Sunday, December 30, 2012

Common core

On another post Anonymous wrote:

NEW POST for Parents' FYI:

"Pennsylvania on board with Common Core standards for students."

"Starting next school year, public schools in Pennsylvania and in much of the country will use a more rigorous curriculum aimed at unifying educational standards."

"The Common Core Standards seek to make U.S. students more competitive with increasingly proficient students from other countries."

"These standards emphasize teaching math more in-depth, and teaching English and language arts through not just classic books but also historical documents and technical manuals."

"States and school districts can decide specifics."

"Pennsylvania State Board of Education, . . . approved their adoption in 2010.

“That‘s because the standards are not really in any conflict with standards that Pennsylvania already has,” said Ron Cowell, president of the nonprofit Education Policy and Leadership Center in Harrisburg."

Read more:


Anonymous said...

Parents should question their children/students on what Common Core State Standard they learned as a part of their regular lesson every day in EVERY subject.

Kids should ask their teachers every day, what thinking skill (CCSS) were they suppose to learn during each class period every day.

If Kids can't tell the parent what they learned, it is time for the parent to investigate.

Parents must be their child's best asset in making sure that they are learning an important (CCSS) skill each class period. (That means in all subjects since kids are reading in most classes, or should be!)

Anonymous said...

I'm not totally in agreement. Should kids be reading in phys ed classes? I don't think so. Should kids be reading in a studio art class? Hmmm. Maybe minimally. And in musical performance classes? I'm a little leery about CCSS creep watering down classes where reading and math aren't -- and shouldn't be -- the main focus.

Anonymous said...

The reading/literacy skills are what most would call thinking skills. Not only should they be applied where reading is part of the curricula; but, just as importantly in art, phys ed, music as 'situationally' embedded in the teaching/learning/thinking that takes place.
A primary reason for the failure of PPS children to achieve is that the adults in their environment do not understand that the PSSA and CCSS are not mainly content assessments, but thinking assessments that can and must be applied to texts but to situations.

Please, please teachers, parents, and students check out some of the tons of information available on the CCSS and PSSA skills so that get some sense of what is expected to be learned. I would venture to assume that there is NOT ONE of these skills that you would not want your children to acquire as a life skill.

It is impossible to argue for or against skills that you cannot name!

Anonymous said...

Hey 2:30, 1:12 said that kids should be reading in "most" classes. They also should be reading out of classes.

Do your kids a favor and encourage them to 'think' all of the time! That's what CCSS is about. To 'think' in art or music or phys ed is as much a part of the process as anything else. You have to think creatively and productively to have a good outcome!

Check out the skill of the CCSS and the PSSA!

Anonymous said...

2:30, you don't think CCSS should be a main focus even while making music. creating art and participating in sports?

Why not? Help us to understand.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else who reads this blog know and understand what the common core state standards are and are not?

Anonymous said...

If my child comes home and can tell my what 7 standards they worked on that day -- I will likely remove said child from school and either come up with the cash or home or cyber school.

That is the biggest load of ____ that I've heard yet. Speaking educationese about thinking is NOT in fact, thinking. Wasting my child's time with that is just that -- a waste of educational time.

We will continue discuss books read, current events, concepts learned, and the like at home.

If teachers are made to spend precious class time actually teaching the names of standards and/or how to repeat them at home, the district will have officially jumped the shark.

Students will be able to glibly describe that which they have not actually learned.

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Does anyone else who reads this blog know and understand what the common core state standards are and are not?

December 30, 2012 9:57 PM"

I would like to know more about this too.

Anonymous said...

Fortunately, there's a ton of info out there. But since most people have never seen/read the state standards, it seems unlikely they are now going to seek out the common core standards.

But if you want to, here's a whole website:

There's an FAQ there and links to all the standards.

You can see how PA has merged them with our standards here:

And here an interesting graphic with the "hold-out" states marked:

Anonymous said...

The choice of posts here is fascinating!

10:02 was one of the better choices since it at least refers you to one of the many sites.

PDE has amazing wealth and depth of information that is ever-evolving, ever-expanding and has been doing so for more than 10 years.

More than you can even imagine has been available and accessible and free to the public for years and years so there is no excuse to be ignorant or uninformed.

Anonymous said...

Parents and students need to access the subsets of standards, CCSS and PSSA, learning about each one and accessing the many short, sweet lessons that teach the application of the (thinking) skill using dozens of short, sweet, and varied texts, fiction and non-fiction at every grade level and in every content area including literature, history, science, math, etc.

If the schools are not teaching kids to be "proficient" then it is possible for parents and students to do it themselves. If older children were to teach younger children each would become much stronger thinkers and doers. Some of us would be glad to hold community sessions and tutoring groups across the spectrum and without charge.

If our schools cannot do this then it is up to those of us who can!

