Examining Common Core

How much do you know about Common Core?  Could you pass a test about?  Could you pass the Common Core test itself?  “It’s just a test!” the radical educational establishment cries.  But as our students prove to know less and less, and care even less, it’s time to ask questions about Common Core.  Today’s question:  How did Common Core get started?

The past twenty years in the U.S. have witnessed the “Accountability Movement,” as states are being held to mandatory tests of student achievement, which are expected to demonstrate a common core of knowledge that all citizens should have to be successful in this country.


Since the development of the 1990 National Education Goals, the federal government has encouraged higher education to demonstrate the capacities of college graduates to communicate, solve problems, and think critically.

Due to a lack of common benchmarks to compare student learning outcomes across states, Measuring Up 2000, the first state-by-state report card on higher education performance, gave all states an “Incomplete” in the category of learning.

Shortly after the release of Measuring Up, the National Center convened an invitational forum of public-policy, education, and business leaders to examine how student learning could be measured at the state-level. Between 2002 and 2004, the National Forum on College-Level Learning piloted the newly developed assessment model in five states, demonstrating that providing comparative state-by-state information is not only feasible, but also important and useful for policy.

The 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act mandated that K–12 education demonstrate its commitment to standards and educational equity through evidence of learning. Now a similar demand is beginning to be felt in higher education, particularly since recently released results of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy survey have shown that certain measures of American college graduate literacy have decreased significantly over the last decade.

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings’ Commission on the Future of Higher Education has been discussed how higher education might be held accountable for its results. In a 2006 memo to the commissioners, Chairman Charles Miller pointed to the National Forum’s project as evidence that those results can be measured in a cost-effective, minimally intrusive way.

As part of this overarching education reform movement, the National Governors’ Association, the Chief State School Officers, a non-partisan, non-profit organization of public officials who departments of elementary and secondary education and the Department of Defense Education Activity,  and corporate leaders founded Achieve, Inc., in 1996 as a bi-partisan organization to raise academic standards, graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability in all 50 states. 

The CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress and the public.  The Council’s areas of strategic focus are education workforce; information systems and research; next generation learners; and standards, assessment, and accountability.

At the same time, The American Diploma Project was created in 1996 by the National Governors Association and business leaders to help states raise academic standards in order to better prepare young people for postsecondary education, work and citizenship.

Currently in 30 States across the U.S., the American Diploma Project has four specific actions:

1. Align standards and assessments with the knowledge and skills required beyond high school.

2. Require all high school students to take challenging courses that actually prepare them for life after high school.

3. Build college and work-ready measures into statewide accountability systems

4. Hold schools accountable for graduating students who are college and/or workforce ready, and hold postsecondary accountable for students’ success once enrolled.

Created by the nation’s governors and business leaders, Achieve, Inc. was created to help states raise academic standards and achievement so that all students graduate ready for college, careers and citizenship. Over the past decade, states have led the national movement to raise standards, improve teaching and learning, and hold schools more accountable. Standards are in place in every state, but far too many young people leave our schools today without the knowledge and skills they need to compete in college or the workplace. Achieve’s goal is to help every state close the expectations gap so that all students graduate ready for success.


“Achieve is proud to be the leading voice for the college- and career-ready agenda, and has helped transform the concept of “college and career readiness for all students” from a radical proposal into a national agenda.”


Achieve is a bipartisan, non-profit organization that helps states raise academic standards, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability to prepare all young people for postsecondary education, work, and citizenship


A brief history of Achieve Inc.: 


1996: Achieve is founded at the National Education Summit by leading governors and business leaders.

1998: Achieve begins its Academic Standards and Assessments Benchmarking Pilot Project.

1999: Achieve sponsors a National Education Summit.

2001: Achieve sponsors a National Education Summit; Achieve joins the Education Trust, Thomas B. Fordham Institute and National Alliance of Business to launch the American Diploma Project (ADP) to identify the “must-have” knowledge and skills most demanded by higher education and employers.

2004: The American Diploma Project releases “Ready or Not:  Creating a High School Diploma That Counts.”.” This groundbreaking report – the result of over two years of research – identifies a common core of English and mathematics academic knowledge and skills, or “benchmarks,” that American high school graduates need for success in college and the workforce. Education Week later named “Ready or Not” one of the most 12 influential research studies.

