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Eyebrows Arch Over 46-State Common-Standards Pact


Now that 46 states, plus three other U.S. jurisdictions, have committed to forging ahead with common academic standards, is the reaction all rosy?

Not necessarily. In the blogsphere, anyway, it's easy to find a healthy dose of skepticism and realism.

ASCD's InService blog reminds us that all 50 states pledged a similar thing a few years ago, when they decided to adopt a common graduation rate. Well, that hasn't panned out exactly like it was supposed to.

Eduflack previews fights to come by providing us this letter from California. The state, which was apparently one of the last-minute holdouts to the standards effort, would not agree to the requirement in the memorandum of agreement that 85 percent of the standards reflect the common core. And, they want to make sure they get their own picks on the "validation" committee that will provide an independent check on the standards.

The Core Knowledge blog warns that after all is said and done, the result could be "replacing 46 sets of squishy, nonspecific standards with one set of squishy, nonspecific standards."


Listen to the URL below for my critique of the national standards project as it is being managed by NGA and CCSSO.


Commissioner Lucille Davy: speaks up to 1:02 mins.

Prof. Sandra Stotsky from 1:03 to 1:46 (although her microphone stopped functioning at 1:39...and I wonder if that had anything to do with the notes passed between the Commissioner and an aide)

Prof. Joseph Rosenstein (Member Concerned Math Educators of NJ Group) 1:46:43 to 2:09

Prof. Roberta Schorr (Member Concerned Math Educators of NJ Group) 2:10:16 to 2:13:31

Amy Flax, Co-founder, New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math, (microphone out first, begins at 2:14:46 to 2:18:08)

Anne Clark, Member, New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math, 2:18:45 microphone cuts out I am sure on purpose, goes to Sen. Rice)

Rice on Anne's testimony and process for a bit at 2:24:35, then Rosenstein's reaction to Anne: 2:26:33

Yvonne Greenbaun, Associate Math Professor, Mercer County Community College 2:30:07 to 2:32:24

Maria Delucia, Mathematics Dept. Chair, Middlesex Community College, 2:32:26 to 2:35:38

Terry Fung, Professor Math Education, Kean University 2:36:44 to 2:39:55

Sarah-Kate Maskin, member, New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math, 2:40:06 to 2:44:40

Prof. Jerome Dancis, Associate Professor Emeritus, Univ. of Maryland, 2:45:36 to 2:57:30

Please listen to Closing Remarks: 2:59:19

Here's the article in the Daily Record on June 3, 2009

June 3, 2009

NJ joins effort to draft US math regs

National math standard doesn't add up, groups say


New Jersey announced this week that it has joined a 46-state effort to craft national standards in math and language arts, an unprecedented move that's already drawing fire in a state with a strong home rule history.

New Jersey signed an agreement to participate in the Common Core State Standards Initiative, a project that plans to create kindergarten through high school graduation standards for the two subjects.

"I think it would be foolhardy not to be at the table and not to be part of the discussion," said state Commissioner of Education Lucille Davy. "Our children in New Jersey are entering a world where they are not competing against just each other, they are entering a global economy."

There is no difference in the math that fourth-graders should learn in New Jersey or anywhere else in the country, Davy said.

Guided by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, the group expects to release high school graduation readiness standards in July, said Gene Wilhoit, executive director of the council. By December, the group plans to unveil the grade-by-grade standards for what children should learn each year. National tests could follow.

The goal is to create standards that are "higher, clearer and fewer," Wilhoit said. Adoption of the standards will be voluntary, once the drafts are produced, he said.

New Jersey has been wrestling with a revision of its math standards for a year now and Davy said she hasn't made a decision yet, but "it doesn't make sense" to proceed with the state's own effort until she sees what the national effort produces.

Last year, a team of three educators were paid by the state to revise the existing math standards. Earlier this year, state officials scrapped the team's work, and instead released a draft document in February that was, in many parts, a word-for-word copy of Indiana's math standards. Then, in March, the state formed a task force that was charged with reviewing both documents and making recommendations for a new draft.

The task force included representatives from two dueling ideologies about how to teach math — the Concerned Math Educators of New Jersey and The New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math. Both sides agreed Tuesday that they were concerned about the state's latest move toward a national standard.

Their unease stems from a lack of information about who will write these national standards.

Wilhoit declined to reveal the writing teams, saying the writers will be announced after the first draft of the graduation standards are unveiled in July.

"That's too late. Transparency should be there from the beginning of the process for the public to have confidence in it," said Sandra Stotsky, who served on the National Math Advisory Panel, a group convened by the U.S. Department of Education that reported last year on what research says are the most effective ways for teaching k-12 math.

Phil Daro, a Berkeley-based consultant who recently served on New Jersey's math task force, confirmed he was chosen to chair the work group that will write the graduation standards for math.

Daro said they will start with a small group of experts and open it to the broader democratic process once a draft is written.

"I don't know how you write national standards without input from the educational community," said Eric Milou, a Rowan University math professor and leader of the Concerned Math Educators of New Jersey.

Milou, who said he respects Daro and thinks he's a good person to lead the math effort, condemned the involvement of groups such as Achieve Inc., ACT and the College Board, all partners to this national initiative. Milou asked why are testing providers involved before math teachers?

Jill Gladstone, a parent and co-founder of the The New Jersey Coalition for World Class Math, said it's hard to have trust in a process when you don't know who is writing the standards.

"It's disturbing, this is about public education, there should be full transparency," said Gladstone, a member of the Bridgewater-Raritan Regional School Board.

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