Saturday, June 28, 2014

Practice What You Preach

As I left my town's carnival tonight and walked back to my car with my family, a man stopped me.  Clearly, he was trying to sell me on something- he had a clipboard in one hand and a few post cards
in another that I knew I would grab and throw into the closest garbage can I could find.  As I glanced at his signature-filled clipboard quickly trying to decide if I would stay or go, I noticed his tee-shirt.    The shirt was black and on the back was white letters inside a no-smoking sign kind of visual.  Inside the red circle with a  large slash through the middle were the words COMMON CORE.

Hmm, I thought. Let's hear what he has to say.  So I did.  He bragged about his candidate who needs a certain amount of signatures to get on the ballot. Not a Democrat.  Not a Republican.  One of the early opposers of the Common Core.  Starting a revolution against the Common Core in Connecticut and will probably get it abolished in CT.... yadda, yadda, yadda.  "So, Ma'am, will you sign our petition to get this candidate on the ballot?"

Disregarding my distaste for the term, Ma'am, (I clearly still look 21), I think I surprised the man with my response.

"Well,"  I started to say, "I can't sign your petition.  I don't agree with you or your tee-shirt."

Quickly the man's face hardened.  "You know you're in the 10% of the population," he quickly chided.

Frankly, I didn't know that.  If I had been prepared for a debate, which I was not, I might have questioned his statistic.  In Connecticut? In the nation?  Of parents?  Of educators?  10% of whom?

I didn't.  Instead, I offered a brief dialogue about how I don't believe that it's the standards that are the enemy, but rather the state testing and teacher evaluation being linked to it.  I mentioned my thinking that it's the misinterpretation about curriculum, instruction and assessment of these standards, by people like David Coleman and school leaders around this country, that misrepresent the CCSS document. Parents and policymakers, who are jumping on the anti-CCSS bandwagon, too, I believe are misinformed.  So I asked, "What is it about the CCSS that you don't like?"

My question stopped him in his tracks, and his answer made me realize at that moment that he was one of the thousands of anti-CCSS people who were making judgement without studying the facts, or even the document itself.

"I don't believe that the federal government should control the curriculum," was his answer.

Ah ha.  There it was.

People and parents, everywhere, you may have been misinformed.  I believe people everywhere need to think through the following points about the CCSS to inform your thinking before signing your name to petitions in any parking lot:

1.  The CCSS is not a curriculum.  The CCSS is a SET OF STANDARDS.  Rigorous?  YES.  Challenging?  Absolutely.  But it is not a curriculum.  The standards cannot tell you HOW to teach to them.  It cannot tell you what books to read  or write about (despite the appendix or some other publications that have been released).

2.  Standards are not new.  Standards have been in every state for many, many years.  Connected to those standards are state tests.  Yes, the mandates have changed about when and how often those state tests are delivered, but a set of standards is not new.  A set of standards that 40 states align to?  Yes, that's new.  But I think you'd be hard pressed to find someone who doesn't believe that kids in North Carolina shouldn't be held to the same standard as a student in California and Connecticut.  They are going into the same workforce, the same college pool, and the same world, right?

3.  There are flaws with any rollout of something new.  Within the next few years, the CCSS will be revised, as all new documents are.  How many amendments have been added to the Declaration of Independence, for example?  As we know more, we do better.  I believe this document is flawed.  But I don't believe that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak.  There are powerful, real issues with the CCSS and they will need to be revised (K-3 standards, to name a few).  But, I believe schools should be setting high standards for students to think critically to become lifelong learners and productive citizens. I believe students need the habits of mind to apply knowledge in their own lives to change our future.

4.  The CCSS has made teaching better if the district has manipulated the standards for what they are, not for what they are not.  I wrote a blog post last year about why I embrace the CCSS.  I've contemplated my thinking on it over this past year after the strong movement against the CCSS, but I remain steady that the CCSS is not the enemy.  The people who misinterpret it are.

Photo credits:
5.  The CCSS is a document that "spirals down" based on anchor standards in Reading, Writing, Speaking/Listening, Language, and Math to prepare children to be students who are College and Career Ready.  Page 7 of the ELA (English Language Arts) CCSS document online states the definition of a student who is College and Career Ready.

  • They demonstrate independence.  
  • They build strong content knowledge.  
  • They respond to the varying demands of  task, purpose and audience.  
  • They comprehend as well as critique.  
  • They value evidence.  
  • They use technology and digital media strategically and capably.  
  • They come to understand other perspectives and cultures.  

Dear Future Governor candidate that I wouldn't sign your petition today, what are you against?  

