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Common Core Standards: Who Made the List?


The list of individuals who will be drafting the multi-state “Common Core” standards in reading and math was unveiled today. Reaction from the various education communities and factions is sure to follow.

Actually, there are separate categories of experts and insiders involved. First of all, there are two main “Work Groups,” which will write the standards in math and English; their members include several representatives of Achieve, the College Board, and the ACT, and for now, they’re focused on setting “college and career readiness” standards. You can read the list on the a Web site set up by the two organizations leading this process, the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, at www.corestandards.org. The goal is to have a set of college and career-readiness standards completed and ready for comment during in July. The effort will then shift to broader K-12 standards; more names will be added to the Work Groups at that point, with the goal of completing those standards by December.

Two separate groups of experts, known as “Feedback Groups,” have also been established to “provide information backed by research to inform the standards development process” and offer opinion on the draft documents. The NGA and CCSSO note that these groups’ role will be “advisory” and not a “decision-making” one.

I’ve only given the Work Group and Feedback Group lists a cursory glance so far. Regular readers of EdWeek will recognize plenty of the names, in both math and language arts. A couple inclusions worth noting: the list of Feedback Group members —the advisory panels—includes representative of two big organizations that had voiced worries about being shut out the process. Hank Kepner, the president of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, is on the math Feedback Group; Carol Jago, the president-elect of the National Council of Teachers of English, is on the English-language arts Feedback panel. A couple other members of the math advisory panel: Hyman Bass, from the University of Michigan; Roger Howe of Yale U; Robert Linn, of the U of Colorado; Jim Milgram of Stanford; and William Schmidt of Michigan State, who many of you know for his work on international standards. In language arts, Checker Finn of the Fordham Institute; Michael Kamil of Stanford; and Tim Shanahan of the University of Illinois at Chicago are represented. Among many others.

Lots of references to "feedback" here. Here’s your chance to offer up your own, once you’ve given the names a look.

UPDATE: My esteemed colleague Michele McNeil offers a more complete look at The List and all that it entails.

UPDATE (2): I've corrected this post to say that Carol Jago is the president-elect of NCTE. Kylene Beers is the current president until November.


Parents need a seat at the table.

Parents and taxpayers.

The Community College Professors are clearly absent from the Writing and Feedback groups. The first item to be produced are the exit requirements from High School. The community college professors see the highest remediation rates in this country and yet, we ignore this segment of higher education. It is here that students who face remediation are more likely to not complete a post-secondary degree. These professors need a voice at the table so those writing and giving feedback can lower the remediation at the two year colleges which is costly to the taxpayers and to those students.
46% of undergraduates attend community colleges. This population cannot be ignored.


Right Catherine! The members of the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math are not only mathematically literate parents, but many are K-12 math eduators, math professors, engineers, and scientists. In addition, one difference between some of the people on the Common Core Work Group list and the U.S. Coalition for World Class Math membership is that we have no financial or professional conflict of interest. Did the people on the Writing and Feedback Groups have to disclose any potential conflict of interest? Those on the National Math Panel were required to disclose this information. See www.usworldclassmath.org

Finally this week, a list of those developing and vetting the proposed education common core standards was released, but so far, no standards.

In fact, the general public has yet to see anything about the content of these standards. For about five years, Achieve.org, state governors, state education officials have worked on standards.

While we don’t have anything to look at yet, we do have the American Diploma Project (ADP) standards, the results of the education elite’s work. (See achieve.org)

In the absence of standards for the public to discuss, we can only look at the ADP standards and that’s exactly what EndofHighSchool.com is doing, analyzing the ADP end of high school standards and expectations put forth in the ADP. The final standards will likely draw upon the ADP work - or why spend five years doing it - so a careful look at these documents should give us a preview of what will eventually be revealed.

EndofHighSchool.com plans to analyze and critique the ADP standards until the real proposed standards are made public.

Read the critiques already completed:
Language standards (www.endofhighschool.com/adp-a),
Media standards (www.endofhighschool.com/adp-g)
Verbs/tasks required by the English ADP (http://endofhighschool.com/adp/tasks-of-english-adp/)

Agree absolutely that community college professors should be fully involved.

A number of us have made the argument that since we parents are our children's "re-teachers," we need a seat at the table.

I suspect people who don't currently have children in public schools may not be aware of just how pervasive, overt, and unapologetic public school reliance upon parent teachers actually is.

