The title of this new editorial from the Los Angeles Times, “Was adopting Common Core a mistake,” makes it clear that things like a $1 billion additional education price tag just for California plus the uncertainty of quality in the new Common Core State Standards have even this liberal newspaper’s editors worried.
Kentucky has also bitten into Common Core. Should we be worried, too???
The Boston Globe just ran an interesting Op-Ed from Tom Birmingham, the former head of the Massachusetts Senate.
Birmingham discusses the new Common Core State Standards, which have replaced Massachusetts’ former very excellent public school education standards:
“I also fear that universal high standards and objective assessments are being jettisoned in favor of a return to vague expectations and fuzzy standards.”
Birmingham notes some remarkable gains after Massachusetts enacted its former education program, which included the best standards in the nation.
1) Eventually, over 90 percent of Massachusetts students would pass the state’s old MCAS assessments,
2) The Commonwealth’s SAT scores would rise for 13 consecutive years,
3) Massachusetts’ students would become the first in every category in every grade on national testing known as “the Nation’s Report Card,” and
4) Massachusetts would rank at or near the top in international science tests.
Now, a watered down Common Core based education system is putting all of that performance at risk. Why?
And, why didn’t Kentucky go for what already worked, spectacularly, in Massachusetts?
Why didn’t other states?
What is really going on here?
Garen will be discussing the very important issue of the price of poverty in Kentucky. Previously, board of scholar member Eric Schansberg appeared on the program to discuss that very issue. You can watch that episode here.
What: Bluegrass Institute Board of Scholars to discuss the price of poverty in Kentucky.
Who: John Garen, Ph.D., chair of the Bluegrass Institute’s Board of Schoalrs
When: Monday, June 17th at 8 PM EST
Tune in to learn more!
This letter was published in the Lexington Herald-Leader on June 15, 2013.
Kentuckians are proud to live in a commonwealth rich in tradition and resources. However, I find it disconcerting that while we take pride in basketball, horses and bourbon, we often fail to take pride in state sovereignty.
When it comes to Kentuckians governing themselves, why do we seem content to sit on the sidelines and take orders from unelected bureaucrats spewing unilateral regulations from hundreds of miles away?
Why, for instance, do Kentuckians allow federal Environmental Protect Agency officials to dictate terms and conditions for how Kentucky utilizes coal, our state’s primary natural gift?
The EPA employs two primary tactics to hinder producers from providing jobs and low-cost energy.
First, it has stalled the permitting process for mine openings and expansions, causing uncertainty among investors, owners and miners. Second, the agency now requires expensive retrofits for coal-fired power plants that don’t even come close to offering sufficient economic benefits compared to the costs incurred.
Given the fact that Kentucky is a poor state in a struggling global economy, why are Washington bureaucrats allowed to strangle an industry that provides 93 percent of the commonwealth’s electricity and attracts energy-intensive industries — and the multitude of jobs they create — to the Bluegrass state?
The virtues and pitfalls of coal will always be debated. But one thing is certain: decisions about Kentucky’s resources should be made by those most affected — Kentuckians.
Bluegrass Institute for Public Policy Solutions
Before I discuss more specific deficiencies in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that the Kentucky Board of Education approved for use on June 5, 2013, I want to amplify on a comments made early in the new Fordham report on the new science standards about poor performance in science today across the United States. The evidence clearly shows science education in the United States is in poor condition.
Bluntly put, we have a HUGE problem with science education across the nation, Kentucky included.
Per the NAEP Data Explorer, the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in eighth grade science shows only around one in three students at this grade level perform at the “Proficient” level across the nation and in Kentucky.
Let’s break the data out by race and compare Kentucky’s dominant student racial group – its white students (84 percent of all students in Kentucky’s public schools) – to their counterparts in other states. Our white kids’ proficiency rate on eighth grade NAEP science in 2011 was statistically significantly lower than the nationwide white proficiency rate. Our whites also scored lower than whites in 30 other states by a statistically significant amount. Kentucky’s whites only statistically significantly outscored whites in just two states: Alabama and West Virginia.
There is no “Thank goodness for Mississippi” here! The Magnolia State’s white students tied ours once the statistical sampling errors in the NAEP proficiency rates are properly considered.
The sorry picture from the NAEP is amplified by recent data from the ACT college entrance test.
According to the ACT test results for all of Kentucky’s high school graduates in 2012, public and private school combined, only 22 percent of the Bluegrass State’s students were adequately prepared to survive a freshman biology course in a typical US college.
If we break the 2012 graduates’ ACT results out by race, only 24 percent of Kentucky’s dominant racial group, its whites, were ready for college science. When you consider that a virtually identical 23 percent of Mississippi’s whites were ready for college science, our need for concern grows dramatically.
Please consider that these percentages pertain only to our high school graduates. Dropouts are not considered. If the dropouts were included, it is unlikely many would be able to get high scores on the ACT, which would drag the percentages down even more.
All of this factual information raises questions about how much educators in this country truly know about what is needed to succeed with science education. Such knowledge is essential to writing good science standards.
The questionable grasp on what is really needed in science might explain why the Fordham Institute just gave the NextGen Science Standards a rather low performance score of “C” in their new review.
This also provides insight into the following, very telling comment in the Fordham report:
“Unfortunately, the NGSS suffer from the belief—widespread among educators—that practices are more important than content.”
It’s precisely the sort of mistake that people who don’t know much about really teaching science are likely to make.