Kyle Wingfield, John Barge, and Common Core

At the beginning of October, Kyle Wingfield at the AJC had a good article (MyAJC article) about the confusion around the Common Core State Standards. As a response to this article the State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge answered several of the questions that Wingfield asked.

Why bring this up almost two months later? Mostly because Sen. Fran Millar recently tweeted out the Barge response. Here’s the link. The response was very wonkish (awesome for me, not so much for non-wonks) and four pages long, so not really a quick cut and paste kinda thing. I’ll try and hit the highlights and key points.

The first question was in regards to which set of Standards ( Common Core State Standards or Georgia Performance Standards) was stronger, as well as questions about modifying the CCSS. Barge’s answer was very long and qualified, in short it depends on which standard you’re looking at. Some of the standards are the same (81% ELA and 90% Math), some CCSS standards are more rigorous and some of the GPS standards are stronger.

The cool thing about this? We can keep/add in the GPS standards that are stronger to the CCSS standards. And that’s what we did, according to John Barge.

Then there is the standard question about state sovereignty and outside groups controlling curriculum. This is probably one of the most misunderstood parts about the CCSS. Barge’s answer?

The Common Core State Standards establish general grade level academic expectations which provide a structure for teachers. Instructional strategies and practices instituted to meet those expectations continue to be the decision of local education agencies. By adopting CCSS, Georgia has established a structure that can be adjusted as needed. The state has not agreed to shift even slightly from its stance on locally controlled decision making regarding curriculum and instruction.

Can we please stop saying teachers can’t teach anymore yet?

There are a few others that I haven’t covered that are definitely worth reading but one last one that I would like to address is one about how the CCSS would affect innovation in teaching and education. Barge has another good answer.

It is important to recognize that CCSS offers a structure in establishing academic standards for each grade level, but the standard set does not direct instructional practice. Common Core would not stifle innovation, but instead could foster effective changes as teachers across state lines share successes and novel approaches to teaching and learning.

John Barge seems to be very confused on where he stands on the issue, but he does do a fairly good job of defending the CCSS when not at a Cobb County GOP breakfast.

10 comments

  1. John Konop says:

    As I have said for years, the one size fit approach to education is irrational.. Locally I have had support from the majority of people from Tea Party, Dems, teachers, soccer moms… all agree it is messed up. The sad part is we send way too much time debating non-core solutions, idea of the day ie CC, math 123, charter schools……over real solutions.

    That is why I have proposed for years can we just merge high schools with 4 year colleges, jc, and vo-tech schools? Why not let the requirements flow higher education system for degree tracking or certificates? It would increase quality and decrease cost, while lowering drop rate and create work ready students faster. Can we not solve the problem instead of focusing on silver bullet failed plan of the day?

    My fear on the one size fit all approach for Common Core is the same mistake we made with NCLB. Why not let students track by aptitude over the one size fit all approach? All we will do is feed the testing industry and take money away from classrooms, with a one size fit all test….

    Interesting Read:

    ………….“But the implementation of No Child Left Behind was all wrong,” says Broom, who taught at every grade level except third and was a reading specialist working with special education students.

    “Testing became the focus, not learning, not teaching critical thinking – testing – and it created new levels of bureaucracy, and it’s costing an inordinate amount of money. Meanwhile, the testing industry has grown by leaps and bounds.”

    The annual cost of standardized testing in the U.S. has been estimated at somewhere between $20 billion and $50 billion. (That doesn’t include the cost of remediation for students who aren’t up to par.) The cost of writing tests (and grading them) is part of that. Publishing giants like McGraw-Hill or Houghton Mifflin Harcourt already were making millions in testing before NCLB. But NCLB served to boost the test-writing business.

    “It’s definitely a multi-billion-dollar endeavor,” the DOE’s Fincher says. “It was a big industry before, but not the extent of what has happened since No Child Left Behind.”

    And it’s helped grow another business, she says………

    http://www.georgiatrend.com/December-2011/One-Size-Does-Not-Fit-All/

  2. Eric The Younger says:

    Common Core isn’t a one sized fits all approach. Teachers and schools still choose the curriculum and how to teach a kid that 4+4=8. Common Core just makes sure that the kid knows 4+4=8 and not 9. Can the testing element be tweaked, yes, but don’t miss-characterize the standards.

