Academic Standards Evaluation Panel Expert Dr. Therence Moore: CCLS ELA Standards An Utter Disappointment

 

One of the first states to adopt Common Core education standards became the first state to formally abandon the national benchmarks, when Indiana’s State Board of Education voted to a replace  the CCSS. The board voted 10 to 1 to endorse  new benchmarks for math and English, which were created by a panel of faculty from Indiana universities and representatives from science and technology industries.

Indiana adopted the Common Core in 2010; eventually, 44 other states did, too but as in NYS the CCSS faced opposition and controversy. In response, Indiana lawmakers passed legislation pausing the start of the Common Core and requiring a review to find a replacement. Gov. Mike Pence, a Republican, signed legislation in March making Indiana the first state to drop the standards.

The bill required  that by July 1, 2014  the state board adopt Indiana college and career readiness educational standards, voiding the previously adopted set of educational standards.

The Bill stated that the educational standards must do the following:
(1) Meet national and international benchmarks for college and career readiness standards and
be aligned with postsecondary educational expectations.
(2) Use the highest standards in the United States.
(3) Comply with federal standards to receive a flexibility waiver under 20 U.S.C. 7861, as in
effect on January 1, 2014.
(4) Prepare Indiana students for college and career success, including the proper preparation
for nationally recognized college entrance examinations such as the ACT and SAT.
(5) Maintain Indiana sovereignty.
(6) Provide strict safeguards to protect the confidentiality of student data.”

An academic standards evaluation panel was convened to complete this task.

On February 13‐14, 2014, the academic standards Evaluation Panels met during a public meeting to
complete a blind evaluation of standards that best aligned with college and career ready learning
outcomes. This resulted in a draft set of academic standards, labeled “Draft #1”, which was posted for
public comment from February 19 through March 12. Six independent evaluators were also invited to
provide feedback on Draft #1, and four agreed to do so. These individuals are:

 Dr. James Milgram, Ph.D., Stanford University
 Dr. Shauna Findlay, Ph.D., Indiana ASCD
 Ms. Janet Rummel, Indiana Network of Independent Schools
 Ms. Kathleen Porter‐Magee, Fordham Institute
Draft #2 dated March 14, 2014 was distributed to six national evaluators, who were invited toprovide feedback on Draft #2. These evaluators are:

 Dr. Sandra Stotsky – E/LA
 Dr. Terrence Moore, Hillsdale College – E/LA
 Joanne Eresh (Achieve) – E/LA
 Dr. James Milgram (Stanford University) – Math
 Professor Hung‐Hsi Wu (UC Berkeley) – Math
 Kaye Forgione (Achieve) – Math

The document linked below contains the evaluator reports on Draft #2. Full reports were submitted by April
1, 2014, and were used to inform the work of the Indiana College & Career Ready Panel.

On April 15, 2014 the report was issued to Governor Pence.

Michael Cohen of Achieve found that overall the standards are strong, but need some changes to assure that students are college and career ready. He provides a glowing and enthusiastic opinion of the CC in starl contrast to the balance of the panel members.

Dr. James Milgram found that the standards are an improvement but still need work.

For example, he writes:

Screen shot 2014-08-23 at 3.19.15 AM

However, begining on page 115, Dr. Therence Moore lambastes the standards themselves and voices sheer disgust at the E/LA standards.

For example, he writes:

-The Indiana Draft Standards are an utter disappointment.

 

-Second, the problem with the Common Core and all other state standards in the country is that they are written in an impenetrable edu-speak that parents and citizens cannot understand. For that matter, virtually every elected official would not be able to explain these standards; and it is a charade to call these or any others written in this way
“good standards.”

-Third, the K-5 standards, whose purpose in the early grades should be to teach the fundamentals of reading and spelling, are clearly written with either an anti-phonics bias or a lack of understanding of how an explicit phonics program actually works. I have spent the bulk of my time painstakingly going through the Kindergarten and first-grade reading standards because those are what determine whether students learn how to read and spell properly. To some it may seem like nit-picking. Yet what I have found is that these standards use certain phonics terms very loosely while really encouraging a partly faux-phonics, partly whole language approach. The standards do not require teachers to do the most obvious thing: to teach the phonograms in isolation and then to spell words for the students by breaking down each word, phonogram by phonogram. That constant exercise then leads to students being able to read by “sounding out” each word, yet with the real tools of how the different parts of words work. There is no indication in these standards that the present authors have any concept of how real phonics is to be taught.

-Fourth, another mischief to be found in these standards is the questionable dictating of teaching practices in the name of standards.

-Fifth, all of the above deficiencies probably flow from a lack of clarity concerning
what an academic standard should be.

