiency in English, should also be ignored. Again, those “right thinking citizens” understand at their very core that jingoistic policies are fundamental to our system.

      Or something like that.

  3. Brian Silberberg 2 years ago2 years ago

    The birth of the Common Core presents many new opportunities and challenges for the future of education. We at Books That Grow are excited that our app helps ease up this process, as our library of reading materials, all of which are compliant with the standards of the Common Core, can be read across multiple reading levels so students of all stripes can follow along with their lessons simultaneously while preparing for their exams. See more at http://www.booksthatgrow.com/

  4. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    Did we enter a “black hole event horizon here?” Katherine did a great job on the article, but wasn’t it posted a few days ago? Deja vu all over again, or do I repeat myself?

  5. Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

    Critics are raising questions about whether having low-wage temps scoring the tests is a sound practice. This is from Diane Ravitch's blog. Just a few days ago, someone tweeted this ad he found on Craig’sList in Indianapolis: “Test Evaluators Needed (to score K-12 standardized tests) (Indianapolis, IN) “Compensation: $11.05/hr contract job “If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we need your help to evaluate student assessment tests. Come apply! “For more information and to schedule an appointment visit our website … Read More

    Critics are raising questions about whether having low-wage temps scoring the tests is a sound practice.
    This is from Diane Ravitch’s blog.

    Just a few days ago, someone tweeted this ad he found on Craig’sList in Indianapolis:
    “Test Evaluators Needed (to score K-12 standardized tests) (Indianapolis, IN)
    “Compensation: $11.05/hr contract job
    “If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we need your help to evaluate student assessment tests. Come apply!
    “For more information and to schedule an appointment visit our website http://www.kellyservices.us/ctb or call us at 1-877-535-5981
    “Please be prepared to spend two hours going to through the application / orientation process. Please bring two forms of identification to complete and I-9 and bring proof of your degree.
    “These are project based positions. Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm
    “Position Requirements:
    -Must hold a completed Bachelor’s degree or higher
    -Ability to sit and at a computer station for full work day
    -Basic computer knowledge
    -Knowledge of standard writing conventions and mechanics
    -Availability to work Monday through Friday for the entire duration of a project
    -Demonstrate flexibility while working on various projects”

  6. Caroline Grannan 2 years ago2 years ago

    Critics are raising questions about whether having low-wage temps scoring the tests is a sound practice. http://dianeravitch.net/2015/02/19/craigslist-seeking-test-scorers-at-11-05-per-hour/ Just a few days ago, someone tweeted this ad he found on Craig’sList in Indianapolis: “Test Evaluators Needed (to score K-12 standardized tests) (Indianapolis, IN) “Compensation: $11.05/hr contract job “If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we need your help to evaluate student assessment tests. Come apply! “For more information and to schedule an appointment visit our website … Read More

    Critics are raising questions about whether having low-wage temps scoring the tests is a sound practice.

    http://dianeravitch.net/2015/02/19/craigslist-seeking-test-scorers-at-11-05-per-hour/

    Just a few days ago, someone tweeted this ad he found on Craig’sList in Indianapolis:

    “Test Evaluators Needed (to score K-12 standardized tests) (Indianapolis, IN)

    “Compensation: $11.05/hr contract job

    “If you have a Bachelor’s degree or higher, we need your help to evaluate student assessment tests. Come apply!

    “For more information and to schedule an appointment visit our website http://www.kellyservices.us/ctb or call us at 1-877-535-5981

    “Please be prepared to spend two hours going to through the application / orientation process. Please bring two forms of identification to complete and I-9 and bring proof of your degree.

    “These are project based positions. Monday – Friday, 8:30am – 4:30pm

    “Position Requirements:

    -Must hold a completed Bachelor’s degree or higher

    -Ability to sit and at a computer station for full work day

    -Basic computer knowledge

    -Knowledge of standard writing conventions and mechanics

    -Availability to work Monday through Friday for the entire duration of a project

    -Demonstrate flexibility while working on various projects”

  7. zane de arakal 2 years ago2 years ago

    never happen. per research over the years, socio-economic ststus must be modified in order to increase learning.

    Replies

    • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

      No, habits, attitude, discipline and effort must change. Why do poor Asians do better than upper middle class whites in school? It ain't money. It's effort. Resources help, but they aren't everything. Many rich kids get cocky and don't work that hard. Why do you think Lowell with 41% on free and reduced lunch beats 40k private schools with under 5% poor enough to qualify for free or reduced … Read More

      No, habits, attitude, discipline and effort must change. Why do poor Asians do better than upper middle class whites in school? It ain’t money. It’s effort. Resources help, but they aren’t everything. Many rich kids get cocky and don’t work that hard. Why do you think Lowell with 41% on free and reduced lunch beats 40k private schools with under 5% poor enough to qualify for free or reduced lunch? It’s hunger and effort. Why do the middle class Asian schools like Mission Fremont and Cupertino beat high income areas like LaMOrinda, Marin and Danville? I’m talking AP Tests, test scores, API, Test Scores and college admissions and graduation percentages. These are facts, and hey are undisputed.

      • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

        Now I understand you much better Floyd. Your bastions of the middle class are Cupertino and Mission Fremont.

  8. Bruce William Smith 2 years ago2 years ago

    Performance standards need to be raised, and the Common Core may be a step up from those that preceded it, but it is inadequate to closing the global achievement gap that has actually widened since No Child Left Behind was enacted early in George W. Bush's presidency. Even if scores on American tests like NAEP have improved for fourth and eighth-graders in the 21st century, they remain flat for 12th-graders, which indicates that the rate … Read More

    Performance standards need to be raised, and the Common Core may be a step up from those that preceded it, but it is inadequate to closing the global achievement gap that has actually widened since No Child Left Behind was enacted early in George W. Bush’s presidency. Even if scores on American tests like NAEP have improved for fourth and eighth-graders in the 21st century, they remain flat for 12th-graders, which indicates that the rate of learning in America’s unreformed high schools has actually decreased from an already low level; and such gains as have appeared have not transferred into improved performance on the non-American, more applied tests of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, including, most crucially, those in its Programme for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies, which have revealed that young Americans aged 16-24 are the least competent in the developed world.

    We absolutely need a new direction in education reform, and the people who have been leading it don’t know what they’re talking about, at least when it comes to defining a world-class educational system: in most cases they’ve never seen one, have very little teaching experience, and rely upon invalid arguments, like those in this propaganda piece above, which they may have sold to the ignorant, but which are steadily being shown to be sham make-believe.

  9. Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

    This article is, in many ways, "half right." There may be some closing of achievement gaps with the implementation of CCSS, but not because of CCSS. Congruent with the new standards is the realization, in some quarters anyway, that the way education has been slavishly tethered to test scores has had negative impacts on learning. The demeaned curriculum and school day, in some cases almost entirely focused on Math and ELA because those were the focus … Read More

    This article is, in many ways, “half right.”

    There may be some closing of achievement gaps with the implementation of CCSS, but not because of CCSS. Congruent with the new standards is the realization, in some quarters anyway, that the way education has been slavishly tethered to test scores has had negative impacts on learning. The demeaned curriculum and school day, in some cases almost entirely focused on Math and ELA because those were the focus of the tests, has particularly negatively impacted schools with high needs students, which in the US is mostly a proxy for saying minority students.

    To the extent the implementation of CCSS (even though they too focus on Math and ELA) is accompanied by a more balanced curriculum then high needs students will benefit.

    A way it will not help is the fact that though middle-class schools were less negatively impacted, and affluent schools almost not at all, the possible benefits of improved critical thinking and the improvements in learning of broadening the curriculum will be applied equally across all schools and all socioeconomic levels.

    A study of NAEP scores shows dramatic increases in achievement for students, as well as a slight closing of achievement gaps, since the test was first administered. However, if the gap appeared in the first set of tests (which it did), and everybody improves at about the same rate, then the gap never closes. It should be said here that NAEP scores, and the slight closing of the “gap,” flatlined about the same time as NCLB was imposed.

    There is considerable research that shows that disadvantaged students gain about the same levels of achievement while in school, but lose more on breaks. The assumption is, disadvantaged students have fewer opportunities to have “educationally relevant experiences” (museum trips, travel, etc.) outside of school than is true for their more advantaged peers. Plus high needs students tend to live in unhealthily high stress communities and generally have less access to libraries, museums, and books.

    And then there is the great single truth to the whole gap issue. The gap is present the day students enter school. There has been much discussion of the documented “word gap” between advantaged and disadvantaged populations. There are studies talking about the differences in approaches to questioning and leaning dependent on social and economic class. This isn’t about “innate ability” of students, it’s about differences in supports in health care, housing, job stability, incomes and wealth, early care and preschool, as well as other culturally imbedded factors, that all add up to measured achievement gaps. So all of those other gaps need to be closed to give all students a truly level academic playing field.

    Luckily, it appears that at least one new superintendent (Oakland) understands that there needs to be comprehensive support systems in schools, and outside of schools. He seems to be, by implication, talking about a system of reciprocal accountability. This is where schools, by themselves only responsible for about 1/3rd of the variability in test scores (aka, the achievement gap), hold the community and state to be accountable for their responsibility to support the other 2/3rds of the achievement gap. Certainly the state of CA, wealthiest state in the union, which ranks in the bottom decile of states in funding per child for K-12 education has a lot of work to do to be said to be accountable. Communities that allow their police departments to treat their minority communities as if they were “free fire zones” and, therefore, hostile to children’s psychological wellbeing, have work to do too.