2005: Achieve co-sponsors a National Education Summit on High Schools, with the National Governors Association; the American Diploma Project Network is launched with 13 inaugural states.

2006: Achieve releases its first annual report on the ADP college- and career-ready policy agenda: “Closing the Expectations Gap:  An Annual 50-State Progress Report on the Alignment of High School Policies with the Demands of College and Work.

2007: The ADP Assessment Consortium launches to develop common Algebra II end-of-course assessment, which was, at that time, the largest multi-state effort to develop assessments to date.

2008: Achieve releases “Out of Many, One:  Towards Rigorous Common Core Standards from the Ground Up,”  a report that found that individual state efforts to set college- and career-ready standards for high school graduates actually led to a remarkable degree of consistency in English and mathematics requirements.

2009: Work begins on the development of the Common Core Standards; Achieve partners with the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers on the Initiative and a number of Achieve staff and consultants serve on the writing and review teams.

2010: The final Common Core State Standards are released; Achieve begins serving as Project Management Partner for the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC).

2011: Achieve begins managing the state-led development of the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards.


The National Governors Association hired David Coleman and Student Achievement to write curriculum standards in the areas of literacy and mathematics instruction.  Announced on June 1, 2009, the initiative’s stated purpose is to “provide a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them.”   Additionally, “The standards are designed to be robust and relevant to the real world, reflecting the knowledge and skills that our young people need for success in college and careers,” which will place American students in a position in which they can compete in a global economy.   Forty-five of the fifty states in the United States are members of the initiative, with the states of Texas, Virginia, Alaska and Nebraska refusing to adopt the initiative at a state level.   Minnesota adopted the English Language Arts standards but not the Mathematics standards.


Standards were released for mathematics and English language arts on June 2, 2010, with a majority of states adopting the standards in the subsequent months. (See below for current status.) States were given an incentive to adopt the Common Core Standards through the possibility of competitive federal Race to the Top grants. President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the Race to the Top competitive grants on July 24, 2009, as a motivator for education reform. To be eligible, states had to adopt “internationally benchmarked standards and assessments that prepare students for success in college and the work place.”  This meant that in order for a state to be eligible for these grants, the states had to adopt the Common Core State Standards or a similar career and college readiness curriculum. The competition for these grants provided a major push for states to adopt the standards.  The adoption dates for those states that chose to adopt the Common Core State Standards Initiative are all within the two years following this announcement.  The common standards are funded by the governors and state schools chiefs, with additional support from corporations and non-profit foundations. States are planning to implement this initiative by 2015 by basing at least 85% of their state curricula on the Standards.


Amidst the uproar National Review posted an online article about the Common Core standards:

“Concerns about Common Core national standards have been voiced — repeatedly and often — by experts in mathematics and English.


“’They may be higher than some state standards, but they are certainly lower than the best of them,’ wrote Ze’ev Wurman of the mathematics standards.  Wurman is a former member of the California State Mathematics Curriculum Framework and Criteria Committee, and a former U.S. Department of Education official.


“In testimony before the Texas legislature in May 2011, Stanford professor emeritus of mathematics James Milgram described the Common Core standards as ‘in large measure a political document that, in spite of a number of real strengths, is written at a very low level and does not adequately reflect our current understanding of why the math programs in the high achieving countries give dramatically better results.’


“Milgram — who sat on the Common Core mathematics validation committee and was the only mathematics content expert — refused to sign off on the standards. Porter-Magee and Stern claimed on NRO last week that Common Core gives “essential math skills” a “high priority” and that its “math standards . . . coherently build on one another over time.” Milgram clearly disagrees.


“University of Arkansas professor Sandra Stotsky developed Massachusetts’s widely-praised English Language Arts standards. “The fatal flaws in the Common Core English Language Arts (ELA) standards went unnoticed because over 45 state boards of education and/or their governors hastily adopted the standards in 2010, in some cases long before they were written or finalized,” she wrote in an issue brief for the Heritage Foundation.