    • John Konop says:

      The test is one size fit all…..The test should be based on the aptitude track you are on, not one size fit all. The bell curve shows at best about 40 percent of kids should be on a 4 year college track and 60 percent vo- tech. When you look at the best education system in the world they do it by aptitude not one size fit all. Btw they have about 60 percent of kids in vo tech….i am all for a common standard, but not one size fit all, because it punishes everyone not on that exact track.

      • Charlie says:

        You’re outkicking your coverage on this one John. The entire reason that the PARCC test is more expensive than what is currently used is that the test is dynamic, in that as a computer administered test it allows for questions to get harder or easier as the test progresses so that a full assessment of the individual student is achieved, as opposed to every kid filling in the same scantron sheet and waiting months for results.

        There are many problems with Common Core and PARCC, but “one size fits all” isn’t one of them.

        I’ll also note that Georgia’s system, which is the basis for Common Core, was able to institute John Barge’s career academy tracks that do allow for a lot of flexibility based on where the student wants to end up. That’s clearly not one size fits all, and clearly allowed under Common Core.

        • John Konop says:

          Charlie,

          But they teach to the cut-off score and waste major time and money in the classroom weeks before the test. I have kids in the system…….Also the best education systems in the world use CC type test way less than us.

          They put students into tracks quicker…..when they go to high school the testing comes form the track they are on which matches a certificate, degree…..which matches to a job….All we would need to do is let the requirements and testing from high school on flow from higher education.

          You Might Find This Interesting:

          A white suburban mom fires back at Arne Duncan. ‘Common Core is a one size fits all approach.”

          http://www.ajc.com/weblogs/get-schooled/2013/nov/20/white-suburban-mom-fires-back-arne-duncan-common-c/

          • Eric The Younger says:

            You have just made an assumption that has no grounds in evidence. The testing hasn’t begun yet so you can’t possibly assert that teachers are teaching to the bare minimum. Also I know many teachers that would find that assumption very insulting.

            As for your link, she can talk till she’s blue in the face, though that doesn’t make her statements any less factually incorrect. CCSS are standards, not a curriculum. The curriculum is established at the school or school district level. The way a student learns 2+2=4 is not established in the CCSS, only that the student leans that the correct answer is indeed 4 and not 5 or 3.

            • John Konop says:

              ……….The testing hasn’t begun yet so you can’t possibly assert that teachers are teaching to the bare minimum…….

              That is how the money moves via NCLB…..You understand how the at risk system works? You need to understand how all the parts move together….The below article may help educate you on the issue. Also the other link I gave above was from a school board member that talk about the one size fit all issue in her schools system in NY that implemented CC. The CC test is part of the NCLB system and the at risk part via funding is at the BARE level……That is why historically the public school system has focused on beating the cut scores…..BTW they have even lowered the cut scores to beat the system in the past…ie test score means number of answers right needed for a pass….If students are at risk of not making the cut score schools have been known to push them out of the sample ie take the day off…..

              Please Read This is not as Simple as just CC:

              Study: Education waivers could leave behind at-risk students

              http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/27/education-waivers/2711027/

  3. Harry says:

    As a parent with one remaining kid still in public secondary school, I’m confused as to the overall effect of CC but leaning against, because I’ve been unable to get answers to some concerns:

    1) As John mentions, the fear is that the outcome will be not better benchmarks but rather dumbing-down or dumbing-up to one-size-fits-all. This is an issue already in politically correct education systems both public and private, however would CC not further degrade the educational quality? The high schools at least have in place a program of quasi-tracking, with gifted students allowed to enroll in college prep courses, and academically challenged students allowed to compete in a more appropriate peer group. If CC is indeed one-size-fits-all, what effect would this have on the current status quo? The website opposing CC in Georgia says that states may allow only a small amount of additional content. Does this mean there will be an effort to put every student on the same playing field in the name of political correctness?

    2) As even the proponents admit, CC is designed to place our students about two years behind their counterparts in high performing countries in reading comprehension and math skills. This could have some unintended consequences by driving more students to expensive private schools and leaving graduates of public schools at a competitive disadvantage with other countries.

    3) Why or in what way is CC providing better information than SAT or ACT which measure individual ability/achievement? If individual SAT/ACT results in a school can be summarized for purposes of comparing school outputs, then what is the need for an additional layer of complexity? What additional benefits can be obtained by implementing CC?

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