    From an educator’s perspective it is not to soon to say, a “principal author” of CCSS, David Coleman’s comments about how children learn to write (and read) is so far off the mark of what is known about learning that it bodes ill for the College Board, and perhaps CCSS. That is unless classroom practitioners are given a free hand and can turn the Coleman imbedded lemons in CCSS to pedagogic lemonade. That being said, the CSS, which did have input from other sectors (if not enough from actual teachers), and is a step up from the last set of standards.

    There is not now and never has been substantive research supporting the concept of standards and tests (which inevitably seem to be apart of even CCSS) driving improvements in educational achievement or the closing of “gaps” between socio-economic groups. However, there are movements which are congruent to the implementation of CCSS that offer some hope.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      No, actually, on OECD managed tests young Americans who attend schools with 10% or fewer students eligible for "free&reduced lunch" are the most competent in the world. How come everybody likes to look at the OECD produced test scores but wants to pay no attention to what the OECD says about childhood poverty and the impacts of that on test scores? The other issue is, though I often ironically comment on the "vaunted international test scores," … Read More

      No, actually, on OECD managed tests young Americans who attend schools with 10% or fewer students eligible for “free&reduced lunch” are the most competent in the world. How come everybody likes to look at the OECD produced test scores but wants to pay no attention to what the OECD says about childhood poverty and the impacts of that on test scores?

      The other issue is, though I often ironically comment on the “vaunted international test scores,” the fact is that the US has had mediocre scores since the testing began while simultaneously having the wealthiest, most competitive, and most productive economy in the world. Obviously, how that great wealth has come to be so inequitably distributed and that gains in worker productivity have not translated into gains in compensation as that did in the time before unions were decimated, This is a cause for great concern. And it has an impact on test scores, if you are so enamored of those for their own sake.

      When the US lost it’s economic ranking as the most competitive in the world it was not because of academic standards, it was not because of poor school/test performance, it was what was euphemistically called “instability in the financial sector.” That is, basically the recklessness and corruption of the US banking and financial sectors.

      The connections for on the ground conditions between international test scores seem to be: 1) they are good predictors of childhood wellbeing; and, 2) they are lousy predictors of a nation’s economic wellbeing.

      • Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary,

        You might enjoy reading the Darwin Economy if you haven’t already done so.

  10. Don 2 years ago2 years ago

    This article is an example of the blind orthodoxy popping up around Common Core. I read and reread the article and all it really told me about CC was that math instruction is conducted through an investigatory process that focuses heavily on collaborative group work. This is a small part of what teaching and instruction are about. It doesn't come close to explaining how CC will close the achievement gap. What it does is … Read More

    This article is an example of the blind orthodoxy popping up around Common Core. I read and reread the article and all it really told me about CC was that math instruction is conducted through an investigatory process that focuses heavily on collaborative group work. This is a small part of what teaching and instruction are about. It doesn’t come close to explaining how CC will close the achievement gap. What it does is create a great deal of doubt in my mind as it now pinned math success on not only learning multiplication, but also functioning effectively in a group setting. Collaborative work can be a snake’s nest. It’s utility depends upon the proper composition, seating arrangement and general cooperativeness as well as maturity and developmental stage of the group participants. So now, instead of having one goal of, let’s say, having to understand how to conceive of the multiplication process from different perspectives we know have succeed as a group to do it. And teachers know poorly conducted collaborative work can break down quickly into wasted time and even chaos. One student who does not want to go along with the program can ruin it for everyone. My own son experienced this at his school on a daily basis and suffered for it. Even the best trained teachers can have difficulty successfully managing a collaborative workshop. Teaching communication, collaboration and perseverance are lofty goals, but why risk learning the multiplication table on succeeding in these other personal and interpersonal skills? But I’m sure Robinson Crusoe would have enjoyed the company.

    Then there’s the other surprise in the article when Rodrigues sayz a boy had the right answer for the wrong reason. This seems to fly in the face of the philosophy of CC. There are any number of ways to arrive a correct answer and they are all good as long as the answer is right. What’s important is to do it in a way you can repeat and can be done in relatively short order. Teaching kids the long way around methods of solving simple equations might have some instructional application for understanding the theory of computation, but we need to give kids useful tried and true solutions that don’t confound the learning of basic arithmetic and math disciplines.

    There’s a great deal of indulgent optimism surrounding the untested Common Core, almost an adolescent love affair of sorts. Most of this, like the article above, is propaganda designed to create more buy-in from a skeptical public.

