Weren’t National Standards/Assessments Supposed to Close the Achievement Gap? It hasn't happened: LOOK AT THE DATA or the search for ELUSIVE EQUITY
Parents have been told for years that the achievement gap could be closed by the adoption and implementation of national standards and assessments. Do you remember these claims?
The Common Core will improve education quality for all students—particularly traditionally underserved students. Raising standards and preparing all students for college and careers will help reduce the disparities identified for low-income students, students of color, ELLs, and students with disabilities. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/education-k-12/reports/2014/05/19/89836/the-common-core-is-an-opportunity-for-education-equity/
Equity–All students in every state will be expected to meet the same rigorous standards, which will prepare each of them to be college and career ready. https://www.achieve.org/files/RevisedElementaryActionBrief_Final_Feb.pdf
From its inception, the Obama administration has set its sights on the unevenness of existing state standards and promoting the development, adoption, and implementation of common standards that would provide each school across the country with clearly defined markers of what students should know and be able to do at each level of their K–12 schooling.
In a 2009 speech at the National Press Club, Secretary Duncan accused states of setting the bar too low in order to comply with the regulations of the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act. “We want to raise the bar dramatically in terms of higher standards. What we have had as a country, I’m convinced, is what we call a race to the bottom. We have 50 different standards, 50 different goal posts. And due to political pressure, those have been dumbed down. We want to fundamentally reverse that. We want common, career-ready internationally benchmarked standards,” said Duncan (2009). http://www.ascd.org/publications/newsletters/policy-priorities/vol16/issue4/full/Coming-to-Terms-with-Common-Core-Standards.aspx
These shared standards are effectively a corrective to their predecessors, emphasizing depth of mastery of fewer topics over breadth. They focus on students’ ability to analyze and apply knowledge, rather than recall it. And they are designed so that, in theory, a student who masters them by the end of high school will be able to succeed in college or an entry-level job without remediation. One of the standards’ most influential writers, David Coleman, sees in that end goal a recommitment to the equity push that gave fruit to academic standards in the first place.
“Particularly for low-income kids, remediation is a trap they don’t escape,” says Coleman, now the president of the College Board, which oversees the SAT college-entrance exam. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/what-to-make-of-the-debate-over-common-core-3900291/
The above excerpt (pg 6) is from The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity & Diversity dated April 2010.
Almost eight years later, are the achievement gaps narrowing? They aren’t in elementary school for at least one affluent Missouri school district, Webster Groves School District, which is **ranked #6 out of 555 districts. From The Webster-Kirkwood Times October 27, 2017 article:
Efforts to close the gap between white and African-American students in the lower grades are showing little signs of success, a Webster Groves School District administrator said this week.
In a report given to the Webster Groves Board of Education at its Oct. 23 meeting, Assistant Superintendent for Learning Kristin Denbow noted the gap in math and reading tests for kindergarten through the sixth grade.
“What the overwhelming data shows is that our students are entering our school system – white students and our African-American students – with a big gap,” said Denbow, noting that in some cases, the gap keeps growing.
“We saw this trend last year in that our incoming students actually have a bigger gap this year than we actually saw last year,” she said. “We were talking about early intervention and what we needed to do with our youngest students in kindergarten and first grade.”
Denbow also noted some mixed results in the “summer slide” of achievement for first through sixth grades.
Scores actually increased for the first grade, possibly because the largest group of students participating in summer school was before that year. For second grade, it was up for whites and down slightly for African Americans. There was a sharp dip for the third grade, a slight dip for fourth and fifth grades and a deeper dip for sixth grades.
If common standards and assessments were the keys to close the achievement gaps, then why is it worsening in the Webster school district? Is it the implementation? Is it inappropriate curricula aligned to poorly written standards? Are children’s developmental stages ignored for the quest of common data sets? Do teachers have to go to even more professional development? Are the schools of education not graduating highly effective teachers and/or are the schools of education not teaching competently? Is it the parents’ fault? Is it faulty assessments? Should the non-researched based standards/assessments be shelved? Even Bill Gates admits that common standards have not delivered educational nirvana. From Bill Gates Tacitly Admits His Common Core Experiment Was A Failure:
“Based on everything we have learned in the past 17 years, we are evolving our education strategy,” Gates wrote on his blog as a preface to a speech he gave last week in Cleveland. He followed this by detailing how U.S. education has essentially made little improvement in the years since he and his foundation — working so closely with the Obama administration that federal officials regularly consulted foundation employees and waived ethics laws to hire several — began redirecting trillions of public dollars towards programs he now admits haven’t accomplished much.
“If there is one thing I have learned,” Gates says in concluding his speech, “it is that no matter how enthusiastic we might be about one approach or another, the decision to go from pilot to wide-scale usage is ultimately and always something that has to be decided by you and others the field.” If this statement encompasses his Common Core debacle, Gates could have at least the humility to recall that Common Core had no pilot before he took it national. There wasn’t even a draft available to the public before the Obama administration hooked states into contracts, many of which were ghostwritten with Gates funds, pledging they’d buy that pig in a poke.
School districts have tried the nightmare of public education reforms for seven years and what have they discovered? Achievement gaps still exist and in many districts, they have worsened. School budgets are strained from the burgeoning costs due to the technology necessary for these reforms while the attainment of educational excellence is a long ago far away notion unknown by most students and parents.
Ask your school district how its achievement gaps have been narrowed the last seven years. If they haven’t narrowed, ask your school district why not. Ask what its educational delivery and content has been for the last several years. Ask if it is ready to educate children in the most appropriate manner for the children in their district. Ask the administrators if they are ready to lead. Ask them what they will do differently. But be prepared for the following answer crafted by the NGO architects at CCSSO of their future plans of needing more money and education for even younger children. It just can’t be the fallacy of nationalized standards/assessments and Social Emotional Learning superseding academic learning.
Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2016) — Chief state school officers understand that a high-quality education in the early years can give students a leg-up for life.
State chiefs are leading efforts to increase investments, expand access, and improve early childhood programs and workforce quality. Building on these efforts, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) today released Equity Starts Early: How Chiefs Will Build High-Quality Early Education. This report outlines five steps that, coupled with high-quality K-12 education, will contribute to strengthening student outcomes through college and careers:
1. Engage families and communities in early learning,
2. Connect early childhood programs and elementary schools,
3. Accelerate improvement and innovation in early childhood programs,
4. Build a high performing early childhood workforce,
5. Increase investment to provide quality, voluntary early childhood education for all children.
“For the nation to realize a vision of graduating every student ready for college, careers and life, we must provide access to voluntary, high-quality learning opportunities for all kids from the earliest days of their educational career,” said Chris Minnich, executive director of CCSSO. “State chiefs are committed to raising academic achievement, starting with our youngest learners.”
Chiefs are committed to working with the early childhood and public education communities to implement these recommendations. They understand that strengthening early learning opportunities and outcomes is a key element in a renewed effort to promote equal educational opportunity and eliminate achievement gaps and shortfalls.
“Early education through our Four-Year-Old Kindergarten Program (4K) is an essential piece in our efforts to close achievement gaps,” said CCSSO Board President and Wisconsin Superintendent Tony Evers. “Kids who have a strong start in 4K will be more likely to graduate ready for college and careers.”
“Learning begins long before a child sets foot into a classroom,” said Illinois Superintendent Tony Smith. “It’s a journey that begins at birth and continues in the home, school, and community…. when families, schools, and communities partner to promote learning and healthy development for all children, schools thrive and student outcomes improve.”
For more information, download the full report.
The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. 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.
**This link, http://www.startclass.com/, can provide insights into your school district regarding funding, expenses, student to teacher ratios and other information.