Dr. Moore goes on to lambaste the standards and even goes so far as to insult CC architect David Coleman:

“As we speak, the SAT is being rewritten by the same man who is responsible for the Common Core Standards. In the new SAT, students will not have to know words that plumb the depths of their vocabulary, words that the old SAT was famous for, such as egregious and plethora and erudite. Rather, students will have to use context and other methods to divine the meaning of words on the exam. While such an approach may seem fairer for those who do not come from backgrounds rich in language, in fact it removes a leading incentive for acquiring a robust vocabulary (college entrance) and puts all our eggs in the ill-woven basket of critical thinking divorced from real knowledge. In other words, the critical thinking approach is hostile to genuine study and learning: teachers introducing children to things that are unknown and that cannot be inferred from context but must be taught outright. Sure, a student will easily pick up on the word birdhouse coming from bird and house and unhappy coming from the prefix un- and the adjective happy (things he already knows). How will he one day learn the words circumlocution, perambulatory, counterintuitive, and subterfuge? By inferring from context? Not likely.”

Dr. Moore goes on to TRASH the standards calling Kinder standards ridiculous among other things. He then writes:

-The first observation we must make about this set of standards is that it is based on an altogether unproven and questionable assumption, namely, that students at every grade level should read more in the way of nonfiction or “informational texts” than has been the case traditionally. This is one of the leading tenets of the Common Core. That the “new” Indiana draft standards put so much emphasis on the reading of nonfiction, even in the elementary grades, is a sure indication that the authors of these standards have swallowed the Common Core hook, line, and sinker.

-“With prompting and support, define the role of the author and illustrator of a story in telling the story.” (Kindergarten, standard 2) What does that look like in practice? “Okay, kindergartners, what do you think about the author’s role in the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears?” Silence. “Does the author take on a big role or a small role?” Silence. “Does this story remind you of any other stories we’ve read where the author has a similar role?” Silence. Finally, one or several children might interject some sense into the conversation: “I think Goldilocks shouldn’t have gone into the bears’ house.”Trust me. I have seen kindergarten teachers try this again and again. It always goes over like a lead balloon. The children want to talk about Goldilocks and the Three Bears, not the author! Who is the author, by the way? And what is the author’s “role,” really? Do not authors create stories that are supposed to offer a separate world for the reader to live in, rather than serve as targets for hokey categories like “author’s point of view” served up by armchair critics and Monday-morning narrators who really do not understand the books they are reading? By the time the students reach high school and have been doing this nonsense for almost a decade, they are bored to death and no longer enjoy books or school in general. When it comes to literary “analysis” in our schools, the emperor truly has no clothes.

Sandra Stotsky also reviews the standards and is VERY critical of them.

Concluding Remarks:

 

One participant wrote: Any “uncommonly high” standards, written by Hoosiers for Hoosiers, must be written in a manner that is clearly understandable by all Hoosiers. It should be at a 12thgrade level and be clear of “eduspeak” (educational jargon) so that parents can understand what is expected of their children. Where jargon is unavoidable, the term should be marked and defined in a glossary.”

 

Another participant wrote: “Indiana in the 21st century will need to have students who have developed the complex, critical thinking skills that are built out of an engagement with complex literary texts that speak to the human condition. Without specific examples, and a sense of clear
progression from one level of thinking and reading to another, standards will not help to assure the necessary and desired outcome. Draft #2 standards were too obviously constructed for the purpose of assessment, and assessments based on them will inadequately capture these skills.”

It is clear from the language of the bill that Governor Pence signed that any set of proposed standards must meet international benchmarks. It is also clear from the comments and suggestions of the English professors and teachers at the Bloomington conference that a set of standards similar to Common Core’s ELA standards does not meet international benchmarks for college readiness or other requirements of the bill. Any revised set of standards for Hoosiers must go well beyond what Common Core-based high school standards imply, even as a floor.

Many participants, especially those from Indiana, recommended a return to the 2006 Indiana standards as the right “floor” on which to build an even stronger set of academic standards than the 2006 standards were. The Indiana teachers noted the extent to which the literature standards in the 2006 document reflected the work of the state’s own English teachers.

The suggestions of the literary scholars and English teachers at the Bloomington conference point to the kind of changes that will address both the statutory requirements outlined in the bill Governor Pence just signed and his own charge as well.

NYS is no stranger to common core controversy. As amptly seen in the report issued by the academic panel in Indiana, the organization Achieve who has an interest in common core and seeing it succeed issued a very different opinion of the standards then any of the independent evaluators. According to Dr. Moore the CC standards themselves are fatally flawed and amount to garbage.

Parents and educators advocating against common core in NYS have long known that to be true.

Read the full report to Governor Pence dated April 2014 here:
http://www.in.gov/sboe/files/2014-04-15_Draft_2_Evaluation.pdf

Source: April 17, 2014 http://www.indystar.com/story/news/education/2014/04/15/final-draft-new-indiana-academic-standards-released/7731359/

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