    Replies

    • el 2 years ago2 years ago

      There are two ways to read the phrase "right answer for the wrong reason" and our reaction to it is going to be quite different depending upon our assumption of which one it is. 1. The boy used a method not in the book, an unorthodox method, but one that would always lead to a correct answer. 2. The boy used a method that only worked for the particular numbers or equation in the problem. For example 2 … Read More

      There are two ways to read the phrase “right answer for the wrong reason” and our reaction to it is going to be quite different depending upon our assumption of which one it is.

      1. The boy used a method not in the book, an unorthodox method, but one that would always lead to a correct answer.
      2. The boy used a method that only worked for the particular numbers or equation in the problem.

      For example 2 to the second power is 4.

      But, a child could misunderstand and believe that meant that 2 to the the third power was 5 or 6 instead of the correct answer, 8.

    • Dawn Urbanek 2 years ago2 years ago

      Don- I want to share with you a glaring example of "blind orthodoxy" that is rooted in Public Education, especially in California. This is coming not from California Educators this time - but from the Office of the President. On the White House Blog there was a post by Lindsay Holst, Director of Digital Content for the Office of Digital Strategy which Stated: "The School Districts You Don't See on This Map Are as Telling as … Read More

      Don- I want to share with you a glaring example of “blind orthodoxy” that is rooted in Public Education, especially in California. This is coming not from California Educators this time – but from the Office of the President. On the White House Blog there was a post by Lindsay Holst, Director of Digital Content for the Office of Digital Strategy which Stated:

      “The School Districts You Don’t See on This Map Are as Telling as the Ones You Do See:

      Right now, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives are advancing legislation (H.R. 5) that would cement recent education cuts — taking funding from the schools that need it most and giving it to some of the nation’s wealthiest districts.

      This approach is backwards, and our teachers and kids deserve better.

      Today, the President’s Domestic Policy Council released a report breaking down the harmful effects of that legislation, and underlining the fundamental importance of dedicated funding for low-income students. You can read that report here.

      Here are the top 100 school districts that would see their funding cut:

      (Inserted is an interactive map)

      Meanwhile, take a look at a few of the districts that would stand to gain:

      Loudon County Public Schools (Loudon County, VA) would see a funding increase of more than $1.7 million. Fewer than 4% of families there live below the poverty line.

      Meanwhile, Richmond City Public Schools would see their funding cut by more than $5 million. More than 35% of families there are living in poverty.

      Capistrano Unified School District (Orange County, CA) would receive more than $1.1 million in additional funds. Fewer than 9% of families there live below the poverty line.

      Meanwhile, the Fresno Unified School District would see their funding cut by more than $4 million. More than 46% of families there live in poverty.

      The Plano Independent School District (Plano, TX) would see their funding increase by more than $1.3 million. Fewer than 10% of families there live below the poverty line.

      And yet, the Dallas Independent School District would lose more than $13 million in funding. More than 36% of families there are living in poverty.

      If you think this is wrong, you’re in good company.
      Now, pass this on.”

      Ms. Lindsay Holst is so wrong about the Districts she cited in her blog.

      Capistrano Unified receives $7,002 per student. Fresno Unified receives $9,188.

      So I guess it is the Presidents policy to intentionally underfund students in wealthy areas as long as students in poor areas get adequate funding.

      I was not able to post a response to her post – but it is very sad that the leadership in America, and in California has such disdain for any student who happens to have the misfortune of live in a “wealthy” area.

      The Truth:
      WHILE THERE ARE A LOT OF WEALTHY PEOPLE IN ORANGE COUNTY – THE SAD TRUTH IS THAT CUSD IS ONE OF THE MOST UNDERFUNDED SCHOOL DISTRICTS IN THE NATION

      Capistrano Unified receives $7,002 in per pupil funding with that amount projected to increase to $8,500 by 2021To put that number into perspective CUSD is receiving $2,499 per student less then California’s current average per pupil spending of $9,501 and $4,224 per student less than the current national average of $11,226.

      http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2015/02/13/school-districts-you-dont-see-map-tell-much-story-ones-you-do-see

      http://disclosurecusd.blogspot.com/2015/02/the-white-house-is-reporting-that.html

    • SD Parent 2 years ago2 years ago

      Amen. Collaboration only works if one of the students in the group actually understands the material and can explain it to the others. While the idea behind CCSS seems good, I find much CCSS instruction is the blind leading the blind, which results in lots of confusion and wasted time. I suspect that the "group/collaborative instruction" works better in a group made up of advanced students than a group of struggling students, … Read More

      Amen. Collaboration only works if one of the students in the group actually understands the material and can explain it to the others. While the idea behind CCSS seems good, I find much CCSS instruction is the blind leading the blind, which results in lots of confusion and wasted time. I suspect that the “group/collaborative instruction” works better in a group made up of advanced students than a group of struggling students, even if just by virtue of the students understanding the concepts faster or a leader who understands quickly and can explain his/her reasoning. So maybe CCSS instruction will work if you start in kindergarten, but I’m not expecting the achievement gaps to diminish anytime in the near future (other than even those who have done well on the CSTs will also do poorly on the SBAC by virtue of being unprepared for testing of the new standards).