“Like Milgram, Stotsky was a member of the Common Core validation committee. She likewise refused to sign off on the English Language Arts standards. ‘By reducing literary study,’ she said, ‘Common Core decreases students’ opportunity to develop the analytical thinking once developed in just an elite group by the vocabulary, structure, style, ambiguity, point of view, figurative language, and irony in classic literary texts.’


“The Common Core standards “simply delineate what children should know at each grade level and describe the skills that they must acquire to stay on course toward college and career,” Porter-Magee and Stern wrote. ‘They are not a curriculum; it’s up to the school districts to choose curricula that comply with the standards.’


“But when the decision was made about ‘delineat[ing] what children should know at each grade level,’ parents were far removed from the discussion. And if Common Core national standards are implemented, parents will have to take any concerns they have to the federal Department of Education.”  Good luck with that.


Achieve, Inc.’s board of directors includes some droppable names from the corporate and legislative world:


Chair – Craig R. Barret  (Intel Corp.)


Board Members:

Gov. Bill Haslam (Tenn.)

Gov. Dave Heinemam (Neb.)

Gov. Jay Nixon (Mo.)

Gov. Deval Patrick (Mass.)

Jeff Wadsworth (Battelle)

Chairman Emeritus:  Louis V. Gerstner Jr. (IB)

Pres.  (Achieve):  Michael Cohen

Treasurer:  Peter Sayre


Corporate Contributors (partial list):


Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Carnegie Corp.




JP Morgan Chase

The Joyce Foundation




Prudential Foundation

State Farm


State Farm’s President and CEO, Ed Rust Jr. is on the board of Achieve, Inc.?  It’s hard to think of a less radical fellow, and a CEO more dedicated to education than Mr. Rust.  Education is paramount to employment at his company.   If he’s on board, then the problem with Common Core lies elsewhere; it’s certainly not with at least some of its corporate sponsors (although the Joyce Foundation was found culpable, along with Obama and George Soros in the 2010 CCX [Chicago Climate Exchange] scandal.


A former president of Intel and a graduate of Stanford, Barrett serves as Achieve’s  chairman.  Barrett has worked in Russia and on Jan. 31, 2006, Barrett and his wife were awarded the Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.


But the real problem may be David Coleman whom the National Governors assigned the task of writing the Core Curriculum.


Coleman grew up in a family of educators and has followed them into the field. He went to public school in New York City before enrolling at Yale University. At Yale, he taught reading to secondary school students from low-income families in New Haven and started Branch, an innovative community service program that worked with students at an inner-city New Haven high school. Based on the success of Branch, Coleman received a Rhodes Scholarship, which he used to study English literature at Oxford and classical educational philosophy at Cambridge. He returned to work at McKinsey & Company for five years, where he led much of the firm’s pro bono work in education.


Together with a team of educators, Coleman then founded the Grow Network, an organization committed to making assessment results truly useful for teachers, parents and students. The Grow Network delivered breakthrough quality reports for parents and teachers as well as individualized learning guides for students. Based on the success of Grow, McGraw-Hill acquired the organization in 2005.


Coleman left McGraw-Hill in 2007 and co-founded Student Achievement Partners, a nonprofit that assembles educators and researchers to design actions based on evidence to improve student outcomes.  Student Achievement Partners played a leading role in developing the Common Core State Standards in math and literacy, a process that drew on the input of teachers, states, higher education, business leaders and researchers from across the country. As a founding partner, Coleman led Student Achievement Partners’ work with teachers and policymakers to achieve the promise of the Common Core State Standards. He left Student Achievement Partners in the fall of 2012 to become president of the College Board.


Coleman was named to the 2013 Time 100, the magazine’s annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world. He has been recognized as one of Time magazine’s “11 Education Activists for 2011” and was one of the NewSchools Venture Fund Change Agents of the Year for 2012.


College Board

In 1900, 12 colleges and universities came together to form the College Board.  Their purpose was to expand access to higher education and to simplify and democratize the application process for students — and for the admission offices. With development of the common entrance exam (later known as the SAT), students could apply to many institutions without having to sit for multiple tests.  The development of a common entrance examination was only the beginning.

More than a century after evaluating those first few test-takers, College Board has tested and coached more than seven million students in preparation for a successful transition to college each year, and they continue to serve the education community through research and advocacy on behalf of students, educators and schools.

