Why other State Governors wanted Common Core (and why Texas probably doesn’t)

August5

texas our texas
In WARNING: THE COMMON CORE STANDARDS MAY BE HARMFUL TO CHILDREN | Education News, a principal from Texas takes a look at the Common Core standards and concludes that they are developmentally inappropriate for K-5. She has some really great examples in primary, but I wanted to share this one for fifth grade:

In most of the Reading/Information standards, the same expectations for describing complex relationships among multiple items appear: (RI.5.5) Compare and contrast the overall structure (e.g., chronology, comparison, cause/effect, problem/solution) of events, ideas, concepts, or information in two or more texts.

For 5th graders, this standard would be even more difficult to meet than the previous one because it asks them to carry out two different operations on two or more texts that almost certainly differ in content, style, and organization.

And here is the “old” California standard (pre-Common Core):

Structural Features of Informational Materials
2.1 Identify structural patterns found in informational text (e.g., compare and contrast, cause
and effect, sequential or chronological order, proposition and support) to strengthen
comprehension.

This is not the fifth grade standard, but a fourth grade one. This is a standard that has been in place for 15 years. This matches something I observed about Texas standards when I looked at their test about 7 years ago. What they seem to expect from students in elementary is two years behind what California has expected. Donna Garner may be right that this is developmentally inappropriate (certainly California has had a much harder time getting students to grade-level, most especially English Learners, and FRL kids). Compounding this, we have five levels of achievement, Advanced, Proficient, Basic, Below Basic, and Far Below Basic. Most states who used a 5 level scale had the cut at the top three, whereas California only takes the top two as meeting proficiency. What are the implications?

  • Erik Hanushek (may the fates forgive me for saying this) is right when he says high standards alone will not get us smarter students, because it sure hasn’t worked in California;
  • California teachers may be harder to move onto the issue of how “onerous” the new standards are because they’ve already been working in the gulag of “high expectations”;
  • You can see exactly why the other state Governors and top bureaucrats wanted to have common standards, and although a lot of Texas’ refusal to participate in Common Core is probably a sincere belief in states’ rights, I suspect that there are some folks in their state bureaucracy who realized what Texas would end up looking like if they were forced to use the same standards as other states.

I am from California and this sort of anti-Texas bias is pretty reflexive, I apologize to my friends in the Lone Star State, for this gaffe.

Photo Credit: texas our texas by jmtimages, on Flickr

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