      SBE President Michael Kirst likes to say that everyone will do better in 5 years, after the initial learning curve, but there is no compensation to the students who get the less than effective instruction while the adults test their instructional practices.

  11. FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

    What you learn in class is a small part of one's achievement. Most Americans do terrible in school due to studying 5.6 hours a week. Kids who thrive have parents who support them, study in the Summer and on weekends, read books, get tutors and have parents who tell them grades are far more important than anything else. Home lives are very different. Whites do OK when supported at home and … Read More

    What you learn in class is a small part of one’s achievement. Most Americans do terrible in school due to studying 5.6 hours a week. Kids who thrive have parents who support them, study in the Summer and on weekends, read books, get tutors and have parents who tell them grades are far more important than anything else. Home lives are very different. Whites do OK when supported at home and high income, but are seeing their UC percentage steadily decline and are now underrepresented at top schools, if you only consider California whites compared to Asians. When you just do the percentages whites are at level because many come in from other states with no schools like Cal or UCLA. Asians excel due to much more effort. Black and Latino kids, for the most part, don’t prioritize this in the home, nor do whites of average or below income and in many cases, even well off ones.

    60% of Asians prep kids for Kindergarten vs. 16% of whites. 13.8 hours studied vs. 5.6.

    Whites can get away with it some due to immense wealth, old money, connections, higher vocabularies and other advantages, but even whites are being driven out of the UC System to below representational levels.

    Blacks and Latinos hope to emulate whites, a group only where it is due to the past and segregation and living in the past which is falling far behind Asians.

    The achievement gap won’t close until the Asian-Latino-Black Achievement Gap becomes the focus. If black and Latino families try to emulate whites, there’s no way to instantly gain vocabulary, wealth, nepotism, connections or pedigree. However, there is a way to follow the successful Asian model, and many blacks and Latinos do, specifically Nigerians, Cubans, etc.

    The gap won’t be solved by Common Core. Teachers are already for the most part very liberal and very focused on underserved groups more than others. If it drives more out of the system, it will hurt black and Latino kids as private schools and white flight have discouraged many Latino and black kids from feeling wanted and feeling they have an equal chance. However, Asians ignore all that noise and do fine.

    Fous on hours studied. Focus on Summer Learning Loss. Focus on parenting. Focus on providing tutoring to all and requiring failing kids to go to it, from a young age.

    All this other stuff is just smoke filled coffeehouse bullcrap. You can’t handle the truth!

  12. Paul Muench 2 years ago2 years ago

    Something must have gone terribly wrong in New York: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/26/common-core-tests-widen-achievement-gap-in-new-york/ http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/11/breaking-news-common-core-tests-widen-achievement-gaps/ http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/achievement-gap-widens-city-new-standardized-tests-article-1.1423531 Although some people expected as much: http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/10/02-boost-literacy-haskins-sawhill It's good that children can transform multiplication problems between different representations. That's a pretty good sign that they understand the concept multiplication. Although I'm not sure that was what transpired in the case mentioned in this article. But the understanding of multiplication concepts doesn't replace the ability to quickly recall multiplication facts. At some point students will want … Read More

    Something must have gone terribly wrong in New York:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2013/08/26/common-core-tests-widen-achievement-gap-in-new-york/

    http://dianeravitch.net/2013/08/11/breaking-news-common-core-tests-widen-achievement-gaps/

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/achievement-gap-widens-city-new-standardized-tests-article-1.1423531

    Although some people expected as much:

    http://www.brookings.edu/research/papers/2012/10/02-boost-literacy-haskins-sawhill

    It’s good that children can transform multiplication problems between different representations. That’s a pretty good sign that they understand the concept multiplication. Although I’m not sure that was what transpired in the case mentioned in this article. But the understanding of multiplication concepts doesn’t replace the ability to quickly recall multiplication facts. At some point students will want to actually use math or understand higher level concepts. At that point it will be very helpful to quickly recall facts so that mental energy no longer has to be focused on the rudimentary multiplication.