1900:  The College Entrance Examination Board is formed to help colleges and universities identify deserving students through shared entrance exams, or “College Boards.”


1926:  The SAT is first administered, eventually replacing the College Boards, and evolves to meet the changing needs of the education community.


1947:  The College Board, the American Council on Education and the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching collaborate to create a nonprofit testing agency, the Educational Testing Service.


1954:  The College Board’s College Scholarship Service is established, pioneering need-based student financial aid.



1955:  The College Board acquires administration of the Advanced Placement Program, designed to encourage high school students to engage in college-level work.


1959:  The first administration of the PSAT measures students’ critical reading and math skills in preparation for college entrance requirements. Beginning in 1971, it provides additional benefits as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test for 11th-grade students.


1960-1965:  The College Board leads a campaign to desegregate SAT testing centers in the south in order to ensure all students receive equitable testing conditions.


1975:  The College Board Celebrates 75 years of success. Simultaneously, the College Board Educational Opportunity Center launches as the first of two federally-funded programs providing direct support for students in Washington, D.C.


1990:  The College Board introduces the Equity 2000 initiative, demonstrating the potential for math achievement among disadvantaged students nationwide.


2000:  The College Board develops CollegeEd®, a college planning and career exploration program designed to encourage early preparation for college.


2003:  The College Board collaborates with the State of Florida through the Florida Partnership for Minority and Underrepresented Student Achievement program to increase the college-going rate throughout the state.


2004:  The first College Board Schools open in New York City to provide low-income and underserved students with a rigorous college- preparatory education.


2005:  The Access & Diversity Collaborative on Enrollment Management and the Law helps higher education officials evaluate their race-and ethnicity-conscious recruitment, and their outreach and retention practices. The addition of an essay portion to the SAT promotes the teaching of persuasive writing in American high schools.


2006:  The Rethinking Student Aid study group begins to draft influential policy recommendations for federal financial aid reform.


2010:  The College Board Advocacy & Policy Center launches to connect education policy, research and real-world practice to innovative solutions.


We have the College Board to thank, in part, for the phrase “dumbing down.”  As the disparity between more affluent, white suburban students and urban students grew, radicals began to complain of inequities in education.  Black students, in particular, were being indoctrinated in a history and culture that was alien to them.  College Board complied with the Progressive educational establishment and began to “dumb down” the SATs, making them easier to pass for “disadvantaged” students.  Still, their grades did not improve, giving radicals the opportunity they were looking for to advocate for total educational reform, with student-centered classrooms where children would learn at their own pace as opposed to authoritative – and oppressive, according to radicals like Bill Ayers – classrooms.  Discipline was kept at a minimum and students were encouraged to share their experiences rather than learn about the experiences of others.  They were taught self-esteem and cultural awareness rather than facts and figures, history and literature that was contrary to the divisive agenda the radicals wanted them to embrace.


Nobody is more opposed to Common Core, you’ll probably be surprised to learn, than the Radicals.  They’ve been opposed to testing students and classroom discipline since Progressivism took shape.  Informed by the admittedly harsh classroom discipline of English and early American schoolrooms (caning, whipping, beatings and other corporeal punishments), we have “Progressed” to the point where it is now the students who are performing the beatings – and shootings.


But Common Core may be a sop to the Radicals, who despise organizations like College Board (which is in the very “Capitalist” business of testing students and corporations who depend upon those tests to recruit a competent workforce).  According to competent educational professionals, Common Core is not what it appears to be.  The key word to all this business is the word “common” as in the lowest “common” denominator.


State governors (at least some of them), business leaders like Ed Rust Jr., and parents may have one idea about Common Core standards and mistakenly think it’s a good idea.  The radicals and the students they teach to be teachers have a very different idea.  Make no mistake; the radical instructors have no intention of teaching to the test.  Their curriculum (as it goes from state to state) will determine the test.  Their intention is to make the SATs obsolete.


The book to read to get ready for this “test” of the educational future is “The Handbook of Social Justice Education,” edited by William Ayers, along with Therese Quinn and David Stovall.  HSJE is a monster of a book at 775 pages and not for parents and grandparents on high blood pressure medications.


Lecture tomorrow on a review of this book; quiz on Monday.





Published in: on May 2, 2013 at 4:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

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