Saturday, February 28, 2015

My 2 cents about the Common Core. ... By Susan Kiley

I would never put my 2 cents into a conversation about plumbing. Or beekeeping or trigonometry or raising goats. I think it's important to know what you know nothing about.
Listening is a lost art. So why are we listening to a panel of experts who have created the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) to address the deterioration of education in the United States, which is another conclusion arrived at by a panel of experts? Who are these people who have decided that the education provided to American students is inferior?

Think about this: How long have we heard these complaints from college professors, that "These freshmen don't know how to write a decent essay. These freshman don't know how to comprehend an article and write about it in a coherent, logical manner"? College professors have been saying this forever. I remember my freshman writing teacher at Clark University telling us that we had the writing skills of seventh-graders. I was so insulted! We all learned a lot that year.

The idea that American students are failing is created by another panel of experts who have insisted on adopting a magical cure-all: the Common Core. Here is the Common Core in a nutshell: The Common Core is a set of educational standards in math and English language arts. It was developed in 2009 and released in 2010. These standards have been adopted by most states.

The purpose of the CCSS is to ensure consistency in education across the country. (If a third-grade student in Massachusetts is proficient in math, he or she is also proficient in math in Connecticut.) The Common Core prepares all students to be successful in college or in a career. That is a lofty goal, and it sure does sound wonderful, doesn't it? We all want our students to be ready to begin a career or to enter college upon high school graduation.

As a Grade 3 teacher in New Bedford, here is the reality of the Common Core as I know it. The experts who created the standards were unaware of the stages of child development. Maybe they were absent from their Psych 101 course on the day that Erik Erikson's stages of child development were taught. I don't mean to sound smug. I hate smug. But it is so frustrating to hand a test booklet to my students and know that their brain is not ready to answer many of the questions asked in the test.
I always read the tests before administering them. Now, I have to check the answer key for the right answers. In all my years of teaching, I've never had to check the answer key. To me, that's not a good sign. If the Grade 3 teacher is torn between two answers, you can only imagine the frustration of the students. If you walked into my classroom on almost any day, you'd most likely hear me say, "Don't worry about this question. It's not appropriate for a third-grader." And that is usually followed by, "Then why is it on the test?" Good question.

I won't get into the stupid amount of time that I spend testing my students instead of teaching them. I won't write about the fact that my most important goal every year is to create a classroom of students who love to read, but that goal is slipping away because of the pressures of the Common Core.
Here's a secret: I sneak chapter books into my reading program. I carefully choose a book that I'm confident both boys and girls will enjoy. We read it together as a class. Sometimes they read it on their own. When we read the final sentence of the last chapter, they always clap. I think it's because of the sense of accomplishment that accompanies finishing a book. I've had kids cry when books have ended.

After finishing a book, one of my most troubled students came up to me before lunch and asked, "Has that author written anything else?" My eyes filled up. The Common Core and its endless testing have almost ruined my love of teaching. I said almost. And that is my 2 cents about the Common Core.


Anonymous said...

What a powerful, well written commentary! Thank you for writing about the challenges of teachers across the entire country.

Anonymous said...

Susan, well said. I cannot agree more with your commentary on common core and on testing. We test our students so much to get mountains of data that by the time the one that supposedly counts is given, our students are so opting out of it on their own. I remember my last year of teaching, giving the MCAS in grade 5 Science, and I had a student shaking and crying because he was afraid of the test. We need to TEACH MORE, TEST LESS!

Anonymous said...

Sue says she wouldn't comment on another professional's area but when the state asked NB Directors to observe her class she was highly offended. What should they have done, Sue? Refused? That a so called professional gets offended sharing a room with another professional should really tell you the agenda behind these continual complaints about EQA (in 2004), MCAS (2010), and now PARCC.

And now Sue claims that CC is worse than MCAS. So we'll forget that the complaints were the same all along; MCAS will become the good old days and we'll continue to pretend that a district funded by state taxes and placed by state in Level 4 (due in part to DeValles grade 3 scores over the past 6 years) can somehow go it's own way and offer standards free education.

The closest we came to that was the proposal for Lang degrees. Even then, the complaints from Sue were the exact same. Using the same stories about needy kids to make her point.

Let's leave the emotional manipulation behind and get on with it. I don't buy it anymore.

Anonymous said...

If the NBPS Directors were approaching their work in a more professional way all the teachers would feel safe having them spend time in their rooms. Sadly, they approach their work as data terrorists that further deskill and demoralize the dedicated teachers we have left. The person that decided to try and discredit Sue has only further advanced her points. Pointing to test scores and proclaiming that teachers in our most challenged districts want "standards free" education exposes your ignorance. I can only assume you are a paid member of the turnaround team and stand to benefit financially in some way from discrediting teachers here in New Bedford.

Anonymous said...

As a retired third grade veteran teacher from another state, I can relate to everything that Susan wrote in her comment about the Common Core, and the first anonymous person's remark below indicates they really know nothing about child development or teaching. Don't attack someone who is in the trenches trying to instill in children a love for learning and reading. Yes, it is emotional when you are in the classroom and see the type of reaction she got from a child who was ready for the next book! The goal of reading the book as a class was to instill and encourage children to want to read! God bless you Susan Kiley. You understand what educating children is all about!

Susan Kiley said...

The state asked New Bedford directors to observe my classroom? They did? And I was offended? I was? Refresh my memory. I'm not sure what you're saying. I wish there wasn't an anonymous option for this blog. I don't mind when people disagree with me. But I sign my name next to my words. Why don't you do that?

Anonymous said...

Here's a lesson for the teacher bashing anonymous poster (no emotional manipulation)

It's=It is

Did you get a standards free education?

Anonymous said...

Sue is spot on with what is happening in the classrooms of NBPS......we are destroying the love of learning.......

Anonymous said...

Sue is a fantastic teacher. She inspires her student's to learn, day in and day out. As for the "other professionals" who pop in and pop out of classroom , I believe the word professional is too kind.

Anonymous said...

I think she's a great teacher too and wouldnt second guess her commitment. It's just a shame she and others here don't follow that simple example of good manners when referring to other professionals.

And I did I read that people on here now complain about anonymous posting? Wow, we've come a long way from weight remarks, college kegger remarks, and drink driving obsessions. All anonymous.