Breaking news: HB 953 passed the House floor Wednesday May 7. This bill would delay the effects of the Common Core testing on school letter grades and teacher evaluations through the 2015-16 school year. White and his allies will surely try to kill this bill in the Senate Education Committee where proponents of Common Core seem to dominate.
The Advocate just printed two more slanted stories, here and here, suggesting that Republicans and K-12 students think the standards are great. But close inspection of the two surveys reported on does not show any real support for the Common Core. In the first story, only a minority of the Republicans surveyed say they think the Common Core standards are a good idea, and 40% did not know enough to give an opinion. One of the questions asked found that a significant minority support the standards, but that is only after they are told in the introduction that 75% of teachers believe the Common Core will improve student achievement.
Our survey on this blog had 71% of our respondents opposed to CCSS and PARCC. I am well aware that a voluntary survey such as we conducted is not considered a scientific survey, but at least the majority of the respondents were educators who were well versed on the standards because they are actually in the middle of implementing the standards.
The Advocate article reporting on the survey of students taking the sample PARCC test this Spring had the headline: "Students Give High Marks to Common Core Test" yet the press release about the survey results does not indicate whether the students think the test is good or bad. The main issue the students responded favorably to is that the computerized test is just as easy or easier to take than a paper and pencil test. But only half of the 25,000 students tested even filled out the survey. We have no idea how the other half felt about the test. In the comments section to the article, a few gifted students from the school for Math/Science in Natchitoches said that the material covered in the test was a good bit more difficult than the course work they are now taking. I would assume these young people know what they are talking about.
Of course the supporters of Common Core would say that it is great that some students think the test is difficult. They would say that this more rigorous medicine is just what our students need. In New York state, the supporters of CCSS cheered the fact that over 70% of the students of that state failed the first year of the test. They said in effect: "You see, we told you our students had not been getting a good education. That's why they failed this better, more rigorous test!" I fully expect our state education leaders to blame Louisiana teachers if our students do not fare well on the new PARCC test next year.
Educator and fellow blogger, Lee Barrios who writes the Geaux Teacher blog has a regular comment on her blog about the theory that raising standards produces higher achievement. It goes like this:
Nothing about these new standards is based on a logical scientific approach. Diane Ravitch, pointed out recently that the development of the standards did not follow proper procedures for the adoption of standards. We also know that the director of the Common Core project, David Coleman, has no qualifications whatsoever as a K-12 educator. I suggest my readers also read the two part series by Mercedes Schneider on the development and selling of the Common Core, here and here.
It is also becoming very clear that the CCSS development was based much more on seriously flawed ideology than on any systematic and scientific approach. In my opinion the biggest mistake made by the developers is the assumption that all children can and should learn their reading, writing and math at the same rate and at the same achievement level. You know, the one-size-fits-all approach. This assumption violates everything we know about the highly varied learning styles and abilities of children. Remember the disaster of "No Child Left Behind" which expected all children to be proficient in English and math by the year 2014? The application of that standard would have failed almost 100% of all the schools in America. That's why the U.S. DOE allowed states to seek waivers to the requirements of that law. Now we are going to go through it all over again with the even more "rigorous" CCSS. (Did you read that the State Superintendent of Education in Washington state predicted that all the schools in that state will be classified as failing this year because the U.S. DOE canceled their waiver over Washington State's refusal to evaluate teachers based on student test scores?)
House bill 953 does nothing to stop the immediate implementation of Common Core in Louisiana, but it would provide some protection for schools and teachers from the harmful effects of the PARCC testing. (White has already decreed that all students can be promoted to the next grade even if they fail the PARCC in the 4th and 8th grades.) One amendment which was added on the House floor by Rep. John Bel Edwards would prevent any public school's grade from being reduced through the 2015-16 school year by the PARCC testing. This legislation would at least give Louisiana public schools some protection from the erratic results of Common Core seen recently in Kentucky and New York.
Both HB 953 and HB 703 (which stops predatory charters in most school systems) will be strongly opposed in the Senate Education Committee by the public school haters.