    Replies

    • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

      Absolutely, almost everything went wrong in NY. The teachers had no quality professional development on CCSS, materials were not available, there was little to no time to develop lessons, and there was insufficient instructional time in class for students to learn the new standards. All of this was made known to the state authorities in NY by the teachers and their unions. However, because of the obsession with getting more tests scores (due to that … Read More

      Absolutely, almost everything went wrong in NY. The teachers had no quality professional development on CCSS, materials were not available, there was little to no time to develop lessons, and there was insufficient instructional time in class for students to learn the new standards. All of this was made known to the state authorities in NY by the teachers and their unions. However, because of the obsession with getting more tests scores (due to that abstract appreciation for test scores) and pressure from the public-school-criticism-industrial-complex, the state authorities threw common sense out the window, ignored the expert professional judgment of the teaching force, and proceeded headlong into the inevitable train wreck.

      This is not a commentary on the efficacy of CCSS. It is a commentary about the absolute necessity of proceeding cautiously and thoughtfully when trying to implement new educational programs. It remains to be seen if CA will heed the laser-intense flashing red lights warning about how not to proceed with CCSS presented by NY.

      • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

        Gary, you are so dismissive of test scores. Do you think it's a coincidence those who do better on the test consistently do better in life including income, grades, college graduation, etc? Who consistently does the best on the test across all Counties? Chinese, Indian and Korean Americans. Is it a coincidence they earn far more money than other Americans? You have got to stop treating the attempts to improve test scores … Read More

        Gary, you are so dismissive of test scores. Do you think it’s a coincidence those who do better on the test consistently do better in life including income, grades, college graduation, etc? Who consistently does the best on the test across all Counties? Chinese, Indian and Korean Americans. Is it a coincidence they earn far more money than other Americans?

        You have got to stop treating the attempts to improve test scores as some sort of gimmick. It’s an effort to improve the futures of children who often don’t have one.

        • el 2 years ago2 years ago

          Being able to score well on the test, whatever today's test is, certainly opens many doors. The people who control the test control the shape of those doors. Something to understand though, is that it is always going to be the top ten percent or so who will get that benefit. If all of next year's kids scored above last year's 90th percentile, that doesn't mean there will be doors open for all those kids … Read More

          Being able to score well on the test, whatever today’s test is, certainly opens many doors. The people who control the test control the shape of those doors.

          Something to understand though, is that it is always going to be the top ten percent or so who will get that benefit. If all of next year’s kids scored above last year’s 90th percentile, that doesn’t mean there will be doors open for all those kids because they’ve crossed some hurdle of competence. Those mechanisms that mostly benefit the top 10% scorers now will still only be open to 10% of the kids.

          We can reshuffle which kids are in the 10% that get that benefit, and we can also look more holistically at making sure everyone’s talents are developed to their fullest and ensuring that we’re helping all kids find a place where they have access to a great career. Every kid should have access to a school where she can access the preparation to get a top score, and also, incidentally, get a great education (they are not the same thing). Certainly individual aptitude and effort will always play a role in what we measure as “achievement.”

          Note that the tests don’t value fine motor skills or mechanical intuition, two very valuable skills that can pay well in our economy and are essential to California’s long term success.

          We are never going to get 90% of our kids to score in the top 10%, no matter how hard they study or what curriculum we adopt. It’s mathematically impossible.

          • Gary Ravani 2 years ago2 years ago

            Good points, El. Addressing some comments that are "full of sound and fury," let's try and ascertain what they actually signify. Not much it turns out. Let's begin with tests. Most parents are probably familiar with the "ritual" of standing their child next to a wall and then marking their height periodically over time. Some even use a rule and put down the foot and inch "data." It's interesting and fun. That being said, few parents think … Read More

            Good points, El.

            Addressing some comments that are “full of sound and fury,” let’s try and ascertain what they actually signify. Not much it turns out.

            Let’s begin with tests. Most parents are probably familiar with the “ritual” of standing their child next to a wall and then marking their height periodically over time. Some even use a rule and put down the foot and inch “data.” It’s interesting and fun. That being said, few parents think that the act of marking the height is causing the growth. And, aye there’s the rub. Contemporary “school reform” has come to see the mere measurement of achievement as to be a creator of achievement. Classic case of confusion of cause and effect.

            Few parents would be so numb to their child’s health as to need the marks on the wall to guess if their child’s growth and wellbeing seemed to be in question. So the data is “fun,” but it’s not necessary to complete the role of caring parent. And if a parent does perceive a “problem” and takes the child to a physician, the parent is like to hear that the child falls within a percentile range (or not), as there is no hard number to indicate height at a given period within a (school) year. The physician will look at multiple measure including health records, prior illnesses, eating habits, heights of other family members, etc, to make an assessment. Certainly not just the “snapshot” provided by a mark on the wall. And if you analyzed the marks on the wall using a ruler broken into inches, a tape measure broken into 1/16 in. increments, or decided to “implement technology” and used one of the new laser “tape measures” with very great precision, you would still be left with a mark on the wall telling you what?