6.  The CCSS requires all teachers to be teachers of literacy.  Instead of ELA teachers being in complete control of children's reading, writing, speaking and listening, the CCSS holds ALL teachers accountable for literacy.  How does a scientist think about content in Science and write about it?  How does a historian read primary documents and make judgement about them?  The CCSS has started conversations about transferring skills across the day so students are thinking about literacy in new, authentic ways.  Yes.  We want students to transfer their skills across disciplines to apply their learning in relevant ways.

7.  The standardized test is not the CCSS.  There are issues with SBAC and PARCC, no doubt.  But
Photo courtesy of Scholastic
honestly, it's not a bad test--- at least based on the pilot that I've seen these past two years.  If you didn't want your child taking a bad test, they should have been opting out of the Connecticut Mastery Test that asked kids to make up evidence to support their point in persuasive essays.  The CMT editing and revising was the worst assessment I've ever seen and when we questioned it, we were told that we shouldn't be looking at the test (by the state).  No one opted out of that.  Is that real world?  Does that prepare them, or teach them, how to write? How to think?  Nope.  Will revisions need to be made to the new tests? Yes.  Is it ridiculously long?  Yes.  Do schools need support with the technology? You betcha.  But the testing isn't the CCSS.  The testing is the tool to measure understanding of the CCSS.  They're different.  Let's not confuse the two.

I'll concede that the CCSS have been misrepresented in schools.  Many believe the CCSS document is curriculum and they have butchered best practice to "align to standards."  Others have grabbed hold of it and mandated textbooks based on the Publisher's Criteria (which is ironic, by the way, because the document itself mentions that it cannot say how teachers should teach and yet the authors (Pimentel and Coleman) have made a lot of money doing just that).  Please don't confuse the standards to be curricula.  In fact, the standards themselves publish the following statement under the heading "What the Standards Are Not:"
The Standards define what all students are expected to know and be able to do, not how teachers should teach. For instance, the use of play with young children is not specified by the Standards, but it is welcome as a valuable activity in its own right and as a way to help students meet the expectations in this document. Furthermore, while the Standards make references to some particular forms of content, including mythology, foundational U.S. documents, and Shakespeare, they do not—indeed, cannot—enumerate all or even most of the content that students should learn. The Standards must therefore be complemented by a well-developed, content-rich curriculum consistent with the expectations laid out in this document.  (CCSS, 2010)
The CCSS may transform schools.  It may.  It may force districts to think about instructional practices and methods.  It may bring up uncomfortable conversations in the parking lot of a carnival.  It may cause parents to think deeply about standardized tests and teacher evaluation plans.  It may force teachers and administrators to work together, strategically and systemically, to plan curriculum.  It may inspire 5,000 teachers to attend professional development at Teachers College (TCRWP) in New York City this summer over their own vacation to learn from each other and continue professional dialogues.  Maybe it will help students learn.  I say Bravo.  Let's have those hard conversations in the parking lot, in our Board meetings, PTA meetings, cocktail parties and in our schools.  Let's stay informed.  Because frankly, it's our future.

Yes, it is up to the local government and schools to push back and do the right thing.  The CCSS is not a curriculum. It's a set of standards.  Teachers should not be "graded" based on the standardized tests that are connected to very rigorous standards.  But that's not the CCSS.  Parents and people everywhere, let's not confuse the issues.  Let's fight the right fight.

No, sir. I won't sign your petition.  I don't even remember your candidate's name.  I wish I had jotted it down so I know not to vote for you.  I don't want a governor who puts people out on the field with that image on the front and back of their shirt.  I want a governor who understands the CCSS and wants to support schools in their attempts to reach the high standards.  I want to vote for a Governor who supports teachers and schools to transform learning in ways that help students succeed. Because I think that's what our future needs.  We need Governors who "delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims ... assessing whether the reasoning is sound and the evidence is relevant and sufficient;" and "recognize when irrelevant evidence is introduced" (CCSS, 2010).  Eighth graders can do it, and so should you, future Governor.   That's CCSS ELA Standard 8.8- Reading for Information: Integration of Knowledge and Ideas (8th standard in the 8th grade).  

I just ask that you, parents, policymakers, citizens, follow Standard 8.8 before you make judgement.  Let's "recognize irrelevant evidence" and make decisions based on credible and relevant sources.  The guy wearing a black shirt with Common Core crossed out on it may or may not be the best person to give you your information, but let's teach kids how to question and think through the issues.  Let's practice what we preach and fight the right fight to set the right example for our children.


  1. Great post Sarah! This post will hopefully help people understand the positives of the CCSS as well as the difference between the standards and the testing. Thank you for writing such an informative and thought provoking post!