Let's organize and make it happen! It is entirely within the realm of possibility to educate ALL children to the highest levels and beyond. And, we can make in interesting, engaging, intriguing, relevant, inspiring and yes, even fun!

Anonymous said...

PSSA, Common Core/Keystones and all standardized tests largely measure NOTHING. This is a facade foisted on the American public through the auspices of multi-million dollar test-writing and preparing organizations that use reverse psychology to squeeze out even more millions of dollars in a "Chicken Little" type of strategy.

Never mind that reading tests are designed to measure the student's ability to focus and concentrate with the most bland, boring and ridiculous pieces rather than actually measuring reading. And never mind that in comparing US students, the authors of studies fail to tell you that not ALL students in countries like Germany take such testing (but rather, only those on a college path). No, never mind all of that.

Your students are likely as good if not better than their foreign counterparts. We live in a time of payola---in a time when education test writing companies are living the life of Trump, awash in so many millions that they don't know what to do with it all.

It's unfortunate that no one (a Diane Ravitch, perhaps) has the gumption to come out and tell it like it is. It's a shame that this payola is enabling a corrupt system that works against kids and teachers.
It's a shame that politicians have jumped into the picture by deriding teachers as the problem--all with the happy support of "educators" like Linda Lane.

This is our time, rife with corruption and gutlessness.

Anonymous said...

9:01 - There is little disagreement with most of your comments (hyperbole considered); however, there is one question that must be asked: Have you, yourself, ever taken the PSSA, the PA Common Core/Keystone? If you have taken the test(s), have you ever examined (closely) each question to determine what skill (thinking) is being assessed? Have you then analyzed the structure of the multiple choices or open-ended to determine what precisely is required to think through a response?

If you have not done this your 'opinions' carry no weight whatsoever!

In PA, educators (without quotes) have taken great care, time, and expertise to develop assessments that truly do let teachers know how well students have been taught to think. And, yes THINKING can be advanced for any and every one of our young people! With strong teaching, that is. We know enough to do this, and do it well. Pittsburgh, however, is short on administrators and central office people who have this knowledge, experience and expertise. It is as simple as that, believe it or not.

You are correct that our students would/could/should out-perform students in countries around the world, given the opportunity of good educational practice---internal or external to our schools.

Anonymous said...

Yes, our time may be rife with corruption and gutlessness; but, what about you 9:01? What are you doing to step up out of this "time"?

Do you really believe that our kids, all of our kids, are learning to be thinkers and contributors to a "time" beyond the one we live in?

How would you, first, propose to make that happen in a more productive way?

What would you change beside "tests" to ensure a good education for all children?

Who should lead the way out of a time rife with corruption and gutlessness?

Questioner said...

9:01 seems to be saying that our children already compare favorably to those in other countries not that they could or would do so with different teaching.

Anonymous said...

Actually, according to internationally normed stats, our children are not comparing favorable at all. This is acknowledged widely in the U.S. and internationally in all of the multitudes of presentations on collected data. What's of 500 school districts in PA.

Could our students be at the top in PA, the U.S. and internationally?

Absolutely! (But not under the current process.)

Anonymous said...

Correction on 11:36:
23897It references PPS being in the bottom ten school districts in PA which further supports the sad, sad, sad, and unacceptable status of education in PPS.

Anonymous said...

I would agree with 9:01 in general -- many schools and districts have not undergone the "reforms" that have occurred here and continue to graduate students with the desired knowledge and skills.

However, I can tell you that kids currently in the system are NOT getting the same education that children were getting 10 or 15 years ago.

It wasn't perfect then, obviously, issues of behavior, motivation, and the drag that occurs from various ills (poverty, abuse)which a subset of students suffer have always meant that there is a proportion of students who weren't educated well.

However, now, we've come to the situation where very, very few kids are working to their potential or even near it. It's harder and harder for a student to learn anything. They learn to highlight and they learn to use buzzwords. But if you ask them what that highlighted part of their reading means? They will repeat it to you (often fluently, I will say). If you ask them a question about it or to restate it in their own words, though, you realize that they do NOT understand what they've read. They have not been taught to digest and think when reading.

And those habits of mind are seen not just in kids who face difficulties in life at home and at school, but in kids who have every advantage.

So, yes, the older ways did get a large majority of kids to a level comparable to other countries. The new way is a mystery, the kids graduating now are the first ones who have spent more of their school years in this regime than not.

Scores are unlikely to increase and may well continue to drop as the kids coming up have spent more and more time being "managed."

Anonymous said...

Compare the progress of PPS with PA minimum standards for each year.

PSSA Reading Proficiency Scores:


PA State









Remember that between the scores for each year listed, students have had three (3)additional years to acquire the (same) skills which are assessed every year.

(The PA Standards did not change over 10 years and were tested at Grades 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 11.)