            The child may be going though a growth spurt or a period of growth rest. This is particularly apparent as children reach middle school age when not only height but characteristics of maturation vary widely. And so it goes with learning with children having slow periods as well as spurts of growth. Tests that purport to peg learning with a “snapshot” of student performance are giving parents an very incomplete picture. But the advertising never says that. And this incomplete data is used by certain parties to create a very distorted picture of teachers and school performance. For example, you use a “rule” of whatever complexity to measure height because that’s what rules were designed for, measuring increments of space. You do not use the bathroom scale to measure height. Student achievement tests were never designed to measure school and teacher performance, and to do so is terribly unreliable and an abuse of testing.

            Since the late 1990s in CA and the early 2000s in the US, with NCLB, educational “marks on the wall,” test scores, have been the North Star of “school reform.” What has been the result? Has it all been about merit?

            In a book (with “Sheep” in its title, interestingly), William Deresiewicz, recounts that in 1985 46% of students from the top income quartile in the US were selected to attend the top 250 most “selective” colleges. By 2000 (US consensus forms around the “value” of test scores”) that had climbed to 55%. By 2006 it was 67%. In 2000 students from the bottom income quartile in those schools was 15% and in 2006 it was 3%. Obviously, the test based “merit system” is working well for economic elites but not for others. Ever look at the situation in the general economy?

            All of this has led Economist Paul Krugman to comment, “…smart poor kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a (college) degree.”

            And about those Asian students who are doing so well. That they are is a fact, at least for certain sub-groups of Asians, and for that the kids are to be commended. But, as I have briefly outlined above, the test based “merit system” where they shine seems to allocate much more “merit’ to those with wealth. Could that be a factor in Asian student success?

            There’s actually quite a bit available on the issue; however, most of it will interfere with the agendas of those who just want to spout platitudes about “effort and hard work.”

            Dr. Lingxin Hao of John Hopkins writes on Race, Immigration, and Wealth Stratification in America. the Pew Research wrote a report on the subject.

            Pew asserts 3/4ers of adult Asian immigrants were born elsewhere. And: “The educational credentials of these recent arrivals is striking… 61% have a BA or greater. This double the rate for non-Asian arrivals…and makes the recent Asian arrivals the most highly educated cohort of immigrants in US history.”

            Pew goes on: “…27% of adults in Korea…and 25% in Japan…have a (BA). But…”70% of (US) immigrants from those counties have a (BA).”

            Further reading will show that Asians do have a higher than “average” US income, but the income of many immigrants is low for the US but was high for their native countries. These immigrant’s children, though eligible for Free&Reduced lunch in the US still come from families that “on average” have adults with higher than average levels of education and come with middle-class values, including an appreciation for high academic achievement, established in their parent’s home countries.

            Trying to compare the academic achievement of children on F&R lunch from these immigrant families with children from other immigrant families, or even non-immigrant families, on F&R is the old apples and aardvarks kind of comparison. It makes no educational sense.

            But it adds volume to the “sound and fury.”

            • FloydThursby1941 2 years ago2 years ago

              El, you're right that having parents with a degree is an advantage, but only in terms of attitude. The kids believe they can do it and have support. They don't get words though, not much vocabulary, yet they get vocabulary books. My kids are Latino and black and I have average income for the very expensive City in which I live, SF. For a white family in SF, it's slightly below. … Read More

              El, you’re right that having parents with a degree is an advantage, but only in terms of attitude. The kids believe they can do it and have support. They don’t get words though, not much vocabulary, yet they get vocabulary books. My kids are Latino and black and I have average income for the very expensive City in which I live, SF. For a white family in SF, it’s slightly below. However, I adopted many of the practices Asians do and it has helped my kids thrive. Studying in the summer, learning to read before Kindergarten, early math tutors, self teaching, limits on TV, daily pressure on grades, comparisons, extra worksheets and workbooks. And it has worked tremendously. Their mother didn’t go to college, yet studies show that is the biggest predictor.

              What this shows is that theoretically, if low income white, Latino and black kids were to adopt the core attitude of Asian Immigrants and further, if we were as a society to truly put enough money into education (as opposed to actual lower taxes for the rich than the poor in many cases, prisons, defense, and in SF all kinds of other things like homelessness which never can be solved by one city, huge police salaries, 3 assistants for every Supervisor at six figures when supervisor itself wa sa part-time job until the mid ’80s, free sex changes, to name a few), and actually spent on parent education and got parents to limit TV and arrange their home lives to prioritize education. If we provided tutors when needed (California as a State should have phone tutors 24/7, kids are up at all hours stuck on math problems), and required Saturday tutoring if you are testing low. If we did so we could close the gap significantly if not all the way.