  2. Excellent post! I recently had to have a debate with a family member over this very topic over the holidays. He had no idea what he was talking about, is not in the education field and was spouting off little facts he had heard from the news and other non-supports of the CCSS. It was refreshing to hear your take and to know that I am not alone in my thoughts about the curriculum. Our state has decided to pull out which I feel is a big mistake as they have barely given it a chance and blame the standards rather than looking at where the real problems lie. Anyway, thank you for putting it out there!

  3. Hey, Your blog is very informative. It is nice to read such high-quality content. Attractive information on your blog, thank you for taking the time and share with us.The experts of our dissertation editors provide custom dissertation for you within the time that you provide us Myassignmenthelp delivers high-quality content related to quality dissertation help.

  4. Assignment Help services offers quality and plagiarism-free work for students to acquire good grades on their subjects. If you are about to miss your due dates, login to greatassignmenthelp and complete your work on time.
    Assignment Help Online
    Online Assignment Help
    Assignment Help Online Services
    Assignment Helper
    Assignment Assistance
    Assignment Help Experts
    Online Assignment Help Services

  5. I suggest everyone to choose My Assignment Help Australia for getting the best guidance in their academia. The proficient experts assist as per the requirements and learning styles desired by the university.

  6. Nice Post! It helps me to know about Nepal Tour Package. It gives a lot of information to book the best Nepal tour packages. Thanks for sharing this blog!
    Nepal Tour Packages
    Nepal Tour Package
    Nepal Tourism Packages
    Nepal Tourist Packages
    Nepal Tour
    Most Beautiful Places In The World

  7. Great post!!!
    IdealAssignmentHelp Service offers quality Assignment Help and plagiarism-free work for students to acquire good grades on their subjects. If you want to get My Assignment Help for Australia then Contact our expert team and complete your work on time.

  8. I have been working with Firstassignmenthelp consultant service for 7 years as an Academic Writer. I provide assignment help service by Top Australian Assignment writing experts. You can Order online academic help, essay help, dissertation writing, programming help.

  9. Hello Guys, Our aim is to maximize your Doctoral Dissertation Help perfection so you'll be get a good mark. we are hub of team of specialists, our writers work for giving you an excellent Doctoral Dissertation Help to the dissertation writers, the services include checking spelling mistakes and grammatical errors, we offer our customers with absolutely altered and assure service at an inexpensive worth by maintaining a top quality of work.

  10. Amazing job. These people are professional, prompt, courteous, and forgiving...because the first time I tried to get their help I was so upset from getting ripped off by course hero and chegg tutors that I flipped out on these guys and blew it. Came to them for help for my girl a month later and they hooked her up...I'll be very surprised if she does not pull an A on this assignment. And when she's happy I am too :) Also they could have taken advantage of me pricewise and they didn't. Outstanding.For more detail: Assignmnet help

  11. I am a freelancer and have been helping a lot of students in providing assistance to students who frequently gets worried about their assessment tasks and went online to search for assignment help uk terms.
    We at My Assignment Services have potentially recognized the need way back and started what we are an enlarged version of then. With many assignment helper companies in the market, no one has quite able to match the standard that we follow. We give utmost priority to students by strictly adhering to the assignment requirements as well as marking rubrics to score high grades. Our Essay Writer writers are well-proficient in not only comprehending your assessment tasks but also to give an expert finish to it.
    Provided a well-written assignment suitable to your needs, your search for uae assignment help will now end with My Assignment Services. You just have to visit our website for more information.

  12. Thank you for this information, it is very useful for all. Get the best Management Assignment Help Services at the cheapest price. Myassignmenthelpau provides the best organizational culture assignment help. Therefore, to avail of our assignment help offering no plagiarism, Free Turnitin, Partial Payment, Unlimited Revisions, etc. you'll contact our team of highly professional, experienced, Ph.D. experts to avail the discounted services!

  13. I want to thank you for this excellent read!! I certainly loved every little bit of it. I have got you book marked to check out new stuff you post. Our tested and proven writers spend many quality hours researching and writing our customers’ instructions. That’s how they create high-quality custom papers that help our customers better their writing skills. Even the strictest of teachers find it hard to deny those we help the “As” and “A-pluses” they deserve. Find more from Writing Assignment Help

  14. This post was awesome thank you for sharing. Physical therapy is a specialty in the field of health care, which utilizes exercises, massage, heat treatment, and such physical methods to treat an injury, deformity, or a disease instead of using surgery or drugs. If you are interested in studying such interventions, then you should pursue physical therapy studies in an institution of higher learning. Learn more from Physical Therapy Capstone Writers

  15. The role of the PODs and PDP as per the outlined guidelines helps her to develop a good portfolio that will eventually be submitted to the DCU University.freelance writer for hire

  16. I don’t know where on the internet I would have gotten such a great content thumb up. Did you know? Water quality concerns are becoming more of a focus for the public. You may have heard about contaminants in the drinking water such as Arsenic, Chromium, Cryptosporidium or Giardia. Visit Premier Ro Pure Plus Manual for more.

