Laurie Halverson: Supports Idea of Standards, Concerns about Common Core

Written by: Laurie Halverson
  1. Common Core Standards.The MCPS web site does not say much about “Common Core” standards but instead focuses on its own “Curriculum 2.0” and has teachers and students learning new standards through the county’s developing curriculum and teacher training.  Do you support the Common Core?  Is MCPS doing a good job of navigating the new standards?  And, how would you direct them to do it differently?

I support the general idea of standards for school districts. Standards help parents know whether their child is meeting or exceeding expectations and parents value test scores per school for comparison purposes. Standardized test scores are one tool to help teachers identify students who need support or acceleration. They also provide a gauge for school district leaders in determining whether schools need more support or intervention.

Former state superintendent, Nancy Grasmick said in the May 25, 26, 2010 state board minutes that the purpose of Common Core State Standards (CCSS) was to close the achievement gap. But, how we can expect students who already aren’t performing at the lower performing state standard, to close the gap with a new higher standard without significant professional development and additional resources?  Standards and curriculum by themselves will not close the achievement gap.

It concerns me that 500 early educators signed a statement indicating that they have “grave concerns” about CCSS:  http://www.edweek.org/media/joint_statement_on_core_standards.pdf.  It also concerns me that some top educators, such as Sandra Stotsky and James Milgram who were on the CCSS validation panel, refused to sign a document to approve CCSS. It concerns me that MCPS has a policy (IFA) on curriculum that states that teachers should have ongoing professional development and parents should be partners in the development of the curriculum. Yet, the minimum amount of teacher training has been optional and parents have had little role in curriculum development and don’t even have access to the learning materials at home. It concerns me that there is no plan in place on how anyone in Maryland can give input if we want to change or improve any of the standards. It concerns me that it is costing our state taxpayers a tremendous amount without legislation or a democratic process: While the federal government gave $4 billion in Race to the Top Grants to certain states, it will cost our nation at least $16 billion to implement it. Many states have passed legislation and are taking action to gain back control over the content of curriculum, but Maryland has not.

What I would do differently to direct MCPS as a Board of Education member:

  • I want our schools to move away from teaching to the test and emphasize teaching and learning for all subjects. A resident at Leisure World told me she was taught so well at her school years ago that there was no need to “teach to the test” because she could take any test and perform well-that is what I want for MCPS students.
  • I would want to see measures on how MCPS will evaluate the success of Curriculum 2.0.
  • If MCPS continues to adhere to CCSS next year, I would pursue mandatory professional development for CCSS. I have spoken to teachers who say that students with teachers who skipped the optional training will be at a disadvantage.
  • I would push for more accurate and consistent ways of identifying students for acceleration.
  • I would be involved at the national level, seeking ways for the public to provide feedback on the current standards and how they can be improved in the future.
  • I would also seek changes to the MCPS grading and reporting policy to make sure the report card accurately measures student performance and is easy for parents and students to understand.
  • I would ask for more data such as final exam results per school in comparison with the corresponding course grades the student achieved.
  • Before approving new technology, I would ask financially relevant questions such as, “Will the Chromebooks be compatible for PARCC and MAP testing?” (I heard from an administrator that MAP tests are not compatible with the newly purchased Chromebooks.)

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As MCCPTA VP of Educational issues I attended at my expense, a White House Community Partnership Summit at the University of Pennsylvania on March 2, 2012.  I wanted to give feedback to the White House about how Race to the Top policies were affecting us at the local level. Here is a link to my report:

http://mccpta.com/curriculum_dir/2011-2012/WhiteHouseSummit.pdf

 

Here are two excellent links on the CCSS: Building the Machine-The Common Core Documentary http://www.commoncoremovie.com/

Diane Ravitch: Everything You’ve Wanted to Know about Common Core:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/01/18/everything-you-need-to-know-about-common-core-ravitch/

 

Maryland State BOE Meeting minutes from May 25,26, 2010 when they discussed Race to the Top and Common Core State Standards:

http://marylandpublicschools.org/NR/rdonlyres/5D922A58-42B9-420F-997F-11CF4B13DEB4/24493/May25262010.pdf

 

2 Responses to Laurie Halverson: Supports Idea of Standards, Concerns about Common Core

  1. Lyda Astrove says:

    “optional training?”
    Just like when MCPS closed the secondary learning centers. And we know what happened: test scores for students with disabilities went down.

  2. CrunchyMama says:

    There has been *some* PD surrounding the new curriculum; I remember at least twice subbing for teachers who were getting trained on the next quarter’s brand new Curriculum 2.0 – the WEEK BEFORE the new quarter started. This was time out of the classroom for those teachers (not to mention expense of paid subs in every situation where that happened throughout MCPS!)but also was not NEARLY enough “lead time” for classroom teachers to feel really confident with it before they got started, no matter HOW good that one-day training (for an entire marking period’s worth of curriculum in all academic subjects). I’d be willing to bet there has been ZERO relevant PD for specialists in C2.0 – although if I’m wrong about that, someone please correct me.

    While we’re on the subject of Curriculum 2.0, which was (to my understanding, anyway) developed in concert with Pearson, and from which MCPS was supposed to make a boatload for MCPS – what ever happened to that deal? The public has heard pretty much nothing since it was created and put into place – certainly nothing about the Pearson side of the deal.

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