              Your comparison to height isn’t accurate. I’d say footspeed or bicep size or thigh strength would be more accurate. You can work hard and significantly improve it. Genetics is a factor, but the average child who is black, Latino, white, Asian, rich or poor has the same average IQ, so if blacks and Latinos trail whites who in turn trail Asians by even more, this is not due to genetics, it is due to behavior and support.

              The reason this is not talked about much is the rich control the media. They will ignore Asians and other immigrants. They don’t want 25% of the kids admitted to top colleges to be from the top 25%. They don’t want to change the fact that 39% of kids in the top quintile and only 6 in the bottom at birth reach the top at age 40. They want their kids to have an unfair advantage. Building schools or paying higher teacher salaries isn’t a threat to this because it gets built into the economy. In DC teachers are paid more than they’d ever dream of here but it doesn’t make a dent because the bureaucracy and LIFO has won. True changes which open up opportunity for all and really attempt to convince poor kids of all races to believe they can do it and make an effort and restrictions on nepotism and increases in financial aid are controversial. That’s why you see the rich try to confuse things by arguing Scott Walker doesn’t have a degree nor Bill Gates (3 years of Harvard is better than 4 most anywhere else) or Santorum arguing it’s snobbish to talk about education for the poor.

              The rich will do better if we don’t tax inheritance much, don’t tax capital gains as much as earnings, and find other ways to spend money than true game changing educational breakthroughs.

              That’s why the Harlem Zone is attacked more than praised. Every instance of poor kids thriving in school is attacked as conservative. Indians in the spelling bee, anti-Asian Ivy League discrimination, Geoffrey Canada, the rich don’t want work to be the deciding factor, which is why many rich discriminate against Lowell as “too Asian”. Many of the same rich people who won’t consider public school K-8 because there are a lot of black and Latino kids (Pacific Heights, Noe Valley, and other supposedly “liberal” neighborhoods, then won’t consider Lowell because it outperforms 40k a year private school and their kids would have to work too hard.

              They don’t want their kids to be at the top because they worked hard. They want the there due to their pedigree.

              The Union often goes along with this for a few crumbs, and never really fights for any innovation which would truly close the gap. Some teachers discourage kids from poor backgrounds from studying “too hard” or being “too narrow”. I had teachers trying to convince my kids NOT to try to go to Lowell because it would be too hard work.

              Most of us feel comfortable with who is rich in 40 years basically being who is born rich now.

              I believe that 20-39 and 20-6 between the top two quintiles will make this seem like a time of great opportunity. In 40 years it will be far worse. We are becoming a caste system. The core idea that kids should be segregated by parental income is the view of most now. It wasn’t in the ’60s and ’70s or even the ’50s.

            • el 2 years ago2 years ago

              Floyd, even as I am frustrated by your one-note comments and repetition of the same flashcard and nose-to-the-grindstone ideas, I do share with you the believe that most children are born with the genetic potential to do much better than they typically do academically, and the importance of setting and keeping those expectations. Where we separate is that I don't think flash cards or more homework end up solving problems caused by PTSD, and I … Read More

              Floyd, even as I am frustrated by your one-note comments and repetition of the same flashcard and nose-to-the-grindstone ideas, I do share with you the believe that most children are born with the genetic potential to do much better than they typically do academically, and the importance of setting and keeping those expectations.

              Where we separate is that I don’t think flash cards or more homework end up solving problems caused by PTSD, and I also fear that many kids and parents who think they have bigger and more immediate problems than doing well in school are correct, for the time and place and circumstances under which they live. Kids who arrive home to find they’re being evicted from an apartment tend to consider their homework less than top priority. No changes to the curriculum or the pay scale of teachers will solve that problem.

              While I believe in the discipline of learning and know it can be hard work and frustrating, there needs to be joy in it too. We squash the joy out at our peril. At the end of the day, kids are not empty suitcases that teachers can stuff and pack learning in to if the students are not open to and interested in the information.

              What kept me going through second order differential equations was the joyful electrical engineering lab that showed me why I wanted to understand and predict what was happening when we made chips and circuits. No one could force me to pass that class, nor would dropping just to the math have been successful; I had to want the knowledge for myself. I needed the elective to understand the core.

              Time will tell how the Common Core works out. The teachers who I know that are excited about it are happy that it gives them more time in an area to go deeper, and hope they can use this to find the joy and the spark that will create interest in the kids, and give them time to build this. Since we are all now all in for this change, I hope they are right, and/or will be allowed enough freedom within the system to make it right.

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