  17. My self, William Smith Associated with Livewebtutors. Which Is Known as A Renowned my assignment help Australia Company. I Have Been Working as A Full-Time Academic Consultant from Last Ten Years. Livewebtutors Is an Experienced and Highly Reputable All Assignment Help Provider in Australia, Specialized in Academic Writing. We Offer High-Quality Service and Supply Free Plagiarism Report for All Assignments and Best Price.

  18. Myassignmenthelp is the proficient academic writing service holding a ingenious team of more than 3,000 assignment tutors, dedicated to assist students with the authentic my assignment help services. Our specialised team for my assignment help Australia team is available 24x7 to help students on a plethora of assignments, essays, coursework and more.

  19. ABC Assignment help is a reliable assignment help services holding a dedicated and resourceful team of more than 3000 assignment and essay writers helping students with proficient academic support. Our team of subject experts are available to serve students with well-researched write-ups to score high.

    Read more - taxation assignment help

  20. Thank you for bringing to a halt my long search topic. I really benefited from your content. If you are experiencing trouble striking a balance between your busy academic life and handling your online classes, you can get help from a professional who will take online classes on your behalf. It doesn’t matter the kind of help you need, whether it is passing your exam, finishing your assignments or even the entire classwork, you can get help here at Online Class Help .

  21. ABC Assignment help provides best Machine learning assignment help service through professional computer science experts. You can learn about any area of machine learning like supervised learning, unsupervised learning, predictive models, regression models, clustering etc. from our experienced tutors. Our services come at an affordable cost making it possible for you to score high in assessments related to optimization methods, clustering algorithms, ensemble learning, deep learning, decision tree, gradient boosting or any other area of machine learning. Connect with one of our experts 24x7 to discuss your machine learning topic and project and start the unique experience of customized assignment help.

  22. My assignment services online help students in variety of subjects and courses ensuring that they submit flawlessly written assignments, essays and term papers. We offer unsurpassable assignment solutions through our subject-specific experts having proficiency and knowledge in meeting University guidelines ensuring a desired score in every academic paper.

  23. Who’s reading practice what you preach while in quarantine? Hit that like if you are. I am using my all the time in reading the best content on the internet like this. Stay safe all. Best Assignment Writers

  24. Thank you for predicting our needs and writing great and informative article. The cost of installing an acre of drip irrigation varies depending on the crop to crop. However, with Ksh 150,000 you have a standard drip irrigation system. Different crops require different spacing this affects the cost of one acre of drip irrigation. Visit Cost of one Acre Drip Irrigation

  25. You had me engaged by reading and you know what? I want to read more about that Assignment help. That's what's used as an amusing post.! You Can Email Us at Or Phone Number: +61-2-8005-8227.

  26. Hello there, great stuff you’ve shared here I will be checking regularly for more articles. But wait! When it becomes hard to manage your online assignment, availing Online Assignment Help is the best choice. Many students often fail to submit their assignment before deadlines and end up scoring low grades because they didn’t have enough time to write the assignment given on time and satisfactorily. Visit Assignment Help . for assistance.

  27. If you want to get writing assistance from professional writers in Dubai, choose Assignment Help. Assignment Help Online allows you to submit your academic papers before the last date of submission without any stress even in Dubai.
    Online Assignment Help

  28. My assignment help services online available from our inhouse team of experienced writers can help you raise your grades. We offer adept writing assistance in various subjects like management, statistics, psychology, nursing, computer science, law and engineering. Our assignment helpers are well versed with your university guidelines and ensure that every paper you’re your professor’s expectations in terms of plagiarism free quality work and timely submission.

  29. programming assignments are not easy to complete without any mistake.Now do not worry about your assignments,your java assignment helper is now available here at:Java Assignment Help
    Java Assignment Helper
    Java programming help
    do my java assignment

  30. My Assignment Help is an incomparable online assignment writing service delivering excellent assignment help service. We have the best in-house team specialist to take complete care of assignment within provided time limit. Convince yourself only after looking at the list of our free samples talking of our quality and expertise.

  31. What an informative article. Tell you what I have bookmarked your website for regular checkup. Thank you for taking time to share such a great content. Are you puzzling about who to contact for Nursing Writing Services? Could it be that you are working on a tight budget yet need high-quality nursing-related assignments? Is it the efficiency that you are looking for? Well, with the popularity that the nursing course has gained over the years, there are a lot of gaps to fill in the health sector. Read more on Nursing Essay Writing Services.