Therefore, students in PA were taught the same PA State Standards
every year for the past 10+ years. And, since students were expected to improve every year, the PA ”proficiency” rates were raised by 9 points every three (3) years.

Notice that PPS has declined with each year of instruction. WHY?

P.S. Hoping the numbers do not scatter in this blog format . . .

Anonymous said...

So, all of our high schools have gone down instead of up over ten years of instruction with the same kids and the same skills assessed ???? How can that be? What is going on in Pittsburgh Public Schools?

(Exceptions are Carrick with a .6 increase in 10 years and Westinghouse where now only 75% of the kids are NOT proficient instead of 85% NOT proficient?)

The scores for each year in between are available, but its enough to look at the progress or lack thereof every three years.

Next year the expectation will be 100% as PA moves to the new Common Core State Standards which are proclaimed to be more rigorous, more difficult, and requiring more complex thinking.

Look at where these Pittsburgh schools are this year and estimated how far they will have to go to come anywhere close to 100%.
(By the way, CAPA African American students are at 100% NOW! CONGRATULATIONS! CAPA students and teachers!)

(P.S. Do CAPA students follow with "fidelity" the scripted/managed curriculum? Really? With substantial time given to master the arts?)

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. . . . . . . .

Anonymous said...

The Gates/Broad/Roosevelt/Lane/ Fischetti /French/Lippert/Otuwa team has been at work in the Pittsburgh Public Schools for seven of the past ten years !?!?

How does this happen? What can be done about it?

Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, we know that 100% proficiency is unrealistic for all schools; but that is a good GOAL!

Hey, CAPA students did it!

Someone at central office needs to give an explanation of WHY and HOW CAPA students (African American students!) did it?

Could it be lesser time on Reading and Math, per se, and greater time on the Arts?

Questioner said...

Well, one way they do it is by carefully controlling who is admitted to CAPA in the first place. For the high school the cutoff has been a 3.0 GPA, and it is necessary to maintain good grades as well. It would be interesting to know what percentage of students proficient in grade 11 were also proficient in grade 8.

Anonymous said...

OMG. Look at Allderdice scores!

In 2003, Allderdice was 30 pts. ABOVE the PA minimum!

In 2012, Allderdice is 20 pts. BELOW the PA minimum!

Anonymous said...

5:30 - Are you saying that students are being "tracked" into CAPA.

I thought the District had a POLICY AGAINST TRACKING!?!?

Board Members please let the public know when the POLICY AGAINST TRACKING was changed!

Anonymous said...

How many students at CAPA are identified as "gifted" compared to students at most PPS secondary?

Anonymous said...

I don't know any stats but my son is in the PPS gifted program and is a really well behaved kid. (in school!) He got into CAPA and I firmly believe a lot of it had to do with his IQ and enthusiasm. I don't think it is a bad thing, but I do think the audition process is a cover to accept the best students.

I apologize in advance if this is wrong and I am willing to listen to arguments against my following statement. I wish they would own it or provide a full time school for gifted kds since they are spread so thin.

I think he may get an uneven education at CAPA but it will be the best fit socially for his personality.

Anonymous said...

We average parents want assurances that our kids are being taught using the best methods available. We want to trust that everyone is doing the best job in educating our kids. If our kids are in the middle of the pack we don't want to feel they are shortchanged in getting attention because the concentration is placed on the lower and higher performers.

Anonymous said...

God Bless parents whose children made it into CAPA. They are getting the best that PPS has in teachers, in curricula, in the process. We all want that for our children. It is not happening at the majority of PPS 6-12 schools. At some it is very much the opposite in truth and fact. (You have no idea the extent of the problems around which there is a real cover-up.)
It is just not right! The evidence that has been uncovered is shocking. And the administrators know it!

Questioner said...

Has Pps ever explained why it was important for the sci tech school but not CAPA to reflect the racial makeup of the district?

Anonymous said...

Some of us are catching on to the intents and implementation of common core slowly. A few years ago there was something called "writing across the curriculum" would that have been an earlier attempt at the CC methods?

Anonymous said...

Writing across the curriculum has always been a "best practice" and so has "every teacher a teacher of reading" and yes that is an emphasis with CCSS, but it is much more than that in terms of how we do that and the expectations for quality results.

Complexity of thinking has waned over the years in both reading and writing skills. CCSS is taking us back to a time when our children were demonstrating reading, writing and thinking skills at much higher and more rigorous and complex levels.

Check out the old McGuffy readers. Check out the CCSS and the PA CCSS.
Then check the PPS curriculum.

Anonymous said...

Just like being a parent, you never seem to retire from being an educator. Those of us who are nearing the end of our parenting careers remain interested in where education is going in the country. We need to trust someone to be an objective analyst and are tired of being worried. What should we think of this: