Saturday, September 20, 2014

Saturday Morning Musings on the Common Core

The debate is fierce with good points being scored by both sides. Here is what I agree with:

·         The lack of early education experts in developing the standards resulted in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) being developmentally inappropriate for the early years of K – 2 especially, but even the upper elementary grades.
·         Testing of the standards should be separated from instruction by the standards.
·         Standardized testing of young children in the early grades is not appropriate.
·         The standards are being confused with inappropriate methods of teaching by the standards.
·         Inappropriate methods of instruction are being created by educational publishing houses because they are also creating the tests and that is how they plan to write test items.
·         Teachers are therefore forced to use inappropriate methods of instruction.
·         CCSS is a huge change: the period of transformation is not long enough. Those who call for a three year hiatus from high stakes testing are correct.
·         If the purpose of testing is to determine the quality of teachers and schools, then statistical sampling should be used to test a small number of students. If Gallup can sample 2000 adults and accurately predict an election, we should be able to test a small number of students and reach accurate conclusions about teachers and schools. (Shout out to Mark Naisson, Badass Teacher, for the idea.)
·         Having a common set of standards that all states implement is a good idea.
·         States should not be forced to accept a common set of standards from federal government coercion, achieved through its taxing power and subsequent ability to dangle huge sums of money in front of states, but states should voluntarily adopt a common set of standards because they recognize the advantages of doing so.

Windows 9 is under development and has reached the point where Microsoft will release details of its technical requirements to third party software developer partners so they can begin to develop new versions of their products to work under the new operating system.

Stay with me. Microsoft has a hit/miss history with Windows. Windows 98—terrible. It was so bad I abandoned Windows for a few years and ran my computers under the Linux operating system. 2000—a joke. Then we got XP, an OS so popular that it still runs on hundreds of millions of computers around the world. Microsoft had to extend the life of XP many times because people would not give it up.

But the world of computing advances rapidly. Microsoft tried to develop a new version of Windows, called Vista. Vista was terrible. People hated it. Microsoft figured out what was wrong and how to deliver a great OS. Windows 7 was born, a Windows so good that Microsoft allowed the overarching brand name to be attached. They did not develop a sub brand like Millennial Edition, XP, or Vista.

Windows 8 was garbage. Microsoft tried to force the cellphone or mobile platform onto people’s desktops. User complaints were loud and constant. Microsoft tried to put a sub brand onto this, Metro, which ran into trademark problems in Europe and that forced them to change to Modern, but it didn't take. Now they’re moving to Windows 9 as fast as possible.

How does this relate to CCSS? It seems to me that the standard setting movement is in its Vista moment. CCSS is crap. There’s good stuff in it, but overall the experience is crap.

Let’s move on to a better set of standards. And this time, standard setters, listen to the users: teachers, parents, students, school based administrators, developmental experts, and do it right.

If colleges are complaining that students are not ready for college, maybe colleges should self-reflect on their mission and change to meet their matriculating students’ needs.