This teacher's web site is an example of what we parents are dealing with:

My view of education (by Mr. R., retired math teacher; adopted by Mr. P.)
Since only about 3% of a child’s first 18 years of life is spent in school, I believe a child’s education is the primary responsibility of the parent(s); my role is to support and assist in that endeavor. Although I am committed to work hard, your student cannot do well without your help. You are crucial and indispensable. With these commitments in place, the success of your child will be a delight to us all. But, you are the key, without you, (checking homework and helping prepare for tests; providing a quiet place and time to study; being accountable for results; making time to discuss school work; and helping with organization), their success will be limited.

I find it extraordinary for a teacher to tell parents, via his web site, that they are "accountable for results."

Richard DuFour points out that teachers have traditionally taken the attitude that, "It's my job to teach; it's the student's job to learn," a philosophy that meant failures to learn were left to the student and his family to fix. But for a teacher to openly tell parents they are accountable for results strikes me as something new.

If we are accountable for results -- and we clearly are -- we need to be formally involved in this process.

Another example, also from the California Department of Education:

Chapter 7: Responsibilities of Teachers, Students, Parents, Administrators

Whether students are underachieving, average, gifted, or in need of individual attention, parents should recognize their own and their children’s role in learning mathematics and achieving optimal success. They should know the specific academic standards their children are to meet at each grade level, and they should be able to monitor their children’s performance and provide extra help when needed. Parents should be responsible for obtaining information regarding their children’s progress and know how to interpret that information appropriately. Above all, they should encourage a positive attitude toward mathematics.

Parents are their children’s first teachers. A child’s early experiences with mathematics at home can provide an important foundation for learning the content standards for kindergarten (Saxe, Guberman, and Gearhart 1987). Parents and other family members can nurture and stimulate mathematics development in their children and, for many children, will need to be involved in their children’s mathematics program at all grade levels (Stevenson et al. 1990).

Very few parents are capable of being "involved" in their children's mathematics program at all grade levels. One of the tutors working in my own town told me, "I get the call in 5th grade." A majority of parents here have college degrees; many have professional or graduate degrees as well. And yet most find themselves unable to re-teach their public schools' math program before their children exit elementary school.

I can only conclude from the presence of this passage in the California Mathematics Framework that to date the educators and officials who write math standards have no idea what level of teaching expertise parents do and do not possess.

Parents need formal representation in the Common Core project if only to bring a desperately needed realism to the proceedings.

I would say that most parents can understand their child's ELEMENTARY math textbook, assuming it's not some crazy "reformed" math program. Even if you never majored in math, barring some type of learning disability, you can figure out a child's fifth-grade textbook - or at the very least get on the web and Google up some sort of help. If a parent can play games or get on Facebook or do anything else on the web, they can look up a math topic -and should be able to teach their kics to do the same.

There are free math tutoring programs on the web. There are also inexpensive math tutoring programs on the web. Unless you just don't WANT to tutor your child and have the resources to hire someone - which is fine - why would you need to hire a tutor?

If a parent has a college degree and cannot show theirchild how to do fifth-grade math, there is a problem either with the parent's education or the child's curriculum.

. . .assuming it's not some crazy "reformed" math program

Sadly, it usually is.

If a parent has a college degree and cannot show their child how to do fifth-grade math, there is a problem either with the parent's education or the child's curriculum.

Exactly. I have PhD in a technical field and it wasn't until after I had spent hours trying to decipher what the heck was going on with reform math that I could understand the third grade homework.

And figuring it out was what catapulted me into anti-reform math activism.

I would say that most parents can understand their child's ELEMENTARY math textbook, assuming it's not some crazy "reformed" math program.

You might want to read Liping Ma's Knowing and Teaching Elementary Mathematics (assuming you haven't already.) There's an enormous difference between procedural knowledge of arithmetic and "pedagogical content knowledge," as I found out when I tried to reteach my son the 4th grade math he hadn't learned in 4th grade.

There is also an enormous difference between a novice and an expert. Unless we are currently employed as elementary school teachers, we parents are novice teachers by definition.

Granted, I was able to reteach 4th grade math (and beyond) once I had purchased the appropriate Saxon Math books, but I spent a great deal of time and energy doing it - time and energy that wouldn't have been available to me if I had been working full-time or had had more than one child in more than one grade to reteach as well. As it was, I sacrificed significant income in order to reteach the content my school failed to teach effectively: all told, I spent 4 years reteaching math at home. My husband put in long hours reteaching writing, too, and we split the duties when it came to reteaching Earth Science.

The simple truth is: America needs schools to do the teaching. We parents are simply not going to be able to "fill in the gaps."

However, given the fact that public schools expect parents to serve as "ghost teachers," parents need formal representation and voting rights in all state, federal, and NGO efforts to set standards, write policy and legislation, and select curriculum and teaching pedagogies.

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